The Whanganui River

Day 1. I had to go on to the river with a guided group of five people because getting to the river required carting the canoes and the kayak down an unsealed road. They were a family of for from Auckland (German mum, English Dad, 10 year old boy Christophe and 12 year old girl Yasmine) and a middle aged woman called Pip, also from Auckland. Their guide was a Welsh lad called Dave. Once on the water I was free to paddle off and explore the river and some side streams but I had chosen to stay the first night in the same campsite as the rest of the group. On the river the scenery was once again beautiful, steep cliffs on either bank coated in thick vegetation and rainforest, see pics, I won't drivel on, and it was unbroken for the whole of the 5 hours of paddling it took to get me to the first campsite.

Each of the campsites along the river have a small shelter over a picnic bench, rainwater tap and a long drop toilet. I pitched Frank, my tent, whilst the rain just about held off and soon after the rest of the group arrived. We had the campsite to ourselves as most people choose to stay at the DOC huts that are along the river. The others in the group had paid a fair bit more than me to have a guide who cooked their meals and also they were spending one night in the only hotel down the river, giving them a night with a shower and electricity.

The kids built a fire unsupervised (I like this attitude to growing up that is common to all Kiwis - Let them get on with it - if they set fire to themselves, well they'll only do it once), I ate my dinner of crackers and peanut butter then we swapped places and the others ate a proper meal of pasta with chicken and vegetables whilst I tended to the fire, not an easy task in the rain.

After the family, Pip and Dave had had their fill there were leftovers and they insisted on me having some, I felt a bit guilty as they'd paid for it but later on I earnt it by entertaining the kids in good humour. Christophe was a big fan of the 'copying everything Glyn says and does' game as well as the 'how long can you hold on to Glyn's leg' game. Two of my personal favourites, obviously, but they did get slightly annoying. After about 30 seconds. To distract from the fun I produced marshmallows from my bag and we went down to the fire to melt and drop most of them in the fire.


Day 2. Paddled further than the others to Mangaparua campsite and I was the only one there. Because of this it seemed appropriate to get naked and build a fire because it had been raining it took me 2 hours to get a fire burning properly. I was dressed again by this point and started pounding my chest shouting fire like Tom Hanks does in Castaway. I managed to heat soup and a packet of noodles over the fire which was enough to make me feel like Ray Mears. Then it got dark. I saw a rat. I heard strange noises. I was scared, only a bit, but I realised I'd never been alone in the wild before. I got more scared when inside my tent I heard an animal run past, it was definitely bigger than a rat and it took me a few minutes to reason that it was probably a goat as I'd seen a few along the riverbank earlier. I didn't go and check I just put my headphones in and tried to ignore the noises of rats and goats.

Day 3. Crossed the river to the bridge to nowhere walk - the bridge is strong enough for large vehicles and it connects two patches of rainforest that have no roads. It really is a bridge to nowhere. I then paddled to Tieke Kainga, arriving at 1:30.
It was just me and a Maori woman called Leslie with tattoos from her bottom lip down to her chin. Leslie looks after the place which has a beautiful Marae (Maori meeting place) and a large carved totem pole along with a hut for sleeping in and a hut for cooking. Leslie explained that the land had belonged to her family but the Department of Conservation illegally built a hut on the site. The Maori didn't like this much so they threw the hut in the river. This happened three times before the DoC came to an arrangement with the Maori that they would build and maintain huts on the site but they would belong to the Maori people who would welcome visitors. More people arrived, one of whom was a river guide with a passion for the great kiwi sport of possum bashing. I saw two and showed them to the guy but I missed the one that he did get. In hindsight I'm quite glad I didn't see it because although they are a pest they still look deceptively cute.

Day 4. I didn't have far to paddle so I spent the morning waiting for the rain to clear, reading and chatting to Leslie. For all Leslie's pride about her Maori heritage it turns out she used to be a pole dancer with a pet yellow python called Willy.
I cruised down to the next campsite at 2pm and a few hours later was joined by the others that had entered the water with me. Christophe greeted me by shooting me 3 times with a stick then hugging me. We built a campfire and everyone insisted I have a portion of their dinner - beef curry - for happily putting up with Christophe constantly talking and shooting me. The truth is I quite like kids really and I also like curry so it was happy days, especially as I had run out of my own food earlier that afternoon. Marshmallows were toasted for pudding, chatting and drinking in the last night of the trip over-looking the river and so to bed.

