2010 Vegetarian Festival (Part 1)

Well, that's all done for another year. One of the craziest times of year in Phuket.. come to think of it, certainly the craziest. Some people hate the vegetarian festival or are bored by it, or just moan that the street processions disrupt traffic around Phuket Town. Some people hardly notice the festival, as it really only affects Phuket Town and small communities with a Chinese-Thai background like Kathu, Sapam or Tha Reua. If you sit on the beach at Kata for the duration of the festival, you won't see anything. Personally I love it. Love the old traditions, love the way the local community comes together and maintain these traditions, I love the crazy street processions, love taking photos and I also use the vegetarian festival as an excuse for 10 days of detox. I stick to the diet, drink no alcohol.. although I don't wear white and certainly don't impale myself with sharp objects. Leave that to the real devotees.

• Lots of photos here: Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2010 (my Flickr photos)

This blog post covers the first few days of the festival which started on October 7th in the afternoon with the raising of the Go Teng pole at all the shrines. I went along to Kathu shrine with my family. We managed to dilly and dally and just missed the actual pole raising by a few minutes but did watch as the lanterns were raised up. The lanterns would be lit later that night. It is said that the gods descend into the shrines at midnight. I must try to get to Kathu shrine at midnight sometime!

Pulling up the Go Teng Pole

As we arrived the pole was just being tied up with guy ropes before the lanterns were attached to a large bamboo branch which was then hoisted halfway up the Go Teng pole with 9 lanterns hanging from it - 9 lanterns for the 9 emperor gods.

Tying lanterns to the Go Teng pole

Many people come to the shrine on the first evening for prayers. There was also a firework display which we could see from our house - must remember next year to stay in the village for the fireworks! Below - a couple of photos in the shrine. Kathu is an important part of the festival, because Kathu is where the festival started in the mid 19th century. Shrines in Phuket Town like Jui Tui and Bang Neow are larger, but the people of Kathu know their history and take a lot of pride in the old traditions.

Inside Kathu Shrine

Lighting candles and incense

More Photos at Kathu Shrine 7th October (Flickr Slideshow)

Fireworks and especially firecrackers play an important part in the festival. Loud firecrackers are said to drive away bad luck and bad spirits. We bought a few fireworks home - the kids enjoyed playing with sparklers...

Our kids with sparklers

The first main event of the festival was the first street procession on the 10th of October from Sapam Shrine, which is about 7km north of Phuket Town. I went to the shrine before 7am, before the procession left the shrine - they walk all the way into town from there. It was a busy morning at the shrine - Sapam is not a big community but I think they were all there!

Sapam Shrine

* Warning - if you scroll down further, there are graphic images which may not appeal to all people *

The festival is partly about purifying the body by eating the right food, drinking no Chang beer etc... but I hope nobody reads the words "vegetarian festival" and thinks that Phuket is full of hippies and tofu burgers and "meat is murder" t-shirts. Indeed, there is plenty of blood spilled during the festival. Some people are (so I believe) born to be Ma Song, or "Crazy Horses". Some of these Ma Song undergo acts of self mutilation or extreme piercing. By doing this it is said they bring luck to their community. Some of it is quite gruesome, some is more spiritual. Here are some of the Ma Song at Sapam Shrine ...

Piercing underway

Above - this Ma Song has just had his face done. Well, had his face impaled by 6 fairly large swords, actually. Just doing his bit for the local community. So is the guy below, though his chosen torture is pineapples.

Pineapples in the cheeks

More photos from Sapam Shrine, 10th October (Flickr Slideshow)

The next day, 11th October, was the turn of Sam Kong Shrine, which is easy to find on the Northern edge of Phuket Town only 800m from the big Tesco Lotus store. The Sam Kong area is packed with food stalls during the festival - some photos here. Again I was at the shrine early, though maybe not early enough. To see the actual piercing taking place you gotta catch the early bird! I was there 6:30am, should have been there at 6. But it was a grey and slightly wet morning and did rain quite a bit later. I did not follow the procession into town as I had plans to be in town for either the 13th (Bang Neow Shrine) or 14th (Jui Tui).

