Jamie's Phuket on Google Earth

Phuket as seen on Google Earth

(Updated March 2010) I have (when time allows) been adding placemarks on Google Earth showing where to find the hotels, restaurants, temples, beaches and hills that feature on Jamie's Phuket. I joined the "Google Earth Community" to be able to post on the Google Earth forum which creates a link to the places I have added.

So, if you browse this blog now you will notice that many pages have links to Google Earth - click on the link and what happens is this: If you have Google Earth installed on your computer, then it will open and you'll fly in to Phuket and see the placemarker. You may have a message on screen first asking "Do you wish to open or save this file?" - click Open.

For example, if you are looking at some of the restaurants on this blog and like the look of Kan Eang Seafood, and want to know where it is, just click on the link that says "See location on Google Earth", and you'll see this:

Kan Eang Seafood on Google Earth

If you fancy an evening walk at Bang Wad Reservoir, click the link on that page that says "View Bang Wad reservoir on Google Earth" - and Google Earth will take you there...

Bang Wad reservoir, Phuket on Google Earth

I have added over 80 placemarks so far. There are plenty more to add - if you have a favourite post on the blog and are not sure of the location of the place, do let me know and I will add an Earth placemark. Will get more added anyway as time goes by.

I hope you enjoy surfing some of the pages on Jamie's Phuket and zooming into Phuket with Google Earth! If you don't have Google Earth on your computer - Get it!

Download Google Earth
Google Earth Community (Forum)
My Google Earth Community Post List (you must be a member to view)

UPDATE 2015 - I tend to add Google Maps much of the time now, rather than Google Earth links. Better.

The Announcement ...

It began as bike rides do, with anticipation, exhilaration and the wind blowing over my face. No one could have known the chain of events that were to be set in motion by this otherwise wonted occurrence. Nearing the end of my ride, I zigged instead of zagged, and found myself on the hilltop, overlooking the ever expanding rubber plantation. Venturing over to talk to the locals, a small shape moved timidly, and caught my attention. When I saw her, my heart skipped a beat.

Returning home I was unable to keep what I had seen to myself. As I suspected, my wife wanted to see for herself. On another day we rode our bikes over for a visit. For my wife, it was love at first sight. We had both been wanting one for a long time but just didn’t feel ready or settled enough to take on the responsibility. As she cast her spell over us, we gathered information as to her origins. Calling the provided cellphone number, we arranged to meet our destiny in a few days.

We are proud to announce a new addition to our family. Unwilling to produce our own or wait 9 months, we took our delivery on her 48th day. Presently she is 54 days old, 5.8 kilos, 30 inches, brown eyes, and a blond bundle of joy. Our little girl came with eyes to melt the hardest heart and lungs that would make Pavarotti proud. At her tender age she already walks, talks, runs and jumps. She has teeth and claws as sharp as razors, a bit of a bladder problem and a noticeable odor, which we of course no longer notice.

She has already contributed to our fiber intake and promises to do more in the future. Like any newborn she is very demanding of our love, attention, patience and time. Sometimes we call her our sweet little Cookie and sometime she is the COOKIE MONSTER. As dutifully proud parents, we take her everywhere to show her off and take countless pictures, slightly out of focus, and email them daily to anyone we have ever met and was foolish enough to give us an email address. Well, not really, but from what we have witnessed, that would seem to be the appropriate behavior for new parents.

Remembering that we already have three young men patrolling our perimeter and terrorizing the locals, why would we want more? We love our boys but we inherited them from others. They are good at guarding but not particularly bright. We have long wanted to make our own selection and get what we really wanted. It has long been clear, that given a choice we both would like to have a Golden Retriever. I have always wanted a big dog and to try my hand at training an obedient companion.

Finally we find our lives situated in such a way, that we can control the living and training environment. With other people around there was no consistency in the limited training given to the other dogs. Cookie is noticeably more intelligent, focused and attentive. During this formative time in her development, I try to be with her as much as possible, and expose her to the wonders of her ever expanding world. We are just doing our best, to be good pack leaders and nurture her development. Will she be the dog of our dreams? Who knows? But finally my unrealized desire for pets has now been appeased after a 35 year hiatus.

As it turns out, she is the perfect anniversary present, and an unequivocal affirmation of our love!

Who Art Thou? ...

