Sri Takua Pa - Old Takua Pa

Phuket is an island, but only just. Unlike other islands such as Phi Phi, Koh Samui or Koh Chang, you can drive to Phuket from the mainland, across the Sarasin Bridge which was first built in 1967. The old bridge has since been replaced and another new one is being built at the moment. So we are not "cut off" here! Phuket is a big island, but it's also very easy to head north over the bridge into Phang Nga province and beyond. Back in April we headed to Khao Sok national park and stayed a night at the Cliff and River Jungle Resort. To get there from Phuket you drive via Khao Lak and Takua Pa. Simple enough, but we took a wrong turn in Takua Pa town and followed a winding road to an old town which looked very similar to old Phuket. We didn't stick around, we wanted to get to Khao Sok, but thought it looked interesting.. We went to Khao Sok again at the end of September and on the way home we stopped again in the little town of Sri Takua Pa for a walk.

I know nothing of this towns history, so if any scholars are reading, please do leave a comment! Looks like much of the town was built in the early 20th century around the same time as Phuket Town, and the local people seem to be Thai-Chinese. When we stopped, the shrine in the center of town was being painted ready for the vegetarian festival due to start a week later.

Painting the Shrine

The town was very quiet. Nearby Takua Pa is a busy place and a major junction where the road heads east to Surat Thani, south to Phuket and north to Ranong. Maybe Sri Takua Pa was once more important, but it seemed to me like the town that time forgot! There are only a couple of streets and we walked up the largest, passing another Chinese shrine and stopping at a little hardware store with a very friendly owner. The kids found a little steel tape measure which dad bought for them. My 5 year old boy likes to measure things and is always happy to "help" dad with odd jobs around the house :)

Hardware Store

We loved this little place. So friendly and quiet. I reckon this used to be on the main road but when the new road came... Sri Takua Pa became a forgotten place. Some of the shops were like a timewarp. Tell me the photo below was not taken in 1960!

Old Shop

Another shop at the crossroads opposite the shrine had an almost empty display with some olde style toys - I am sure we'll pass through again and if the train is still there, I'll buy it for my boy!

Puff-Puff Loco

You can see the covered walkway behind my son in the photo above, much like can be found along Thalang Road in Phuket. The old style shophouses had these covered walkways to allow people to pass from shop to shop out of the sun (or rain). Sri Takua Pa does look a bit faded, and there are a few newer buildings, but in parts, it's just as nice as the old part of Phuket Town and many houses had these little shrines outside like the one below:

Shrine

Sri Takua Pa is definitely not a "happening" place, but IS a good place to get a taste of real life, and well worth a visit. It's not so far from Khao Lak, and certainly a worthwhile stop off on the way to Khao Sok.. if you can find it. We found the town by accident first time, and on this visit we couldn't remember which wrong turn we'd taken the first time, but eventually figured it out!

A couple more local shops...

Brushes

Sri Takua Pa Barber!

More Photos of Sri Takua Pa

It's for places like Sri Takua Pa that I like to explore the backroads, and proof that taking a wrong turn now and then can be a good thing! I mean, I know most people are happy to stay on the beach, take a few tours, eat some good food, but if you stick to the well beaten path in Phuket, you don't really see Thailand. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... I took the one less traveled by.

House Make-over

the house in 2008





























It's been six years since we remodeled the house and moved into when we came to the LOS in 2004 , We did a lot as you have seen in the past post , we did what we knew we could do quickly, so we could move in as soon as possible and have been satisfied with the way it looked all these six years . Paint doesn't last forever in the Los with the hot and humid weather and of course the long rainy season, sooo it (the house ) was in need of a fresh coat of paint . We call our house (home) a bungalow , and have been happy with it , but now after all these years we thought we would like something a little different , and as we talked about it and looked around we thought we would like a cottage style house , of course we can't just tear this one down sooo we had to turn this one into a cottage . We have started and the following pictures are some of the work already done and still in progress , some folks say it looks like Disney Land and I think it does a little , but we love it so far . There is lots more to be done to complete the the Make-over, and then a fresh coat of paint (not sure the color yet), and every time we look at what was done , we see something else we want done , we are going to do work also on the decks and steps and will redo the waterfall and pond , and some (not a lot ) on the landscape and garden , I like it to look as natural as possible with out getting out of control I like wild grass and flowers and vines and even some weeds , I don't want it to look all manicured and perfect , If we don't cut the grass for a month I still think it looks good ( that's just my opinion) and Ciejay likes it too and that's all that matters ,really .

