Driving Mountain Roads in Northern Thailand …

Chiang Rai is a great staging point for exploring Northern Thailand.  The options for day trips are many and include places like Mae Salong, Doi Tung, Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Pha Tang, Phu Chi Fa, Phu Sang Waterfall, Phayao, and many other interesting destinations in and around Chiang Rai.

Occasionally one feels the need to travel further afield, as we did this last week.  Taking advantage of my wife being on holiday from her university studies, we decided it had been too long since we had been to Pai and beyond.  So we arranged for family to watch the house and dogs, packed up the Fortuner and off we went.  We covered a total of 1167 torturous but beautiful kilometers and went from 365 meters at home to 2565 meters above sea level on top of Doi Inthanon.

First we headed to town and then off in the direction of Chiang Mai.  At Mae Suai we turned right onto the 109 headed for Fang.  Our first stop was to visit friends in Fang on the 107.  Visit complete, we continued on the 107 to our first destination, Doi Angkhang high in the mountains.

It is quite a steep and twisty climb up the mountain but that is exactly what I was looking for on this trip.  We arrived in time to search around for a place to stay.  Things had changed a lot since the last time I had been up there so we needed to checkout the options.  The cottages located inside the park were full and we didn’t feel like staying in budget accommodation, so fortunately we found a room at the Angkhang Nature Resort.

There were a surprising number of people with the same idea we had of missing the winter crowds, but we were fortunate enough to get a very nice room for 1600 baht.  Most of the visitors were Thai families but the second day a number of French tourists checked into our hotel.  When the temperature dropped to 10 at night we were glad to find the switch for the thermal pad built into the bed, and were soon all toasty and comfortable for the rest of the night.  We liked the place so much we extended our stay one more day.

We got up early the first morning, to try our luck at catching the sunrise from a popular mountain top viewing point.  The sunrise was not great but it was still and interesting experience with all the people milling around and my wife bought some small gifts from the girls selling handicrafts.

After a wonderful breakfast back at the hotel, we walked the three kilometer loop through the park exploring every display and side trail.  They were busy getting things ready for the winter rush, planting strawberries and flowers.  Still it was very lush and green after all the rain we have had this year.  The fruit trees were eerie looking stick figures, far bigger than I remember from my last visit.

Later in the day we drove to Ban Nor-Lae to look from the Thai military camp over into the Burmese encampment on the opposite hilltop.  Later we went to Ban Khop Dong which turns out to be a very appropriate name for the village, with their little shacks perch on the cliff edge above the basket like valley and their terraced farms.

After our second night at Angkhang Nature Resort, we got up early and hit the road for Pai.  Overnight the remnants of a tropical storm had settled over Thailand and we found ourselves shrouded in cloud and mist as we headed down with nearly zero visibility, at least until we were better than halfway down the mountain.

As it turned out the sun didn’t come out for the rest of our trip but somehow I enjoyed the misty forests and cool weather.  Even with limited photographic opportunities, I still came home with a couple hundred shots.  I was merciless and soon pared that down by half when I returned home.

In part two I will cover Pai and beyond but for now I want to share some photos from Doi Angkhang.
Angkhang Nature Resort

Our accommodation.

Enjoying the view from the balcony.
The sunrise scene.

Our view during breakfast.

Planting the terraces for the peak winter season.

Budget accommodation back on the hillside.

Flowers.
In the peach grove.

Vegetables in front and peach trees across the road.



Time for a lunch break.

More flowers.


Looking across into Burma.

Weaving scarves for sale.

I think you can guess which one I would choose.

Buying avocados.

Handicrafts for sale.

