Phuket Markets

Before coming to Thailand, I traveled quite a lot in Africa plus North, Central and South America. Aside from such things as diving, local tourist attractions, food, drink, beaches, mountains, festivals and enjoying the company of other travelers and locals, I always enjoyed finding local markets. I would go out of my way if I heard of an interesting market. A market is a great place to sample real local life, no matter where you are. The market is the center of the town or village, and despite the arrival of many big shopping centers in Phuket over the last 12 years, the local markets here are still busy. There may be big stores like Tesco Lotus, Makro, Big C, Central and many minimart style shops like 7-11, but the market (Talad) is still the place to get fresh local produce, or a place to hang out and meet people. Phuket is a bigger place than most people realise and there are countless small local markets. I have blogged a number of interesting markets and plan to do more, since (for me) a market is an essential part of life in the local community. Here's some of Phuket's markets...

The Weekend Market

Weekend Market Phuket

Probably the market that most tourists will visit is the weekend market just outside Phuket Town. Locals call it Talad Naka (since it's close to Naka Temple) or Talad Jatujak Phuket (after the huge Jatujak market in Bangkok - the market in Phuket is much smaller!). It's held on Saturday and Sunday starting in the mid afternoon, carrying on until about 11pm. Best time to go, a bit before sunset. It is quite big and once you are in the maze of stalls, easy to be not quite sure which way to go! Lots of food stalls selling all kind of snacks and drinks, lots of clothes, arts and crafts, DVD's/CD's, plants, pets, mobile phone accessories, and it's great for people watching.

Phuket Weekend Market - More Information

"Lard Yai" Sunday Walking Street on Thalang Road

Walking Street Market in Phuket Town

The Walking Street on Thalang Road in the old town started in late 2013 and has become very popular as a place to hang out on Sunday evenings, helping to promote the old town. There are lots of food and drink stalls, clothes and art for sale and entertainment too with performers and music every Sunday.

Sunday Walking Street Market - More Information

Chillva Market

Busy night at Chillva Market

The new Chillva Market opened in April 2016, located on the north side of Phuket Town. It's become very popular, with some areas open every day, but the main market from Thursday to Saturday. There are restaurants, bars, shops, market stalls selling clothes, arty things, food. Often live music too. Certainly worth a look.

Chillva Market - More Information

Phuket Town Central Fresh Market

Phuket Town Market

The main market in town is a very busy place! It reopened in 2010 in a new building on Ranong Road in the old town area. The old market was .... old. And smelly. I never went inside! But the new market is well worth a visit. The streets all around the market are also a market, it's a very busy area and is also where you can get local buses to destinations all around the island.

Phuket Town Market - More Information

Kathu Fresh Market

Roti (Pancake) stall

Kathu is my area. The main market is big and seems to have got busier over the years even though the main Tesco store is only a few km away and Tesco even opened a mini store in the area. Kathu is the area between Patong and Phuket Town and is a mainly residential area but with quite a lot of history as the tin mining industry was centered here in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The market is on daily, all day. It's a fresh produce market with stalls selling fish, shrimp, meat, vegetables, chili paste, eggs, flowers, ready made meals and a lot more! Nice to visit early evening, get some food from one of the many food stalls and watch the world go by.

Kathu Market - More Information

Phuket Town Indy Market

Phuket Indy Market (หลาดปล่อยของ)

The Indy Market near the old section of Phuket town only started in 2010, meant as a place for kids/teenagers to hang out in a safe, smoke free environment. It's not huge, most of the stalls sell arty items and clothes and there's some food and drink stalls too. It is indeed very popular with the youngsters. There is often live music too. The Indy Market takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings (so does not clash with the Saturday/Sunday weekend market). Certainly worth a visit combined with dinner or drinks in Phuket Town. (update) I've heard that this market will be on Wednesdays too.

Indy Market - More Information

Karon Temple Market

Jewelry at Karon temple market

A very easy to visit market if you stay near Karon beach ... the Karon temple market takes place in the temple grounds on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the late afternoon/evening. It's a mix of fresh produce, snacks and food, clothes and a few tourist-aimed stalls selling sunglasses or swimwear. It's the main local market in Karon. There's another market a couple of miles away in Kata on the back road away from the beach.