When someone asks you, who you are, what do you say? Do you state your nationality, your ethnicity, your religion, your job title, your organizational affiliations, your sex or sexual preference, or your marital status perhaps? What about money, age, appearance, personality, or popularity? Do you include your likes and dislikes while listing your hobbies and interests? Do your accomplishments come to mind or is it more likely to be your dreams or goals that you express? When you are dead and gone, how do you want to be remembered? Do you think anyone will remember? Are you good or bad? Happy or sad? Optimist or pessimist? Honest or dishonest? Dependent or independent?

I know people, who when they laugh and smile, it comes from deep in their soul. While for others it is more of a nervous tick, covering or masking, their awkwardness and confusion. I know a man who suffered two failed marriages. One resulted in his wife walking out and leaving him with the kids. The other resulted in, or from, her staying. Things are not always as they seem. Some tout their children as their proudest achievement, yet others abandon them when they are needed most. Poor judgement from a child and the parent proclaims that the “child” killed the “parent” with disappointment and shattered dreams of being a “good” parent.

Some spend their lives chasing praise, accolades and awards. Nearing the end, those items all sit in boxes gathering dust. Struggling with failing body and mind does one even remember what is in those boxes. Are there perhaps moments of doubt and regret?

While some fear death, I fear not living. To merely exist or accumulate possessions is not a life for me. Often we value or chase the “big” things like fame or fortune. When the true joys and milestones of life are often small intimate moments. Sometimes they are found in the company of family or friends. Other times, in a chance encounter with a stranger or in a quite moment alone, on a mountain top or beach.

How one makes their living or what they choose to spend their earnings on is not within the purview of these pages. It is assumed that if you are here, you are looking beyond the minutia of daily existence and searching for something more. My answers and how I found them are not meant as a roadmap or guidebook to others. If I can stimulate your own search or reinforce what you already believe, be it similar to mine or not, then I shall be well pleased.

As previously stated I write for myself and find my life enriched by it. If it does anything for anyone else, it is merely a serendipitous but gratifying byproduct. Just do your best to discover who you are and what you really want from life. After all we are only here for a limited time and a wasted life is nothing more than a waste.

Guesthouses and Hostels - Phuket for Backpackers

It's fair to say that Phuket is more of an "upmarket" destination compared to backpackers hangouts like Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao. I am sorry to say you can't find little bamboo bungalows on the beach for 150 Baht a night in Phuket, and you don't have much in the way of backpacker oriented bars and nightlife. Over the years, Phuket has moved more into the luxury market, with many 4 - 5 star resorts around the island, and I have seen huge changes in infrastructure in the 9 years that I have been here. Not just hotels, but marinas, luxury condos, many housing developments, shopping centers such as Jungceylon and Central Festival... The list goes on and on...

Not all of this is for tourists of course, in fact most of it benefits the local people and foreign residents more than tourists. Many foreigners have decided that Phuket is a great place to live (see Buying a House in Phuket for more information), and the money coming into Phuket has made plenty of local people wealthy - a look at the roads full of new cars will confirm that... But I don't want to get sidetracked into a discussion on the economy of Phuket!

I think you'll find Phuket is worth a visit...

Phuket is for Everyone!

With all these resorts, fancy cars, luxury villas and so on, is there room for backpackers in Phuket any more? Well, please remember that Phuket is a big island, so naturally the answer is a resounding YES. It may not be No.1 on the list of backpacker must-sees, indeed many young travelers will just pass through on the way to Phi Phi or Ao Nang, but I would hope after reading a bit of this blog, you might realise that Phuket is a rich, diverse island with many beautiful areas. Well worth a few days of your time!

Backpackers Hostels in Phuket

There is a bit of a misconception that Phuket Town is the only place to stay if you want low budget, and indeed you do have hostels there for around 200 Baht/night, and I do like Phuket Town, so won't try to put you off - see more here: A Walk Around Old Phuket Town. But surely you want to come to Phuket and stay near the beach, right? This is where the rumour mill starts... the beaches are full of 5 star resorts, there's no cheap places to stay, no local restaurants... Not true at all! I wrote a blog article about the cheap places to stay some time ago:

Cheap Places to stay in Phuket

Pineapple Guesthouse Dormitory Guesthouse Dorm Room

And now, especially in low season, things have gotten even cheaper. The Pineapple Guesthouse at Karon Beach has a backpackers dorm, low season price just 180 Baht per night. There are also aircon twin or double rooms from 1000 Baht. Distance to the beach: less than 5 minutes walk. In the same area there are a few more which have similarly priced rooms such as Robin House, Bazoom Haus and Kangaroo Guesthouse. I know these places well as they're a stones throw from Sunrise Divers dive center. Oh, Pineapple has free wifi for guests too.