Khop Dong Village

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2013 (Part 1)

Well, the 2013 Phuket Vegetarian Festival finished a few days ago, and I have been spending a few evenings sorting out photos. I was more or less unaware of this festival until about 2005. Guess I was living in a box. When this blog started in 2006, that's when my family and I started to explore Phuket and the surrounding area a lot more and get a lot more involved in the local culture. And over the last 7 years, the vegetarian festival in particular has fascinated me. I've been at shrines before 6am, attended many street processions, watched firewalking and bladed ladder climbing, and every year do my best to (maybe not 100%) stick to the vegan diet and rules of the festival. For a good introduction to the festival and links to many previous blog posts see The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

I would normally try to attend at least 3 - 4 events during the festival, get up early several times to be at shrines to watch face piercing .. last year I was at Sapam, Sam Kong and Kathu shrines around 6am, but this year I had trouble to summon up the enthusiasm of previous years. Seen too much? Or maybe it was the weather - we had wet days from the 4th to the 8th October. I did wake up early one morning, but heard the rain and went back to sleep. Also my wife and I had spent a few days painting our house, and worked into the early hours of the morning to get it done - slept at 2am on the 3rd and 3am on the 4th, so the idea of 5:30am alarms was not appealing! But finally the weather changed, so I hit the town before 7am on October 11th to watch the street procession from Jui Tui shrine, probably the biggest procession and featuring many female Ma Song with piercings too. It was a lovely sunny morning in town. Took me a while to get into the photography mood, but I figured out of 400 photos there had to be some good ones!

Gory pierced face at the Jui Tui procession on October 11th 2013

Pierced Ma Song at the vegetarian festival procession on 11th October

Female Ma Song with pierced face, Jui Tui shrine procession 11th October 2013

I started off trying to photograph individual faces with a 70-300mm zoom lens, but the Jui Tui procession is so crowded, at times the pierced Ma Song and helpers were bunched tightly together and barely able to squeeze through the crowds along the narrow old-town roads, it was hard to get a picture. At times you just have to sit back and take in the spectacle instead of looking at things through a viewfinder! This close to the action, a wide angle lens is useful .. I followed the procession a little way onto Thalang Road and parked myself near the old herb shop.

Ma Song blessing a child

(above) It's not all face piercing! I wanted to try this year and get more pictures like this. A Ma Song tying a string to the wrist of a small child who is amazed at what's going on. The old traditions are passed on from generation to generation.

Ma Song blessing some of Phuket's older generation

(above) A Ma Song giving blessings to some of the older members of the Bumrungwong family who run the herb shop, Kopitiam restaurant and Wilai restaurant on Thalang Road. I can only begin to imagine the changes these folks have seen in Phuket.

Ma Song blessing a shrine on Thalang Road

(above) Houses and businesses along the procession route each day will place shrines outside covered in fruit, cups of tea, incense, candles .. Ma Song may stop at any shrine to bless the house, and may drink some tea or take some fruit which as far as I can tell, they then give to people in the crowd. Sometimes the Ma Song go into the house or shop behind the shrine also.

This procession from Jui Tui seems to be never ending! Certainly took well over an hour for the parade of Ma Song to pass by. No way you can photograph or even see all of them, as they often pass by several at a time and it was very busy - lots of people like me happy to see the sun and taking the chance to see a procession. I can see other people's photos of the same procession, and they have photos of different faces. And there are a lot of faces to see ...

Girl with face piercing, Jui Tui shrine procession

Female Ma Song in the Jui Tui shrine procession

Female Ma Song with face piercing in Phuket Town, Phuket Vegetarian Festival

When the majority of the Ma Song have passed by, the rear of the procession is the noisy part ... groups of young men carry statues of the emperor gods through the streets and are subject to a barrage of firecrackers, either thrown on the ground, or onto the statue or held above them on a bamboo pole. This is my favourite part of the procession and I enjoy getting close up! Maybe a bit too close - I think next time a face mask and earplugs are needed, though I can say this .. If I had any slight apathy this year it was blown away by the firecrackers!

Boom! Carrying the gods through a hail of firecrackers!

Jui Tui Shrine Procession - Gods and Firecrackers

By 8:30am I was hot, sweating and covered in pieces of firecracker! Could not stay any longer, I had to dash home, shower and go open the dive shop .. and wished I had not been so lazy for the first 5 days of the festival! OK, next year I will be up for it again ... This really IS worth waking up early for. The Jui Tui procession was on October 11th, and I planned to wake up even earlier on the 12th to visit Kathu Shrine, see some face piercing taking place and watch the procession leave Kathu village ... had planned to add all that onto the same blog post, but it will follow soon in a 2nd blog post about the 2013 Phuket vegetarian festival. :)

Refresher on the Rules of the Buffet

The more buffets that I go to the more I wish the restaurants would post our Rules of the Buffet. Here they are once again for all of our readers to take note of and remember.  Recently #28 seems to be one that many need to know about...

