A Tale of Two Rides ...

It was a bright sunny Monday afternoon, when I set out to check on the conditions of my go-to short trail of about 21 km.  It is a good mix of road, dirt, flats and hills but was a muddy mess the last time I rode it.  As you can see in the pictures below the red clay had dried out and the deep ruts had been filled in with rubble.  That made the ride a bit rough in places but no problem I thought.

Midway through the ride my front wheel started making some rather ominous noises.  I stopped a couple of times to see if it were something external but it soon became obvious the bearings in the front wheel set were the problem.  I managed to limp home on my noisy bike but it was clear a trip to Northern Bike, in town, was urgently needed before I would be riding again.





There can be not better excuse for upgrading your wheel set than blown out bearings, so I added to my recent list of pricy upgrades.  I have now spent more on upgrades than the bike cost to begin with.  While the bike was in the shop we met with friends at Central Plaza for lunch, coffee and a little shopping. 

While the wives visited my friend caught me up on the wild stories and malicious gossip spreading about me at group events in town.  Unable to point to their own accomplishments some individuals find it easier to make emotionally charged and disparaging remarks about others.  As stories are told and retold they take on a life of their own, with no resemblance to the truth, having the same effect as the tabloids, influencing the weak minded to become true believers.  People who don’t know me now spin the most lurid of tales as if they were my most trusted confidants.  Guess that is the price one pays in the karmic balance of things.

Eager to tryout my new wheels, Wednesday I hit the trail again on what ended up being a 45 km route.  The high mountain reservoir which has been a mere puddle on my last two visits was once again at its full glory and beautiful to behold.  This time I only had to dismount once on the 2 km uphill slog which is by far the best I have done.  Subjective or real, I felt like the bike was performing much better, but I still had to cope with the hottest conditions I have ridden in for some time.

There was some serious green on the ride yesterday, as you can see form some of the photos.  Finding myself out of the mountains and back on the flats, surrounded by rice fields, I came upon a bit of an accident with a truck on its side in a ditch.  This was conveniently where I often stop under a tree for a drink and a picture or two.  A backhoe was arriving just as I rode up and it struck me that this might make a nice little pictorial to share on the blog.

As cables snapped and early attempts failed to budge the truck, it became clear this was going to take them a very longtime to sort out.  I was rested and had my pictures so said my goodbyes and hit the trail again wondering if they would ever find the angle and leverage needed to salvage the truck.


I'd Give A Badger A Good Kicking

After the indulgences of the weekend in Canmore I went for a long, tough hike up Mount Rundle and came back down it parlty on my bottom. I was knackered and got the best nights sleep I'd had in months. It felt like two full days had passed because of the clarity of the dream I had. The dream started with me waking up in the U.K. ready for the first day back at work (which it was for my ex-colleagues) and the dream turned almost to a nightmare.

Despite the school being a cross between the school I went to and Hogwarts I was convinced this was reality and my travels had ended abruptly. I was supply teaching and all the worst parts of the job were there: Kids embarrassing their school, being rude to visitors, ignoring staff and generally acting up like like all normal little gits should. I became panicked which is normally where a dreamare would end but instead it carried on for a full two days of teaching and extra curricular activities. There was football with the students and I got tackled by a twelve year old letting him go on to score the winner against my team. I had a house and family with an ex-girlfriend and dozens of screaming children, I was in hell and because I wasn't waking up I figured this was my actual life now.

When I eventually stirred awake I still felt like I was in my own bed at home and the sound of a man pulling up his jeans with the belt jangling was disturbing. The total immersion I'd had stayed with me all day, not something I'm used to from dreams. Normally it would just be one or two weird moments that I'd remember like when I kissed my friend but he had bicycles for hands and was thirty feet tall. I'm not sure I liked the feeling of remembering my dreams that vividly, hopefully this doesn't happen again.

Went for some bird watching and bear hunting. I didn't see a bear but the trail was marked as high likelihood so I ran through what my defense strategy would be if one was to attack. You're supposed to talk calmly so I'd tell it the joke 'What cheese do you use to get a bear out of a tree?.. Cam-on-bear.' If it didn't leave me alone I'd get my penknife at the ready with the corkscrew out - as that one's easier to pull out than the knife. Then I'd get eaten. I wondered what the toughest animal I could take down bear handed would be. I'm no Legolas against the oliphant but I reckon I'd give a badger a good kicking.

