Phuket Tours - Easy Day Thailand

When I started Jamie's Phuket Blog in 2006, part of the idea was to show that Phuket is more that you might realise. More than I realised too. And it took me years to figure this out! I was often reading comments like "Phuket is crowded and too touristy and has no local life" on travel forums.... and it became clear that the people writing these comments had not left the main beaches or had booked onto the cheapest possible tours with 50 other people in 1 longtail boat to James Bond Island... I started the blog to show that Phuket has much more to offer than just beaches, bars, cheap fake handbags.. I mean why travel so far just for that? If you are from Europe you can get a beach and sun in Spain or Greece. If you're coming to Thailand, come on - try to see the real Thailand!

If you flick through the pages on this blog you'll find a huge mixture of things to do, some more touristy than others. Phuket does have some very good tourist attractions like Phuket Fantasea or Splash Jungle Waterpark or the ever popular Aquarium, but many of the places we like to visit are off the beaten track, or maybe we like to visit popular places but we do it "our way" rather than with a tour. And with that in mind... Easy Day Thailand is a tour company set up in 2010 by friends of ours. Ingo and Diego can book you for any tour you want, but the real attraction is that they can do personalised tours, some of which are based on this blog - for example, if you want a trip in Phang Nga Bay, including James Bond Island and Panyee Village - Easy Day Thailand will do it "our way", avoiding the tourist crowds and with lunch at a local seafood restaurant.

Easy Day Thailand - Contact Them Here

James Bond Island View

Formula 1 Longtail at Koh Panyee

(above) James Bond Island and Koh Panyee village in Phang Nga Bay

If you want a rent a villa, charter a speedboat, go elephant trekking, then these guys can arrange it. Tickets for Fantasea or the new Siam Niramit show, airport transfers, Thai cooking classes, day trips to Phi Phi Island, snorkeling trips. Pretty much anything really! If you want to go scuba diving, then you can contact me directly - I am manager at Sunrise Divers based at Karon Beach - ready to help if you want to try diving for the first time, or if you are already a diver and want to experience the best diving in the area - find me at Sunrise Divers!

MV Sai Mai - Sunset at Coral Island Phuket

(above) Tour boat at Coral Island - ask Easy Day Thailand for sunset tours or boat charters.

One of the most popular trips sold by Easy Day Thailand is a very nice day trip over to Racha Yai island (aka Raya Island), about 15km south of Phuket. You can go snorkeling, explore the island and there's a lunch at Ban Raya resort. You can also stay on the island at Ban Raya - we did this 2 day trip in September 2012 - see Weekend at Racha Yai. I'd dived at Racha maybe 100 times and never before set foot on the island. You see, there's always more to explore!

Kids Jumping at Racha Yai Island

(above) - Racha Yai (Raya) island - great for a day or overnight trip.

New! Added in 2012, Easy Day Thailand now have Khao Sok tours - the Khao Sok National Park is north of Phuket, about a 3 hour drive, day trips are possible, but it's better to stay a night or two, enjoy nature, water activities, elephant rides, fantastic scenery... read more : Fun and Relaxation at Khao Sok National Park.

Lunch stop at Khao Sok

The guys at Easy Day Thailand are very flexible - if you want to arrange a personalised day trip around the Phuket area, they can help. If you are a regular reader of Jamie's Phuket, and have seen something on the blog that you'd like to do, just contact Easy Day - let them know what you want to see... something can almost certainly be arranged.

Buddha with Blue Sky

(above) a day tour of Phuket might include the Big Buddha

If you are a fan of temples, or want to take in some of the best views in Phuket, contact Easy Day Thailand - almost anything is within reason, ask for Ingo or Diego - they'll be able to help!

Easy Day Thailand - Contact Information
Phuket Hotels - I suggest trying Agoda.com

Yoga in Phuket - The Little Yoga Room

Yoga is surging in popularity all over the world, and it's not just for hippies! It's become big business, with many people turning to yoga for fitness, and both physical and mental well-being. Is it something mystical or magical? Is there something truly spiritual with yoga, or just a good stretch and muscle work out? I don't know - I'm not really into yoga, partly because I am a bit of a fat panda these days.. I prefer a beer to relax... although I do some exercise now and then like hiking up to the Big Buddha or walking at Bang Wad Reservoir. But for sure yoga is popular in Phuket - try a Google search for Yoga Phuket and you'll get the idea! There are many yoga schools, but here's a personal recommendation ... A friend of mine who is teaching yoga and has a small yoga school called The Little Yoga Room.