RULES OF THE BUFFET

1. All you can eat is not a challenge. It is an offer!

2. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up and get food.

3.

Food at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I actually was a vegetarian (except for fish, I couldn't have lived as a student without tinned tuna) for quite a few years in my teens until I was 24. We had "nut roast" in our house for Christmas (well, my Dad had meat!) and the smell of frying bacon in the morning in my student house at university made me feel sick. I think it started when I was 16 and went to India. Sometimes the meat dishes contained unidentifiable pieces of meat, so the vegetable dishes were safer .. and tasty! My vegetarianism stopped with a bang when I set off in February 1993 on a 6 month trans-Africa expedition with about 15 other people - an adventure trip run by a company called Exodus. First day - question .. any vegetarians in the group? Me. Just me. So I started on meat again and never looked back! I like meat. And I like beer. Both of which are not allowed if you want to stick to the special diet during the 9 day vegetarian festival. Actually only some people do it for 9 days. Many just do it for the last 3 days. And .. please note - if you are a tourist, visiting Phuket, you can eat what you want. Almost all restaurants are open as normal for steak, pizza, Thai food with meat, burgers, bacon and more bacon. It's only a part of the Phuket population who are involved in the vegetarian festival which has Chinese origins. I normally try to stick to the vegetarian diet for the whole festival. Might sneak a beer or two, but no meat for 9 days. So for lunch I have something like this ...

Vegetarian Yentafo

Actually around the main beach areas, it's not so easy to find vegetarian food (vegetarian in Thai = เจ pronounced "Jay") ... where I work in Karon I have to drive about 1km to find a restaurant doing this food, and there are half a dozen food stalls along the back road (Patak road) in the Kata and Karon beach area. Same in Patong, you can find places doing the vegetarian food on the back roads. The place I normally go for lunch is opposite Karon post office. Easy to spot the right kind of restaurant as they have yellow flags outside. The noodle dish in the photo above is called Yentafo, and normally comes with meat - this one is all tofu and "textured vegetable protein". The same restaurant also does meals with rice such as the fried rice and the phad kaprow below.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Pad Kaprow vegetarian style

As you can see, the kaprow dish looks meaty, but it's only tofu. They can make just about any Thai dish with tofu instead of meat, though this kind of food is much harder to find outside the festival. You can normally find vegetarian food in Phuket, but sometimes you are limited to mixed veg or fried rice without meat! The vegetarian festival is way more than just the food of course, there are street processions, and there is weird face piercing and fire walking - have a look at Phuket Vegetarian Festival - My Favourite Time of Year. The food, I must point out, is actually vegan - no meat, no dairy, no eggs, not even a splash of fish sauce. There is also a rule that the special food can have no garlic or onions. So once per year I basically go vegan for about 9 days ... which leaves me hungry for bacon and beef at the end of the festival. Well, it can't hurt to change diet now and then!

So where can you find lots of good vegetarian food during the vegetarian festival? Well.... Phuket Town is the place to be. There are several big Chinese shrines in town and a large proportion of the population is Thai-Chinese. So many of the restaurants in town change menu during the festival and do only vegetarian food. Plus there are loads of street stalls doing different foods and snacks. Ranong Road between the market and Jui Tui shrine is closed to traffic and is lined with stalls - see below :

Ranong Road near Jui Tui Shrine

Cooking vegetarian food in Phuket Town

Biggest selling snack during the festival? Got to be spring rolls ("popia" in Thai). They normally cost about 10 Baht each, sometimes 3 for 20 Baht and normally sold with some sauce and some cucumber. I can eat these until I burst. So don't think of the vegetarian festival as a way to lose weight :)

Spring Rolls

(above) Spring rolls. I want some.

In Phuket Town, well you can find plenty of vegetarian food. I have a couple of favourite restaurants. On Thalang Road there is Kopitiam, which is open year round selling lots of great food (the Phuket style pork is lovely!) .. During the festival they do only vegetarian food and are not open in the night, only during the day.

