Wat Phra Nang Sang

Wat Phra Nang Sang is the oldest temple in Phuket, dating back maybe more than 500 years. If I read what I can find on the internet, it seems the exact age is unsure and for sure the temple has been renovated and rebuilt over that time. It might be accurate to say a temple has been on the site for 500 years. One story says a powerful southern Thai ruler had the temple built for his wife. Another story says that the temple was built in honour of a princess who was due to be executed, although she had been framed and was innocent. When she was executed she bled white bood, thus showing her purity. The temple is also called Wat Luad Khao (White Blood Temple). In 1785, the Burmese invaded Phuket and were fought off by the people of Phuket led by 2 sisters. The Phuket people gathered at this temple before the battle which was fought nearby. At that time, Thalang was the main town in Phuket.

The battle is commemorated every year in March at the Phuket Heroines Festival in Thalang. A statue of Thao Thep Kassatri and Thao Sri Sunthon (known as Chan and Mook before King Rama I gave them these names for their valiant defense of Phuket) lies in the temple grounds - a larger one can be seen at the Heroines Monument - a traffic circle on the main road between the airport and Phuket City.

I first stopped at Wat Phra Nang Sang in 2006 and have meant to visit again for ages. Parts of the temple were still being built and indeed now in 2015 there are still parts being built, and a whole new temple complex has been built behind the old temple! It's never ending! The grounds are quite large, it's worth taking your time.

Buddha and disciples

Photography Boy

(above) I visited with my boy in May 2015. There's a lot to be seen here.

Wat Phra Nang Sang

(above) The white and gold temple was not there in 2006!

Yak with Gun

(above) The "Yak" is a guardian which you'll find at the entrance and surrounding many Buddhist temples. They are normally scary, big toothed ogre type creatures. This was the first I have seen with boobs and an assault rifle!

Inside Wat Phra Nang Sang

(above) Inside one of the temple buldings at Wat Phra Nang Sang. The walls are covered with stories from the life of Buddha.

There's a lot of history here. My daughter was amazed to see a mummified Abbot who died about 50 years ago I think. Not sure she could believe she was seeing an actual dead Monk. There is another building featuring 3 large Buddha images. These were built before the Burmese invasion. The temple was home to 3 sacred Buddha images made of tin, which would have been taken by the invaders had they not been beaten back. The tin Buddha images were hidden inside the 3 images that you can see, which were made of concrete. The tin images were apparently forgotten about and only uncovered as recently as 1973. Phuket was, until the mid 20th century, a major tin mining center and this helped to make Phuket quite wealthy.

Wat Phra Nang Sang

Nearby in the Thalang area you can also find Wat Phra Tong (which lies a bit further north) and Wat Sri Sunthon (a little way south of Thalang). There's also a memorial on the old battlefield which I need to find someday and I believe somewhere are the ruins of the old governors house from the early 19th century.

Update 2016 - Wat Phra Nang Sang was one of 3 temples my son and I visited in one afternoon - see here : Thalang Area Phuket Temples


Wat Phra Nang Sang - Location Map


View Wat Phra Nang Sang in a larger map

Military Coup in Bangkok? All Quiet in Phuket.

Update 25th May 2014 - please note - this is an old blog post relating to the coup of September 19th 2006. Nothing happened in Phuket then and since the coup in 2014, nothing is happening in Phuket again. Yeh, there was a curfew for a while but you won't see troops or any trouble in Phuket. For updates, suggest you follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/jamiemonk. I notice that quite a few people have been looking at this old page, so I just want to say .. everything in Phuket is fine. See you on Twitter and see you here!

----------------------

20 September 2006 : Well, I have just come to the office and can see nothing abnormal here in Phuket. No military, no increased police presence, no worried faces. Thailand is very relaxed. Hard to work out last night what was going on. All the Thai TV channels went off the air and started playing music and showing pictures of the King. We got pictures from the BBC News (www.bbcworld.com or www.bbc.co.uk) showing soliders and military vehicles in the streets of Bangkok, but otherwise everything going on as normal. Called my wifes sister who works for a bank in Bangkok and she said she could see nothing at all.

So let's wait and see. Looks like Thaksin may be out of a job. The statement issued on Thai TV said the military were acting on behalf of the King, or at least with his approval, which makes all the difference here in Thailand.

As I say, no reason to worry, and nothing going on here in Phuket except schools and banks will be closed today. (Today is the last day of the school term anyway).

(Later) - Thai TV is back on, and there was a statement issued by the leaders of the military and police saying they are only trying to help and do not intend holding power any longer than necessary.

News Sources

• The Phuket Gazette
• The Phuket News
• www.bangkokpost.com
• www.nationmultimedia.com


Also a lot of comments (many to be taken with a pinch of salt) on the Lonely Planet Thailand Forum:

• http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=51

Car being searched at Phuket International Airport, 20th September

(Update on Thursday 21st)

Nothing happening in Phuket, everything is 100% normal. Sun is shining. The news says that the King supports the leaders of the coup, which means (since everyone is loyal to the king) that there will be no trouble.