Day 5. This was the most fun day of paddling and I did most of it with the group. There were some decent rapids that I went through twice as well as a mud cave that we wallowed in up to our knees follwed by a cave housing a waterfall to clean off the mud.

The whole trip was probably the best thing I have done in New Zealand and thoroughly recommended to anyone that visits. Perfect end to a perfect country. Just on to Auckland for a few hours before my flight to Australia. Too easy.





Northern Circuit

Thursday 18/3/10. Went for a walk around Lake Rotorua, taking in more bubbling mud and sulphurous gases seeping out of the ground. I'm sure I'd been transported to another planet. After that I got on a bus back to Taupo and spent the remainder of that day and Friday 19/3/10 planning my last week in New Zealand. I wanted to do the Northern Circuit great walk and the Whanganui river great walk (not a walk at all, kayaking but it's part of New Zealand's great walks network). The Northern Circuit is a recommended four day walk, I had one and a half days because the only way I could do the kayaking was by starting on the Monday.

The Northern Circuit is a circular walk that includes the Tongariro crossing, regarded as the best one day walk in New Zealand if not the world. According to the leaflet's estimated times from hut to hut for me to complete the route in one and a half days meant I would have to walk for about ten hours on day one and possibly eight hours the next starting at 6am in order to catch my bus to Ohakune for the Whanganui.

Saturday 20/3/10
Up at 6:30 for the bus to Whakapapa (pronounced Fakapapa). Everybody except me got off at the start of the Tongariro crossing, I dropped some bags at Whakapapa and got walking at 9am. I can't put how good the walk was in to words so look at the pictures to get some idea of how incredible the scenery was. Even they don't come close to doing the landscape justice though. In one day I went from bushy scrubland to the top of a red cratered volcano, past turquoise lakes, a blue lake and on to a volcanic rocky desert before entering a forest where the Waihohunu hut I was staying in was sat overlooking a pretty river. I'd covered 30km of tough terrain by the time I got to the hut at 5:30 so when some of the seven people tried talking to me I struggled to give more than monosyllabic answers. The next morning it was an easy four and a half hour walk back to Whakapapa. It had been yet another unbelievable experience. Just another day in New Zealand.

I was left with three hours to kill and in this tiny village there was only one place to kill time. It was pub o'clock. I'd earnt it and a couple at lunch time doesn't count as drinking so I was doing well on sober day 6. The girl putting out tables opened the bar early for me and gave me drinks at local's prices. A lot of tills in NZ have two prices. She also only charged me for two of the three drinks, apparently because she was leaving soon and didn't care any more. I had a good chat with her and her boyfriend before catching the bus to Ohakune. At Ohakune I had a dorm room all to myself, it occurred to me that I hadn't slept alone for nearly two months so I celebrated by getting naked and farting. Adventure complete (the walk not the fart) and tomorrow it would be the start of another great adventure - The Whanganui River.

N.B. I have breasts in the picture of me in front of the old red hut. I don't know where they came from or where they went but I wish I knew they were there so I could have had a go on them.









JACK-FRUIT----(THE LARGEST FRUIT TO GROW ON A TREE)

The heart of the jackfruit is also used to make the yellow dye for monks robes
My computer table and desk , I cut a jackfruit tree down and had the wood sawed into boards and gave to man to make me a table , I love the color . No stain was added to color the wood all natural color

Another shot of my desk or table


I don't know how the limbs can hold these heavy fruits without breaking (some can weigh 50 lbs.)

This is younger fruit

Small pieces cut from the fruit to get to the eatable part of the fruit


These are the small segments or pods that are eatable and contain the seed


The seeds are good to eat , roast them and they taste like a chestnut

These pods are very sticky and you have to be careful not to get on your counter and knife .


This pictures shows the prickly side of the fruit, that you have to cut thru to get to the pod segments inside . These are very sweet when ripe and a lot of folks like to cook them green as a subsitute for meat , and also to boil and put in a Thai soup.


