Rider Cafe in Phuket Town

Yes, back in Phuket Town. I head into town more and more these days for food, drinks, coffee, a few beers with friends or just a walk with the family. Rider Cafe is in the old town area, my favourite part of Phuket and opened in 2012. There have been a number of new cafes and restaurants opening in the area in the last few years as the old town slowly becomes more popular with locals and tourists. I start to worry that the whole old town will be cafes, but I don't think so - most of the buildings are owned by old families and are home to old businesses like hardware stores, fabric shops, shrines, printers ... the old town is a mix of old and new. Last weekend I was in town for the Baba wedding street procession, celebrating local culture, and after the procession had passed I met up with Tim who also lives in Phuket with his family and writes a blog, and we looked for somewhere to eat - it was Sunday and a lot of places are closed on Sundays, but I saw the Rider Cafe sign shining down the street ...

Rider Cafe, Phuket Town - Street View

I'd been a couple of times before just for a beer, but this time was glad to see it open - I like a burger now and then, and was told that Rider Cafe does good burgers. The menu is a mix - there is Thai food, but more burgers and big breakfasts, plus coffee and cakes. I was certainly ready for a burger, and there's a good choice of burgers and good ol' western food on the menu ...

Rider Cafe, Phuket Town - Menu

I went for the Rider Bacon Burger, and a beer of course. It was a quiet Sunday, just us and a couple of other customers. No sign of the owner - his name is Teddy - he's a guitar playing, Harley riding spinal surgeon who works part time at the Phuket Bangkok International Hospital and plays in a band too! Last time I stopped by at Rider for a beer the staff told me he was out playing guitar at the Hard Rock Cafe in Patong. So, he's a busy guy! I hope to bump into him sometime.

Maybe the place is busier sometimes in high season, I hope they get enough business to stay open because I do like small interesting restaurants with a bit of character. Phuket Town has plenty of this, every place has it's own style and that's great. This is the inside of Rider Cafe ...

Rider Cafe, Phuket Town

What's this? Burgers on the way! Looking good!

Rider Cafe, Phuket Town - Burgers Coming!

Looking like my bacon burger on the left, but what is this monster on the right with an egg on top? Looks like Tim ordered the full-monty V-Twin burger .. which is what I will get next time! Burger report - I was not disappointed. The bacon burger was juicy, full or flavour, the ingredients fresh, a good portion of chips. I do normally eat Thai food, but .. burgers are good!

Rider Cafe, Phuket Town - Burger

(above) My burger at Rider Cafe

A short period of gluttony followed, which I plan to repeat sometime soon. Rider Cafe could become a more regular hangout. If only I had more time to hang out! And Phuket Town has many good places to stop for food and drink, away from the crowds. This is my Phuket, not the mainstream tourist Phuket. I'd suggest that if you want to really see Phuket, stay a few nights in Phuket Town (see Hotels in Phuket Town) as well as staying near the beach. It's very different.

Related Phuket Blog posts :

Kopitiam Restaurant on Thalang Road
Abduls Roti Shop
Phuket Town Central Market
The Oldest Herb Shop in Phuket

Rider Cafe Website

Rider Cafe - Location Map

View Rider Cafe - Phuket Town in a larger map

Buffets, Inc. Does Not Want You to Count Carbs

Just about all of the buffet chains have a nutrition chart on their websites. The Buffets, Inc. restaurants' websites do have a nutrition chart but they are missing a very important column - the carbohydrate counts for each of their food items. This is an interesting deletion as all of the other standard counts are there. So why is this a problem? The Buffets, Inc. buffets include Old Country

Urban Life or Rural Life …

This nonstop rain has me sitting here, staring at the screen, wondering what to write.  There are a few options which I have discarded for falling under the general heading of negative or unpleasant.  There are no words trying to gnaw their way out or compelling me to sit here but I feel the need to write something anyway.

Watching Charlie Rose the other night, they were talking about urbanization and mentioned how several years ago, about the time I moved out of the city, humanity passed that inflection point where more people now live in urban rather than rural environments.  That somehow struck me as interesting.  I grew up amidst the suburban sprawl of my generation, in university towns as I have said before.  My adult life was spent however in Bangkok, a heavily populated city, even in the seventies, but with little resemblance to the present day, Big Mango.