Pineapple Guesthouse Review on Jamie's Phuket
Pineapple Guesthouse Web Site
Pineapple Guesthouse - Online Booking

There are low budget places in Kata and Patong too. One of these days, I will try to do something comprehensive, although this kind of accommodation is always changing - I suggest looking at agoda.com for hotel info - they also do low budget.

What about eating? Well, Phuket is not just a tourist island, as I hope I have made clear, so long as you get off the beach, and onto the back roads where the locals live and eat, you'll find endless noodle stalls, street food stalls and small restaurants. I rarely spend more than about 70 Baht on my lunch unless I go for a big English Breakfast at the Pineapple Cafe (attached to the guesthouse). Here's a few blog posts on the food close to where I work and close to the aforementioned guesthouses:

Mama Noi
Phad Thai
A working lunch
Fruit Stalls

Pineapple Cafe Good traditional Thai Food at the Pineapple Guesthouse...

What about getting around Phuket? Well, this is the tricky one for a low budget traveler. There are cheap local buses, only 30 Baht to Phuket Town from Karon Beach for example, BUT no buses between the beaches. So you are kind of at the mercy of the tuk tuks. Normal fare from Karon to Patong (next beach, about 8km) is 300 Baht. Take a few of those per day and your budget is screwed. Uber has recently started in Phuket too and you can get a discount using the code uberjamiesphuket.

Best option is to rent a moped, normal price around 200 - 300 Baht per day. Riding mopeds is another issue to discuss properly at a later date. I'll say this - if you have never ridden a motorbike before, Phuket is not the place to try. I used to ride almost every day, I have had a couple of minor scrapes and a few stitches. Keep your eyes open, keep left, don't drive fast, don't ride around quiet roads late at night, and always wear a helmet. If you have your own transport you can explore Phuket at your leisure without spending a fortune. Car rental is a decent price too - renting a car for a day can be cheaper than a couple of medium distance tuk tuk rides!

Phuket Hostels - Online Booking

In summary... Phuket is a great place to visit. Being a low budget traveler is not a problem. You have dorms, cheap rooms, good local food, it's just that Phuket is not a trendy backpacker hangout, so if you want to party with thousands of young folks, Koh Pha Ngan is the place, but if you are a bit more independent and don't feel the need to have the safety of the main herd, give Phuket a go, at least for a few days!

Restaurant Tips: Farang

Update 2015 - This restaurant no longer exists

Farang – such a simple word that can be used in so many different situations. You would have thought that naming a Phuket restaurant Farang would be a recipe for disaster, but thankfully Farang restaurant is a welcome breath of fresh air for Phuket's restaurant scene.

There are actually two Farang restaurants in Phuket. The first is in Cherng Talay (an area in the north of Phuket near Bang Tao beach popular with expats); the second is next to Index Living Mall on the bypass road (just outside Phuket Town). Both have identical menus. The only difference between the two restaurants is that the vibe at the Cherng Talay branch is a little more chilled without the headache of the bypass road nearby.

Farang restuarant near Phuket Town

The food at Farang restaurant is fantastic. The menu features simple fusion dishes executed to perfection. Choose from a range of pasta dishes, pizzas, salads and Thai dishes, all coming in at about 100 to 200 baht.

It's the little touches that make Farang stand out. The care taken in the presentation of the food adds to the whole dining experience. It's almost a paradox, because the dishes usually fly out of the kitchen within minutes of ordering. The pasta dishes are particularly good, with none of the ketchup-as-sauce antics you find at other restaurants that charge the same kind of price. Also worth trying is the beef tenderloin, which has a tenderness to it.

Another surprise at Farang is that the house wine is actually drinkable. Cheap wine and good food – what could be better? There isn't really anything to fault Farang restaurant for. It's cheap and cheerful and makes no bones about trying to be something it's not.

Both restaurants are closed on Mondays. Call 086-9463142 for details.