Mee Hokkien - noodles Hokkien style

(above) Vegetarian noodles at Kopitiam in Phuket Town

And one other place that we just discovered last year, and have been to all during the year for non-vegetarian food, and again this year for vegetarian food - a little restaurant called Naowarat near the market. They have about 20 different dishes ready made or you can order. Not sure anyone speaks English there though. Owned by an old (ish) lady who seems to know everyone in town and it's a popular place though it only has about 6 tables! Servings are 30 Baht each .. so it's cheap too! Here's a typical table of food :

Vegetarian Festival food options

And here's a selection of what they sell ...

Jae Food in Phuket Town

On that table you have something to really set your taste buds alight, and it's all vegetarian!

If we don't head to Phuket Town for some evening food, we just drive a few minutes to Kathu shrine. During the festival we can hear the shrine from our house when they set off firecrackers or have entertainment in the evenings. It's our local Chinese shrine :) Well, Kathu village is normally pretty quiet and even for much of the festival it's quiet. There are a few food stalls and one place close to the shrine that does Hokkien noodles. The most popular stall does fresh spring rolls (not fried), called "popia sot" in Thai.

Making fresh spring rolls

(above) Making fresh spring rolls in Kathu village.

We also sometimes drive a tiny bit further to Sam Kong shrine which is on the north side of Phuket Town. The road near the shrine is packed with food stalls. I try every year to stick to the diet for the whole festival, at least in terms of the food. One or two other rules may get broken! Right now I am dreaming of a bacon burger and a pint of Guinness! I mean, this food is OK for a week, but, apologies to vegetarians, I do like meat! Next blog post will feature some photos from shrines and processions during the Phuket vegetarian festival 2013 - watch out, might be some scary pictures!

Undercover Boss at Buffets Inc. Restaurants Next Week!

The television show Undercover Boss found on CBS network stations sends companies' top executives into their business location to learn first hand what it is like to work for them and work in their businesses.  This show will have the boss from Buffets Inc. out in the restaurants undercover on Friday, October 18, 2013. The show will be on from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Buffets Inc. is the parent

A Little Soul Searching

Browsing what is written about Thailand, I often find myself wondering if I live in the same country.  I struggle to find much in common with people I meet these days, unlike when I first arrived here.  Our paths through life bear few similarities, making anything beyond social niceties a struggle.  I know nothing of their work lives, marriages, divorces and grown children.  I receive no government benefits or corporate pension and have no health issues.  I do not struggle with the language or why Thais don’t do things the way they are done in some foreign land never visited.  I eat what is available and do not smoke or drink alcohol.  I do not ogle the women or cheat on my wife.

I arrived young and stupid with time on my side, time to make mistakes and learn through experience.  I learned the language and how to act, across the strata of Thai social classes.  Now I live outside of Chiang Rai and I am doing many of the things I missed out on while living in Bangkok for thirty years.

Today Thailand is sold as a cheap retirement destination for those who find life a struggle back home.  They are frequently narrow minded, critical and burdened with toxic baggage from their difficult lives.  The internet has not made them smarter, quite the contrary.  Information overload seems to send people looking for and finding, supporting anecdotal evidence, that they are correct in their often deluded beliefs.  

To be fair, my path was not common, even in the seventies when I moved here.  Most of the guys I met were retired military from the Vietnam era, which was drawing to a close.  Then there were the expats who came here on the company dime.  Young and inexperienced, I was envious of their salaries, expense accounts, houses, cars, drivers and servants.  I, on the other hand, came here entirely on my own and was not sent by military, government, god or corporation.  I had no job and not a lot of money, just a feeling that this was where I belonged, where I could be me.

In this polarized world we live in today, where the haves and the have-nots are pitted against each other, conflict spills over into the expat community as well.  Those lured here with promises of cheap sex, cheap booze and cheaper living, often find they do not end up living the kingly life they were promised, on five hundred dollars a month.  They end up living the lives of village peasants and resenting both Thais and other foreigners who live more comfortable lives than they do.