I will take more pictures as we go along , and will put up, with a short post , take a look at the pictures and Please live a honest comment about what you think . I alcolmknow to some it looks like I've lost it , but what the heck , we like it , and here in the LOS we can do what we want and don't have to worry about the neighbors , the laws and the , restrictions and permits and no Bureaucrats telling me what and how I can do with the property and house that we own

I guess that's another reason why we are" Retired in Thailand and Loving it." M

Encounter with a Snake ...

It was bedtime and as is our custom, I took Cookie out into the front yard on a leash, for her to do her business.  I am usually looking up at the stars, or as on this occasion, a full moon with this being Loy Krathong.  It is not as cool as it was a few weeks back but still quite pleasant and restful, to take in the night air and the eery moonlit views of the valley, before retiring for the night.

We seldom see snakes around here and the last few were dispatched for being young cobras and threatening our dogs.  Cookies business done, I thought to walk closer to the pond and out of the glare of the main spotlight in the front of the house.  Fortunately this necessitated looking where I was going, allowing me to spot something in the grass along my intended path. 

In some environs, stripes are purported to be camouflage, but not in our yard thankfully.  The bands covering the entire length of its body, wreathed rhythmically along a length of ground well over one meter long.  This was by far the largest snake that I have had the pleasure of meeting around here.  Worried that Cookie would spot it and draw attention to its presence, I did an abrupt about-face and took her in the house and out of harms way.

Being on the leash it wasn’t really Cookie that I was worried about, rather our other dogs who have been known to take on snakes that invade their territory.  The snakes they have dispatched in the past have been seemingly harmless and rather small.  The small cobras, I stepped in and took care of myself.  This would have been an entirely different sort of confrontation.  Not knowing much about snakes, I never the less felt this one was not something to be trifled with, by me or my dogs.

By successfully avoiding a confrontation, my wife and I were able to watch its progress across the grass and into the darkness beyond, from the safety of our living room.  Today’s research has revealed that it was most likely some form of Krait.  They eat other snakes, lizards, rats and frogs, and possess a highly toxic venom.  With a smorgasbord of prey in the fields that surround us, I guess it is understandable that they inhabit this area.  Fortunately they are not particularly aggressive and only seem to come out at night.

I am relatively certain that it was just passing through and not setting up residence in our yard, as there is better hunting down in the fields.  I have often seen evidence of this kind on snake, as roadkill on the way into town, but hope we won’t be having any repeat encounters in our yard anytime soon.

No, I did not get any pictures.  Better light or a better zoom, and maybe, but last night I wasn’t getting any closer than necessary.

360 Degree Coffee - Andaman Viewpoint

I do like to explore my environment and I am lucky that my wife is the same. Not everyone is the same of course - we have friends who have lived years in Phuket and have not been to half the places on this blog. Other friends here, as well as visitors, use my blog to find ideas of what to do. Starting the blog was a good excuse to take Saturday drives around the island looking for places of interest. We still do this, and if we see side roads that have yet to be explored we normally follow them. Phuket is big enough that there are still places I have not seen, and it's important to remember that "Phuket Island" is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin bridge - just 500 meters from Phuket and you are in Phang Nga province. From our house, it's about a 40 minute drive to the bridge, so Phang Nga is easily reached. Last month we had a little holiday, staying 2 nights at the Cliff and River Jungle Resort on the edge of Khao Sok national park. From home to there is about a 3 ½ hour drive via Khao Lak and Takua Pa. On the way back we stopped to explore a little town called Sri Takua Pa, and then just before Phuket we followed a sign to "Andaman Viewpoint", just a few km north of the bridge. We had seen the sign before and not thought there could be much of a view, but we were in exploring mood this time.

Sea View

The sign at the road did not say there was a restaurant, just a viewpoint. The hill is maybe 100 feet high, but high enough to see the sea to the west (above). Finding a restaurant there was a bonus, as we were getting peckish and wondering what to east when we got home. The restaurant sits on the side of this not-very-high hill, but all the land north and east is flat, so there is quite a view actually...