Being alone with my thoughts, I enjoy my mind on days like this. And still with all the glorious scenery as a backdrop that I can't imagine tiring of. And even better, now school is back in I can really appreciate the feeling of 'I'd be going to work right about now'.

HOME


Yesterday, I closed the sale of my beloved home and moved into an apartment.  I had never intended to sell my home, but nearly a year ago, several circumstances conspired that made it necessary for me to sell it.

I wrestled with the loss for a long time before putting my home on the market.  For me, my home was everything.  I loved it so much. It was the place to feel settled and content and where I felt I belonged.  I cried for months.  And months. And then, I cried for a few more months.  Nothing would stop the crying…  except traveling.

When I traveled, I felt terrific. I felt solid, stable, confident, light hearted and just like my regular self.

Then, I would come home, and cry again! I started to dread coming home.

As the time to move out drew near, I had to find an apartment.  One Saturday morning, I went online, found one apartment, called up the leasing office, visited and signed the lease.

The apartment was nothing like my home. It felt like a four-star hotel, and that’s what I liked about it.  If I felt good while traveling, maybe I would feel better living in a place that felt more like a hotel rather than trying to replace my home.  “It feels like The Fairmont,” I would tell people, matter-of-factly.

A week before moving out, in-between tears, my friend asked me for my new address, noting that my unit was Unit F.  I hated that it was F.  After all those tears, why couldn’t it be A?  Or, at least B+?  But F?!

“F is for Forward,” she said.

“It is?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “And, Free and Fun and Fabulous.”

“And Fantastic and Family and Feminine and Feisty!” I added.

“Exactly!” she acknowledged.

“Oh, Faaaaankyou!” I sighed.

Maybe things would be okay, after all.

Yesterday, after the movers had moved everything out of my home, I went back to do a final clean up of my home and leave my key locked inside for the new owner.  I braced myself for what I expected would be a torrent of tears.

As a last momento, I bravely took a picture and waited for the tears. 

And, I waited.

But… nothing. 

“Huh,” I thought. 

I looked around the room and realized, “This isn’t my home.  This is just a boring, empty place.”

I left my key inside, picked up the last of the mail that had arrived that day, closed the door with the key inside and skipped down the steps, taking my home with me and happy to be free of the tears.

Sorting through the mail on the way to my car, I found a postcard.  From The Fairmont.

“Of course,” I thought as I rolled my eyes.

“F is for Fairmont!”

© 2012 Lisa Ann Edwards 

p.s. You can’t make this stuff up.  Here’s a picture of the postcard from The Fairmont.



Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival in Phuket

The Por Tor festival (also called the Hungry Ghost festival) was something that I'd not even heard of until a few years ago, and last year was the first time I went to see what it was about (see Por Tor Festival 2011). Phuket has a mixed population of Buddhists, Muslims and people who lean towards old Chinese beliefs die to their ancestry - about 30% of the Phuket population is Thai-Chinese, due to large scale immigration mostly in the 19th century. Many mainland Chinese headed to this part of the world - some ended up in Phuket, some in Bangkok, some in Penang or Singapore. Phuket celebrates a number of festivals based on Chinese beliefs such as the Phuket vegetarian Festival (which starts October 14th). The Por Tor festival is based on the belief that the spirits of ancestors are released from the spirit world during the 7th lunar month. And they are hungry!

Offerings are made for the spirits, with the most common offering being a red turtle cake called an Ang Ku. These come in all sizes - more about them later. On the weekend of September 2nd the festival was based around the main market in Phuket Town. I had meant to get to this event last year, but seems the Por Tor festival is so local that even some locals don't know the details and we went on the wrong day! This time, I was at the market on the right evening and it was busy! Tables full of food, drinks, whole roast pigs, huge turtle cakes and people saying prayers...