Inexperienced and alone, I matured in this massive sprawl of humanity, and witnessed the growth of Bangkok from low rise shophouses and klongs, to a high rise jungle intertwined with a braided maze of congested traffic.  As the city became more modern, so did I.  I quickly adjusted to living in urban boxes and using public transport.  Young and single, I delegated food, laundry and various menial tasks to others, allowing me the freedom to be out and about and as irresponsible as I dared.

As the pace of the city quickened, I found myself matching the tempo, often returning to my little box only to sleep and change clothes.  So even if one excludes the availability of jobs, I can still relate to the draw of urban life.  It certainly held my attention for quite some time.  Something in me changed along the way, however.  First I suppose was getting married at forty-five and transitioning from being single and unencumbered, to being responsible for and to another individual.

Even then, we spent the first ten years of our life together living in the city and traveling much of the year.  Our travels awakened in us a deep almost primal lust for nature, which tainted our view of city living after a while.  With the selling of my parents ever welcoming home and their move into a retirement home, I suddenly found myself without refuge and the emotional shelter that family home had unwittingly provided.

As much as I loved city living, it didn’t fill that whole which had gradually developed in my life.  I found myself yearning for space, comfort and the things I had possessed in my youth.  So as the rest of the world was moving to the city in ever increasing numbers, I or should I say we, decided to move out.  Reading this blog you will no doubt have a clear understanding of how much I love living here in the village.  Still this raises questions in my mind.

Are my wife and I somehow unique, or are all these people rushing to the cities, one day going to want to leave these cities?  If they do, where will they go?  One suspects that returning to a rural setting will eventually become an option for only a select few.  With the world population going from 3 to 7 billion in my lifetime, it looks as though urban life will become not just the norm but a necessity for humanity as we move forward.

Cooking with Banana Leafs

There is nothing I love better than a good fresh banana , we grow our own , the banana trees after they have fruit will die , but they will send up a couple more little trees to grow and produce .The banana tree will  fruit once a year, BUT you can use the leafs for lots of purposes  year round , we use them just like tin foil, and they will add a great flavor to anything that you cook with them. Below is a post from the web site About .com , I thought you might like to read , thanks Darlene for the great article.

Cook with Banana Leaf

By Darlene Schmidt, About.com Guide

Banana Leaf Boats - great for cooking and serving!

Banana leaves serve many purposes in Asian cooking, from adding flavor to foods cooked inside them, to simply being used as a colorful and exotic background for serving-plates and party platters. Banana leaves are beautiful, fun to use, and easy to cook with! Find out how to buy banana leaves, how to cook with them, how to decorate your platters with them, and how to store extra banana leaves for use next time.

1.Buying Banana Leaves

Banana leaves are very inexpensive to buy - roughly $3.00-4.00 for a large pack. Buy banana leaves fresh or frozen in large, flat plastic bags at your local Asian supermarket (check the freezer if you can't find them on the shelf or in the produce section).

2.Cooking with Banana Leaves

Banana leaves can be used for baking anything "wrapped" - in the same way you would use tin foil or parchment paper. However, note that banana leaves are porous (unlike tin foil), so some of the "sauce" or juices from your food item may seep through. It's therefore a good idea to place your banana leaf "packets" in a glass casserole dish, or a tray that has "sides" on it, so that the juices don't drip to the bottom of your oven.

3.Banana Leaves for Grilling/Barbecuing:

You can also use banana leaf as a kind of "mat" for barbecuing fragile fillets of fish, smaller shrimp, or vegetables that have a danger of falling through the grill. Simply lay a piece of banana leaf on your grill, then cook your food items on top of it (as you would with tin foil). The banana leaf will turn bright green at first, then brown as you cook. It will give a nice hint of flavor to your food that is very pleasant.

4.Banana Leaves for Serving:

Banana leaf also makes a beautiful background on which to serve various Asian dishes - excellent for party platters or finger foods. They can also be made into Banana Leaf Boats as pictured above - great for serving salads, rice, fish, and other dishes. Or, simply cut a banana leaf (rinse well with hot water and pat dry) and use it to line a platter, serving plate or bowl. Banana leaf dresses up the dish, adding an exotic touch to any Thai or Asian recipe.

5.Eating on Banana Leaf!

This is perhaps the "funnest" part of using banana leaves in cooking - eating off of them! Any dish that has been cooked in banana leaf can also be served in/on it - in fact, this makes the dish even more beautiful to serve and to eat. It also makes for a wonderful conversation-starter at dinner parties!