Little Yoga Room

I went along to The Little Yoga Room to take some photos of Becky striking some poses. She has classes most days (see schedule) sometimes at her own place and sometimes in co-ordination with a nearby Muay Thai camp. The Little Yoga Room is in Chalong, the address is 36/17 Soi Palai. This is the road that leads to Phuket Zoo. Head down this road about 200m there is a sign and you enter at the white gate on the left. It's a small, intimate shala, maximum class size of 10, yoga mats provided. Classes last about 90 minutes.

The Little Yoga Room Phuket

Becky has been interested in yoga for many years and really got involved when she moved to Tokyo in 2006. I've known Becky since 2008 when she moved to Phuket. Here in Phuket Becky was taking yoga classes and also working as a school teacher, but yoga was the winner, and last year she took an intensive training course to become a yoga instructor. The Little Yoga Room has been open for a while and already has some great reviews at TripAdvisor.


Becky at The Little Yoga Room

The style of Yoga that Becky teaches is Ashtanga Yoga - a system of yoga transmitted to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009). This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures - a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.

Ganesh

Yoga in Phuket

The postures can be quite alarming! I can still touch my toes... Becky went through a 20 minute routine while I was there. Maybe one of these days if I have more spare time, I will try some yoga. A bit of sweat and detoxification is certainly a good thing and I'm not getting any younger. Certainly can't do this:

A rush of blood to the head

Twisted

Anyone staying in Phuket can contact Becky for yoga classes which can be booked per session (350 Baht) or 10 classes for 3000 Baht. Private yoga classes can also be arranged - just ask Becky!

The Little Yoga Room - Contact details

Phone: 084 442 4634 (local) or +6684 442 4634 (from outside Thailand)
Email: yogawithbeckyphuket@yahoo.com
Facebook: Yoga Becky Phuket
Website: www.thelittleyogaroomphuket.com

Bangkok Girls do Chiang Rai ...


I am playing the provocative title game today just for a little fun.  The truth is, we recently had four of my wife’s lovely friends from Bangkok come up to visit us at our little place in the Rai.  They have all traveled a fair amount but none of them had ever been to Chiang Rai.  Finally they worked us into their busy schedules and flew up to see us.  Chiang Rai is no longer an unfamiliar place to them.

I didn’t take a count of all the cameras and iPhones clicking away but did notice there were quite a few between the five girls.  There I go again, using the word girls for thirty something females but except for my wife they are all single and younger than her so they are all girls to me.  My wife was the oldest, having just turned thirty-seven.  One of the girls is one of our oldest friends, having known us since before we got married.  Being single is not all that bad, in my opinion, for if they were taking care of husbands and children, they most likely wouldn’t be running around having so much fun.

It seems most of my wife’s friends in Bangkok fit this mold of a thirty something professional woman still living with family or on their own and with disposable income to spend on travel and other fun stuff, if they can ever get off work.  Facebook was well utilized both during and after the visit to post pictures and comment, so no one should complain if I post a few of my wife’s shots here.





















Garden visitor

An infrequent visitor to our garden made and appearance today and stayed around long enough for me to take her portrait. The Atlas Moth is amazing to look at up close.