Por Tor Festival Phuket September 2nd 2012

Por Tor Festival Phuket September 2nd 2012

Por Tor Festival Phuket September 2nd 2012

These pictures were taken in the market around 6:30 - 7pm. Firecrackers were being set off up on the roof and there was incense burning all over the place and bells being rung as people said prayers at makeshift shrines.

Por Tor Festival Phuket September 2nd 2012

Outside, the road was packed with foodstalls and there were several small stages set up where dancers and singers performed. The crowds are always quite large at these events, or seem to be as so many stalls are packed into narrow streets! the photo below was taken from the 2nd floor of the market looking at the street below.

Por Tor Festival Phuket September 2nd 2012

After an hour of smoke, bells and crowds and an extra 10 minutes wasted as I had originally parked the car, walked almost to the market and then found that the memory card for my camera was in the camera bag (in the car), a cold drink was called for. Happily bumped into Tim who also blogs about Phuket and we managed a few cold beers at the Phuket Backpacker hostel, which seems to have been remodeled and has a nice bar downstairs on the road near the market and on this evening a little escape from the crowded street and a place to watch the festival goers pass by.

A few days later on September 8th (Saturday) I was back in town with the family - my wife and kids plus 2 brothers in law and an uncle in law. Now, one of the brothers in law is from a very Chinese family in Bangkok, but I was surprised to hear that he'd not heard of the Por Tor festival. Do they not do it in Bangkok? We split into 2 groups. My daughter and I wanted to visit the Kengtin bakery which is well known for making lots of the Ang Ku turtle cakes during the festival. They make plenty of other Chinese style desserts and cakes too, but it's the red turtles we came to see!

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

(above) Making Ang Ku at the Kengtin bakery - applying red dye and adding decorations. We bought a small (100 Baht) turtle, but some of the big ones sell for thousands of Baht!

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

A couple of doors down from Kengtin - more red turtles, and some big ones! The one in the photo below had a price label - 5,000 Baht, and was still being decorated...

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

They seemed to be making cakes in their front room. I am fascinated by the detail and the mix of sacred objects and pictures if you look closely at some of the shrines in people's houses. There are Chinese gods, family photos, a photo of an old monk and of course a picture of the King. If you just have a quick look through doors as you pass, almost all houses in Old Phuket Town have shrines like this.

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

We then walked down to the Por Tor Kong shrine, which is the center of the celebrations.. a Chinese shrine that I did not know existed until last year, hidden away on a small side street near the much bigger Bang Neow shrine. Lots of street stalls around the shrine, and inside the shrine itself .. organised chaos. Crowded, and it's a small shrine. There was not much room to move. We gave our turtle to someone who placed it with many others at the entrance to the shrine, and in turn we were given a little bundle containing incense, candles and "hell money". And we joined the queue to pass through the shrine and say a prayer. First, light our candles and incense...

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

Inside it was hot and very very smoky - you have to hold your incense up high out of people's faces, but I tell you it was hard to breathe and the smoke was in our eyes. Let's go say our prayers...

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

(above) Holding my incense up high. The walls of the shrine have some amazing decorations showing Chinese stories. But no time to stop and look, keep moving with the queue ...

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

I'd not done this last year and normally the kids and I would have my wife to guide us but we could not find her and the rest of the family in the crowds, so we copied other people and a guy told us to put 3 lit incense sticks in each place...

Por Tor Festival 2012 in Phuket

It was a non stop stream of people and incense. Quite a "cultural rush" and I think my daughter enjoyed the experience.

Por Tor Festival 2012

Por Tor Festival Phuket 2012

Having lit candles and left incense in the shrine, we still had our hell money to burn. Hell money is specifically made to be burnt as offerings to the deceased as it's believed that the spirits need money in the afterlife.

Por Tor Festival Phuket 2012

Por Tor Festival Phuket 2012

I love these local festivals. This is the real Phuket. I am not sure what to think of this, and I know a few foreign residents who did also go to the shrine, but that evening I did not see any tourists or anyone who didn't look like a Thai local. And on the other evening in the market I saw only Tim and a photographer who I think was probably Japanese. Does this mean tourists have zero interest in local traditions and events? Or nobody knew it was happening? Or knew about it, but found it difficult getting from the beaches to town and finding the right place to go? It really is worth making the effort to see and experience something like the Por Tor festival!

