Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet, Carle Place, New York

It has been about two years since I have written about Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet. This is a buffet that we go to just once a year for a special occasion. While it is not astronomically expensive, it is the most expensive buffet that we go to at $29.99 per person for dinner on a weeknight. The dinner buffet is $31.85 Friday to Sunday. It is also the most different buffet that we go to. It is

News To Amuse - Jan 31, 2014

January 31. 2014


Promoting humor in News since 2033

Father Karunanidhi and brother Stalin did not greet me on my birthday - Alagiri

Big deal! You hate your father and brother, because of this! You give interviews to papers!
Look, I received just one greeting on my birthday : from Icici Prudential.
Do I cry like a baby? Do I feel like a total loser?
Horror of horrors! Do I go out and do the unthinkable - change the car insurance from Tata AIG to Icici prudential.
Absolutely not.
If life has taught me one thing, it is this:
Just like each finger in a hand is different, each insurance company has a different CRM solution.

If alagiri can get that, then he would have found the secret to have a happier birthday.
Send email greetings to you Gmail account from your yahoo account and vice-versa.

I will not sacrifice self-respect for power - Siddaramaiah

But other's respect and lives, Maybe.

Team India looks for consolation win

If they look longer, they will find it next month against Afghanistan in Asia cup. But they have to look harder.

Infosys co-founder gives IISc Rs 225 crore to develop pure science research

If all software tycoons follow this, pump money into pure science, then one day, finally, we will have less of dumb software engineers... and more of dumb pure science researchers.

Yahoo email account passwords stolen

Dear hacker,
if you have stolen my password, please send a email greeting to my Gmail account on my birthday.

Levittown, NY OCB To Get A Makeover

An email has been sent out by Old Country Buffet informing those on their email list in the Levittown Old Country Buffet will be closing temporarily to be remodeled to the "new" OCB look. This was fascinating as many - not just me - have the opinion that the Levittown OCB is the worst OCB in the country. Now, does Ovation Brands (the new name for the parent corporation of OCB) acknowledge this

It might be a new year. But it is still the same old me.

I don't make resolutions on new year's eve. I make them every night!
Every night, before I go to sleep, I resolve to wake up as a changed man.
Every night.

Obviously, I failed to keep my resolution. But it was Okay. I knew keeping a resolution is very hard - especially if it is about changing oneself. So I was determined to keep trying. Then, one day (or night), it happened. I did not make a resolution that night!

I had kept my resolution! I had changed!

Yummy China Buffet and Sushi Restaurant, East Meadow, New York

For years there has been an Asian buffet in East Meadow, NY, that my wife and I refereed to as "the little Asian buffet". I have written about it a number of times. It went from fair to poor to terrible and back to almost fair over the years. It never had much business and we always wondered how they could stay in business, especially with the competition near by. It finally closed - at least it

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Ciejay and Malcolm

Exploring Phang Nga Province

Phuket is an island, more or less ... it is surrounded by water, but is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin bridge - well, Sarasin bridges actually ... there are now 3 spans across the 500m gap between Phuket and Phang Nga Province which lies on the other side. The first bridge was only built in 1967 and 2 more have been built in the last 15 years to allow a bridge for traffic each way, while the oldest bridge is now for pedestrians and is a popular evening walk for locals.

Sarasin Bridge Sunset

Phuket is not just an island, it's a province of Thailand in it's own right, albeit the smallest! The total area of Phuket is less than 600 square kilometers including smaller offshore islands. Over the bridge is Phang Nga province, with an area of over 4000 square kilometers. Sometimes it feels like we have explored every inch of Phuket, and driving over the bridge seems like a big day out! We have spent many days exploring Phang Nga and I noticed that the Phuket Blog now has over 20 pages relating to places in the neighbouring province, so this blog post is a way to tie everything together. Tempted to start a "Jamie's Phang Nga" blog actually, but not yet. Everything on this page is within a few hours drive of Phuket. With favorable traffic we can be over the bridge into Phang Nga in 45 minutes. There's plenty yet to be found, but here's what we know of Phang Nga province so far.