Festival and Street Fair in Kathu Village

Last weekend (15th - 17th July) we had a street fair and cultural festival in Kathu. I should explain what "Kathu" is - probably means nothing to most people. Surely this place is called Phuket? Yes, but Phuket is a big island and Kathu is one of the 3 districts of Phuket Island, the other 2 being Muang and Thalang. Kathu district is pretty big, it includes Patong Beach and Kamala Beach, and the area inland between Patong and Phuket Town which is called Kathu (subdistrict) - this being where we live. Kathu was the center of the tin mining industry in the 19th and early 20th century. The old part of Kathu village where this festival took place is still very quiet and features a large Chinese shrine which plays an important role in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

This was the 3rd year for the Kathu village festival and it was much bigger this year, and much more heavily promoted. In 2009, I saw the signs up and went to have a look, being very surprised to find a colourful street procession. That first year it seemed to be a very local event, I saw no other foreigners and the crowds were small. In 2010, the event was bigger, with the road through the village closed for 3 days and the streets lined with stalls selling food, plus historical information and a great tin mining exhibit. But still very few foreign visitors. This year with promotion in the local press I expected to see more tourists for the Friday evening street procession, but the weather must have put people off - a wet day, and when I headed to the village at about 5:30pm, the heavens opened and everyone ran for shelter. I wondered if the procession might be cancelled, but the rain lasted only 20 minutes, and just after 6pm, things kicked off.

Kathu Village Festival 2011

The painted faces and costumes were great again. The face above is painted in Chinese Opera style. I took some photos before the procession started moving - it's easier to take a portrait when someone is not moving! Being a grey evening and not far off sunset, the light was not great. I was very glad to have my 50mm f1.8 lens - great for low light and great for portraits. The procession this year was much larger and more varied that the previous years. People had joined the procession from other parts of Phuket. Kathu is not a Muslim area, but Phuket has a large Muslim population and this was evident in the procession.

Muslim smile

Muslim Style

Being that I was one of the only foreigners there, many people were very happy to stop and pose for a photo. I am always struck by how happy these local events are. One in the eye for the cynics who say that the Land of Smiles is a myth. Sure it may have been a tourism tagline, but I find the smiles to be very real.

Hi girls!

Well hello!

The procession kept coming with several marching bands, school kids, boy scouts, and a couple of walking advertisements for Phuket Fantasea and for the new Aphrodite Cabaret which will open soon near Phuket Town. Not sure if Phuket needs another transsexual cabaret, but time will tell. Yes, these are all men:

Sawasdee Kaaaaa (p)

I took the opportunity to catch some pictures of the villagers too, as the parade passed by their doors. There are lots of older people in Kathu, you can normally see the old folks sitting around chewing the fat during the day.

Watching

Kathu Man

And the kids were coming to watch too. The event was for the whole community. The teenagers got all dressed up, younger kids had their fun, our kids kept begging us for another drink and some more snacks from a food stall. Photo below shows kids heading down to the village along a side street where lanterns had been places to light the way. The "lanterns" when I inspected closely were made from Red Bull bottles with a wick stuffed through a hole in the cap... then placed in these "olde style" holders to fit better with the village's rustic aesthetic :)

Kathu side street

The evening drew in fairly quickly - sun sets around 6:45pm at this time of year, the parade started after 6pm... and there was no sun anyway! Here's some more of the great costumes in the parade... and more smiles!

Great costumes

Smiles

I was there again on Saturday, with the family, so I was not taking many photos - and the big parade was only on the first evening anyway. There was music and dance and loads of food stalls, and on Saturday evening (with no rain) it was really busy. Down a side street I found a local character :

Kathu Soul

Last year he'd been doing a tin mining demonstration. This year he was encouraging people to sit in an old rickshaw. One tourist (Thai tourist) wanted a photo of himself pulling a rickshaw. The old guy promptly put a hat on him and then asked my son and a little local kid to jump on for a ride :)

The oldest tuk tuk in Phuket?

A great local event. I don't know what more can be done to encourage visitors/tourists or local expats to attend such events. This year there was decent promotion online in the Phuket Gazette and some other local websites, I guess the rain put people off on Friday, or maybe foreigners don't care anyway for local events. It certainly can be hard if you are a tourist to find out about a festival like this. I mentioned it several times on my Phuket Facebook Page and on Twitter, but I don't suppose any hotels or travel agents promoted it, or maybe did not know about it. This is a side of Phuket that really should be seen... and seen for real, not just on a blog! Well in a couple of months, Kathu will be busy again for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival - and that really is unmissable!

Google Map of Kathu Area


View Kathu Village Phuket in a larger map