Ah well - next big event is the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which is my favourite thing in Phuket!

Por Tor Festival - Map of Locations


View Por Tor Festival in a larger map

Rocky Mountains Wedding Crasher


I had booked on to a tour from Jasper down to Lake Louise. The pick up was at 8:30. I did not make the pick up. Possibly $100 wasted.

Packed up my tent and strolled back to town to see if I could still get to Lake Louise that day. Made up an excuse about my watch being in another time-zone. I even wound my watch back an hour and showed the woman I was begging to. She may or may not have bought my lie. Either way I was able to swap my tour for the direct bus. Missed out on some apparently special sights but the drive was still spectacular, past a glacier and a black bear.

Tried some root beer. Didn't like it.

Lake Louise (gorgeous) was followed by Banff (also gorgeous), things were good and met good people and saw more great views but let's spin on to the fun of Canmore.

Had a two hour wait for the bus to Canmore so I decided I'd try to hitch-hike. Was picked up after ten minutes by a hungover girl who took me to McDonalds in her beaten up old pick up. Thanked her for the lift then tried to find a bed. Four hours later, having walked out to the hostel 5km out of town and back and around town I managed to find a motel with a bit of space. Even though it was the cheapest motel in town, at $100 it was still three times my daily accomodation budget. As the Canmore Highland Games were in town it was my only choice. Why the Canmore Highland Games are a thing I have no idea but they've been running for twenty two years.

If I was used to hotels the first things I would have noticed about my motel room would have been the badly stained carpet and odd smell. As I'm not, I was excited by the fridge, hob and little bottles of shampoo. Having a room to myself I did as any self respecting man would have done: Got naked and had a wee with the door open.

Met up with Pete and Shauna and their friends Kristy, Clayton and Megan. They were in town for their friends wedding so were squeezing in to one hotel room where we played drinking games and had a fun evening. Clayton was asking Kristy about her heated mattress
Clayton: 'What temperature does yours go up to?'
Kristy: 'Max'

We joked that I should be a wedding crasher the following night but I said that wasn't cool on someone's big day so I couldn't. Popped back to their hotel the next morning to steal breakfast and thank them for having me. Next up I figured I should check out the highland games.

Briefly strolled the park and watched some people throw heavy stuff then found my way to the beer and music tent. The music was all Irish but it was excellent. Watched the official opening ceremony which was a load of ridiculous pomp and ceremony. I loved it. Found myself smiling like a special child all day. Bagpipes though, what a cack instrument. There were three hundred pipers and most seemed like normal people. I don't understand that.

Over some Irish dancing I befriended a girl who had had a very full and troubled life. She had been given the all clear two days earlier after suffering from ovarian cancer, her ex boyfriend was murdered and she was fairly well off thanks to her talents as a cocaine dealer in Vancouver. She'd left the city to escape that life and was working in a restaurant for a bit before moving on to Spain. We drank for several hours and then she went to work half cut.

With the sunshine, bagpipes, drinking and new friend I was feeling very good and decided that crashing a wedding might be okay after all. To do this I needed a suit and luckily the taxi driver was happy to help out. The only issue was that his waist size was 40 inches and he had definitely given me the shirt and tie he cared least about. I looked idiotic, but at least I'd made an effort. I'm not sure how acceptable my presence was at the reception but I certainly felt welcomed and I think I behaved myself, not taking advantage of the free bar. I did take advantage of the limo that was provided to ferry guests back to their hotels though and I joined Pete, Shauna, Clayton, Megan, Kristy and two others at their swanky hotel room to conclude the night with some Royal Reserve (dreadful rye whisky).

Canmore and everyone in it had been good to me. I recommend it.

KFC Buffet, Williamsburg, VA

Yes - KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken - Buffet. This is something that KFC does not make well known. There is nothing on their website that some of the KFC locations have a buffet in addition to their usual take out or take from the counter and sit down menu. I have only seen a few of these and the ones that I have seen have all been in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. I have seen

It's Good To Walk


Time for The Rocky Mountains.