Phang Nga Bay

First on the list ... Phang Nga Bay including James Bond Island and Koh Panyee village, with limestone karst islands and beautiful scenery .. this has to be on most tourists "to do" list, which means avoiding the crowds can be tricky! We have that figured out now - just get there late when all the standard tours are on the way home. Read more : Phang Nga Bay - Doing It Our Way!

James Bond Island View

(above) James Bond Island

Koh Panyee Village

(above) Koh Panyee Village in Phang Nga Bay

Restaurants in Phang Nga

I am sure there are plenty more, but here's a few restaurants and cafes that we like in Phang Nga .... I am not suggesting a drive all the way just for lunch, but in combination with visiting other attractions, one of these places should hit the spot. Our favourite I would say is Tha Sai Seafood, which is quite a drive, past Phang Nga Town and on the way towards Krabi. Great food and a great view!

View from Tha Sai Restaurant

Another one by the water is Samchong Seafood (below), from where we have hired longtail boats a few times to head out into Phang Nga Bay. We heard that it gone downhill, but visited again in 2016 and it was still good.

Samchong Seafood, Phang Nga

Another we have been to a few times is Dairy Hut Seafood, a 2nd branch of the Dairy Hut restaurant in Phuket Town. Next door they have now opened Dairy Hut Farm with animals to pet and feed including some llamas.

Dairy Hut Phang Nga Restaurant

(above) Dairy Hut Seafood restaurant in Phang Nga

And there are a couple of little cafes which we know with nice views, just (for us) a place to stop for a drink - the Phang Nga Viewpoint Cafe, near Phang Nga Town and the 360 Degree Viewpoint Cafe which is just a few km north of the bridge. We have also recently visited a couple of restaurants near Wat Khao Waterfall which will be blogged in the near future.

View from 360 Degree Coffee

(above) That's me at the 360 Degree Viewpoint Cafe

Khao Lak

Phang Nga Province has plenty of beach property and it's mostly way quieter than Phuket. Khao Lak was really just becoming a destination in it's own right when the tsunami hit hard in 2004. Khao Lak suffered a lot more damage than Phuket, though of course now nearly 10 years later there's no obvious evidence of the disaster. I had never stayed more than a couple of hours in Khao Lak before 2013, but we booked a couple of nights to explore the area, and liked it so much we have had several more overnight trips there! See : Holidays in Khao Lak and One Night in Khao Lak.

Khao Lak Sunset

(above) A Khao Lak Sunset, we really liked the uncrowded beaches

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

(above) One of the tsunami memorials in Khao Lak - this police boat was carried more than 1km inland and was left there as a reminder.

Khao Lak is also the start point for most trips to the Similan Islands and other offshore islands. The Similans are a big destination for divers - it's why I came here in 1999, looking for work as a dive instructor. I wanted to dive the Similan islands and diving is still in my veins as manager at Sunrise Divers! A bit north of the Similans is Koh Tachai Island - I had dived there before but never been shore until 2013 when we did a day trip from Khao Lak. Wow.

Koh Tachai Island

(above) The kids enjoying the day at Koh Tachai

Khao Lak is about a 1 - 2 hour drive from Phuket, depending where you start in Phuket. From our house near Phuket Town, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Carrying on further north from Khao Lak you reach Takua Pa, which (100+ years ago) was an important trading port, just like Phuket. Now it's still a big fishing port and just outside the main town is the old town of Takua Pa which is similar to old Phuket Town only quieter. We've been a couple of times. On Sundays in the high season they have a street market which we visited also, kind of like the Sunday walking street market in Old Phuket Town, but .. older!

Old Takua Pa Town

Old Takua Pa Town on Market Day

(above) In Old Takua Pa, and on market day.

And further north still, and still in Phang Nga province, in between Takua Pa and Kuraburi is Sri Phang Nga National Park which features several waterfalls and we really must check out more of them, because once we found Tamnang Waterfall we decided that would do us just fine! It was more impressive in low (rainy) season although that meant you could not swim in the pool below the falls and a park ranger came with us to make sure we stayed safe.

Tamnang Waterfall at Sri Phang Nga National Park

(above) Waterfall at Sri Phang Nga National Park

There are quite a lot of waterfalls in Phang Nga, we have stopped at quiet a lot. Lampi waterfall and Ton Prai waterfall south of Khao Lak are well worth a look - again, they are more spectacular in the rainy season, but still great places to cool off on a hot day in April!