Yesterday Ciejay went in the field behind our house where there is a huge jack-fruit tree and cut off one of the fruits ready and ripe (you can tell by the smell), and you can't believe how big it was , it must have weighted 25 lbs. at least.
I love jack-fruit , but it is really hard to peel and cut and get the fruit out as it is filled with a rubber juice that keeps most folks from cutting and eating them , but Ciejay has a way of doing it and does not get to much rubber on everything .We had it for a fruit dessert after dinner and it was the sweetest one I have eaten in all my 6 years here in the LOS . Not only was there enough for us , but she divided it among all the neighbors and they were all thankful, that they did'nt have to cut and clean out for themselves . Not only is Jack-fruit great to eat but the wood from the tree is prized for it's quality to make musical instruments, the wood has a wonderful yellow color that makes beautiful furniture (see the picture of my table) and the heart of the wood is used to make the dye to color the robes for the Thai monks.
Jackfruit
By , About.com Guide
Definition: Enormous and prickly on the outside, jackfruit looks somewhat like durian (though jackfruit is usually even larger). Once a jackfruit is cracked open, what you will find inside are pods or "bulbs". Often referred to as the seeds, these bulbs are actually a kind of fleshy covering for the true seeds or pits, which are round and dark like chesnuts. The fleshy part (the "bulb") can be eaten as is, or cut up and cooked. When unripe (green), it is remarkably similar in texture to chicken, making jackfruit an excellent vegetarian substitute for meat. In fact, canned jackfruit (in brine) is sometimes referred to as "vegetable meat".
Jackfruit can also be purchased frozen, dried, or canned either in brine (usually unripe) or in syrup (ripe and sweet). If using fresh jackfruit, it's a good idea to oil your knife and hands first before cutting, as the fruit is very sticky.
Jackfruit contains many vitamins and minerals, and offers numerous health benefits. The fruit's isoflavones, antioxidants, and phytonutrients mean that jackfruit has cancer-fighting properties. It is also known to help cure ulcers and indigestion.

Tormented by my inner drunk in Rotorua

Travelled to Rotorua on my last Kiwi experience journey. Rotorua is situated on a very thin bit of the earth's crust and so has steam coming out of vents, bubbling mud and geysers all around the area. I visited Te Puia to see the biggest of the geysers and also some Maori cultural history then walked back to town for dominos (crap) and a dvd - Iron man, also crap.
I didn't want to go out because whilst away, I hadn't been drinking every day but on my budget I was drinking far too often. I wanted to do a full week sober and this was only day 2. But it was St. Patrick's day so when a slightly punk looking German girl who had just finished work asked me if I fancied a few and offered to buy me a pint of Guiness, I had little choice.
The first of Rotorua's three Irish bars we tried was rammed. I queued up for 20 minutes, 4 rows of people back from the bar, I was surrounded by smashed people and I didn't have a drink in my hand. I had to leave. We walked to the next Irish bar, I half hoped it was rammed so that I could make my excuses and avoid drinking. It wasn't, so I went to the bar and ordered 2 pints of Guiness resigned to the fact that I am a weak willed drunkard.
But wait, it wasn't game over yet, one or two pints of Guiness on St. Paddy's doesn't count as drinking and to my delight the German girl was incredibly dull, there was no way I wanted to spend more time in her company than was necessary so I was in luck.
I had to wait for a second pint because I'd bought the first round and as much as I wasn't fussed about drinking another it went against my principles to turn down a free one. After yet another awkward silence German girl asked 'So what music are you in to?'
'Could you quit the small talk, I've got an empty pint here, it's your round and your bland personality is honestly making me angry' Is what I should have said. Instead I let out an audible sigh and named some bands I hoped she hadn't heard of. Sadly she had heard of Gomez. 'Gomez, I love them' She said without emotion 'What's that song they did?'
I sighed again, where is my pint? 'They've had a few, they've got about 6 albums so you'll have to narrow it down'
'Oh umm, I can't remember how it goes or what it's called, but it's really good'
And my pint? 'They are good.'
'Oh yeah I love Gomez, can't believe you like them too'
Pint? 'yep.'
'Cool'
Silence.
'I need another beer, do you want one?' I said
'Oh no it's my round, I'll go' Thank christ for that!
I drank my Guiness in 4 swigs, apologised that I was tired and left her talking to someone at the bar.
I know it's a poor reflection on myself but I was really proud that I'd gone home after only 2 drinks when there was so much going on in the town. I've certainly never managed it on a Saturday night in Southampton so maybe this was the start of a change for the sober? Well soberer.




