Custom Saddle for my Ninja 650 (ER-6f)...

Others change mufflers, shocks and power mapping systems on their bikes but I find my stock Ninja 650r quite loud and fast enough, thank you.  I, being partial to my comforts, and having had success in the past with a seat modification, decided to risked a repeat performance on my Ninja.  The first time I went in to enquire about the job, I was sent away with the admonishment not to return until after the New Year.  Okay, I should have known better.  After all, it was still the harvest season and nothing gets done until the crops are brought in.

Fast forward to 2011 and I dropped off the seat on an unseasonably wet, rainy winter day.  Too cold and wet for a ride, so an opportune time to have some work done.  I was told to return the next day to check out the foam and form, before the finishing touches were put on.  Being eager to see the progress I went in, fully expecting to be a bit early.  To my surprise the project was complete and looked great, even under closer inspection.  Of course the proof is in the riding and that too turned out to be great, when I got around to riding the next day.

So enough with all this talk.  Lets see some pictures.  I have included some shots of the original saddle as shown on my friend’s bike for comparison purposes.  You might notice that I went for more cushioning, a flatter seating area and a slightly raised and fuller back.




Original Saddle

Finally off for an early morning ride.

Phuket Mining Museum

If anyone is at all interested in the history of Phuket, and at the same time interested in getting a little off the beaten track (due to the back-road location), the Phuket Mining Museum is very much worth a look. Good for a rainy low season day too! I took our kids there a year ago, when it was not really open, but we were allowed in, and at the time it seemed to be almost ready to fully open. Kids liked it, and I am happy that they liked it - kids learn by experience not just from school books! Since that visit, the kids have asked several times to go again, and since the museum is only a few km from our house in the Kathu area of Phuket - see location map at the end of this page - we have driven past a few times in the last year, only to find it closed. The location is a bit odd - on a road that many people don't know about that winds through the hills between Loch Palm Golf Club and the British International School. Now they say that the museum is fully open, although only from Monday to Friday. I have not seen any official announcement or any great publicity, but I certainly do recommend a visit. Entry fee only 100 Baht for adults, 50 Baht for kids.

Phuket Mining Museum

We took the kids on children's day - a Thai holiday when all kind of activities are arranged for kids all over the country. I had read that the museum was now open and entry was free on kids day. My wife did not go on our visit last year, but she enjoyed the museum too. Around the courtyard (see photo above) are rooms that have been lovingly decorated and made to look like old streets or filled with old pictures or dioramas of mining techniques. Phuket got rich on Tin Mining (and rubber and fishing) well before any tourists came here. There's no mining any more, but it was tin that made Phuket, built Phuket Town and changed the face of Phuket with many immigrants heading here from China.

The bus to nowhere

First thing you see - a bus, not a really old one, but something for the kids to pose on. It's parked in a room with all the walls painted like an old street, quite good artwork. The next room is filled with old furniture, photos, displays of old household items etc...

Then you have the real meat of the museum - a big educational section all about geology, the structure of the earth, very well presented, with information in English and Thai. This leads through to the history of mining in general with models of stone age people banging rocks together, and on to more specific information and life size dioramas about the tin mining techniques used in Phuket over the years.

Tin mining diorama

Tin Dredging Display

Not done yet! From mining, you get to tin processing, a room full of technical information and photos.. and a big bench full of rocks for kids to look at. I was very pleased when my boy agreed that sand, viewed with a magnifying glass, looks like little rocks. I like that, I like watching kids learn.

Geology lessons

There's more! My wife's favourite part of the museum is a mock up of old Phuket, a whole street with shops, a little cafe, a shrine and more. It's very well done, you can see that the people involved here take a lot of pride in their work. Here's the tea lady making a nice cuppa...

Tea Lady

And here's me inside an old house (well, a room made to look like an old house, full of old household items, I know my mum will want to have a look next time she's here!)

Me myself and I

The artwork is very good. Many walls are painted with street scenes, with receding perspective so you feel like you could just step into the painting and take a walk through old Phuket. My daughter tried ...

Dream World

I hope the museum really really is open now, we had a word with them about opening on weekends.. I think the problem is that the museum is basically a government building, the construction was paid for by Kathu municipality and is staffed by people who are used to working 5 days a week! We pointed out that a lot of local people would like to visit with their kids, but can't do that during the week of course, because kids are at school. I hope the museum gets a few tourist visitors too. The low entry fee is good, although it's not the kind of place a tuk tuk driver will want to take you (no commissions!). Will suit nerdy tourists, my kind of people who actually want to learn something and see more than beaches. This is Phuket too, you know, and Phuket has a long and interesting history.