BBC News says "During the day, coup supporters brought flowers, pizzas and donuts to the soldiers and took turns taking family pictures in front of the armoured vehicles which have cordoned off the government district.

Many of the tanks that have been deployed in Bangkok have yellow ribbons tied around their barrels to signify loyalty to the king."

Have a good day!
Jamie

Phuket Restaurant Tips: Laem Hin Seafood

Update 2010: I have written a new Laem Hin Seafood Restaurant Phuket page - restaurant still as good as ever!

Boats at Laem HinPhuket has many restaurants slightly off the beaten track and more or less unknown to tourists. Laem Hin Seafood is one of these. Popular with locals, it can get busy, especially at weekends. If you see a western face there, you can be pretty sure they live in Phuket.

Location: A little North of Phuket Town, at Laem Hin. There is a signposted road off the main airport road. I think the sign is only in Thai. It's not far south of the Boat Lagoon, well worth a visit if you like boats and home to the Boat Lagoon Resort where we go and use the pool sometimes. Laem Hin has a small fishing community, there are old wooden houses on stilts and some newer houses closer to the main road. From Laem Hin jetty you can get boats to Koh Maphrao and Koh Rang. There are always some boats buzzing around. At Koh Maphrao there are some floating restaurants, also popular with locals.

Google Earth view of Laem Hin and west side of Koh MaphraoThe restaurant at Laem Hin is built over the water with views across the southern end of Phang Nga bay. It's a seafood restaurant, with live fish, prawns, lobster, crabs in tanks ready to cook. When you order anything like this, the price is per 100g, and will often be more expensive than you think, even though this is not a tourist restaurant - more of a middle class Phuket local restaurant, and many Phuket people do have the cash to splash! The food always comes quickly - there is a big kitchen and lots of staff. The waitresses can be a bit grumpy, but that does not detract from the food, the views, the peace.

Google Earth has a high resolution scan for the east side of Phuket. The picture above shows Laem Hin (on the left) where you find the restaurant and a boat jetty, and the east side of Koh Maphrao, with its beaches and the floating restaurants.

Welcome to Laem Hin Seafood

Longtail Boat approaching Laem Hin

We went a few days ago. I had "yam gung seab" - dried shrimp salad, made with papaya, onions, tomato, chili, lime juice. Wife likes to eat spicy seafood soup. Big dish of rice, a few cokes. Get some fried rice and omelette for the kids. Add a side dish of "hor mok" (curried fish custard cooked in banana leaves). For us, a bit of an expensive meal out - total bill 400 Baht (10 US$).

Entrance to jetty at Laem Hin Looking up the jetty to the restaurant

Look out for More Phuket Restaurant Tips.

Update - there is a new Laem Hin Seafood Restaurant Phuket page on this blog, fully updated with new photos.

Tomorrow

Wow, yesterday was a busy one. Our web sites are mostly available in Italian, and I had to prepare templates for about 50 pages to pass on to Diego for translation. What fun!

Tomorrow is a special day, as my mum and dad will arrive from England for a 3 week visit. It's the third time to Thailand for them. We have some trips planned to Phi Phi, Khao Sok, Krabi, Koh Yao, Chumphon and more. They will be meeting my 1 year old son for the first time, I'm sure they'll think he's gorgeous. I have to work up to the 14th, then we have 2 weeks all together. Great!

Started work early at 7am today. Was woken by a small voice..."daddy, can you get me some water?"..Once awake, there's little point lying down again. The first light of day was in the sky, and the early bird catches the worm...Well, it means I can go home early too.

Kids had some vaccinations yesterday at the hospital. Daughter took it bravely with barely a wince. 1 year old son fought the nurse and hit her in the face. They both have a bit of fever this morning, so hopefully will take it easy today. Last time my parents came, daughter was sick when they arrived. Hopefully not again!

Cancion Mixteca

I first heard this song in the movie Paris, Texas. It meant more after I'd been in Mexico. I hardly have any chance to speak Spanish nowadays, but still have a lot of music gathered during my travels in Latin America. Something about the Spanish language speaks to the heart. It's the language of love and loss, of joy and pain. Quisiera morir de sentimiento.

¡Qué lejos estoy del suelo donde he nacido!
Inmensa nostalgia invade mi pensamiento
y al verme tan solo y triste cual hoja al viento
quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento.

¡Oh tierra del sol, suspiro por verte!
Ahora que lejos yo vivo sin luz, sin amor
y al verme tan solo y triste cual hoja al viento
quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento.

eggbaconchipsandbeans

On the subject of blogs. This one got noticed too and he has published books. Makes me hungry. Such delicacies are hard to find in Thailand. Beans are OK. I have found some good tinned beans made in Malaysia. Eggs, no worries. Bacon, easy enough to find..but it's the chips, oh the chips, that maketh the man. I mean chips, not "fries". The eggbaconchipsandbeans blog below is worth salivating over, and I love his comments such as:

"the chips are pale, interesting and sprawling over the beans, the bacon has that irresistible combination of soggy and crisp, the egg offers a multitude of heavenly textures, the beans are breaking out of their compound like feisty stallions."

eggbaconchipsandbeans

Want good egg, bacon, chips and beans? Better get to the UK...


