Sapam Chinese Shrine (Kuan Te Kun)

I had meant to visit the Chinese shrine at Sapam for ages. Sapam is a village about 7km north of Phuket Town. Just south of the village is Wat Sapam which I have visited before. The village is/was a fishing community. The access is just off the main road between town and the airport, about 1.5km south of the bypass road. The Chinese shrine is right at the corner at the entrance to the village. The village road is only about 500m long before you hit the sea on the east coast of Phuket.

Sanjao Guan Te Kun

Although the shrine is commonly called "Sapam Shrine", or "Sanjao Sapam" (Sanjao is the Thai word for a Chinese shrine), the actual name is Kuan Te Kun - the sign above says Sanjao Kuan Te Kun, and I guess says a similar thing in Chinese. I wanted to visit, as this is one of the participating shrines in the Phuket vegetarian festival, and this year (2010), the first main street procession of the festival will start at Sapam shrine on Saturday 10th October. I intend to be there nice and early, around 6am. So this visit was a kind of familiarisation trip.

It's not a big shrine compared to Kathu or Jui Tui for example, which is not surprising as it serves a small community. You can read something here about the history of the Sapam area.

Chinese Dragon

The dragon above is one of 2 on the stairway at the entrance to the shrine. Everything was looking very shiny, I could see recently used mops hanging to dry and pots of paint in a shed across the road. At the time of the vegetarian festival everything is made to look its best. Statues of gods are carefully cleaned, shrines spruced up... the belief is that during the festival the gods or spirits descend into the shrines.

Inside Sapam Shrine

The main doors into the interior of the shrine were closed, but I could walk around the covered area outside where statues such as the one above were found. Also, see below.... this spiked ball (I believe) will be tied to a rope and used by a devotee (Ma Song) during the vegetarian festival - swung into the flesh of his back. There is a lot more to the festival than just Tofu :)

Prayers?

I have more photos of this shrine on Flickr: Sapam Shrine. I'll be back here on the 10th!

Update - photos at Sapam Shrine on 10th October:

Sapam Shrine Vegetarian Festival Pics

RETIREMENT- A trip to Thailand and Finding a home


Sitting on the couch one evening thinking ,"what are we going to do now ?" , I've already gave my notice at work , signed up for my early SS, Ciejay doesn't want to live in Tenn. , to expensive to live here in Salem , "what to do ". then I remembered my son Rich had visited Thailand for a few weeks and called me when he got back and said " Dad you should think about retiring in the LOS. I had never thought of it , even tho I was married to a Thai lady , I didn't think she would ever want to go back , and I knew nothing of Thailand , except the little stories of her growing up and the fact that she had two children and a lot of family there .We and the other sisters that lived in America sent a little money to their Mom and Dad every month and also from time to time some vitamins and powered food supplement , and that was all I knew . Ciejay came in and sat down beside me and ask "what you thinking husband?."I told her I was thinking about Thailand and how maybe we could think about retiring there next year .Her answer was that we didn't have any money saved , but I told her that when we retired , we would get a small check from the U. S. Government every month till I die , she did not understand about SS so I tried to explain it to her , I must have did a good job , because she answered "we pray". I left it at that, and for the next couple of months I Reade everything I could find on the www about Thailand , positive and negative.
Well retirement year rolled around and still no decision of where to retire and spend our golden years , then we got a call from Ciejay's sister in Thailand saying that her Dad had pasted away after a long bout with diabetes , and that they were having his cremation and Buddish funeral services in 5 days , well, we were not prepared for a quick trip , I hadn't even got my passport yet and we didn't have the cash for such a trip , we talked to the two sisters that lived in America and we all decided that we would go together for the 100 day ceremony, ( where they put the ashes on a little boat made of flowers and float the down the river ). I told Ciejay , " we will stay 3 weeks and look around for a little piece of land to build us a little house , and see if we want to retire in the LOS .
We went there mainly for the 100 day event , but in the back of my mind I was excited about the possibility of retiring there . I had read and looked at pictures on the net enough to make me fall somewhat in love with the country . After the ceremony , we rented a van and traveled for Two weeks all over the central and northern part of Thailand , but we never saw any place or found a little piece of land that we both liked . The last evening of our trip we decided to go to Sai Yok amphora to the little village of Wang Pho and visit Ciejay's brother before flying back home the next day . We arrived there about 5:15 , it was late evening and already getting dark , the sisters visited with their brother and I sat and looked around the area , already when we were driving down the mountain to Wang Pho valley , I had thought to myself , I like this place , and Ciejay and I had exchanged glances, with a smile , that showed she felt the same .I was dark now and we were about to leave. Ciejay and me had said that we would come back next year on our own and look around some more , we were hurry ,hurry this trip everywhere we went .As we were getting in the van , I said to Ciejay " ask your brother if there is a house and a little piece of land for sale in Wang Pho ", she asked and he said " YES, there" and he pointed to the house next door , can you believe it . We went to look , it was all dark and the house was locked tight and the windows were tinted, soooo we could not even see inside , three bedroom, and 2 to bath rooms, her brother said" not finished" , the man and wife broke and house sat empty for 6 years , I ask if her knew the man and he said "yes my friend in Bangkok" , I ask him to call him and ask the price ( house and a little piece of land .) He called the man gave a price , my brother -in -law ask for a discount and the man said YES and just like that Ciejay had bought us a house and a little piece of land in Thailand . It was dark and we could not see it very well , but as I have said many times we had a dream and God had a plan, and we were happy .
Home we went, with a big smile on our face and a lump in our throat's thinking about what we were going to do and when we could move to Thailand and our dream home , and how we were going to get the money to fix up the house and clear the land and lots of ????????? in our heads.When we showed the one picture of the house we had bought, most of our friends laughed and said it looked like it was ready to fall over, and that we could never make it livable, well we wondered the same thing sometimes , But we had prayed and felt in our hearts that it was right and this was the plan God had for us . This was 2003 and we had till March 2004 before retirement and our plans were to fly to Thailand in Oct. of 2004 to begin our new life .
Of course there was lots to do to get ready and we wondered all along if we could really fulfil our dream of retiring and living in Thailand . In the next post I will go in detail all we did to prepare for the move to the LOS and God's hand in all of it . Malcolm

Marina Phuket Resort at Karon Beach

The Marina Phuket Resort has been around for quite a long time. Not sure exactly when it opened, but it's been in Phuket longer than me! It's one of those hotels that somehow manages to combine a secluded feel and a central location, sitting on the headland at the far south end of Karon Beach with beach access down some stairs at the "On The Rock" restaurant, unspoiled sea views and yet if you walk out of the main entrance you are in the busy Kata Center area with lots of shops and restaurants. I've been inside several times to see customers or to visit the restaurant - there is a webcam installed at the restaurant - see here: Karon Beach Phuket Webcam... so you can get a good idea of the view. the rooms are past the restaurant over the sea and the rocks. This end of Karon is decent for snorkeling, and I've dived there too. It's also only about 10 minutes walk to the sands at Kata Beach from the resort.

Marina Phuket Resort - Booking & Information Links

Marina Phuket Resort - Rates and Reservations at HotelsCombined.com
Karon Beach Hotels at Agoda.com
Kata Beach Hotels at Agoda.com

Reviews on TripAdvisor are almost all positive, I do see some things about rooms being a bit old, but there are different kinds of room with Seaview or "Jungle View" - the grounds of the hotel are well kept and very green and jungly. The reviews were good enough to put Marina Phuket Resort into the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list that I wrote in 2008. The resort was fully renovated during the summer of 2012.