Natures Shower - Ton Prai waterfall

(above) Yeh, that's me enjoying the cool water at Ton Prai waterfall!

Another place with waterfalls that we like is Sa Nang Manora Forest Park, just north of Phang Nga Town. No big cascades, but a lovely forest setting, popular with locals at the weekend. There's another place called Raman Waterfall Park south of Phang Nga Town that we do mean to check out one day!

Waterfall at Sa Nang Manora

Temples in Phang Nga

I do like my temples! And Phang Nga has several interesting ones to visit and I am sure there are more to be found. The most famous is Wat Suwan Kuha, also called Wat Tham, which is built into a cave featuring a large reclining Buddha and lot of monkeys!

Reclining Buddha at Wat Suwan Kuha

(above) Wat Suwan Kuha is found a bit before Phang Nga Town if you are coming from Phuket. Before that, on the left side is Wat Manee Sri Mahathat, which is home to a large statue of a famous Monk called Por Than Klai.

Wat Manee Sri Mahathat

(above) Wat Manee Sri Mahathat

In Phang Nga Town is one of the oddest temples I have seen - Wat Thamtapan features visions of heaven and hell. The Buddhist version of hell is all about different punishments for your worldly sins. We ascended the steep stairs in the heaven section where you can find a view back across Phang Nga to the sea.

Stairway in the jungle

(above) The somewhat dizzying stairway to heaven at Wat Thamtapan, Phang Nga

And one more temple, well worth the long drive past Phang Nga Town near the small town of Thap Put, is Wat Bang Riang. I had seen pictures, but we did not really know where it was, finally "discovering" this place in 2012.

Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga

(above) Wat Bang Riang

Little Amazon River Tour

North of Khao Lak is the town of Takua Pa (as mentioned above). Just a couple of kilometers from the town you can start the Little Amazon tour along a small mangrove river looking out for wildlife such as snakes and monkeys. We did the trip in 2016 and it was fun!

Little Amazon Tour - In the Jungle!

(above) On the Little Amazon River Tour

Koh Yao Noi Island

Also part of Phang Nga Province, sitting in Phang Nga Bay, just a short boat ride from the northeast coast of Phuket, are the islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. The former we have not visited yet. Koh Yao Noi we have been several times for day trips. It's a very quiet island with a mostly Muslim population, the main business is fishing and farming, though for sure the tourism is evident. We have enjoyed a couple of family day trips taking the boat and then renting scooters on arrival to explore.

Kids playing football at Koh Yao Noi Island

(above) - My favourite football pitch, at Koh Yao Noi island

Koh Yao Yai Island

To the south of Koh Yao Noi, and larger, but actually less developed (although it does have a bunch of hotels of varying standards) is Koh Yao Yai island. We'd not been until 2016, and had a very nice overnight trip including a morning tour round some other islands such as Koh Hong. A beautiful place to stay. See - Koh Yao Yai Island.

Thiwson Resort Pool

(above) View from Thiwson Resort at Koh Yao Yai Island

White Water Rafting

We did a very enjoyable little white water rafting trip in Phang Nga, north of Phang Nga Town near Tone Pariwat Waterfall. Trips like this can be booked with my friends at Easy Day Thailand.

White water rafting in Phang Nga

(above) That's me and the family on white water!

Bang Pat Fishing Village

A place I had meant to visit for a few years, Bang Pat sounded very interesting, a little village hidden away in the mangroves with fresh seafood and homestays available. We stopped there in 2015, and I felt like it was like a poor man's Koh Panyee, we did not eat there, just looked around. Might go back for some food someday!

All smiles at Bang Pat

(above) At Bang Pat village

Great Scenery

And pretty much no matter where you are in Phang Nga, there's some amazing scenery. Especially along the roads near Phang Nga Town or on the way to Krabi. Those limestone karts that are found in the bay can also be seen on land. Hills jutting up everywhere. A drive can be worth it just for the views. I took the photo below one morning quite early (about 7:30am) with the mist hanging around the hills.

Phang Nga Scenery

And in June 2015, we did go looking for some back roads, a very nice area called Klong Kian, which is just over the bridge from Phuket to the east and covers an area half the size of Phuket. Quiet roads and some unexpected views from little fishing villages. We like this kind of exploring!