The Blooker Prize for Blogs

Hope for us all. Blogs are amazing. Quite why I never started one before now is beyond me. I sit by a computer almost every day, though I try to spend that time working. Some people just have too much time on their hands...

BBC NEWS Technology US cook wins blogging book prize

Utila

I first went to Utila in 1996, one of the stops on my 20 month backpacking trip through the Americas. I started in Montreal, ended in Santiago. Got as far North as the arctic circle in Alaska, and as far South as Tierra del Fuego. I'd do it all again, but Utila was the place that drew me back to Central America in 1998. Stayed another 6 months (4 of them in Utila) and after a quick money earning dash back to the UK, I was back in Utila in November 1998. Stayed until September 1999. Since then I have been living and diving in Phuket, Thailand.

Utila is a magic place, and for me its the people that make it special. There is no place in the world like it. The people are a mix of white English, black Caribbean, maybe a bit of pirate blood, a splash of Spanish..The big families are white - the Bush family, the Cooper family, the Whiteheads, the Boddens, the Morgans, the Hills, the Jacksons, the Hinds...The English spoken there is very odd. Try the link below for excerpts from the Utila TV station (was not in existence when I was there). Especially listen to the interview with Hal Whitefield. You have to tune your ears.

* Update 2010 - I uploaded a set of photos onto Facebook from my time in Utila - have a look here : Jamie's Utila Photos

Looks like aboututila.com has not been updated for a while. There's some great info on here. I love the old photos. I'd love to go back one day. I have nightmares about Utila looking like a concrete jungle, with shopping malls and big resorts, but I think that's unlikely to happen. Nothing seems to have changed since 1999 except good things like 24 hour electricity.

I learned to dive with Utila Dive Centre, and loved it so much I stayed for 2 months and did my Divemaster course, logging nearly 100 dives in the process. I'm not a big fan of "zero to hero" courses really, but I think I turned out OK. The instructors were very good there. In early 1999 after my Instructor course I did some work at the Bay Islands College of Diving, then changed to Paradise Divers, where we got things rocking and were one of the busiest dive shops over the summer of 1999. We never had a web site, and when Brian offered us a web site in exchange for a dive course we said YES! You'll find a photo of me somewhere on that site below, it's not been updated at all since then...

Jungle Jim stayed a long time in Utila, became a Course Director - see his blog below. Very sad to say he died in 2014.

Viva Utila!

HQ TV - Utila, The Bay Islands, Honduras
Utila Dive Centre
Paradise Divers Utila
Jungle Jim's Utila Blog
Utila East Wind Newspaper
Hotels in Utila

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Travel Forum

I no longer participate in this since I was banned for "spam"! Goodbye Lonely Planet!

Living through the tsunami

Ever since 26th December 2004, I have become somewhat obsessed by earthquakes. We live in Phuket. We lived through the tsunami and it's after effects. Our son was born here 2 weeks after the tsunami.

Truth be told, like 95% of Phuket's population, we did not see anything that day. I felt the quake at about 8:30am, and thought about where the epicenter might be. My wife felt it too. We thought nothing of it. I went out to Tesco Lotus at 9am. When I came out into the carpark, I saw many ambulances racing towards Patong. I thought maybe there had been a bad traffic accident. On reaching home, we saw something on the Thai TV news about a tsunami hitting Phuket. I called my office in Karon Beach. The boss was there and said, yes he'd heard about it too, but did not seem too concerned. Later we realised that Karon was probably the least affected area on the west coast of Phuket.

So, I decided it couldn't be too bad and headed off to work at the dive shop. Took me a loooong time to reach work. Police had blocked the road to Patong, but I was able to go around the long way via Chalong, and saw no damage, no evidence of any panic or anything to suggest a major disaster. I guess that people (like me) were not aware of the scale of things yet. So I reached Karon and immediately headed for the beach. We could see something had happened. Not huge damage, but water had come 50m up our road and knocked over a tshirt stall, and broken windows in some shops. The beach road was covered in sand and bricks, and in some places there were cars and bikes that hd been thrown around. A restaurant at the far south end was destroyed. But all in all, the damage was not bad, so we headed back to the office. By that time, my wife was calling and telling me she had heard on the TV that thousands had been killed. I said "rubbish, we're here and the damage is not bad". We did not know about Khao Lak.

It's all in the past now. But is in our minds. On Christmas day, we had been on Kamala beach with some friends. Our daughter just 3 years old playing in the sand, and my wife 9 months pregnant. The next day, the restaurant we were sitting in was wiped out. We spent a lot of time thinking "what if". When our son was born, for us he was a miracle, and still is.

It's not easily forgotten.

Continued in Part II....(click here)

Updated Tsunami thoughts written in 2008 - 4 years after the tsunami.

Everything is hunky dory now, we hope to see you in Phuket soon.

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.