Ma Song dancing at Sam Kong Shrine


The face piercing above is more traditional using fairly small (but sharp) skewers with Chinese heads on the ends. In more recent years I feel that the piercing has become a kind of competition. And I am sure that the participants/devotees are aware that by piercing your face with something large or bizarre, you're more likely to make the papers! Or at least make it onto Jamie's Phuket :)

What a spanner!

Face pierced by plant

Alongside the weirder piercings you find the tradition and history. It's sometimes hard to imagine, but this festival has been part of Phuket for a long long time. When the festival originated, George IV was King of England. The old tradition is very much alive and I do sometimes feel a bit guilty of getting in the way while trying to take a photo. The vegetarian festival is touted as a tourist attraction and I do think that this year I saw more tourists and more foreigners with cameras at some of the events, but not so many really. This IS something to experience for sure, but I know that 95% of visitors come to Phuket for sun, sea, sand, seafood and other things beginning with S. At the shrines I saw familiar faces of local residents and locally based photographers, and also a few photo pros with big lenses and "my camera is bigger than yours" attitudes :)

Ma Song giving blessings

More photos at Sam Kong Shrine 11th October (Flickr Slideshow)

More photos and words coming soon. I was in Phuket Town on the 13th for the Bang Neow Shrine procession and at Kathu Shrine on the 15th on a grey drizzly morning. More photos on my Flickr page and more information about the festival with links to older posts on this blog here: The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

Visitors from up North

Kris from Khemmarat

Kris and Cat

Pook, Kris ,Cat

It's always great to have visitors come for a day , but it's a special treat when it's a fellow blooger or a reader of your own blog , and just this Thursday we had the privilege of having Kris and his lovely wife Cat and her sister Pook, from the village of Khemmarat in the Providence of Ubon Ratchathani come to Whang Pho for a day visit . We meet them at the train station and had a great lunch and then back to our home for a couple hours visit and a little fruit snack before taking them to Kanchanaburi for a van ride back to Bangkok .It was a short visit as the train from BKK had engine trouble and they were late leaving the big city and spent about 5 hours on the train , needless to say if you know anything about the country trains here in the LOS you know that their behinds were tired from the sitting and the hard seats .We had a great (short) time with them and we promised each other it want be the last visit . Thanks Kris and Cat for taking out in your busy schedule to come by our way . Malcolm and Ciejay

Retirement and a new project

When you're retired and living in a house that you have remodeled there is always a few do it your self projects to keep you busy and if that doesn't do the trick , then Ciejay can always find a few things for you to do , she is always adding to her" Honey Do List" that has taken up permanent residence on the frig door. But ever once in a while an idea pops into my head and I just have to go for it ( that is if Ciejay likes the Idea too -ha ha ha ).

Well that was the case the other day while laying in the Hammock and thinking about the how good life has been to us these past 6 years . All of a sudden I heard a crash and looked over at the neighbors house and and saw that they had cut down the big Jack Fruit tree that was in front of their house
And soooo an idea popped into my head , I was thinking the other day that I would like to make the table that I had made 3 years ago from a jack fruit tree , into our dining room and kitchen table ,the one that I use for my computer table , that it was almost to big for what I needed and Ciejay had said once before that she would like to have it as a dining room table , it is nice and long , and she too loves the golden color .I talked to my neighbor and she gave me the tree already cut down and the guy who cut it for her said he could saw it into boards for me , you see them in the first pictures .I have a idea in my head to make a table with a book shelf attached to the end of it for my printer and other stuff that I like to have around the computer, and it would be almost as long but it would look a lot neater , and give us a bigger table in the kitchen ,dining area . Ciejay liked the idea and soooo I had the guy to saw the tree into boards and I now have them stacked (as you can see in the photos) to dry, and in a couple months will take them to the man that made the table I use now for a computer table , and have him to make the new one for me,and into the kitchen will go the old one .I know I am not doing the work myself , but I feel it's my project , because I thought of it and will see it thru till it is done . "Oh by the way "I will do all the sanding and putting the urethane finish on the table sooo It will be part my handwork.
I really love the color of the wood from the jack fruit tree , and the new wood seems to be even more golden in color , we'll have to wait and see after it dries for a few months .