FOOD TO GO (TAKE AWAY)

The famous Thailand Binder or Tie-----------------THE RUBBER BAND
Take Away and bring home

Red Curry Pla(fish)--Red Curry Guy (chicken)-- Tai Palo (boiled egg with pork and to-fu )-- Coke Zero---butter rolls--and fresh boiled white corn on the cob

Seems like a lot of my post have to do with food lately , well can I help it that food is one of the favorite things I love about Thailand , and the experts say that the color Red makes you hungry , soooo with all the Red Shirts on T.V. and the Net , I seem to stay hungry all the time . I'm going to miss them when they go, then we will be back to the colors yellow , blue, and pink , and they say these colors make us feel full , maybe that will help this ever expanding waist line of mine , ha ha .
Not only are there little restaurants on ever corner , in our village (and most villages in Thailand) they all have take away as they call it here in the LOS. Whatever you order from the menu they will put in a plastic bag and tie, with a hundred tight twist of a rubber band, and a knot that I have yet figured out how to untie , sooo I end up cutting it with my knife and sometimes makeing a mess of things in doing so . Do you hate the rubber band ties as much as I do?, and every where you look around the kitchen there are rubber bands .

But, take away is very convenient, when it's to hot to cook at home (or to lazy) and to hot to eat outside (or to many bugs) , and it's sooo easy to say "take away ".

I did just that the other day for dinner and was able to buy enough food and drink, for Ciejay and Me for less that 100 baht , now you can't beat a deal like that and a few of the little food tables will even have their kids deliver it to your house on their Honda's or bikes . I love it and thats why I'm "Retired in Thailand and Loving It". Malcolm
AND SEEING RED
What do Safeway, Walgreens, and Costco have in common? The obvious answer is that they are all large operated American supermarkets. But do you think it’s any coincidence that these three grocery stores – along with others like Winn-Dixie, Wawa, Giant, and Supervalu – all use red in their logo?
A color psychologist would tell you that this is no surprise: red is the color that makes people hungry. Red instantly attracts attention and it also makes people excited, energetic, and increases the heart rate.
In the fast-food industry, look no further than McDonalds, Wendy’s, or Burger King as prime examples of this. These massive companies all have a large amount of red in their branding as well, which subconsciously lets customers know that the chain is high-energy, bustling, and most importantly fast.
Red seems to have color dominance with regards to actual food products, as well. If red foods such as tomatoes, strawberries, and apples aren’t a natural part of the product, often times red packaging is used instead, such as with Coke, Skittles, and Campbell’s Soup. Mmm… maybe you’re hungry now?

My favourite places: The Beach Bar

Phuket can be whatever you want it to be. Phuket is bars and girls. Phuket is crowded beaches and jet skis; shopping and good food. Phuket is groovy nightlife with trendy people. Phuket is a luxury getaway at a 5 star resort. Phuket is an island full of history and interesting culture. Phuket does have all this and more. Me? I am not into nightlife, clubs, bargirls and not rich enough to pamper myself at a fancy resort. Don't need a hotel anyway. Phuket is home. Phuket is where I work, where my kids go to school, and when I have time off work, I try to explore, which is what this blog is mostly about really. You can look other places for nightlife information, and if you want full on tourism, watersports and more food than you can eat, stay in Patong Beach, by all means, but do try to get out and explore some!

This blog is "my" Phuket (not actually mine, but you get the idea) and I give thanks to all readers and people who email or come to see me to say they've enjoyed the blog. If you can find some useful information here among all the "normal" tourism websites, great. Hope you may get some ideas of things to do - things that may otherwise have been unknown. The blog has been going for 4 years now, and there's plenty more to be added. More restaurants I want to try, more trips to take just off Phuket to small islands or attractions in nearby areas. Always new things to see - and at the same time, there are some places I/we (the family) keep going back to. Some days, especially in high season, a day off is very welcome, and all I want to do is relax. We have some favourite places to go, and The Beach Bar is maybe top of the list.