Other museums in Phuket:

Thai Hua Museum
Thalang National Museum
Phuket Museums

Also of interest historically:

Phuket Heroines Festival
Phuket Heritage Trails
Phuket Baba Weddings


Phuket Mining Museum - Location Map


View Phuket Mining Museum in a larger map

Phuket Events - Phuket What's On Guide

There's a lot going on in Phuket! There are year round events and festivals, some local, some national, some special occasions. On this page Jamie's Phuket will try to keep up with all the latest events in Phuket. Some events have fixed dates, many do not. Some local events are only announced close to the date, or maybe I only find out about them by accident! Some events and festivals in Phuket have been featured on the blog in the past, some are yet to be blogged. Where possible, the monthly list below includes a link either to a page on this blog, or to an official event website (or both).

UPDATE - YEH, THIS PAGE NEVER REALLY GOT GOING, NOT UPDATED. SORRY. IF YOU FOUND THIS PAGE, BEST TO GO BACK TO JAMIE'S PHUKET HOME PAGE

A Visit from Dave Dawson

Dave says he has lots of miles and adventures on this cycle.


It's always great to have visitors stop by the house for a chat, a little story telling , and a cup of coffee, yesterday was such a day , a friend Dave Dawson stopped by for a short visit at our place , after a little trip he had made to the Bamboo School to take a gift of clothes for the kids there .
He always has a good story to tell and always lots of detail in telling them . Yesterdays story was a continuation of a story from another time , but this time he had pictures . He tells of being on the tanker the Alaska Yukon coming from Drift River oil fields in Alaska in 1969 when the tanker struck a uncharted rock and ripped out half the bottom storage tanks for the crude oil , he told about the rescue and the task of getting all the spilled oil from the ocean and being towed back to Port Nikiski in North Kenai for repairs , I'm not sure if this or another time that four of his friends were lost at sea and later on he put up a marker and head stone for them in a National Park in California. Now I can't even begain to put down all the details of the story , sooo if you want to hear it the way I did , come on down or over or whatever to Wang Pho and we'll call Dave and get together for a good story telling afternoon.He tells the story of years later he was having back and neck problems and went to a Dr. to see what was the problem , when the Dr. ask him where he was injured and what happened as he begin to relate the story to him and when he mentioned the "Alaska Yukon "tanker and 1969 , the Dr. said " I was on that tanker in 1969" , What a small world we live in.I do sooo much enjoy good stories about folks lives and their adventures Then and Now. Dave is not finished with all his adventures and he rides his cycle all over Thailand taking pictures and meeting folks and sharing his stories and listening to theirs. He rode 2 1/2 hours from his home deep in the mountains near the Burma border just to bring the gifts to the Bamboo School and to bring pictures to finish the story he started telling me months ago. And you know me , He had to listen to a few of mine in return, what a great visit we had on the front porch of our home , and by the way if you're ever down our way , stop in and we'll tell a few stories over a good cup of coffee. Days like this ,unexpected visitors , story telling and good friends and a peaceful life are just a few of the reasons why "I'm Retired in Thailand and Loving It" Malcolm






Peang Prai Restaurant near Bang Pae Waterfall

New Years resolution number 1 - try some different restaurants for the blog, and also so we get some new experiences. Sure we have our favourites and anyway we can't afford to eat out that much, we tend to eat at home during the week, or maybe get some cheap Thai food at small places near our house (the kind of places where all dishes are 35 - 50 Baht). In fact, the next restaurant on this blog will be the cheap local place we eat at most often.. but I do want to try some new restaurants this year, and the first was Peang Prai.

Peang Prai Restaurant

Peang Prai (pronounced PeeYang Pry) is a restaurant I have meant to try for a couple of years. It's been recommended by friends, it's in a part of Phuket that we head to quite often, it always looked "interesting" ... so we finally tried it a couple of weeks ago. When I am thinking about eating, there are several considerations - 1. Location - I like a nice view, a quiet area, an interesting location - Peang Prai is at the entrance to the Bang Pae Waterfall park, well off any main road, views of trees, flowers and a lake. So it's a good place to combine with a visit to the waterfall and the Gibbon Rehab Project.

Peang Prai view

(above) the view one way, and (below) the other way ...

View from Peang Prai

It's not a huge restaurant, could maybe hold about 30 people, with seating on the 2nd floor of an octagonal building in the trees. A couple of tables were already occupied by Thai families - which I would normally take as a hint that the food is good here - the locals know where to go! We ordered a selection of things - our kids are normally happy with a fried rice or garlic chicken, whereas my wife and I like to eat spicy salads and local specialties - the menu was pretty big - all the normal Thai dishes but lots of Phuket/Southern Thai food which always pleases my wife.