Marina Phuket Resort - Photos

Marina Phuket Resort Room Marina Phuket Resort Room

Marina Phuket Resort Pool Gardens at Marina Phuket Resort

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

RETIREMENT and MONEY

Tunk Ka Restaurant / Cafe on Rang Hill

Tunk Ka is a well known restaurant, a bit of an institution in Phuket, located near the top of Rang Hill in Phuket Town, open since sometime in the 1970's (I seem to remember reading that somewhere). I have meant to visit and blog Tunk Ka for ages, but my wife and I used to have the idea that the food prices were really high, putting it into the "fancy" bracket that we non-fancy folk avoid. We used to go there a lot 8 - 10 years ago just for coffee. They claimed to have the best ice coffee in Phuket and we agreed, plus you had a nice view and a calm environment. I don't recall ever eating there until a few years ago, just ice coffee until then. This blog page was first written in 2010, updated 2013. Although we have been up Rang Hill many times we've only eaten at Tunk Ka a couple of times and it's a good one!

So one day a few years ago after lunch in Phuket Town we had some free time and I convinced my dear wife that we should try Tunk Ka Cafe again, just for a coffee. You need to drive up Rang Hill. There are a couple of different roads up there, both ending up at a hill top park with a fair amount of parking space, views over Phuket Town and a statue of a man called Korsimbi Na Ranong who was governor of Phuket about 110 years ago and is credited for introducing the rubber industry into Thailand - rubber became a major source of income for Thailand and for Phuket in particular.

Statue on Rang Hill

A newer restaurant called Khao Rang Breeze opened a couple of years ago. We've not tried it yet! Past this restaurant is the main viewpoint with lots of benches. Quite a lot of tours come this way. If you want great views there are plenty in Phuket - see Phuket Hills and Views.

Rang Hill (Khao Rang) Sunset

Oh, and there are normally monkeys hanging around the car park area looking for handouts...

Feeding the Monkeys

Tunk Ka Buddha

(above) Buddha at the entrance to Tunk Ka

The Tunk Ka restaurant is clearly signposted, although you can't see it from here, as you have to walk down a stairway in the trees, the stairs being made from old railway sleepers, which is an oddity since there is no railway within 200 kilometres of Phuket! (note : update 2013, a new stairway has been built). The restaurant is perched on the side of the hill with views to the South and West. It's around 350 feet above the town. Most of the view is towards Chalong, you can't see so much of Phuket Town, as the center is to the Southeast.

Tunk Ka Restaurant

There's lots of seating inside (the outer tables with a view) and some on a balcony outside which is where we chose to sit on that day in 2010 in the fresh air. We spent some time looking at the menu, and after a quick browse we decided we'll be back soon for dinner. Arriving around 5:30 - 6pm would be good. Sunset time in Phuket varies from about 6pm - 6:45pm during the year, but if you get there too early, it might be a bit hot to sit outside in the sun. And by the time you finish eating it would be dark, so there would be some night views with pretty lights..

View from Tunk Ka Cafe

The menu is very local food, no western options. I have had the fried rice made with dried shrimp chili paste (nam prik gung seab) and grilled pork (moo yang). Very tasty. Most things on the menu are 80 - 120 Baht. The iced coffee we had is 60 Baht, but there are lots of drink options from fruit shakes to various teas and coffees and beers. This felt like a "discovery" in a way - although we had been here many times before, it had been years, so I guess we have rediscovered Tunk Ka.

Ice Coffee at Tunk Ka

(above) The ice coffee is good - and here are some food photos .... on our last visit in 2013, I had the crab curry with coconut milk. That's a really tasty dish!

Crab Curry

And here's a really local dish - Nam Prik Gung Seab, a chili paste with dried shrimps you eat with boiled vegetables and normally with omelette and rice too. It wasn't the best I'd had, but it's kind of addictive .. or if you have not tried it before, well it's a real local flavour to try!

Nam Prik Gung Seab

Tunk Ka Cafe, Phuket Town

(above) We went to Tunk Ka again in the evening one time for dinner when my mum, dad and cousin were visiting. We bagged the balcony table with the best view. Very nice evening. You gotta get this table!

More places to eat in Phuket Town

Kopitiam on Thalang Road
Yellow Door
Rider Cafe

Tunk Ka Cafe - Location Map


View Tunk Ka Cafe, Phuket in a larger map