This post was guest blogged by Matt from Phuket Vogue - a Phuket website about dining and nightlife. Matt also writes a well known Thailand blog - The Lost Boy.

Jamie adds... We have driven past the Farang restaurant next to Index about 300 times, and we know an American lady who makes cakes for them - we sometimes buy cheesecake from her - absolutely fantastic - so I guess we have an idea of the quality of the dessert menu at Farang! One of these days we must go and sample the food, as it's been recommended to me by several people, not just Matt.

• More Phuket Restaurants at Phuket Vogue
• More Phuket Restaurants on Jamie's Phuket

Photo above is from a Japanese blog I found which (I guess...it's in Japanese) recommends Farang restaurant - see the link and more photos here: Farang Restaurant Review. I'll be sure to add some photos of my own when/if we eat there!

Fear ...

So what is it, that you fear?

When I mount my trusty steed, tricked out with protection from the sun, water, camera, and cellphone, my thoughts are of adventure, exercise, fresh air, great views, peace and solitude, and time for reflection. At times my grit it tested by a particularly steep and rugged uphill gradient. I must then find a balance, between the thrill of the subsequent downhill and a desire to return home uninjured.

Some locals stare in disbelief, others smile or giggle as villagers do. Those who know my name, ask where I’m off to. I wave and point as I whisk by at speed, unaware of the conversation that follows. Aren’t my relatives afraid for me and my safety? Judgement is questioned and fears enumerated.

At times it seems that my neighbors live in a constant state of fear. There are numerous fears born of superstition. Fears of weather, animals and the natural environment. Fears that others will have more or get to something before they do, like fruit, fish, mushrooms and anything else that can be harvested from the forest, including trees.

Their fear of theft, when there are so few strangers about, suggests that deep in their hearts they covet their neighbors possessions and would make off with them, given the chance. They fear being different and not being accepted. They fear anything new. They fear loneliness and isolation. They fear old age without children. The list is so extensive as to give one pause and wonder if they do not fear life itself.

One would like to think, that in the developed world, with greater knowledge, education and sophistication there would be less fear. One would be wrong, however, as many elevate the measure and degree of fear to an art form. Much of it having little or nothing to do with our daily lives and the struggle to move from this day to the next.

Fear is often used by the powerful to control the weak. Be it nations, governments, politicians, military, law enforcement, religions, schools, institutions, communities and even families and parents, fear is used to keep people in their place. When one is taught to fear and constantly reminded of what one cannot do, it becomes difficult to embrace what can be done, what is possible and to have hope. Life becomes a burden instead of a joy.

Ironically, the fear that is meant to control us, leads some to seek a release or a total loss of control and fear. Sometimes to be found in drugs or alcohol or total abandon on the highways or some combination of these elements. As a family we are once again witness to the resulting aftermath. My wife’s mother, aunt and uncle from her father’s side, have made the long sad journey to Rayong from Chiang Rai. My wife’s 17 year old cousin, yet to begin her adult life, was lost to family and friends. Yet another victim of road carnage and the notorious two wheeled death machine, the motorcycle. Too often fear does not extend to real dangers. How can it, when we are taught to fear our own shadows? When fear is overused, at some point, doesn’t it lose its effectiveness?

To paraphrase, perhaps my only fear, is fear itself. Perhaps I fear a life lived in fear. A life devoid of passion, joy, beauty, love and adventure is perhaps worthy of fear.

So what is it, that you fear?

Cultural Variety ...

One sees, one hears, one feels, one experiences...then categorizes, generalizes, extrapolates and forms a belief about the way things are and the way things work. Surely this has worked in our favor over the millennia. Saving us from threats and dangers that could have jeopardized our survival along the way. As with all things there is another side, however. This tendency sometimes stunts our growth and once an opinion is formed it can be quite difficult to unlearn or deprogram.

Such is the case with cultural, racial and ethnic biases. It is simple mental laziness that encourages us to put large swaths of human kind into convenient groups or categories. Though hardly of any earth shattering significance, Thailand has suffered its share of being painted with a single brush and a limited color pallet. To avoid such generalizations, I will try to relate a personal story, that may or may not, resemble others experiences. A brief vignette of my wife’s exposure to the West.

