About the Phuket Blogger

It was pointed out to me recently by a very well respected blogger that I do not have an "about me" page. Apparently this is a normal thing to have on a "travel blog". And I just checked on that ... I looked at the top 10 travel blogs on this list .. and all of them had big obvious ABOUT or ABOUT ME links at the top of the page in the main menu. The mobile version of this blog does have a limited profile at the foot of the page which says ...

I have traveled many roads and in 1999 ended up in Thailand. After visiting some 50 countries from Zaire to Bolivia; from India to Malawi; from Denmark to Guatemala, Phuket was where I stopped moving. I am married, we have 2 kids, we live in Phuket.

Maybe that's all you need to know. Skip the rest. This mini-profile is also on my Blogger profile page, but until now I do not have any "about me" information on the main, big, desktop version of the blog. The last 11 words of that mini-profile are the important ones. I am married with kids and we live in Phuket. We're not on holiday here. It's a perfectly normal family life. Just that we happen to live in Phuket which is a popular destination for tourists. And I write a blog about Phuket, or several blogs actually. It's a hobby, not a job. Sometimes I write new blog pages regularly, sometimes I am too busy with normal life. I have a proper job, managing a dive center called Sunrise Divers. In high season that's a 6 day per week job. In low season, 5 days per week. So blogging time and exploring time is limited. More gets done in low season (May to October) when I can work less days and take some holidays.

(above) A little Q&A I did with the local Phuket News paper.

The lack (until now) of an "about Jamie" page is partly due to privacy, mixed with a very English modesty - who wants to read about me? I don't want to blab on about myself. The blog is quite personal anyway, featuring plenty of family photos, and many pages about things we do as a family, but I try to keep family details to a minimum. We live in the Kathu area of Phuket and I'm not getting any more specific. I hope I have never mentioned which school the kids attend and my wife makes sure family photos on the blog are not too personal. But, yes this is a BLOG, not a travel guide. Some pages are about what we do, some are more informational. Some events such as the Phuket Vegetarian Festival get blogged every year. I have blogged 4 times already about trips to Koh Yao Noi island and if we go again, it'll be another blog page. Some pages get updates with new photos, sometimes a repeat visit gets a new blog page. It's mean to be personal-but-not-too-personal!

(above) Me and da kidz at Koh Yao Noi island.

OK. So. About Me. Hello, I am Jamie and I live in Phuket. I am English or British depending on what sport is being played. I was born in the same year as the lunar landing - "a giant leap for mankind", I lived in England's green and pleasant land, went to school, got lots of exam passes. Not much traveling when I was young, but then again, a 100 mile drive seemed like a long trip when I was a kid. We had family holidays all over Britain and a few in Europe, camping in France, Germany, Belgium. And when I was 16, with a group of about 10 kids from my school, I went to India for 1 month. Quite a shock it was. We stayed in basic accommodation, visited farms, schools, factories, helped on a building project for an orphanage, and got a few easy days at the beach and sightseeing too! Was an emotional experience. I can't say it inspired me to travel more. I was young and happy to be back home again. Finished school, 4 years at University. I have a BSc in Chemistry and an MSc in Forensic Science. Thanks. And I wanted to be a forensic scientist.

(above) In Glasgow with fellow forensic scientist Nick - this was in 1991. Nick and I got lucky during the MSc course and flew to California for 3 months to do some work in a forensic lab. And we had time to explore too, visiting the Grand Canyon (see photo below), Yosemite, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and more. I think that's when the travel bug hit me.

Got a job with a big pharmaceutical company, but after about 18 months I felt the urge to travel some more. One big trip and then settle down for a normal life, that was the plan. I signed up for a trip through Africa with a company called Exodus Overland. About 15 people, big truck, camping, making our own food, from London to Jo'burg by truck. All overland. 6 months.

(above) Sahara Desert, 1993

(above) in Malawi, 1993

After Africa .. back to work for nearly 2 years, nearly getting sucked into an easy lifestyle, nearly being tempted to put a deposit on an apartment, get a new car .. but after a while I realised, with the money I had made, a really long trip would be possible! So at the end of April 1995 began a 20 month trip, starting in North America and ending in South America, everything from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I wish there had been such things as travel blogs back then! But in 1995 I did not even have an email address or a digital camera. Less than 20 years but huge changes in the world. I loved the traveling life, and traveling solo meant I was free to explore in my own time. Met a lot of very nice people along the way, learned to speak Spanish, learned to scuba dive and when the money finally ran out there was no way I could consider going back to a "normal" life. Travel was normal. I went back to England just in time for Christmas 1996.

(above) on the Inca trail, 1996

(above) at Laguna Colorada, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, 1996

I took nearly 100 rolls of film on that trip. A shame that quality, affordable digital cameras were not around then! Well, after that trip, I went to work for about 9 months, did a little trip around Europe visiting friends and then headed back to Central America. Some of my favourite countries on the "big trip" had been Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. I had spent 2 months diving on the island of Utila in Honduras and got my divemaster certificate. So in 1998 I was back there for about 5 months, combined with some travels around Guatemala and southern Mexico. And I decided that the next step would be the PADI Instructor course. After a few months work in England, back to Honduras right after the Hurricane Mitch disaster. Got my instructor rating in December 1998 and stayed nearly a year in Utila as an instructor. I loved Utila, people there are great, but the travel bug was still biting. More to see, more to see ...

(above) Just chillin' at Water Caye, Utila

I'd not been anywhere in Southeast Asia before, although it was the number one region for backpackers thanks to Lonely Planet. Some other dive instructors I knew recommended Thailand. A little reading and it seemed that the Similan Islands was the best place to dive, and Phuket was home to most of the dive shops. So at the end of 1999 I arrived from Honduras in Phuket with a backpack, a bag of dive gear and not much money! Got some work easily enough, but it dried up after a couple of months and by January 2000, living in Patong, which I did not like even then, I was thinking of moving on. But, as it often does, something arrived. I got a fixed job on a liveaboard dive boat, and then at the end of high season I met a girl who worked in the office for the same dive company. We've been together ever since, and as you may know, now we have 2 kids and we live in Phuket!

(above) My wife and me on the Sarasin bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland

My name is Jamie. This is home, this is life. The Phuket Blog started in 2006. I think a lot of "travel blogs" started about the same time. I wanted to show that there is more to Phuket than the usual tourist attractions, more than just beaches, bars, girls and hotels. I read too many negative comments on travel websites, mostly it seemed from people who had not really seen much of Phuket. So the blog tends not to mention much about the main beaches, I try to write about places we visit and places we eat as a family. We have no plans to leave here! A lot more Phuket blogging to come!

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Online / In Print

Smile Magazine April 2015 (article about Phuket bloggers)
To Thailand With Love (2 stories)
France 24 - article about the Phuket vegetarian festival