My dear wife at Peang Prai

I was a little miffed that the service seemed a bit slow - the place was not really busy and there were 4 ladies cooking in the kitchen. Sometimes you have to slow down a bit. This is a family run restaurant and this kind of laid back place can be a little too laid back for some people. You can't expect snappy service at a place like this. Fortunately, they had very cold beers, served with an iced glass too. A couple of these went down very smoothly.

Food was good too - we ordered a bunch of things, and the menu has many other dishes to try, so I am sure we'll eat here again. I had a salad called Yam Tua Pu - made with wingbeans, prawns, cashew nuts. We also got some Hor Mok, local style fish curry cooked in a banana leaf, and a similar dish made with mushrooms...

Yam Tua Pu

Hor Mok

They do good coffee here too - my wife said her ice coffee was great. We had actually thought about just having a drink here and then eating somewhere else, but once we saw the menu we had to give it a proper try. I mentioned that location is important to me when trying a restaurant - so is price! Peang Prai is not cheap like a little street restaurant but most dishes were decently priced at 60 - 100 Baht, and the beer only 45 Baht. The 3rd consideration is "how good is the food?" - you don't know until you try! In this case - good enough that we will eat there again, helped by the friendly service, yeh a bit slow, but slow with a smile :)

And then we got free dessert too - fried banana done in their own way, small pieces of banana fried in batter with sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sugar ...

Fried banana

I think our total bill was about 500 Baht. I have some more photos of Peang Prai on my Flickr site: Peang Prai Restaurant. We like this part of Phuket. Within a few miles are a couple of other restaurants - Bang Pae Seafood and Chumchon Floating Restaurant from where you can go Kayaking in the Mangroves. This is the Phuket that we go looking for.

Peang Prai Restaurant - Location Map


View Peang Prai Restaurant in a larger map

Welcoming 2011 ...

After a brief flourish of posts to finish off last year, I find myself making another slow start to 2011.  Life has been more wonderful than usual and I as lazy with my writing as has come to be expected.  A bit of unseasonal rain has interrupted my recently rediscovered joy of mountain biking but only briefly as the trails are quickly drying out.  Since getting the Ninja in June, the Trek has been sorely neglected.  With over 9700 km on the Ninja and nearly zero on the Trek over the same time period, I found myself compelled to hit the trail again under my own power, for a change.

I have been sticking a little closer to home, looking for and finding new but difficult trails in areas one would not wish to visit in the rain.  Compared to the speed and distances one covers on the Ninja, at first glance a ride on the Trek might seem too tame and limited.  However, I soon rediscovered the joys of slowing down and watching the world expand around me, in direct correlation to my pace of movement.  Rice paddies, hillside orchards, rubber plantations, forest trails overgrown and neglected, expansive views of the distant mountains, rivers and nearly perfect trail conditions (before the rain hit).  An occasional stop for a cool drink, and to drink in the silence and solitude of the moment, leaves me refreshed and eager to move at a brisker pace once again.

Cookie and the other dogs have also benefitted from our walks, now including going off trail and meandering through the fields on the way back from the dam.  Though things are not as green as before the increased traversable terrain more than compensates for the seasonal change in the way things look.  After a warm spell, the weather has gotten chilly once again and one awakens each morning, not knowing if there will be a clear view of the fields and mountains that surround us or if we will be shrouded in a thick soupy fog.

On a different subject the heady rush of an engaging social life this winter season, has got my wife wondering what it would be like to reside closer to town and thus closer to friends.  Last evening as we sat surrounded by our dogs, watching the sunset and seeking warmth from each other to fend off the evening chill, I pointed out that my choice would be to make the drive into town rather than give up any part of this pastoral setting.  She gave me one of those cute little annoyed looks and agreed that what we have is too good to give up, despite a few drawbacks.

I suppose it is, at least in part, due to a difference in age and experience as well as a difference in personality but I look for ways to adapt and perfect what we already have while she plays the ‘what if’ game with completely different scenarios.  Though I wish she could focus a little more on what she has over what else might be out there, I understand that much of what I love about her would not have developed without a bit of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a need to grow and experience new things.  So I continue my role of the ‘rock’ that forms the foundation of our relationship, while she is the ‘rock 'n' roll’ who stirs things up and keeps things interesting.

This year seems to hold even more promise than the last but only time will reveal whether any of us are able to make good on that promise and take advantage of the opportunities that come our way.