Nice spot for a coffee

We ordered some ice coffee and a "family plate" of fried rice, 120 Baht, big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids. My wife said she remembered seeing the place on the local cable channel, a few other people were there having coffee, I don't reckon they get many foreign customers, but promotion on the local cable TV is good for getting local business. A good place for a sunset dinner one day I think. (update 2015) Is busy at weekends.

Our daughter enjoyed using a telescope they had fixed to the floor through which you could see Sarasin bridge to the south.

What can U see?

Quite a unique place, hope they get enough business to stay open long enough for us to visit again! Certainly worth stopping if you are driving to Phang Nga or Khao Sok. A day trip might include Wat Suwan Kuha - the temple in a cave, lunch at Samchong Seafood and an afternoon on a boat to James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, then stop at this 360 view restaurant on the way home!

(Update 2011) - The 360 Degree restaurant and cafe is getting popular, especially at weekends. We were there again recently (October 2011) for coffee and cake, and they now have a crane on site to hoist people up in a viewing capsule - excellent!

NEW PHOTOS OCTOBER 2011

View from 360 Degree Coffee

View from 360 Degree Coffee

360 degrees - looking down

360 Degree Coffee

Update 2015 - It's got a kind of waterslide and pool now and a shooting range. We've not been for a while.

The SEVEN

This much work done in two weeks they are really working to open it as soon as possible .




Well I knew we couldn't be country forever, and it has happened that the big time is coming to Wang Pho . Believe it or not they are building a 7-11 6 blocks from my home , in one way I'm excited and in other ways I am sad , excited , because now I can get a great Hot Dog anytime I want and they make a great ham and cheese and egg sandwich that I love and you can pay almost any bills there and they (omg) are going to put in a ATM . Now for the sad , all of our little Mom and Pop shops are going to see a big decline in business, from the college near by and from the 950 students that attend our local high school.In most cities the 7 is a little more expense, but most of our local Mom and Pops shop at Makro and Lotus and bring it back to their stores and add a few, sometimes more baht to the price which will make the 7-11 cheaper.It would be different if the Thai folks would continue to be loyal to the local shops , But as you and I know it's all about money and survival here in the Los and especially in these small village , every little baht makes a difference. One shop owner I talked with said he is going to sell or close his shop and also sell his house and land and move to another small village and open up another shop " maybe a different business all together", he said . I think they (the little shops ) can see the handwriting on the wall , It's just like it was in our town in America when Walmart came to town , it hurt all the little small shops and many of them just went under at no fault of their own , people are going to shop where they can get the most for their money , that is human nature.


We (Ciejay and Me) are still very happy here in our little village of Wang Pho located in a large fertile valley , at the foot of a small mountain range and on the bank of the famous River Kwai,and as I have said many times ,thats why we are "Retired In Thailand and Loving It."


Change is certain, and probably our grand-kids when they are adults will call Wang Pho THE BIG CITY. Malcolm

CHINESE TEMPLE AND DRAGON

This is at the entrance to the Temple or (Park)
Tall pole inside of the gate which was closed this day

As seen from the road
Now that's a big mouth full of water fall

Ciejay looks real small stand in front of the Drago


This looked very old


OPPS dragon again
Looks like a gift shop and museum

Ciejay again

My truck in front of the dragon--- this thing is big

A few days ago Ciejay and me took a day trip over to Supan Buri to visit sister Tui for lunch and to pick up some herbs she had for us . On our way right before the bus station on the left hand side of the road is a huge decorated with carvings pole (totem pole) of Chinese subjects, I think . This thing is big and if you drive inside the temple or park , not sure which one , they have made the largest Dragon I have ever seen constructed out of concrete . It looks like you can go in thru the front and must be filled with some kind of displays . they were closed when we got there so we couldn't go inside and the writing was in Chinese for the most part . It looks like off to the side they are building homes and shops , and it looks like they are maybe planning a small Chinese village . Has anyone else seen this and have more info than me ?? We plan on another day trip when it is open and exploring it for a few hours and getting all the info we can for a future post . Lots of pictures and hope you enjoy . You can see the size of the dragon with Ciejay looking like a ant standing in front and also my truck looks like a toy
I don't know a lot about it and I'm sure it would make for a fun day for anyone , if nothing else ,just to see this big Dragon with a Water Fall coming out of his mouth. Malcolm

You never know what you will run upon when you are traveling in the LOS , and as I have said before that's what I love about being Retired In Thailand and Loving It.