By the time the wife and I first ventured to my homeland we had been together for something in the order of three years. Two years of cohabitation before a year of marriage. Green Card in hand, concerns tended more toward food, language, weather and culture. Food turned out to be a nonissue as was the weather. Though lacking a little confidence, language was not a major hurtle, as I could help fill in the gaps as her learning progressed. At that point my Thai was still much better than her English as I had been using it much longer. Strangely we have now slipped into a pattern of me speaking English with her, as she responds in Thai. That is another story, however.

There was a palpable sense of loneliness, for her, on those first few trips. I had to be all things to her, and our love notwithstanding, it wasn’t really healthy to be that dependent. In hindsight, this should not have been unexpected. Up to that point in her life she had probably not spent more than a few moments alone during any one day, let alone months at a time.

As painful and difficult as it was at times, she grew tremendously during that period and ventured down a path of self-discovery. She discovered to her surprise that she had no idea who she was or what she really wanted in life, so went about finding “herself.” Typically that is not the kind of thing one discovers in a noisy crowded environment always reacting to the things around us, without any control.

In contrast to the loneliness, she was stuck by the amount of physical contact people indulged in. Though uncomfortable at first she soon grew to appreciate hugs and affection among friends. She hugged my parents and her friends with regularity but to this day can’t seem to break that barrier with her own family. Perhaps it is difficult to break old patterns or maybe there is a fear that it would be misinterpreted or rejected.

She was impressed by the more gentle tone of conversation. The candid expression of feelings and ideas among family and friends. Those are things she has come to respect and embrace now, in her own life. Village life can be hard and sometimes the style of communication reflects that severity.

Her newly evolved self is often in a state of limbo, between two cultures. It is not about one culture being better than another. It is about finding ones own place in the world. So we make our own world, together. We end up picking and choosing the building blocks of our lives and placing them on the firm foundation of love and respect.

Karon Princess Hotel at Karon Beach

You can find a number of smaller mid price resorts along Karon Beach, as well as big resorts such as Hilton. Karon even has backpackers rooms. I'd say that the mid range hotels are all pretty decent, but the Karon Princess gets good reviews on TripAdvisor, and I just noticed that for the low season (May - October) you can stay for just 950 Baht per night! Check the late booking prices! High season rates are more like 4,000 Baht per night. This is not unusual - the low season is a great time to visit Phuket! But it rains all the time, I hear you cry... Not true. Weather is normally very nice - check my weather blog:

Phuket Weather Blog

Karon Princess is on the beach road, close to the area called "Karon Center" where you have a good selection of restaurants and bars. Karon is pretty quiet, certainly when compared to Patong, which is about 7km north. In the low season, Karon is very quiet, despite the bargain hotel prices - I can't promise you'll have 3km of beach to yourself, but come in the off season and you can certainly avoid the crowds.

The resort has 86 rooms, some with seaview, some with "garden view", but in any case just a minute to the beach. The "deluxe" rooms are slightly larger and have internet access too. There is also 1 suite, low season rate about 2000 Baht per night. There's a pool and kids pool, a sunset restaurant and bar, and a spa too where they do massage, aromatherapy and body scrubs among other things. Karon Princess is a bargain right now and not a bad price even in peak season. On the beach, good location (I like Karon beach), all the facilities you need, easy to recommend!

Karon Princess - Booking & Reviews

Karon Princess Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Karon Princess Reviews at Agoda.com

Karon Princess - Photos

Deluxe Room  Sunset Restaurant

Spa at Karon Princess  Pool at Karon Princess

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2015
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Boys and Their Toys ...

The air fresh and clean, the leaves scrubbed and shiny, the mountains adorned with bands of low lying clouds and just a touch of drizzling rain. A beautiful day to stay home and let the eye lazily linger over the alluring vistas. As it were we had committed to a supply run to Chiang Rai, so had to be satisfied with viewing the passing scenery through the truck windows as we headed into town. I find the drive quite pleasant as a rule. Perhaps because we drive so seldom, once a week to town and maybe another trip or two to a local market. Around the village we ride our bicycles or walk.

As luck would have it, the front tire on my mountain bike had developed a slow leak. It nearly slipped my mind, but a flip of the quick release, and the wheel assembly found its way into the back of the truck. Along with the hardware store, bakery and gardening center, we were heading to Big C. Stopping at a small bicycle shop near Big C, seemed the way to go. They were quick to replace the tube but I found myself talking bikes with the mechanic. Pointing out their lack of high-end bikes he assured me that Northern Bikes was the place for the imported stuff. I had previously noted their location on the way to Macro. Conversation over, we continued upon our designated rounds.