So much to see and do and tell

This was what greeted us as we started our day of adventures
Looking across the river from where we were fishing

The cemetery on the way


As far as you could see



Jerry getting ready to catch a big one , this was a coal day ha ha

Fun on the River Kwai


A barge full of sand headed down river for processing


Barges ready to pump the sand


Pumping the sand


I'm ready



Getting ready









This is the kind of fish we were catching , Ciejay made Tum Yum Pla one night and Pla Red Curry over Jasmine rice the next day yum yum




This is my secret spot I found




It don't get no better than this



This was a great day fishing and relaxing and watching all kinds of birds in the trees .


I even found time to take a NAP in the lounge chair there , afterwards a picnic lunch I had packed and another nap I caught two that day.





Cruising down the river to check his fish nets and baskets , was the only noise I heard the whole day , of course there were the sounds of birds and the river and fish jumping .


The last few days have been a lot of fun , I have found a couple new fishing spots and tried them out with my fishing friend Jerry ," some days diamond and some days coal" as the song goes ,some days we catch fish and other days we just drown a lot of worms , ha ha ha , but as I have said before you never know what you going to see on you way to and adventure and another unexpected adventure jumps right out in front of you , sometimes the surprise one is as exciting as the planned one .
This post is a composite of a few days and some of the things I have seen and done . I am so amazed ,every day it seems like something new and different unfolds in front of my eyes and the lens of my little Sony Cyber-shot camera, some things I was prepared for, others are just there on the way to something else . I hope you enjoy the pictures and will try to tell a little about each as I post them .

One very unexpected and beautiful place we came upon as I came around the curve ,was a huge Chinese cemetery as far as the eye could see. It was so clean and well kept and very impressive , and you could just see the pride in the living paying respect to the dead.

Not to stop there , as we came to our planned fishing spot , out in the middle of the Famous River Kwai was a huge barge that was pumping sand from the river bottom and pouring it like a fine spray onto smaller barges being towed up and down the river from the sand pumper barge to the sand processing and storage plant , VERY interesting, and a new adventure for me . Thanks for letting me share some of my fun times with you with my little stories and pictures , It's just another of the reasons why I'm Retired in Thailand and Loving It. Malcolm

The Best Hotels in Phuket

Updated - this Top 10 page was written in 2011 - There's a new Top 10 for 2016 - Top 10 Hotels in Phuket 2016. Also now online are some more useful Top 10 Phuket Hotel lists :

Top 10 Phuket Luxury Hotels
Top 10 Phuket Family Hotels
Top 10 Phuket Romantic Hotels

A couple of years ago (in 2008) I blogged a Top 10 Hotels in Phuket, the list being based on TripAdvisor ratings, which on average (if there are plenty of ratings) give a good idea of quality. Sure there may be occasional odd reviews - some sound like advertising and you hear rumours that some reviews may be written by people connected with a hotel, or by competitors, but if there are enough reviews I think you can see through the fog and figure out what are the best hotels in Phuket. This is an updated 2011 Top 10 list to give an idea of some of the best hotels in Phuket.

For each hotel below there are links for online reservations/rates and availability - I recommend Agoda.com if you want to book a hotel in Phuket. Some of the hotels are not listed on Agoda and I have listed an alternate booking link. The review links below are also from Agoda where possible - only people who have booked the hotels through Agoda can make a review, and if you take a look, you'll see honest reviews, good and bad, plus points and minus points - a very useful tool for checking for your ideal hotel. I would base the list on the Agoda reviews but the site does not seem to rank hotels in the same way as TripAdvisor, although each hotel does get a rating based on sometimes hundreds of reviews. Here's the top 10 ...

Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2011


1. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)

Andara

A new 5 star resort, found overlooking Kamala Beach with luxury villas and a fancy restaurant called "Silk". This is a place to relax and be pampered. All villas have private pools.. Note that the resort is not right on the beach but there is a shuttle to the private Beach Club.

Andara Resort & Villas - Online Booking
Andara Reviews

2. Boomerang Village (Kata / Karon Beach)

Boomerang Village

I reviewed Boomerang Village on the blog in 2009 - it was not in the original top 10 in 2008 but certainly is now, and its quite different to some other hotels - on the hillside behind Kata and Beaches, not on the beach at all, but obviously very popular!

Boomerang Village - Online Booking
Boomerang Village Reviews

3. The Slate (Nai Yang Beach)

The Slate

I wrote about The Slate, formerly Indigo Pearl in 2008 and it was already in the top 10 list back then - it's a top class resort and has a very original look and feel with decor based on the old Phuket tin mining days. It may not be to everyone's liking, but it's got class and it's not afraid to be different!