A House for Sale in Phuket

Anyone reading this blog, or anyone who has been here to Phuket might be thinking that Phuket is pretty decent place to live, or at least a good place to have a holiday home (lucky you if you can afford 2 homes!). I agree! After many years of traveling, I came to Phuket in 1999 looking for dive instructor work. Did not take too long to start settling down. We bought a house in 2003 when our daughter was 2 years old and had decided that we would be here "a while" :)

I have already written about Buying a House in Phuket, and using the services of a real estate agent. The title of this page is "A House for Sale in Phuket".. well of course there are many houses for sale in Phuket, with prices all over the ballpark from "very affordable" to "OMFG!". I am referring in this case to a particular house which is for sale by my friend Roger, and it's a nice house, I have been there for BBQs and swam in the pool. He has the house listed with agents, but of course agents have lots of houses on their books, so I said I'd put his house for sale on my blog. I'd buy it myself if I could afford it :)

Roger's house is in the Rawai area of Phuket, about 300m from the beach on a quiet cul-de-sac (no through traffic, no traffic noise). There are several nice houses on this street, and the Rawai area in general is popular with expats. There are quite a number of bars and restaurants within 10 minutes drive that cater to foreign tastes including places like Nikitas Bar, right on the beach at Rawai, or Friendship Beach which is also right by the sea between Rawai and Chalong.

So here's the house:

Rogers House for Sale in Phuket

The total land area is 960 square meters, you have 4 en suite bedrooms (master bedroom is 33 sq m, with extra big bathroom including not only a shower, but a bath too), a large outdoor pool, big garden, carport for 2 cars, big western style kitchen, spacious outdoor terrace. I like this house!.. or "villa".. yeh, can't say house in Phuket, has to be a "villa"!

Anyone wanting a home in Phuket, either a permanent residence or for holidays, you have a huge choice. Sometimes you can't be sure what you're seeing on real estate websites, but in this case I give a personal recommendation - nice house and Roger is a nice guy. The listed price for this house/villa/home is 15,900,000 Baht. If you want to know more, do contact me and I'll put you in touch with Roger. Leave a comment below with your contact details, email me - jjjjmonk @ yahoo DOT co DOT uk or send me a message on Facebook. And if you end up living in this house, please invite me for a BBQ!

More information about real estate in Phuket

Update - Sold :) For more real estate info, houses for sale and rent, have a look at Siam Real Estate.

Five 650 Ninjas and Doi Tung Mountain...

I wont not for the reckless abandon of youth.  The days of fearless bravado and launching one’s self headlong into the abyss, are no longer for me.  These aging bones are tempted more by coddling and comfort than fear and the rush of adrenaline.  Yet yesterday found me facing my fears and doing things with my bike that had me amazed.  Amazed that we all escaped unscathed.

Five Ninjas racing through traffic on the way to Doi Tung and then snaking our way up the mountain at breakneck speed.  Granted I was at the tail end of the snake much of the time, waiting for an opportunity to go around other vehicles rather than between them.  Even after pushing what I felt were the physical limits of my tires on the uphill twistys, one of the younger guys pointed out on the edge of his tires, how much further out the wear pattern was from mine.  I doubt he had a full centimeter of unscuffed rubber at the boarders.

The three young Thai guys obviously do this run up Doi Tung regularly where it was the first time for the two aging farangs.  The experience I gained on the day was invaluable.  Following others gave me the confidence I would have been lacking on my own.  With them clearing the way, so to speak, I could focus on my technique rather than guessing at the optimal speed and worrying about the constant threat of finding someone in my lane, passing on a blind curve.  A regular occurrence, I might add, and one that is met with daily when on the roads in this area. 

The young lads couldn’t resist commenting on how small our bikes looked under our more substantial bulk and our retort was how they looked like tiny children perched upon their massive beasts.  Much was made of which gears were used to climb the mountain.  Clearly the weight to power ratio was in there favor, no getting around that fact.  Thrills, camaraderie, banter and great riding weather marked the day.  I did breath a sigh of relief when my regular riding buddy and I headed back to the Rai at a very brisk, yet more measured pace.