With lunch over and shopping complete, we headed to the nursery to buy some pots for the garden. Our route, by chance took us by the bike shop, and the truck seemed to lurch off the road, coming to a stop at the entrance of Northern Bikes. My wife looked at me knowingly and said, “Why not.” What the hell, I’m just a big kid at heart and she knows that. Anyway, this was my kind of place. Not just their products but their story as well. Here was a couple who loved bikes and riding, and were able to turn that love into a business and a lifestyle. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my wife’s “Thai size” frame, but when it come to a bike, I prefer something a little more substantial.

Shortly after starting construction on the house we ventured out and purchased a couple of cheap Thai “starter” bikes for the wife and me. It proved a wise move to test my interest in riding and get an idea what my real needs might be. Over time it became clear that the frame and suspension were causing additional, wear and tear, on this old body. Mounting my ample derrière on the shop’s Trek 4500 with its 24 inch frame and 26 inch wheels, and it was love at first tushy touch. Everything was in perfect alinement and we were destined to become as one with the trails.

I fully expected some resistance from the head of the household but she seemed almost eager. Perhaps she was noticing those few extra pounds that had crept on recently. Confirming that my desire was genuine she bargained for a better discount, on the pricier model with the better suspension. Throw in a few freebies and the deal was done. As we prepared to drive away with my new toy, she smiled and said, “Happy Birthday, dear.”

We are not big on confining events to a particular day so this worked out for both of us. It turned out to be a surprise birthday present for me and for her, as the gift giver. Who would have thought that a flat tire would have lead to this. And, though my birthday isn’t until later this month, I’m sure this memory will stay with me long after the day, as I continue to find new trails to explore, and improve my skills and fitness.

Suan Luang Park (Phuket Town)

On a beautiful clear morning last week I decided to check out the big park on the west of Phuket Town called Suan Luang or King Rama IX park. I have driven past hundreds of times, but it's not that close to our house, so not really convenient for morning or evening walks (we normally go to the Bang Wad Reservoir). I don't think I realised the size of the park. After half an hours walking around there was still more to see. It's a gathering place for locals in the mornings and evenings when it's cool enough to take walks or go jogging or ride bicycles. There were also some people playing badminton and a football match going on at 8am!

The main entrance to the park is on Chao Fa road, which heads out of Phuket town towards Chalong, but there are also a couple of side entrances. Just inside the entrance is a large lake, and you can turn right or left and start walking/jogging...

Lake in Suan Luang Park Phuket

Suan Luang Park, Phuket

To the left is another small lake full of lotus flowers, and a maze of paths twisting and turning through the trees. Joggers passed by and a fair number of older folks out for their morning air - many of people had Chinese faces. Much of the population of the town is of Chinese descent. I had read that people come here in the mornings to do Tai Chi and had imagined huge gatherings of old Chinese people, but either they come another time, or not in large numbers. I did see a few here and there who had found their spot to relax.

Exercise in the park Joggers in the park

Walking in the park

The park seems to be well used, not just joggers and the like, but I found several greenhouses where plants were being tended to. Outside the greenhouses were Leelawadee trees, whose flowers have a beautiful smell.

Inside greenhouse in the park

Leelawadee flowers

It was a good bit of morning exercise for me, just a little detour on the way to work, and much needed, as I spend too many days glued to the keyboard. Might just take another walk around one day next week. It's one of those "locals" places. The people there all looked like Phuket people, not visitors or tourists or even people from other parts of Thailand who live and work in Phuket. A couple of folks seemed surprised to see a foreigner in their park. It's a place to go if you want to mingle with the local gentry.

Apparently, according to the Gay Patong website, Suan Luang Park is also a place to go "cruising"! It says "this is the place to meet"... must be an evening thing, as I don't think I saw anyone "cruising" at 8am.

Man on the phone next to lake in Phuket Town

Below - not sure a sign like this in England would use the same language. In any case I did not see any doggy doos in the park, or indeed any dogs. It's very clean and well looked after. There were gardeners at work while I walked around, and I can't say I saw any litter either which is a rare thing in these parts!

Clean up your dog poo, sign in the park.