Mangrove canal and view of Koh Daeng

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

A real WOW! I saw images on Instagram in early 2016 and realised we'd been near here before when visiting Klong Kian, but I had not seen any viewpoint signposted. Seems that someone has made a rough road up a hill, you pay 300 Baht, there are a few food and drink vendors and the views are amazing from here. Read more : View from Samet Nangshe, Phang Nga.

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

(above) Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

Khao Kai Nui Viewpoint

In between Phuket and Khao Lak, a place I tried to find a couple of times, it's not well signposted! Khao Kai Nui is a viewpoint on a hill, which you really need 4WD to drive up though we just about made it with a 2WD pick up truck. Great view in the day time, but it's meant to be best early morning with the fog lying in the lowlands. So we'll have to do it again!

Looking West from Khao Kai Nui

(above) View from Khao Kai Nui

There's still more to explore in Phang Nga. I have seen signs to interesting looking restaurants, I want to check out some back roads, I want to go back to the viewpoints in the early morning. Need more time! Oh, to be a full time blogger! If you drive east through Phang Nga you get to Krabi which is just about close enough to visit in a day trip from Phuket. North to Phang Nga is Khao Sok National Park which makes a very long day trip, better to stay a night or 2, which we have done many times. Keep on exploring!

Phang Nga Province - Location Map

View Phang Nga Province in a larger map

Shady Maple Smorgasbord Off-Season Special Theme Dinner Weekends - East Earle, PA

If you are a regular reader of this site you know about Shady Maple - our top buffet pick for a number of years now. You may not know that when the winter comes, Shady Maple features special theme weekend dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Those dinners started tonight but this weekend's special continues tomorrow. I am going to list those theme weekend specials and their dates here for your

Phang Nga Viewpoint Cafe

We do like to go exploring in Phang Nga, the province which is just north of Phuket, just over the Sarasin bridge. It's a much larger area to explore than Phuket Island, so we keep finding something new. Phang Nga includes such attractions as Phang Nga Bay and Wat Suwan Kuha, as well as many waterfalls, restaurants, temples and quiet roads with great views. We first found the Phang Nga Viewpoint Cafe on January 1st 2013, and though it was not 100% complete, it seemed open and the views were very nice, so we stopped for a drink. And then we found that we had met the owners before at a friend's house. A husband and wife team, he had been a policeman in Phuket before, now "living the dream" or something in Phang Nga. We enjoyed the views and said we'd visit again sometime. Here's the view looking south...

And the kids enjoying their New Year's Day in Phang Nga ...

We have now eventually returned! We had an afternoon in Phang Nga on Christmas Day. During 2013 we did head into Phang Nga province several times but we stuck to the west coast, staying several times in Khao Lak and exploring that part of Phang Nga province. On December 25th we drove towards Phang Nga Town, stopping off at Wat Manee Sri Mahathat, and planning to see if the new Dairy Hut Farm was worth a visit. We sidetracked up the left turn before Phang Nga Town to the Viewpoint Cafe. Note - the signs are only written in Thai to this place! The seating had been increased since a year before including many outdoor tables and a balcony with the view below ...

So we had a very relaxed half hour chatting with the owner. He recommended coming back for a sunset beer. Sunset is great there, he says - that will have to be next time! Certainly a nice spot to stop off if you are in Phang Nga, have a drink, enjoy the scenery. Oh, they allow people to stop and camp there too. The location is marked on the map below, although the satellite image is too old to show the cafe.

Phang Nga Viewpoint - Location Map

View Phang Nga Viewpoint Cafe in a larger map

Related pages on Jamie's Phuket

Koh Panyee in Phang Nga Bay
James Bond Island
Samchong Seafood Restaurant
Dairy Hut Seafood
Sarasin Bridge

Christmas Dinner at D. J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY

For the past several years we have enjoyed a very special Christmas dinner at a buffet that is no longer open - Best Buffet in Huntington, NY. When we saw during this past year that Best Buffet had shut its doors for good, we wondered where we would find a reasonably priced and good buffer for the holidays. We decided at the very last minute to go to International Buffet in Garden City, New York.