The Beach Bar

Sunset near The Beach Bar

The Beach Bar is a small, cheap, friendly, rather basic restaurant right by the beach at Cape Panwa, overlooking Chalong Bay. It's just along the beach from the Panwa Beach resort, which sounds developed but you can't even see the hotel from the restaurant. There are some holiday apartments a bit further along called By The Sea. Many of the customers come from these 2 places, which helps explain why The Beach Bar closes during low season. It's normally open from about October to the end of April. Open for lunch or dinner, great for sunsets like the one above. Can be combined with a visit to the nearby Phuket Aquarium.

It's a family run restaurant, don't expect white suited waiters and silver platters here. We like the simplicity. We found the place back in 2006 and now we always enjoy a chat with the owners and have seen their kids growing up, as they have seen ours. The kids get on great. My wife and I like that - we can sit quietly while the kids go off and play on the beach, looking for shells or hunting crabs. I like to go in the late afternoon. By around 5pm they take all the tables out onto the sand, so you can sit right by the sea and wait for sunset.

Tables on the sand at The Beach Bar

Kids love it there, they are more or less free to roam, and it's safe. There is no road, no jet skis, no big crowds. If we're sitting out on the sand we can keep an eye on them if they wander along the beach. This year we did our son's birthday party there, which he and all the kids loved.

Our son at The Beach Bar

What? Oh, go on then, here are some more sunset views from The Beach Bar...

17th April 2010

(above) Sunset 17th April 2010

15th November 2008

(above) Sunset 15th November 2008

The beach itself is not perfect - pretty good for swimming at high tide, but totally rocky at low tide. Still pretty views, as you can see from the sunset pictures, but you can only swim at high tide, when things look more like this - much more like it!

View along the beach at high tide

The food at The Beach Bar is quite simple. They do seafood - lobster, crab, fish, prawns, it's maybe a bit cheaper than the main beach areas. We often just get "normal" Thai food. They do good Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Tom Yum, Glass Noodle Salad, and one of my favourites - Chicken wrapped in Pandan leaf ("Gai Hor Bai Toey"). Most of the easy dishes are only 70 - 80 Baht.

Yam Woonsen (glass noodle salad)

Fish dish at The Beach Bar

Prawns with cashew nuts

Last year we also went there for Loy Krathong, as we'd had enough of heading to the more crowded places and having to push our way through to the water. At The Beach Bar it was just us and a few other people plus the owners family launching our Krathongs into the water for good luck. I reckon we'll go there again this year.

Loy Krathong

Our boy running on the beach at The Beach Bar

Digging for shells

(above) our daughter and her Grandma help the owner digging for shells

But what I really enjoy is the relaxed atmosphere, no rush, no noise, it's a place that I can feel totally at ease for a few hours, watching the sun set, watching our kids play and drink a few cold beers. Yes, one of our favourite places.

More photos of The Beach Bar (on my Flickr pages)
More of our favourite restaurants

The Beach Bar - Location Map


View The Beach Bar, Cape Panwa, Phuket in a larger map

Taupo

Beautiful place. I checked in to my hostel and not wanting to break from tradition, went for a walk around the lake. Branching off along a riverside track I saw what looked like a man floating down a river on a ring of inflated bin liners. When I caught up to him it really was a man floating down a river on a ring of inflated bin liners, beer in one hand, fag in the other. Because I was staring at him the man shouted out in a Spanish accent 'how you doing?'
'I'm good thanks. Are they bin liners?'
'Yes, it's cheap'
I'm not sure why but it seemed appropriate to take off my cap, bow down and say 'Sir, you are a genius'.
I passed the man and carried along the path but a few hundred yards later it finished. There was no path on the other side of the river either so how the hell the man was going to get back to his car I don't know. Unless, perhaps, he had concealed within his vessel a paddle made from lolly sticks (and I wouldn't put that past him, it would have taken a fair amount of Blue Peter skills to attach the bin liners leaving room for a person in the middle.
Back at the hostel I played scrabble with 3 English girls and a 17 year old German and had to hold on to some monster scores because I didn't want to look like a dick playing words like ee which I know is a word but justifying it would have meant admitting that I play on-line. That and the fact that one girl got away with words like zam meant that I finished third. I am ashamed to say I didn't like this and was a poor loser.