6.Storing Banana Leaves:

Usually you will have leftover leaves after you've finished making your recipe or serving your food, as they are sold in large packs. To keep the rest for use later, simply wrap up in plastic (a plastic bag will do, secured with elastic), and keep in the freezer. Banana leaves only require about 30 minutes to thaw, so this is a convenient way to keep them fresh. If using within a week, store them (wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator

Here are a few pictures of banana leafs and their uses . These picture are gleamed from the net and I saw no copyrights attached ----  so enjoy

Summer Solstice and Rain...

The sun’s long northerly march has come to an end and after the briefest of pauses it now begins its equally long journey south.  June is a transitional month for me with my birthday and anniversary falling within this month of the Summer Solstice.  I have written four posts recently which haven’t made it to the blog.  We have taken a short trip to Chiang Mai, had visitors from Australia, with more visitors are on the way.  My wife went with friends to Hong Kong and Macau, but maybe that was in May, while I stayed home and played house husband.  My wife is now attending classes again after a two month break.

Father’s Day is also significant, even though I am not a father, as I was born on a Father’s Day many years ago.  When I was young, 60 seemed very old indeed, and seemed to mark the transition into old age.  I am now but one year short of that landmark and will no doubt spend far too much time thinking about what it means to me over the coming months.

I haven’t been out on the bike for a little over a week but there have been some great rides and I still manage to find new trails and invent new ways to link old trails.  That helps a lot in maintaining a sense of discovery and adventure.  My camera, having developed a few bad pixels, has got me looking for something new.  Sony’s NEX 6 or 7 look interesting right now but so far I am still looking.

Rain, Rain, Rain...

Phuket Baba Weddings 2013

Back in 2010 I heard about an event in Phuket Town celebrating the "Baba" culture of Phuket. I knew that a good number of Phuket people had Chinese blood due to the immigration of many Chinese to Phuket in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many came here for the tin mining, or set up businesses to support the growing population of Phuket. Many of the immigrants were young men who married local girls, and this is the root of the Baba culture, a mix of Chinese and Malay blood. You also find Baba culture in Singapore and Malaysia and parts of Indonesia. A walk around old Phuket Town shows the Chinese influence clearly and much of Phuket Town was built on the back of tin mining money, as well as rubber, fishing, pineapples, shrimp farms and more. Phuket was already a fairly wealthy province before large scale tourism started. The Baba people in Phuket work hard to preserve the culture and traditions, and since many are "Phuket Town" folk, they also work hard on preserving the old town, with the support of people like Khun Somjai Suwansupana, mayor of Phuket City who is a Baba herself. The old town certainly is flourishing, with regular events and festivals being started in the last few years such as the Old Town Festival and the Baba Weddings - this is the 5th year for the wedding event. Back in 2010 I did not see the street parade, but did attend an event at the Hongyok House, family home of one of Phuket's "big" families - Babas one and all! I've missed the event the last couple of years due to work, but this year I saw that the street parade would be on a Sunday June 23rd starting 5pm, so I planned to dash to town from work. Just made it, as (amazingly) the parade started on time.

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

It was all costumes and smiles. The ladies certainly do dress up, whereas the Baba men go for simple suits. The parade was bigger than I was expecting, with more than just Baba costumes, but also entertainers, music, and people representing Phuket's many different cultures and religions. An announcer on a small stage set up on Thalang Road said something about Phuket being open to all. But I can tell you - quite a lot of the influence is in the Baba community. Big families who own large areas of land, many of whom started out as miners or shopkeepers back in the tin mining days. I am glad to see the old traditions being kept alive and handed on to the younger people.

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

Oh they love to dress up their little kids here! But in such ways, things are learned, the old way of life is preserved in more than just old photos, and the youngsters share in the events and festivals. Even the very little ones ...

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

As the street parade ended, there was a gathering at the Thai Hua Museum for a little photoshoot before the invited guests and wedding participants went off for a fancy dinner party at the Blue Elephant restaurant. There was a surprisingly large crowd of photographers and a couple of TV cameras too (news report - see here).

Baba Wedding Photographers

Baba Wedding Phuket - Group Photo

All aiming for the "group photo" (above) including 4 couples who were getting married, lots of older Baba ladies, the mayor, and the current governor of Phuket, Maitri Inthusut. There were also plenty of other well dressed people happy to be photographed. I was very glad to have found time to see the parade this year. Phuket has a lot of culture and history, often overlooked by sun seeking visitors, or ignored by those who assume Phuket has nothing more than tourist beaches. I am happy to say that Phuket has a lot more of interest than sea, sun, seafood and ladyboy cabaret shows (which I have never been to!). Coming up soon, 22 - 24 July is the Kathu street culture festival which takes place near my house. Then in August, the Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival and in October the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. A lot to look forward to - every year!