The Slate - Online Booking
The Slate Reviews

4. Mom Tri's Villa Royale (Kata Noi Beach)

Villa Royale

Mom Tri is one of Phuket's innovators. The Villa Royale was built on land which used to be his home, on the headland overlooking Kata Noi beach. A stairway from the hotel takes you down to the water. Great views from the rooms and restaurant too. It's got that bit of class, only has about 30 rooms/suites and is often full!

Villa Royale - Online Booking
Villa Royale Reviews
More about Mom Tri's Villa Royale on Jamie's Phuket

5. Sri Panwa (Cape Panwa)

Sri Panwa

Cape Panwa is one of our favourite areas of Phuket away from the crowds. The last top 10 list included Cape Panwa Hotel... this time you have Sri Panwa which is a newer resort, with about 50 luxury pool villas - some facing west, some facing east over the sea. Great views, just do note that Panwa is a little out of the way, suitable if you want peace and quiet.

Sri Panwa - Online Booking
Sri Panwa Reviews

6. Palmview Resort / Guesthouse (Patong)

Palmview

I'd not heard of this one ... And quite surprised to see a hotel on Nanai Road in the top 10 list! Actually it's more like a guesthouse with a pool. Only 20 rooms. Nanai road is the back road in Patong, quite a long way from the beach. You're in the hills away from the crowds. Lots of small hotels here and lots of restaurants including plenty of foreign run places with food from all over the world!

Palmview Patong Website
Palmview Reviews

7. Paresa (Kamala Beach)

Paresa

Paresa Resort is located just outside Kamala on the road that winds around the southern headland, sometimes called Millionaires Mile. Great sea views, but do note that the resort is not on the beach - it hangs over the "Kamala Cliffs". I think I'd be happy to sit there all day in my private pool away from the worries of the world. A place like this is a real getaway.

Paresa Resort - Online Booking
Paresa Resort Reviews

8. Holiday Inn (Patong)

Holiday Inn

Much as I dislike Patong, there are some very good hotels and resorts to be found. Holiday Inn has been there for years, since before I arrived here in 1999, though it's had new wings built onto it since then. Surprising to see an "old" hotel in the Top 10? Well, that to me means they obviously have great service. Seems to be especially popular with families - I would not stay here if I was looking for a romantic couples hotel.

Holiday Inn - Online Booking
Holiday Inn Reviews

9. Avista Resort (Kata Beach)

Avista Resort

Avista only opened at the end of 2009. I remember going with some customers who thought it was great. It's on the hill just at the north end of Kata Beach and built in what they call a modern style (i.e. it does not look like an old Thai temple!). Reviews good and only seem to worry about the hill you have to walk up to get back to the hotel from the beach.

Avista Resort - Online Booking
Avista Resort Reviews
Avista Resort review on Jamie's Phuket

10. Pacific Club Resort

Pacific Club

Located on the hillside overlooking Karon Beach, Pacific Club's owner Eric is a chef and also owner of the Karon Cafe in the center of Karon. It's a small resort with a personal feel and panoramic views over sea and hills. It's up a small side road, away from the main road and yet only about 10 minutes walk to Karon Beach. Ideal for those wanting seclusion, but still easy access to the main beach centers. Was also in the 2008 Top 10, so obviously has some lasting appeal.

Pacific Club - Online Booking
Pacific Club Reviews
Pacific Club Resort review on Jamie's Phuket

Agree with the top 10? Stayed somewhere else that you thought was better? Do add a comment below. You'll notice that many of these are top end resorts, 5 star, many are on more secluded beaches and many of them (like Andara or Avista) are new resorts that have only been open a year or two. There are new luxury resorts opening every year all over the island like the Westin Siray Bay or Renaissance Mai Khao Beach that have opened recently. Phuket IS trying to push the luxury lifestyle, and it's often said that Thailand does luxury very well.

I put Phuket hotel reviews on this blog now and then. Hotels chosen due to reputation or good reviews or because they offer something different. Hope it helps people to make a decision. For hotel bookings, I recommend looking at Agoda. I want to write something else on the blog about "reviews" in general, as when I look at Agoda or TripAdvisor I see recurring themes, small complaints about breakfasts or expensive food (in a 5 star resort.. no, you think?) or location being too far from something or other.... and the top 10 on TripAdvisor keeps changing! Anyway.. all the hotels listed here have enough reviews to keep you reading for hours!

Update 2016 - The latest Phuket hotels Top 10 list :

Top 10 Hotels in Phuket 2016

For Phuket hotel booking and more information, I heartily recommend Agoda.com. Look there first!

Google Map - Location of the "Top 10"


View Top 10 Hotels in Phuket in a larger map