There's not much mention of this park on the internet as it's not really a tourist attraction, which is why it's on this blog! Rather like Bang Wad reservoir, Sapan Hin or Monkey Hill, its a place where the locals gather. Phuket has many green spaces like these around the town. I mean, much of the island is green, but in these places there are walking paths and views, great for some fresh air and exercise.

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“Island home”... Design thoughts...

I would like to know what it is like living at your "Island home"
Is it hot in the rice patty? Does the design of your home have any specific qualities that make it a more livable home than a traditional style or built home?

While discussion of the design aspects of our house is pretty clear cut, the addition of a comparison to “traditional style or built home” makes things more difficult. By traditional does one means, those vary rare and stylish old style Thai homes one finds adorning the pages of architectural digests? Perhaps one means the typical village home, built as cheaply as possible, with all the resulting problems. One easy comparison is that we built more than 100 meters away from the nearest structure, while most villagers live within a few feet of neighbors on all sides and right next to a road or lane.

As for “what it is like living at” our “Island home”, it is amazing, but of course we are biased. If the temperature reaches the 40s, with no wind or a hot wind, then there is nothing for it but to turn on the air conditioner, in my little room I call my home theater, and enjoy the world of technology. Fortunately, the vast majority of the time, there is a breeze and the main living area is quite comfortable. A breeze, blowing over the rice fields, seems to have a cooling effect, rather than making things hotter.

Our general orientation is toward the North. That is where are best views are to be had. There is a mountain range to the East, that runs roughly North-South and closer hills to the Northwest, with more mountains beyond. It is my belief, those mountains influence a general North-South wind flow pattern through our valley. If there is any breeze at all, we get it. With an excess of oversized windows and an open floor plan things are usually very comfortable with no more than a fan. The main living area, which includes kitchen, dining and living room, with no dividers, is roughly 16X6 meters with a lofted ceiling that extends up to 7 meters. The overall effect, is one of exaggerated space, views and comfort.

Interestingly, we lay at roughly the same latitude as Hawaii, though our climates are very different. The path of the sun, however, is the same. Passing only a few degrees north of us, we are never bothered by too much sun coming in our front windows. We included most western conveniences and there is very little waisted or unusable space. Our recent visitors had the following comment after returning to their home, “You have a lovely home that was better than staying in a top notch hotel!”

Now in the real world, things are kept in balance and there are always elements of light and dark, good and bad. On the flip side, our house is more vulnerable to natures whims. When storms threaten, there is nothing to block the full force of the wind and rain. We live in bug central, requiring that screens, and often windows, are closed against the evening onslaught. While we can see everything around us, everything and everyone can see us too, if we are outside. It is a little hard to maintain a low profile living on our “island” or as we call our house, “Baan Klang Thoong”.

An Evening at Bang Wad Reservoir and Dam

Just a few minutes drive from our house, Bang Wad reservoir is Phuket's largest water supply, located in the hills to the west of Phuket Town. To get there just find Phuket Country Club Golf Course and drive through and all the way to the reservoir. During the day there's not much going on, but in the late afternoon, lots of people come here to exercise, jog, ride bikes, picnic, play takraw, let the kids run around... There's lots of space, and some keen joggers even run right around the reservoir (a circuit of about 6km).

Bang Wad Reservoir

The reservoir is over 1km long, and the dam is 800m long - pretty big, yet with the increasing population and demands of tourism in Phuket, there are occasional water shortage "scares" in Phuket. There is talk of pumping water to Phuket from the enormous Chiew Lan Lake at Khao Sok (about 125km from Phuket Town as the crow flies).

Admiring the views at Bang Wad Reservoir

Picnics at Bang Wad Reservoir

Joggers at Bang Wad Dam

We like to take walks along the dam, let the kids race, play on some big rocks... There are stalls selling snacks (BBQ pork, drinks etc...) and people always seem in a relaxed mood. Something to do with the fresh air. We were up at the dam a few days ago and met some friends who were having a picnic. I took some of the kids for a walk/run along the dam and took a bunch of photos.

Food Stall at Bang Wad Reservoir Food Stall at Bang Wad Dam

Playing Takraw at Bang Wad

Cyclist at Bang Wad Dam

Bang Wad Reservoir - Location Map

View Bang Wad Reservoir, Phuket in a larger map