Karon Temple Market - More Information

Expo Market

Expo Market in Phuket Town

We have used the Expo market quite a lot, bought shirts, pants, Thai souvenirs, computer games. It's an aircon indoor market, open every day near the center of Phuket Town. It's not been mentioned specifically on the blog, but a good place for clothes and souvenirs.

Local Markets

Phuket covers an area of over 500 square km, and there are many local areas and small villages within Phuket, and all have some kind of market. Try looking for fresh seafood at Rawai beach, or check out the big Banzaan fresh market in Patong near the Jungceylon shopping mall - and there's another market in Patong on Nanai road (the back road). Oh and the touristy "OTOP" market. I drive past a small market in the Chalong area every day and there are regular local markets in the Bang Rong and Cherng Talay areas of Phuket. All over the island! Worth a look at any market for a taste of the real Phuket, to pick up some snacks or fruit and see something away from the organised tourist route.

Phuket Markets - Location Map

View Phuket Markets in a larger map

A few things we love about Thailand

All my life,everywhere I have lived, I have always looked for things to be proud of ,rather than looking for things to critize or complain about or find fault with,and here in my adopted home of Thailand I try to do the same. I am proud of the fact that here in Thailand we have to freedom to live and love and enjoy all that life has to offer , as long as we live by the rules.I am proud of the fact that most expat folks who make Thailand their home and realize their dreams come true ,are very decent people. I could go on and on about things that I am proud of here in the Land Of Smiles And Gentle People . I would like to say that the thing that I am most proud of is the little village that I call home ,Whang Pho. All of our local leaders do all they possibly can to make sure that all the people that call Sai Yok their home ,live in the cleanest , safest,and most enjoyable place they can make it . I have even notice that they pay close attention to even the smallest detail to make sure that it looks good and not a eye sore , and the thing that amazes me the most, is that they seen to understand the meaning of maintainence.

This coming year , my goal is to look for all I can be proud of and if at all possible to thank the person or persons responsible and give them a big pat on the back, and to remind myself that  This is Thailand. Lets all give it a try. Just one more reason why We're Retired in Thailand and Loving It.  Malcolm and Ciejay

The Best of the Best

Our pick for the Best Buffet for 2014 was Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. We have been there a number of times this year and find that the night that I like the best at the Best Buffet is Tuesday nights. All of the nights are good - but I particularly enjoy dinner there on Tuesdays the best.

This is the night when I find the most Pennsylvania Dutch foods mixed in with always good standards. We were the area again recently - and picked Tuesday for the night that we would go to Dutch-Way. The feature on Tuesday nights is not fancy - it is burgers made to order topped the way you like them and also hot wings, both at the Grill. On the buffet on Tuesday's there tends to always be Chicken Bot Bie (Chicken Pot Pie - stewed with large noodles, not baked in a pie shell), Dutch Loaf, Ham Balls, Pork and Kraut, and more. Simple. Plain food which this region is known for - Pennsylvania Dutch cooking of the Plain People. The burgers are an extra thrown in for a very enjoyable meal.

News to Amuse - 6th November 2015

Bihar elections results will come out  on Sunday. The nation is waiting with bated breath to know who the winner is going to be:
Times Now exit poll survey
News24 exit poll survey

Manmohan Singh slams the attack on freedom of thought under Modi's rule.
Apparently he said, "Personally, I don't care about the freedom of speech. But, freedom of thought! you are choking me."

Apple Watch is launched in India at Rs 30,900
My thought: Wow! It costs an arm and a leg.
Apple's thought: That's Okay! You can wear the watch in the other arm.

SRK's 50th birthday celebrations push his twitter follower count to 16 million, making him the second most popular Indian on Twitter.

Guys, Today is my 100th birthday! MY 100th BIRTHDAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
(Checks twitter follower count)

GreenPeace has been banned in India over fraudulent practices.
Thank God! Feeling good now about buying two packets of frozen peas yesterday.

Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne are in New York to play a promotional match. Apparently when they walked around in New York yesterday, no one recognized them.
I don't understand why this is a news. I mean, it happens to me all the time.