Theres a special feeling a body gets when you sit down at a table that you had the idea to make. Everyone that comes to visit always comments about the table , as not many folks use the jack fruit wood for furniture , but I have found out thru research that it is used to make a lot of Thai musicals instruments . Most have never seen any thing made if this kind of wood.Have you ever ? Malcolm

Run for your life

Someone told me that the small lizards that make themselves at home in may of our houses (wheither we want them to or not) would eat each other , I never believed them till yesterday when I saw first hand the act of cannalibism with my own eyes and was able to get a couple pictures to post for your enlightenment. I hate all the droppings we have to vaccum up every morning , but it is better than spiders and mozzies, they will eat both . Malcolm

Old Phuket Town Tour with Phuket Heritage Trails

Phuket to many people means beaches, family holidays, nightlife, luxury resorts, shopping, maybe diving, snorkeling, sailing, golf, elephant rides, tours and of course the famous smile :) A lot of the reason for this blog is to highlight the other Phuket, the history, the festivals and local life, local restaurants and things to do that might not be so obvious. Visitors may not realise that Phuket has a rich and varied history, although you can't find much sign of this by sitting on the beach. The beach areas were sparsely inhabited until recently. The main population areas 100 years ago included Thalang (in the center of the island) and Phuket Town. Thalang was the main town until the late 19th century. Phuket Town became very important due to the tin mining boom in the 19th century as well as the rubber industry, and it's access to the sea with a sheltered port. Some parts of Phuket Town are more modern, especially around the edges, with shopping malls and new houses, but the old town remains a great place to explore, full of historical interest.

I have done many walks around the town, but when I found Phuket Heritage Trails on Facebook, I wanted to do a walk with them. The tours are run by 2 Phuket ladies - Kritchaya (Pu or Chaya) and Chutikarn (Gan). From the photos they had posted on Facebook, I could see that they were Phuket enthusiasts with a lot of knowledge to share, and since my family was visiting from England, we set up a morning tour at the end of September. We met at "the dragon" next to the TAT office on Thalang Road at 9am. We had our own transport of course, but they explained that they would normally be able to pick up from hotels. It's best to start early to avoid the heat of the day, but on the other hand some shops don't open until 9am or later! The dragon is a symbol of Phuket, as it's a Chinese belief that the island of Phuket is a dragon risen from the ocean.

Right away, as we walked west onto the main stretch of Thalang Road, which has had all overhead wires removed, Pu pointed out a building detail that I had not seen before. The facade on this old house still has the detailed carving below the 2nd floor windows - apparently most houses used to have this, but all except this one have been modified in the last hundred years.

Thalang Road Facade

Thalang Road probably needs it's own blog page sometime, it's so full of old houses and shops, always something of interest to be found. There are many shops selling cloth and clothing, many of them are Muslim owned, and there are a couple of Muslim restaurants selling Roti (pancakes) and curry. We stopped at Abdul's Roti Shop for breakfast as part of the tour. I had just roti with condensed milk, dad had one with banana, mum was brave and had roti with masaman curry. All washed down with strong coffee.

Roti shop on Thalang Road

We enjoyed watching the guy making roti, whirling the mixture around making it thinner. If you're in old town, I do recommend trying some roti!

Making Roti

Many of the houses on Thalang road are private homes, although many are businesses - everything from hardware to herbs to pharmacies and a doctors clinic. Sometimes you get a glimpse inside one of the old houses to the cool interior. I'd love to own one of these houses!

House on Thalang Road

Phuket has people of various religions living side by side. On Thalang Road close to the Muslim shops and next door to the Christian Assembly hall there is a Chinese shrine that I had somehow never noticed before, called Sanjao Hailam - Hailam is the local word for the "Hainan" area of China, from where many people emigrated in the 19th and early 20th century to Phuket as well as to parts of Malaysia and also to Singapore.