Jasper.

My accomodation was in a 44 bed dorm in the one hostel in town, which isn't in town it's 7km away. So not great but Jasper is a beautiful small town.

Found out that despite normally needing to book three months in advance one camping spot was available to walk The Skyline Trail - rated one of the best walks in the world. This is one of those lovely times when things just work out for you. Got myself kitted out with an extra pair of warm socks and set my phone alarm for the next morning.

I haven't seen that phone since. It was only being used as an alarm and had no SIM but I can't work out where it went. Fortunately I woke at 8am anyway, only an hour late, and figured even though I couldn't make the bus to the start of the trail I'd maybe be able to hitch a lift. Things work out for me moment number two: Found a guy in the hostel who was one of the other twenty people walking the trail that day, his friend was driving to the start and they could give me a lift. Too easy this travelling lark!

The group became five as their friends joined us and as we seemed to get on well we spent the first day walking the 22km together. I won't go on about the views because you can see them in pictures and they don't do it justice. Plus reading about pretty things is boring. I'll try and sum it up with one word: Incredible.
Cooked some supernoodles then went for a walk up to a waterfall where I saw an animal that I thought was a goat crossing the fall. It was too big for a goat though so maybe a deer? Then it faced me and it was quite clearly a wolf, reminded me of the gmork from The Never Ending Story. They are much bigger than all but the freakiest big dogs. It was the icing on the cake of the views I'd been spaffing over all day.

Both days had a great variety of jaw-dropping, incredible scenery and blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but it was dead good and the two days were the highlight of my trip so far.

After finishing the trail I still had 13km to go back to town and another 7km to the hostel. I tried hitching but nobody fancied picking me up so I was still walking as the sun started to go down. I'd left a note at the hostel to see if they could reserve me a bed when their computer was working again. Nothing was guaranteed but I was on a run of luck... which came to an end. No beds at the hostel.
I had enquired on my way through Jasper at an average looking motel. The girl on the desk said 'I'll write the price down for you'
'No need to do that I won't be offended' I replied. It's a good job she did write it down - $174. I pretended I'd think about it but we both knew the kid who needed a shower wasn't coming back.

The panic ended before it had begun as the campsite only 3km from town had space for a walk on spot so I headed back, finally getting a hitchhike lift from a family of South Africans and pitched my tent in the fading light. I was overdue a shower and they had some, indeed I liked the campsite so much I signed up for four nights.

The days in Jasper were good. Got my haircut one day, thought I was doing good flirting with the hairdresser until she said 'So what is this trip some sort of mid-life crisis?'. Ego dented, no big tip for the hairdresser.

Loved Jasper so much I wrote a poem, this is how it goes:
Mountainous peaks, peaceful creeks,
I'm in Jasper
And as per my wishes I will make this the time of my prime,
By drinking wine,
Really? Wine?
Sure a beer wouldn't go down better?
Alright, I'll have a beer.

Won't try poetry again for a while.

Trail Shots from Today...

Just a quick post of a few trail shots from today.  Had enough sun yesterday afternoon and today to dry things out enough for a fun ride.  There was still a bit of water and mud in the low spots but nothing that couldn't be ridden through.  If some of the shots look familiar, I tried to shoot from the same place, to see the differences from past rides.  Ended up lakeside again at the halfway point.  No rain this time but needed the shelter of the sala to get out of the sun.







Edmonton

While in Edmonton I was a guest at Pete and Shauna's new house. They are a couple I met in New Zealand and had stayed friends with them since. For the next three days this friendship worked out very useful for me as they are overly generous hosts. If you know them and they like you, go and stay with them, make sure that Zorro - the cat - doesn't steal your breakfast though.

Day 1: Checked out the Edmonton Fringe Festival but we didn't see any shows just soaked up the atmosphere and watched the uniformly awful buskers. One man by the moniker of Magic Brian spent ten minutes building up to a trick with a false thumb that I had in my Paul Daniels set when I was ten. We later saw him outside his empty show tent looking depressed.