Articles are being written about homeless foreigners, living on the streets of Thailand.  Whether due to sexual perversions, drugs, alcohol, greed or stupidity, the blame is never theirs.  Perhaps they would have ended up the same in their own countries, but Thailand can act as a catalyst, revealing what lays just below the surface of modern man.  Without the constraints of western society, to hold the daemons at bay, or keep people from making stupid choices, things can go from bad to worse very rapidly indeed.

I love my life in Chiang Rai on many levels.  I have a wonderful wife who I love dearly, a beautiful and comfortable home with lovely views, loving pets, and more toys than I need.  I love my location which I find just far enough into the hinterlands, to turn a very average but rapidly expanding town, into a lovely place to visit once or twice each week.  

These days it seems the Russians and the Chinese bear the brunt of negative comment in the tourist areas but I have not spent time in those haunts for a very long time, so have no first hand experience and therefore no complaints.  Some bemoan the growth in and around Chiang Rai but again I live far enough away to enjoy the benefits without suffering much in the way of negative fallout.

I suppose one could say my reluctance to be confined by schedules and appointments has lead to more social isolation than I felt in Bangkok.  Thankfully modern technology takes much of the bite out of living far from others.  Surprisingly, I did have a couple of spontaneous encounters recently, which I found quite enjoyable.  Met one guy while walking the dogs, who married a girl in the village and is making plans to move here over the next couple of years.  Again not much in common but a pleasure to talk with.

The other encounter was an online acquaintance who ended up dropping by for a visit when he found out his wife’s village was not far from ours.  They too are in the process, as it were, and expect to take a couple of years to get moved.  It will be interesting to see if either of these guys end up here or not.  I am watching with interest, as a few people I know struggle with retirement and adjusting to this new phase in their lives.

Sometimes plans and reality don’t end up in the same place.  I liken the planing stage of moving here and building a home, to that of the young girl who fantasizes about her wedding day.  So focussed on that day, with no idea how to get there or what comes after, it is a fantasy that almost promises disappointment.  If only more people could close their eyes and imagine what comes after.

I know many people in Chiang Rai, after living here for six years, and enjoy bumping into most of them from time to time when we are in town.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of getting to know some residents of the Rai too well.  Under a veneer of civility lurked darkness and very messy lives.  I see too many people living desperate lives, moving from one calamity to the next as if living beneath a cloud of misfortune.  Close proximity to people with problems can spill over into our own lives so I prefer now to keep my distance.

In the local expat community I have discovered an intolerance in the hearts of some, who otherwise see themselves as good people.  I find it all quite disturbing and it has made me more wary and reluctant to reach out.  I apparently hold unpopular beliefs with regard to friendship and misplaced loyalty.  In my opinion, life is too short to spend with people who do not inspire you, seeking instead to drag you down.

You may have also noticed that I am struggling with this blog and where to go with it.  From time to time I need new inspiration and direction to help maintain my interest in writing.  For some time now I have found myself writing things I never publish.  For now I continue to enjoy my life and corresponding with those of you who write to keep me up to date on your lives.  I continue to post photos on Google+ but only time will tell what the future holds for this blog.

Thalang Road : Heart of Old Phuket Town

If you read this blog often or have dug deep into the hundreds of pages, it should be apparent that I like Phuket Town, especially the old part of town, which tends to be called 'Old Phuket Town' by most people. It's just a few streets really, though older buildings do exist in outlying areas. If you go back about 100 years the town of Phuket was much smaller. What we call the old town was built in the late 19th century and early 20th century when Phuket was already an important tin mining area. Phuket Town became the main town due to the easy access to the sea at Sapan Hin, and in those early days the Bang Yai canal which still runs through town was an important waterway. When I first came to Phuket in 1999, I would say the old town was somewhat forgotten. It's only in the last 10 years than some "old town pride" has been restored, streets have been renovated, overhead wires removed, lots of little cafes and bars have opened, and they mix with the old shops such as hardware stores, herb shops, fabric shops, printers and old noodle shops to create the unique mix of old and new that is 'Old Phuket Town'. Right in the middle is Thalang Road which is certainly my favourite street in Phuket!

Thalang Road has been mentioned on the blog many times, so this page is meant to tie everything together and show what Thalang Road has to offer. So let's take a walk .... starting on the east side, to the east of the junction with Thep Kasatri Road there's the south side of the Queen Sirikit Park, the Tourism Authority of Thailand office and the dragon statue - old Chinese legend says that Phuket island is a sea dragon called Hai Leng Ong, risen from the waters.