Hailam Chinese Shrine on Thalang Road

Inside Sanjao Hailam

There is a very active old town association in Phuket which aims to preserve the heritage and culture in this part of Phuket, so although there have been some modifications to buildings you don't find much in the way of ugly architecture here. of course over time, things need replacing but since a lot of the house and shop owners on Thalang Road are maybe 4th generation, they all have a certain pride in their town. Some houses need some fixing up, some look older than others. We all noticed the tiled roof below that looks like it could well be original.

Old old tiled roof

We stopped for a drink at a cafe next door to the Phuket Thai Hua Museum, which I have visited before. It used to be free entry, but now has been renovated and there are more exhibits - we decided not to visit on this walk as we'd all been there before, but the cafe next door was good!

Phuket Thai Hua Museum

As you head west along Thalang Road, it becomes Krabi road, still very much part of the old town with many old houses. The museum is on Krabi road, and we headed a bit further west to visit the Chinpracha House, one of the oldest mansions in Phuket. The walking took a while, as we all had cameras, and someone would find something to snap every few meters!

Mum outside house on Krabi Road

Chinpracha House was built in 1903 by Tan Ma Siang, the son of an immigrant from the Hokkien region of China who had moved to Phuket in the mid 19th century for tin mining. The house next door was also built by the same guy. There was controversy a couple of years ago, as the owner (grandson of Tan Ma Siang) died, leaving the house and part of the land to his wife, and part of the land to his brother, who sold the land where some shophouses have now been built... there is still an ongoing court case as many people including Khun Daeng, widow of Khun Pracha Tandavanitj objected to the building of modern shophouses on the land. There is an admission fee of 150 Baht to Chinpracha House. Inside there are fantastic tiled floors.. I'd love some of these tiles in our house!

Tiles in Chinpracha House

I loved looking at the historical photos in the house showing the generations of family who have lived here. Whole walls of photos...

Old Family Photos at Chinpracha House

Old Family Photo in Chinpracha House

We were also introduced to Khun Daeng, a lovely lady, and I wish her luck in trying to get those shophouses removed! Now, on a normal tour, if you contact Phuket Heritage Trails for a booking, they will have a minibus which will then pick people up at the end of the trail, which might be at Chinpracha House... We had to walk back to our car and it was getting hot! Back to the TAT office is about 1 kilometer, though we took a detour to get lunch at a corner cafe recommended by Pu and Gan... which turned out to be closed, so we decided on lunch at Kaewjai restaurant near the bus station, which is a favourite of mine, doing good local food, always quite full at lunchtime, we were lucky to find a free table!

Group on walk in Phuket Town

Above - group walk photo taken by mum - from left, Gan, Pu, Jamie, my dad and my cousin Simon. I can walk around Phuket Town for hours. There are some links below to other Phuket Town blog posts. Always something new to find and learn, if you are interested in that kind of thing! Anyone wanting to take a very good guided tour can contact Chaya at Phuket Heritage Trails by email (phuketheritagetrails@gmail.com) or look on the Facebook Page. The morning Phuket Town tour price was 1,950 Baht/person (including Breakfast & Lunch).

Hotels in Phuket Town
Walk in Old Town (June 2011)
Phuket Photo Walk 2010
Baba Weddings in Phuket
Thalang Road in old Phuket Town

Retirement-----Ciejay and Me love it .

Well , today is a very special day for us , it marks the 6th anniversary of us leaving our home in Salem , Oregon ,USA and getting on the big silver bird with 11 suitcases ,with all of our worldly possessions and moving to the land of Milk and Honey, also known as The Land of Smiles and Gentle People, Thailand. I don't think there has gone a day that I haven't thanked the Lord for making it possible for us to be here in the LOS and for all my Thai and Farang friends,family, and neighbors and my wonderful wife , that have made it such a good , safe and happy life , and not forgetting my small SS check that I receive each month that allows us to live here in a comfortable home , on little piece of land, in a beautiful valley ,at the foot of a small mountain range , along side the famous River Kwai and in the wonderful small village called Whang Pho .
We're happy and also we're Retired in Thailand and Loving It. Malcolm and Ciejay

Sapam Chinese Shrine (Kuan Te Kun)

I had meant to visit the Chinese shrine at Sapam for ages. Sapam is a village about 7km north of Phuket Town. Just south of the village is Wat Sapam which I have visited before. The village is/was a fishing community. The access is just off the main road between town and the airport, about 1.5km south of the bypass road. The Chinese shrine is right at the corner at the entrance to the village. The village road is only about 500m long before you hit the sea on the east coast of Phuket.