Day 2: Shauna and I played golf. They have girls driving round in carts selling beer to the players here. That seems like a good system to me. Most of my round was rubbish but did hit a purple patch of birdie, par, birdie. Followed that up with 8, 7. This is similar to how it goes with beer and pool, two beers and Glyn kicks ass. Three or more beers and ass kicks Glyn.

Fun day followed by a couple of the good shows of the Edmonton fringe, an improv show called Truth or Dare and a late cabaret show.

Day 3: Elk island provincial park. I was looking forward to this as I'd heard it was full of loads of bison, moose and elk. Technically we did see a moose and a bison but both from a distance. The main walk of the day was a two hour stroll, we didn't realise however that it was through mosquito territory. We were destroyed and couldn't enjoy the walk. I asked if we might see a beaver as there were lots of dams. Apparently they're nocturnal though. Shauna did say 'You can see a beaver tonight if you want'
Pete quipped in 'Steady on Shauna, don't I get a say in this' hee hee.

I thanked them both but would see them again in a weeks time further down the rockies when I would have need to thank them some more. But we'll come to that later.

Khao Yam and Dim Sum for Breakfast

Not far from our house in Kathu, a few km outside Phuket Town, a small restaurant opened towards the end of last year. Nothing unusual there, small roadside restaurants are all over the place and are often the best place to find good local food (just try to pick a clean one). There are a number of small local places within 5 minutes drive of our house - it's good to live in a more local area rather than a tourist zone! This restaurant that opened last year does not have a name. the sign on the front just tells you what it sells - freshly steamed dim sum, kanom jeen and khao yam.

Kathu Dim Sum Restaurant

That's the full menu. A lot of small restaurants are like this, specialising in a couple of dishes like the Moo Grob restaurant we like to visit. I think most people know about Dim Sum, it's like Chinese tapas, little portions which are steamed before serving. Can come in 100 different styles made from veg, tofu, different meats. It's mostly eaten at breakfast time. This restaurant is often very busy when I drive past heading to work at around 8:30 - 9am. Usually it's closed by midday. Here's some of the dim sum on offer ...

Dim Sum

Salapao with Pork

The white buns above are 'Salapao' which are a popular snack, you can even get them in 7-11! These are filled with BBQ pork (moo daeng). And (below) some dim sum on the steamer before serving ...

Steaming Dim Sum

And dim sum for the kids! You can't get away from those birds...

Angry Birds Dim Sum

Also on the menu - 'Kanom Jeen' which is a kind of white noodles normally served with different kinds of curry. My wife loves it, but I have (so far) not been weened onto it. There's a lot of Thai food that I eat now which I would have avoided 10 years ago, my tastes are changing, but Kanom Jeen is not my style.

Now, on the subject of trying different foods. The 3rd item on the menu here is 'Khao Yam' meaning rice salad. It's a very popular southern Thai dish, my wifes loves this too, but somehow I had never eaten it until this year when i tried the khao yam at this very restaurant one morning. Maybe I'd seen it before, but at this new, very clean restaurant I was finally tempted when I saw my wife's plate. I'll have one of those too! Khao Yam consists of rice with various other ingredients such as bamboo shoots, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves (Bai Ma Grood), crushed nuts, some coconut, dried shrimp, sliced green beans, sliced wingbeans .. and more! They prepare it very nicely with all the ingredients around the rice ...

Preparing Khao Yam

And the finished product with a slice of lime and some sauce made from shrimp paste and raw sugar... Looks good!

Khao Yam

And then after all that preparation, you pour the sauce on the rice and mix everything up. Damn, it tastes good! I am now a Khao Yam fan!

Khao Yam mixed up

And this plate of Khao Yam is only 40 Baht! The dim sum is 18 Baht per portion and you can get drinks (tea, coffee) for about 15 Baht. No wonder it's always busy! Good taste, new restaurant and good price. Win.