It was nice of them to invite us and the five of us had a great time, risking life and limb.  After coffee and conversation at the top of the mountain, which was remarkably crowed on the day, we parted ways.  The two young guys that we know are policemen, continued on to Mae Sai for lunch and to visit a friend who had been invited to join the ride, but who had a mishap and incapacitated his R1, just the day before.  The youngest rider was entrusted to the Farangs on the return ride to Chiang Rai.  We even received a thoughtful followup call to make sure we all got back to town safely.

The winter riding season seems to be in full swing.  Seeing more bikes on the road everyday.  Next month I’ll be off to my first Bike Week in Chiang Mai, just to have a look see.  It may end up being a one-off but with friends planning a new route to get there and back, I just couldn’t resist.  Sorry no pictures this time, as we were moving a bit too fast.

Wat Tha Reua Temple

A few weeks ago I had some holidays while Mum and Dad were visiting from England. On one of their first days here, we went off exploring. Our family is not really into the very touristy things, preferring to find a bit of real local life and local culture. When I was a kid, we visited churches and cathedrals. Wherever we went, there had to be a church or cathedral. I was a kid. Mum still recalls me saying "Seen one stained glass window, seen them all". I am basically an atheist. I like the "be nice to people" aspect of religion, but not the "Praise the Almighty!" bit. I might write a book one day called "God is an egotist so praise Him or you're going to Hell", although I am sure it's been done already.

Anyway. I like temples. I am now a dad. And I have already blogged loads of Phuket Temples and Shrines. Wat Tha Reua is between Phuket Town and Thalang just south of the Heroines monument. The Tha Reua area is an older more rural part of Phuket with lots of rubber plantations and, to the east of the temple, large areas of shrimp farms. The name Tha Reua means "Port" - I am guessing that before Phuket Town became the main town that the coast on the east of Tha Reua was the main port of Phuket.

Tha Reua (pronounced Ta Roo-a) temple is not on the tourist trail. The entrance can be seen by the main road heading south from the airport, and I have driven past hundreds of times. This day with my parents was a chance to blog another temple.. or two actually as we also visited Sapam Chinese Shrine on the same day :)

>Entrance to Wat Tha Reua

You can only see the entrance from the main road, as the main temple is hidden away in the trees. We parked in the shade for a quick look around. No crowds here. No visitors at all. Spotted a monk or 2 sweeping up leaves. The main building seems rather uncared for though some building materials were piled up nearby.

Tha Reua Temple

Buddha. Worth reading a bit about Buddhism if you come to Thailand. Worth looking at the face of a statue of Buddha. The word is "serene". I like to look at the Buddha images. This one is under the trees at Wat Tha Reua with the 7 headed Naga snake over his head. Looks scary but the Naga is said to have raised its 7 heads to keep the rain off the Buddha when he was meditating.

Buddha at Tha Reua temple

A temple like this does not take long to look around. We were wandering aimlessly around the ground when a young monk started chatting (in Thai). OK, so my Thai is not great but enough to get by. We noticed a boat being built right there in the temple. Some of the wood in the boat looked old and some was obviously new. Our monk friend told me that the old wood was part of an old boat, he said 1000 years old. My Phuket history is not perfect but 1000 years old seems a bit much. Anyway, it was the remains of an old boat, now being made into a new boat for display at the temple.

Monk at Tha Reua temple, Phuket

If there are any temple fans out there, Phuket is a good place to come! Buddhist temples, Chinese shrines, Muslim mosques too and even a Catholic church can be found in Phuket. Maybe don't bring the kids though. Seen one temple, seen them all.

Views of Hawaii.

Here are just a few of the many shots my wife and I took on our trip to Hawaii.

Back view of Diamond Head from our friend's home.

Morning view from where we stayed most of the trip.

Looking up the valley in the other direction.
Turtle coming ashore.

I know I'm cute but leave me alone.
Hawaiian Surfer.

Hawaiian Style
Modern Hawaii.

Thais are everywhere.
Waikiki Beach
Kitesurfing.

Valley of the Temples.
Hawaii Rainbow

Sunset over Waikiki from our friend's deck in Palolo Valley.