Sanjao Guan Te Kun

Although the shrine is commonly called "Sapam Shrine", or "Sanjao Sapam" (Sanjao is the Thai word for a Chinese shrine), the actual name is Kuan Te Kun - the sign above says Sanjao Kuan Te Kun, and I guess says a similar thing in Chinese. I wanted to visit, as this is one of the participating shrines in the Phuket vegetarian festival, and this year (2010), the first main street procession of the festival will start at Sapam shrine on Saturday 10th October. I intend to be there nice and early, around 6am. So this visit was a kind of familiarisation trip.

It's not a big shrine compared to Kathu or Jui Tui for example, which is not surprising as it serves a small community. You can read something here about the history of the Sapam area.

Chinese Dragon

The dragon above is one of 2 on the stairway at the entrance to the shrine. Everything was looking very shiny, I could see recently used mops hanging to dry and pots of paint in a shed across the road. At the time of the vegetarian festival everything is made to look its best. Statues of gods are carefully cleaned, shrines spruced up... the belief is that during the festival the gods or spirits descend into the shrines.

Inside Sapam Shrine

The main doors into the interior of the shrine were closed, but I could walk around the covered area outside where statues such as the one above were found. Also, see below.... this spiked ball (I believe) will be tied to a rope and used by a devotee (Ma Song) during the vegetarian festival - swung into the flesh of his back. There is a lot more to the festival than just Tofu :)


I have more photos of this shrine on Flickr: Sapam Shrine. I'll be back here on the 10th!

Update - photos at Sapam Shrine on 10th October:

Sapam Shrine Vegetarian Festival Pics

RETIREMENT- A trip to Thailand and Finding a home

Sitting on the couch one evening thinking ,"what are we going to do now ?" , I've already gave my notice at work , signed up for my early SS, Ciejay doesn't want to live in Tenn. , to expensive to live here in Salem , "what to do ". then I remembered my son Rich had visited Thailand for a few weeks and called me when he got back and said " Dad you should think about retiring in the LOS. I had never thought of it , even tho I was married to a Thai lady , I didn't think she would ever want to go back , and I knew nothing of Thailand , except the little stories of her growing up and the fact that she had two children and a lot of family there .We and the other sisters that lived in America sent a little money to their Mom and Dad every month and also from time to time some vitamins and powered food supplement , and that was all I knew . Ciejay came in and sat down beside me and ask "what you thinking husband?."I told her I was thinking about Thailand and how maybe we could think about retiring there next year .Her answer was that we didn't have any money saved , but I told her that when we retired , we would get a small check from the U. S. Government every month till I die , she did not understand about SS so I tried to explain it to her , I must have did a good job , because she answered "we pray". I left it at that, and for the next couple of months I Reade everything I could find on the www about Thailand , positive and negative.
Well retirement year rolled around and still no decision of where to retire and spend our golden years , then we got a call from Ciejay's sister in Thailand saying that her Dad had pasted away after a long bout with diabetes , and that they were having his cremation and Buddish funeral services in 5 days , well, we were not prepared for a quick trip , I hadn't even got my passport yet and we didn't have the cash for such a trip , we talked to the two sisters that lived in America and we all decided that we would go together for the 100 day ceremony, ( where they put the ashes on a little boat made of flowers and float the down the river ). I told Ciejay , " we will stay 3 weeks and look around for a little piece of land to build us a little house , and see if we want to retire in the LOS .
We went there mainly for the 100 day event , but in the back of my mind I was excited about the possibility of retiring there . I had read and looked at pictures on the net enough to make me fall somewhat in love with the country . After the ceremony , we rented a van and traveled for Two weeks all over the central and northern part of Thailand , but we never saw any place or found a little piece of land that we both liked . The last evening of our trip we decided to go to Sai Yok amphora to the little village of Wang Pho and visit Ciejay's brother before flying back home the next day . We arrived there about 5:15 , it was late evening and already getting dark , the sisters visited with their brother and I sat and looked around the area , already when we were driving down the mountain to Wang Pho valley , I had thought to myself , I like this place , and Ciejay and I had exchanged glances, with a smile , that showed she felt the same .I was dark now and we were about to leave. Ciejay and me had said that we would come back next year on our own and look around some more , we were hurry ,hurry this trip everywhere we went .As we were getting in the van , I said to Ciejay " ask your brother if there is a house and a little piece of land for sale in Wang Pho ", she asked and he said " YES, there" and he pointed to the house next door , can you believe it . We went to look , it was all dark and the house was locked tight and the windows were tinted, soooo we could not even see inside , three bedroom, and 2 to bath rooms, her brother said" not finished" , the man and wife broke and house sat empty for 6 years , I ask if her knew the man and he said "yes my friend in Bangkok" , I ask him to call him and ask the price ( house and a little piece of land .) He called the man gave a price , my brother -in -law ask for a discount and the man said YES and just like that Ciejay had bought us a house and a little piece of land in Thailand . It was dark and we could not see it very well , but as I have said many times we had a dream and God had a plan, and we were happy .
Home we went, with a big smile on our face and a lump in our throat's thinking about what we were going to do and when we could move to Thailand and our dream home , and how we were going to get the money to fix up the house and clear the land and lots of ????????? in our heads.When we showed the one picture of the house we had bought, most of our friends laughed and said it looked like it was ready to fall over, and that we could never make it livable, well we wondered the same thing sometimes , But we had prayed and felt in our hearts that it was right and this was the plan God had for us . This was 2003 and we had till March 2004 before retirement and our plans were to fly to Thailand in Oct. of 2004 to begin our new life .
Of course there was lots to do to get ready and we wondered all along if we could really fulfil our dream of retiring and living in Thailand . In the next post I will go in detail all we did to prepare for the move to the LOS and God's hand in all of it . Malcolm

Marina Phuket Resort at Karon Beach

The Marina Phuket Resort has been around for quite a long time. Not sure exactly when it opened, but it's been in Phuket longer than me! It's one of those hotels that somehow manages to combine a secluded feel and a central location, sitting on the headland at the far south end of Karon Beach with beach access down some stairs at the "On The Rock" restaurant, unspoiled sea views and yet if you walk out of the main entrance you are in the busy Kata Center area with lots of shops and restaurants. I've been inside several times to see customers or to visit the restaurant - there is a webcam installed at the restaurant - see here: Karon Beach Phuket Webcam... so you can get a good idea of the view. the rooms are past the restaurant over the sea and the rocks. This end of Karon is decent for snorkeling, and I've dived there too. It's also only about 10 minutes walk to the sands at Kata Beach from the resort.

Marina Phuket Resort - Booking & Information Links

Marina Phuket Resort - Rates and Reservations at HotelsCombined.com
Karon Beach Hotels at Agoda.com
Kata Beach Hotels at Agoda.com

Reviews on TripAdvisor are almost all positive, I do see some things about rooms being a bit old, but there are different kinds of room with Seaview or "Jungle View" - the grounds of the hotel are well kept and very green and jungly. The reviews were good enough to put Marina Phuket Resort into the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list that I wrote in 2008. The resort was fully renovated during the summer of 2012.