Dim Sum and Khao Yam Restaurant - Location Map


View Dim Sum and Khao Yam Restaurant in a larger map

Wild, Wild West Casino in Atlantic City, NJ Buffet Closes

In June 2012, the Virginia City Buffet located in Bally's Wild, Wild West Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey was closed permanently. There is no intention to have another buffet in this casino and Bally's is looking at redeveloping the space toward entertainment. If you are a regular reader of this site you know that this was my buffet of preference among the casino buffets in Atlantic City and

The Old Thavorn Hotel in Phuket Town

Phuket Town is where you'll find much of Phuket's history, and I like to spend time walking in the older parts of town, somehow always finding something new to photograph. I had meant for a long time to write about a couple of historic hotels in the town. There's the On On Hotel (on Phang Nga Road), which is currently (summer 2012) being renovated - I actually stayed 1 night in that hotel back in 1999 and I'd say the renovations are well overdue - the hotel opened in 1929 and think my bed was 70 years old! On the next road (Rassada Road) is another piece of Phuket's past - the Thavorn Hotel. Not as old as On On, but maybe marks a turning point in the story of Phuket. The Thavorn Hotel opened in 1961 and was Phuket's first 5 star hotel. The faded 1960's architecture does not look too thrilling now, but I guess for a small town like Phuket it was quite fancy 50 years ago.

Thavorn Hotel in Phuket Town

The old Thavorn Hotel

The Thavornwongwongse family who own this hotel are a Phuket Chinese-Thai family who, like many others, made money from the tin mining boom in the 19th and 20th centuries. I have a feeling they keep the Thavorn Hotel for sentimental value more than anything else, it can't be making much money with rooms being promoted on the hotel website for as little as 600 Baht per night. The Thavorn group owns 2 large resorts in Phuket - there's the Thavorn Palm Beach Resort at Karon Beach, and the Thavorn Beach Village at Nakalay Beach, just north of Patong.

The old Thavorn Hotel is kind of a living museum. Just walk in the front entrance and you are in a scene from a movie with a wide lobby, wood paneled walls, a wide staircase leading to the second floor and a long wooden reception desk.

Thavorn Hotel Staircase

Inside the Thavorn Heritage Hotel

Apparently the Thavorn Hotel also had Phuket's first elevator. Most of the old buildings in Phuket are only 2 floors, whereas this hotel has 5. Of course I had to take a ride in the elevator, though I don't think it's the original! Inside I saw a common sign - "No Durian" - the durian is a popular fruit but has a very strong smell, and is often banned from hotels, as the smell will linger.

No Durian in the Elevator

Thavorn Hotel old Luggage

And here's an old luggage trolley complete with old leather suitcases, ready for a ride up to the 5th floor. There are odd little decorations all over the ground floor. It may not be the best hotel these days, but I do recommend people to stay a couple of nights in town, to get an idea of the other side of Phuket that existed before the tourism. By comparison - the Thavorn opened in 1961, a good 10 - 15 years before any major tourism hit Phuket and Club Med, which was the first really big mainstream tourist hotel, opened in 1985. There are plenty of newer places to stay in town - see my list of recommended Phuket Town hotels, or look at Agoda for more options.

Thavorn Hotel Lobby

And I've not mentioned the Thavorn "museum" yet! Well, given that the whole place is a museum, I'm surprised they have a special room that they call a museum. Looks like it was formerly the dining room, and you can enter if you pay a 30 Baht entry fee. So I did, and a lady turned on a few very dim lights. Almost too dim for photos, I'll have to go again with a tripod. The museum is a collection of old junk and photos, all mixed up in one room. Now, I happen to like places like this, as you're never sure what you'll find. I'll add in a couple more photos later. The largest object in the room was this enormous old movie projector.

Thavorn Hotel Museum

And there were a couple more projectors gathering dust in a corner. A rusty sword was on display with a notice claiming that the sword belonged to one of the two Heroines of Phuket. Certainly looked old and rusty. There were many signed photos of (I guess) Thai celebrities who (I suppose) had stayed at the Thavorn way back when it was fashionable. Another wall had a collection of royal photos documenting a tour of Europe over 50 years ago. Here a young royal couple meet another young royal couple ....

Thavorn Hotel Museum

It's a room full of all kind of photos, old toys, musical instruments and it's only 30 Baht, so why not have a look! Phuket Town is full of little oddities and so I keep going back to find more...

Thavorn Hotel - Location Map


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