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

Phuket Baba Wedding Parade June 23rd 2013

Related Pages on Jamie's Phuket

Phuket Tin Mining Museum
Phuket Thai Hua History Museum
Phuket Old Town Festival
Kathu Street Culture Festival
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Walking in Old Town

Oh, Summer

              Photo credit: Patrizia Saolini

Oh Summer,
You make me feel dumber.

‘Cuz when you’re in the air,
I haven’t got a care.

It’s your sunshine haze,
Lulls me in your gentle, warm daze.

Dreams of watermelon slice,
Or a juicy tomato, diced.

With your sunscreen smell,
That my nose knows so well,

Life feels grand,
And toes are diggin' the sand.

Watchin’ kite boarders sailin', oh
My mellow mood’s prevailin’.

Now, the music keeps blarin’
And, I don’t care who’s starin’.

‘Cuz your big waves are callin’
So, I’d better stop stallin’.

It's time to get my prize,
Of your dizzy, giddy high.

And then, oh! I remember,
How the story does end here:

A fated ocean water slurp,
Followed by a saltwater burp.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards 

MIdsummer Smorgasbord at IKEA

It was time for one of IKEA's special smorgasbord dinners in their stores' restaurants again. This one was our second year at the Midsummer Smorgasbord.  We have attended each in 2012 and so far in 2013 with the exception of the August All You Care to Eat Crayfish dinner. This dinner, tonight (a week before you are reading this article) was the most fun of all of the dinners because it was set up

Since 1892 Cafe in Old Phuket Town

Phuket Town has lots of little cafes and restaurants, and I wish I had a lot more time to explore and visit more of them! And the old part of Phuket Town has been having a renaissance in the last few years. I mean, it's still very un-touristy, but with several streets being stripped of overhead wires and a good chunk of local investment, streets like Dibuk Road, Phang Nga Road, Soi Romanee and especially Thalang Road are looking great. Quite a few new places have opened recently, while some little local restaurants you can tell have been around for a long time! There are noodle shops, coffee shops, restaurants that do local food and restaurants that do pizza or Japanese food. As I have said many times, I like Phuket Town!

If we head to town in the evenings, we normally park on Thalang Road, and there are a few favourite bars and restaurants in the area (see links at the end of the page). On Saturday evening last week, we planned for an early dinner in town, and decided to have a coffee first. We had been into 'Since 1892' one time before. It opened in April 2012 and I had always wanted to go back with camera. I like cafes that have a little style and character and there are quite a few in the town.

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road

Since 1892 is at the east end of Thalang Road near the junction with Phuket Road. Before being a cafe, it was a camera shop, and before that, I am sure many other things! It's an old style shophouse but has been decorated with old furniture, paintings, and clothes - in fact, everything in the shop is also for sale! There are antiques and old LP records and all kinds of arty little things.

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

We actually called in because I had seen a delicious looking cake on the Since 1892 Facebook Page, but darn, they were sold out. It was all cream and chocolate and banana. I have also seen another gorgeous looking cake - crepe with strawberry - on that page. Looks like I need to go again to find these cakes! This time I just ordered a coffee. The 'Hazelnut Latte' stood out from the crowd and 60 Baht, not too bad.

Menu at Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

And it was good! I am actually not a coffee fanatic. I like a cup of coffee in the morning, but it's normally made from instant coffee, and I use Cofee-Mate too! Yeh, shoot me now. That's not to say I don't enjoy fancy coffee, but at 6:30am, I just want a hot caffeinated drink! Well, this hazelnut latte was something else, very tasty indeed ...

Hazelnut Latte at Since 1892 Cafe Phuket Town

It's a very relaxed place, oh and they do have a small food menu too, and other drinks ... it's not just coffee and cakes. A few other people were sitting around while we were there.