Next day I researched some long walks in the area and booked a trip for 5 days kayaking the Whanganui river. This had taken weeks to do as no companies would rent to someone who wanted to do it on their own, they were all guided trips. In the afternoon I walked out of town to a great free attraction, a hot spring fed pool 30 degrees in temperature, then past that to Huka falls and Aratiatia dam (both pictured below)

Day 3 in Taupo. Got drunk with some people who were celebrating finishing work the day before. It was a mexican themed party which consisted of eating some quesadillas and the 4 of us writing sombrero on stickers stuck to our caps. It was good fun but to be somewhere so beautiful and do something I can do at home felt very wasteful.





More Wellington

Decided I would like to see the Weta cave, home of Peter Jackson's studios where they did the CGI and prop making for Lord of the rings. It was a couple of hours walk out of Wellington and on the way I passed a woman taking a bite out of a potato. The Weta cave itself advertised the part open to the public as a mini museum. It was the size of my bedroom but there were just enough props and swords from the films that it made the trip worth while for a geek like me. There was also a film that talked through the work they do at Weta but as Mum has the extended 600 hour special edition box sets of Lord of the Rings it wasn't anything new.

Day 5 in Wellington was the day I'd been waiting for. New Zealand Black caps v Australia in the fifth One Day International. I walked to the Westpac stadium (known as the Cake Tin) via the art gallery and spent a day watching the black caps stuff Australia, the highlight being Ricky Ponting getting out for a golden duck. Even better than that, he was caught off his helmet so shouldn't have been out.

Hotels in Phuket Town

Phuket is of course more known as a beach destination, and I would guess 99% of visitors will want to stay close to the water. There are plenty of hotel recommendations on this blog, mostly hotels near the beaches - Phuket's west coast is all about beaches, from the overdeveloped madness that is Patong (yeh, some people like it, I know) to much quieter locations like Naithon or Kamala. There are some hotels inland away from the water, or on the far less developed east coast, and there is also plenty of accommodation in Phuket Town.

Phuket Town (officially called Phuket City, but it certainly feels like a town), is the main business center of Phuket and the provincial capital. There's no beach, but staying in town gives a totally different experience of Phuket. Sure there are some tourism oriented businesses, but mostly it's local life - markets, small interesting shops, Chinese shrines, day to day life going on all around, historic buildings, museums, local restaurants and a nightlife that is quite separate to the bars 'n' girls at the beaches. It's the place to be to enjoy festivals and local events such as the Phuket Vegetarian Festival or the Sunday Walking Street Market. I like Phuket Town, and there's plenty of space given to it on the blog. If you have a longer stay in Phuket and want to experience more than just mainstream tourism, why not stay in town for a couple of nights!

For a full list of Phuket Town accommodation look at Agoda.com. Everything from backpacker to nicer hotels.

Some Recommended Phuket Town Hotels

Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel

A fairly new hotel right by the old town on Phuket Road, just round the corner from Thalang Road, restored old shophouse, with all white exterior (thus the name). Only 17 rooms, and good price too.

Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel - Rates and Reservations
Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel - Reviews

The Memory at On On Hotel

Way back in 1999, when I first arrived in Phuket, I stayed 1 night at the old On On Hotel. It was built about 100 years ago. I think the beds were maybe 100 years old. The floor shook whenever someone walked past outside the room. It was the hotel used for filming 'The Beach' movie. A great backpacker hangout with a little cafe too. Renovations started a few years ago and it re-opened in 2013 as "The Memory at On On Hotel" with suites and nice rooms. Still has dorms and a nice aircon cafe.

The Memory at On On Hotel - Rates and Reservations
The Memory at On On Hotel - Reviews

Chinotel

Newly opened in 2010, Chinotel is on Ranong Road right next to the central market. Rates only 600 - 800 Baht per night with aircon, TV and you're right in the old town.

Chinotel - Bookings at Agoda.com
Chinotel - Reviews

Sino House Hotel

A couple of blocks North and East of old town, Sino House is an apartment style hotel and includes the highly recommended Rain Tree Spa which my wife and I mean to visit one day soon!

Sino House Hotel - Rates and Reservations
Sino House Hotel - Reviews

Baan Suwantawe

Located next to the Queen Sirikit park, and right over the street from the Indy Market that takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings, this is quite a new place which has standard hotel rooms and also apartments for longer term rent.