Marina Phuket Resort - Photos

Marina Phuket Resort Room Marina Phuket Resort Room

Marina Phuket Resort Pool Gardens at Marina Phuket Resort

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com


Tunk Ka Restaurant / Cafe on Rang Hill

Tunk Ka is a well known restaurant, a bit of an institution in Phuket, located near the top of Rang Hill in Phuket Town, open since sometime in the 1970's (I seem to remember reading that somewhere). I have meant to visit and blog Tunk Ka for ages, but my wife and I used to have the idea that the food prices were really high, putting it into the "fancy" bracket that we non-fancy folk avoid. We used to go there a lot 8 - 10 years ago just for coffee. They claimed to have the best ice coffee in Phuket and we agreed, plus you had a nice view and a calm environment. I don't recall ever eating there until a few years ago, just ice coffee until then. This blog page was first written in 2010, updated 2013. Although we have been up Rang Hill many times we've only eaten at Tunk Ka a couple of times and it's a good one!

So one day a few years ago after lunch in Phuket Town we had some free time and I convinced my dear wife that we should try Tunk Ka Cafe again, just for a coffee. You need to drive up Rang Hill. There are a couple of different roads up there, both ending up at a hill top park with a fair amount of parking space, views over Phuket Town and a statue of a man called Korsimbi Na Ranong who was governor of Phuket about 110 years ago and is credited for introducing the rubber industry into Thailand - rubber became a major source of income for Thailand and for Phuket in particular.

Statue on Rang Hill

A newer restaurant called Khao Rang Breeze opened a couple of years ago. We've not tried it yet! Past this restaurant is the main viewpoint with lots of benches. Quite a lot of tours come this way. If you want great views there are plenty in Phuket - see Phuket Hills and Views.

Rang Hill (Khao Rang) Sunset

Oh, and there are normally monkeys hanging around the car park area looking for handouts...

Feeding the Monkeys

Tunk Ka Buddha

(above) Buddha at the entrance to Tunk Ka

The Tunk Ka restaurant is clearly signposted, although you can't see it from here, as you have to walk down a stairway in the trees, the stairs being made from old railway sleepers, which is an oddity since there is no railway within 200 kilometres of Phuket! (note : update 2013, a new stairway has been built). The restaurant is perched on the side of the hill with views to the South and West. It's around 350 feet above the town. Most of the view is towards Chalong, you can't see so much of Phuket Town, as the center is to the Southeast.

Tunk Ka Restaurant

There's lots of seating inside (the outer tables with a view) and some on a balcony outside which is where we chose to sit on that day in 2010 in the fresh air. We spent some time looking at the menu, and after a quick browse we decided we'll be back soon for dinner. Arriving around 5:30 - 6pm would be good. Sunset time in Phuket varies from about 6pm - 6:45pm during the year, but if you get there too early, it might be a bit hot to sit outside in the sun. And by the time you finish eating it would be dark, so there would be some night views with pretty lights..

View from Tunk Ka Cafe

The menu is very local food, no western options. I have had the fried rice made with dried shrimp chili paste (nam prik gung seab) and grilled pork (moo yang). Very tasty. Most things on the menu are 80 - 120 Baht. The iced coffee we had is 60 Baht, but there are lots of drink options from fruit shakes to various teas and coffees and beers. This felt like a "discovery" in a way - although we had been here many times before, it had been years, so I guess we have rediscovered Tunk Ka.

Ice Coffee at Tunk Ka

(above) The ice coffee is good - and here are some food photos .... on our last visit in 2013, I had the crab curry with coconut milk. That's a really tasty dish!

Crab Curry

And here's a really local dish - Nam Prik Gung Seab, a chili paste with dried shrimps you eat with boiled vegetables and normally with omelette and rice too. It wasn't the best I'd had, but it's kind of addictive .. or if you have not tried it before, well it's a real local flavour to try!

Nam Prik Gung Seab

Tunk Ka Cafe, Phuket Town

(above) We went to Tunk Ka again in the evening one time for dinner when my mum, dad and cousin were visiting. We bagged the balcony table with the best view. Very nice evening. You gotta get this table!

More places to eat in Phuket Town

Kopitiam on Thalang Road
Yellow Door
Rider Cafe

Tunk Ka Cafe - Location Map

View Tunk Ka Cafe, Phuket in a larger map