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

Clothes for Sale at Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

Certainly, Since 1892 is a cafe I will visit again, and hope to get some cake next time! On the same street, Thalang Road, there is a real mix of businesses from old hardware shops, printers, Muslim fabric shops, guesthouses, cafes ... a few places that we enjoy include :

Kopitiam Restaurant
Route 68 Bar
Abdul's Roti Shop

Since 1892 Cafe - Location Map

View Since 1892 Cafe, Phuket Town in a larger map

Charbroiled Steak at Shady Maple

Of course, we are back to talking about Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Lancaster, PA - the buffet that has been awarded best and top buffet from this site year after year. Just before the new year, Shady Maple announced that they were adding a char grill to the restaurant. I have mentioned this but a few weeks ago I got to try it and I will tell you all about it.

We were there on a Monday night -

Bike Repairs and Some Trail Shots…

So there I was, contemplating a ride after several days off, and with my wife back in school for the weekend.  While prepping the bike I noticed a ping or click emanating from somewhere.  There are only so many moving parts and joints that could be making a metal on metal sound and I quickly eliminated everything but the chain and rear gear mechanism.  With my limited experience I couldn’t tell it something was on the verge of breaking or not, so I planned a trip to Northern Bike the next day when the car would be free.  No weekend ride for me.

Peak was visiting with a friend back in his work area as I rolled the bike in.  I marveled as he had a quick listen for the sound, before proceeding to remove the back wheel and disassemble the gear set, or whatever it is called.  Nothing broken but apparently I have been over cleaning a bit and things had dried up inside where the gears fit over a ratcheting spindle of sorts.  A quick cleaning and greasing of the mechanism and it was silent running once again.  All of this without a break in the conversation.

If I were to purchase an additional tool or two, I could probably do it myself, after watching what Peak did.  As it is we need to go into town fairly often so it isn’t a big deal to stop off at Northern Bike on the way.  If either of us is too busy, it is easy to drop it off and come back later.  It is always fun to rummage around the shop to see what they have in stock, so maybe I am not quite ready to become a full time do-it-yourselfer, just yet.

While I was there I asked Peak to weigh the bike to see what I had ended up with after all the upgrades.  It was roughly 11.5 kilos or a little over 25 pounds.  Apparently from what I found in a quick search, that is not too bad for a hardtail with disc brakes.  Anyway I am very happy with the bike right now and had another great ride yesterday, after a night of rain.  It was too wet in the morning but by two in the afternoon things had dried out enough to ride without getting too messy.  It was still overcast so the temperature was good for riding as well.

I love finding new trails and new ways to connect old trails.  It creates in me a sense of adventure and discovery, which distracts me from focussing too much on the physical effort.  The camera plays a part as well, urging me to pay closer attention to my surroundings, instead of simply passing through.  The other day I managed to trade 15 km of road for roughly 18 km of dirt.  That 43 km route now has only a 5 km road section at the beginning, which is repeated at the end, and a few village lanes which are rough concrete.  Everything else is dirt or gravel of various kinds.

I had something else in mind to include in this post but perhaps this is long enough.  Besides I do have a few pictures I would like to share.  At least I already know what I want to write about in my next post.
View on a new section of trail.

View on a new section of trail.

Came across this Phaya Mengrai water control area by entering town from a different trail.

Sluice gates.

One last angle before leaving.

Taking a break on the new trail.

This was much better than riding on the road.

Riding through a rubber plantation.

Forest trail of hard packed clay.

A fork in the trail.

Reflections and shadows. 

Hilltop temple compound.

Pulling fish from his pockets.


Never before have I lived in a place where folks sold so many things in front of their homes ,shops, the side of the roads, also a lot of them take their wears on the road, and drive up and down the streets and by-ways peddling their wears.I love it and many times it saves me a trip to the market . It brings back childhood memories when my Uncle Oren use to take

his produce and put in the back of his pick-up and take it to sell in the Big City of Union S.C., and in the streets and at the market place, and us kids would ride along with him, and go door to door and tell the people that the produce man was here , and we got to eat all the apples we wanted, what a side benefit that was for us kids that normally only got apples at Christmas in our stockings or when we could grab one off the neighbors tree on the way home from school. I remember those days well. I remember that later my Uncle Oren was the Watkins man and he sold all kinds of house wears and supplies. I remember my Mother buying from him plates and stuff and I can really remember the vanilla flavoring he sold , was in a big brown bottle , wow how these memories popped into my head ,when the peddler man came by . Do you have memories of the peddlers coming thru your neighborhoods , or do you still have a few that pass your way???
I took a few pictures of the Peddler Man and his truck  , hope you enjoy the pictures .Ciejay is picking out some plants and potting soil and I think see's getting a few new orchids .