Baan Suwantawe - Rates and Reservations
Baan Suwantawe - Reviews

Bhukitta Hotel

Right next to the bus terminal, 5 minutes walk to old town, lots of local restaurants close by. Reading the reviews, you can see some common "problems" with hotels in town - things like "too far from the beach" - well, duh! And no nice views - well it's in the town, and maybe staff not speaking the best English, yeh, if they did, they'd work in a 5 star resort.

Bhukitta Hotel - Rates and Reservations
Bhukitta Hotel - Reviews

Phuket Center Apartment

Right in the center close to old town, the Phuket Center Apartments are serviced apartments with kitchens. A cafe serves breakfast and lunch, but then again, you are within a few minutes walk of many restaurants in town.

Phuket Center Apartment - Rates and Reservations
Phuket Center Apartment - Reviews

Lub Sbuy Guesthouse

A budget place, again very close to the bus terminal with lots of local places to eat nearby and 5 minutes walk to the old town. Odd spelling, Lub Sbuy means "peaceful sleep".. guess I would spell it Lap Sabai, but each to their own!

Lub Sbuy Guesthouse - Rates and Reservations
Lub Sbuy - Reviews

Dara Hotel

A real oddity, this place. Location - on the edge of town close to the Central Festival Mall, not far from the weekend market either. I'd only stay here if I had some transport, but it's kind of unique - very colourful and modern.

Dara Hotel - Rates and Reservations
Dara Hotel - Reviews

Thavorn Heritage Hotel

The Thavorn Heritage Hotel (or just Thavorn Hotel) is a bit of Phuket history. It's not that old, opened in 1961, but was officially Phuket's first 5 star hotel. It's not so fancy now but the lobby looks great and there's a small museum inside. They do rooms for as litle as 600 Baht, great location right in the middle of town.

Thavorn Hotel - More Information
Thavorn Hotel - Rates and Reservations

Phuket Town may not be your cup of tea, but this blog does tend to be read by people who like all kinds of tea! Aside from the hotels above, Phuket Town has lots of low budget guesthouses and backpacker places - more info here: Cheap Places To Stay in Phuket.

More Hotels in Phuket Town

Phuket Town Hotels at Agoda.com

More About Phuket Town

Walking in Old Town
Old Phuket Town Festival
Kopitiam Restaurant on Thalang Road
Rang Hill
Thai Hua Phuket History Museum

Wellington

Got the ferry from Picton to Wellington heading out through the unsurprisingly beautiful Marlborough sound.
Day 1: Couldn't be arsed to be sociable so went and watched Avatar in 3-D (Terribly brilliant or brilliantly terrible, 4 stars)

Day 2: Visited the excellent national museum where my personal highlight was bizarrely their Anne Frank exhibit. Bought a ticket to the 5th one day match between NZ and Australia and so had to book a further 3 nights in the hostel. In the afternoon I saw a middle aged woman smiling broadly and I was tempted to tell her how good it was to see such an uninhibited smile. I didn't though and I regretted it, everyone likes a compliment and if it's well received it is as much fun to give one as receive one. Mymind then wondered to other compliments for other people and I began to play a compliments game. The rules, I decided, were that every person you pass you have to give a genuine compliment to. Men and women old and young... not kids though, telling an eight year old she has good posture is creepy.
I chickened out of playing the game out loud but played it in my head and had a lot of fun imagining what I would say. The compliments started out quite mundane 'Nice tattoo', 'I like your socks' then after a while I got a bit carried away. 'You conduct yourself with an air of coolness', 'You're amazing I want to be you, then I'd want to be another you so that I could be you, hold you and be held by you'. It was for the best I was only playing the game in my head.

Day 3: Walked around the city and botanic gardens then to the pub for the 4th one dayer, New Zealand lost. I stayed on at the pub for a pub quiz. The couple I joined told me they were waiting on a friend, a serial dater, who had been on a date. I conjured up the image of a desperate girl with a personality disorder who I would endup flirting with anyway. I wasn't far off the mark. She was good fun but I'm glad I didn't know her for any longer. We came 2nd last in the quiz so didn't even win the booby prize of a round of drinks.

Cycling trip to Koh Yao Noi