Dragon Statue on Thalang Road in Phuket Town

Walking west you cross the Bang Yai canal just before the road junction. It's a bit of a smelly canal these days, but I have read that the old town authorities are trying to clean it up. We took a ride in an olde style boat in 2012 during the old town festival ...

Boat on Bang Yai Canal, Phuket Town

The main part of Thalang Road starts after the junction with Thep Kasatri Road. With a few exceptions this stretch of road, about 400 meters long, has remained very much "old style" with just a few newer buildings and with many old family businesses that have been open since the road was built. Plus a few new cafes and restaurants which for the most part retain the old shopfronts.

Thalang Road Facade

The intricate carving above is found on the 2nd floor of a building on Thalang Road close to the junction with Thep Kasatri road. The ground floor is a fabric shop. As you enter this part of Thalang Road you can see shops, homes and various businesses. Just about 20m along the street on the south side is a cafe called Since 1892 which opened in 2012. It's small and arty and everything inside is for sale - furniture, clothes and coffee and cakes!

Since 1892 Cafe, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

Unfortunately (update 2016) looks like Since 1892 has closed down. These interesting cafes keep coming and going!

Keep walking west ... this part of Thalang road has many Muslim shops, including (just a few doors from Since 1892) a couple of Roti shops selling Muslim food - Roti (pancakes) with curry. I have been a few times to Abdul's Roti Shop - delicious!

Abduls Roti Shop on Thalang Road

There are lost of Muslim fabric shops along this part of the road as well as a bicycle shop and several homes. With "old town pride" being rekindled in recent years, many of the shophouses have been renovated or repainted, I especially love the 2nd floor shutters.

Fabric Shops, Thalang Road

Shutters on 2nd floor window, Thalang Road

(above) Muslim fabric shops and the 2nd floor shutters of a building that seems to have been there since 1889 - I took that picture just yesterday (17th July 2013) ... I tend to take photos every time we walk along Thalang Road!

A new restaurant opened in 2013 called Eleven Two & Co. - some very tasty interesting food, indoor or outdoor seating. Nice place and very colourful!

Sunset time on Thalang Road

(above) Looking along Thalang Road from Eleven Two @ Co.

Just after the line of fabric shops on the south side of the road used to be a bar/restaurant called Route 68 which we liked, with live music at weekends, normally just gentle jazz or blues. Unfortunately it closed in 2014, I think neighbours complained about too much noise. Old Town has quite a lot of small bars and pubs, good for a night out.

Route 68 on Thalang Road

About half way along Thalang Road is a narrow road that heads north from Thalang Road and joins up with Dibuk Road. This narrow street is called Soi Romanee, and many years ago it was (so they say) lined with brothels frequented by tin miners. Nowadays it's quiet, there are a couple of small cafes and guesthouses, and it's very pretty and colourful. We used to hang out sometimes at a place called Glastnost Cafe but I have not seen the owner for ages - he's a lawyer and I think working in Bangkok all the time now.

Soi Romanee

(above) Soi Romanee

Let's keep walking west from Soi Romanee - there are quite a few real businesses here on Thalang Road, mixing with the newer cafes and shops. There are a couple of old printers, several hardware stores and some old style general stores....

Printer on Thalang Road

Old shop on Thalang Road

The variety of business along here is great. Keep walking past the Hum Wan hardware store which has been in the same family since .. forever (and look up above the store front, WoW!) - then you see right next to each other is the Christian Assembly and the Hai Lam Chinese Shrine. Phuket is a melting pot and if you delve into the history of Phuket you can see why. In town you have Buddhist temples, Chinese shrines, a Catholic church, a Sikh Gurdwara and a Hindu shrine too!

Hailam Chinese Shrine on Thalang Road

Just after the Chinese shrine (photo above) is the China Inn cafe, and then a row of family businesses - first is the Kopitiam restaurant at which we are regulars, and next door is the old herb shop called Nguan Choon Tong, selling old Chinese herbal remedies and run by the same family since 1917. And after that is an indoor aircon section of Kopitiam, formerly the Wilai restaurant also run by the same family and a very nice family they are too!

Old Herb Shop on Thalang Road

Kopitiam, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

(above) The herb shop and Kopitiam on Thalang Road

This restaurant has a little secret too - passing through the restaurant, walking past the kitchens, down a narrow passage and you are now in the Shrine of Serene Light which has it's entrance on the next road to the south (Phang Nga Road). I did ask if the shrine was something to do with their family, but it's not ... I think the building housing the Wilai restaurant was maybe owned by different people when the shrine was built in 1889.

And we're pretty much at the end of Thalang Road. There is a lot more here than has been mentioned. This is the heart of old Phuket Town. A few meters after Kopitiam you reach the junction with Yaowarat road. If you carry on, Thalang Road becomes Krabi road and there's a lot to see along the next few hundred meters including the Thai Hua Museum and the Chinpracha House.

Thalang Road is not too busy, though due to the one way street pattern in Phuket Town it can get quite a bit of traffic in the day time. Evenings are quieter and anyway the best time for visiting a cafe. I'd suggest heading to old town late afternoon, walking around a while, finding a place for a drink, finding a place for dinner, then maybe another drink. Sunday is a bad day as many places are closed. Middle of the day is normally going to be too hot. This is my favourite area in Phuket and I am glad to see the old town being renovated and promoted. Many of the places mentioned above like Kopitiam, Route 68, Since 1892 .. they only opened in the last few years. Old Town is changing, but I hope it does not become too kitsch! Right now with a mix of cafes, bars, restaurants, old businesses, shrines .. it's perfect!

Thalang Road Phuket

(above) Thalang Road at festival time - taken during a local festival - the street is not normally this busy!

Thalang Road - Location Map


View Thalang Road, old Phuket Town in a larger map

House makeover 2008 and now new paint --update

Here's another repost with a up-date , we started to makeover in 2008 , to me till 2012 to get it done on the outside and this year we got the inside all painted too --sssss0000 the make-over is done at least for the next 1o years OR until Ciejay comes up with another house HONEY DO list .LOL It's been six years since we remodeled the house and moved into when we came to the LOS in 2004 , We did a lot as you have seen in the past post , we did what we knew we could do quickly, so we could move in as soon as possible and have been satisfied with the way it looked all these six years . Paint doesn't last forever in the Los with the ho
t and humid weather and of course the long rainy season, sooo it (the house ) was in need of a fresh coat of paint . We call our house (home) a bungalow , and have been happy with it , but now after all these years we thought we would like something a little different , and as we talked about it and looked around we thought we would like a cottage style house , of course we can't just tear this one down sooo we had to turn this one into a cottage . We have started and the following pictures are some of the work already done and still in progress , some folks say it looks like Disney Land and I think it does a little , but we love it so far . There is lots more to be done to complete the the Make-over, and then a fresh coat of paint (not sure the color yet), and every time we look at what was done , we see something else we want done , we are going to do work also on the decks and steps and will redo the waterfall and pond , and some (not a lot ) on the landscape and garden , I like it to look as natural as possible with out getting out of control I like wild grass and flowers and vines and even some weeds , I don't want it to look all manicured and perfect , If we don't cut the grass for a month I still think it looks good ( that's just my opinion) and Ciejay likes it too and that's all that matters ,really . I will take more pictures as we go along , and will put up, with a short post , take a look at the pictures and Please live a honest comment about what you think . I alcolmknow to some it looks like I've lost it , but what the heck , we like it , and here in the LOS we can do what we want and don't have to worry about the neighbors , the laws and the , restrictions and permits and no Bureaucrats telling me what and how I can do with the property and house that we own I guess that's another reason why we are" Retired in Thailand and Loving it." Malcolm and Ciejay

Return to a KFC Buffet

There are not many KFC buffets  - Kentucky Fried Chicken. These are KFC eat in and take out restaurants that in addition to the regular take out/eat in menu on the wall, offer a buffet at the front counter of select KFC items. These KFC restaurants will say "Buffet" on the sign in front of the restaurant. If it does not say "buffet" there is no buffet inside - and that is the majority of KFC