Here comes the junk man

That's a sound I love to hear , for one thing , it cleans out our storage room of all the plastic and cans and paper that Ciejay has saved to sell to the junk man.For Ciejay it brings a smile to her face , she saves the recyclable things to sell to the junk man and she calls it her "hair money" . The little bit of Baht that she gets adds to the (my) pocket change cup that she keeps on my computer table and when it's full it's time to go to the hair lady in the village, to get a cut and wash and style and sometimes even a dye job , ( when the gray comes peeking thru).
Recycling is sooo easy here in Thailand , because the junk man comes around with his truck and weight scales about once a month to buy from the folks, things that he can buy for a few baht per kilo and hopefully sell in the big city to the larger recyclers for a little profit . Some do this as a way of making a living and a few others in Wang Pho, do it for a week-in or part- time job to add to their monthly income or to help make the payments on the new truck or to pay for the building of a new home, that's the case, for one young couple that comes by.
Ciejay keeps her plastic in one bag and cans in another, all neat for the junk man , and me I am just happy to see it saved for a good cause ,and for the good of Mother Earth, the more we recycle and reuse , the less non biodegradable stuff that goes into the land fields and is dumped alone our highways and by-ways to stay forever polluting our land and landscape and adding another eyesore to our beautiful earth, and the area that we call home.
Do you recycle???  I remember in America it was a pain in the neck to do, because you had to have different color containers , and everything sorted out for the garbage men or they wouldn't pick it up and when they did , if it was something that they didn't want  they would just throw it back on your lawn and drive away , and you never saw a reduction on you (very high) garbage bill each month. Things here in are so different and the "JUNK MAN" makes it sooo easy to recycle , I have found it to be so , and I hope if you live in the LOS or in a place where they take recycling seriously that you do all you can to pitch -in and help , If we don't do it WHO WILL??.  Malcolm

Vegetarian Festival - The Crazy Final Night

Until last year, I had only heard that the final night procession in Phuket Town, marking the end of the vegetarian festival, was "a bit mad". And I had seen live coverage on local TV with firecrackers being thrown everywhere as statues of the 9 emperor gods were paraded through the streets and Ma Song (the possesses spirit mediums) danced with firecrackers exploding around their bare feet. Over the last 10 years I have been to plenty of festival events, seen plenty of blood and pierced faces and walked through the morning processions also featuring lots of firecrackers. Somehow that last night always seemed a bit too crazy for me. I heard of people getting injured by fireworks, hardly surprising as they are being thrown all over the place! Well, last year I had a little taster, went into town with my wife and kids although they stayed well away from the crazy bits and I left by about 10:45pm - it goes on until after midnight. But I did learn you have to be dressed properly - long sleeves, long trousers, shoes (not sandals), earplugs, face mask, and it's not for the faint-hearted!

So this year I tried again, got dressed up in white, added a white towel for head and neck protection and headed into town about 9:30pm. The main action area is around the clock tower circle next to the Metropole hotel, and I hear that the "Cue Bar" on the circle is a good place to watch from .. maybe next year, although I do prefer to be in the street and feel the action! I found fellow blogger Tim down by the circle and we waited with many others for the procession to begin.

Crowds gathering

Along the streets were many tables filled with offerings of fruit and incense and candles. The Ma Song stop at the tables and take offerings and distribute them to people in the crowd as they pass by.

Ready for the Parade

Anyone driving through the streets on a scooter or car was having firecrackers thrown at them - even with no procession the noise was fairly intense and face-masks essential to avoid breathing too much smoke - actually, already planning for next year, I'm going for a more industrial face-mask next time, not just a simple one from the pharmacy. When things really kick off, actually a scuba set would not be a bad idea!

The exact route of the procession I am not sure about. There are people coming from various directions from different shrines and they do wander all around the old town, but the circle is the well known center of activities. Things started before 10pm as groups of guys carried statues of the gods and got pelted with fireworks from all sides. Only the brave! I was using only my phone for photos. Still lacking a nice camera and not sure if I'd bring one anyway as cameras get coated in dust. I saw "pro" photographers and they had cameras all wrapped up in plastic. Another "maybe" for next year!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I tried dashing out into the street to take quick snaps. I am not sure the iPhone was quite up to this challenge, the noise of the firecrackers played havoc with the display, creating bands of light across the pictures. And I was getting a bit too close to being hit by fireworks. One did get me in the back of the neck and the smoke would very quickly get to be choking, so it was a matter of dashing in for a photo and then retreating! Very hard to get a photo with all the exploding lights and general darkness, it's a bit of pot luck really even with a good camera. I decided that some video might work better.

(above) Some video taken with iPhone on the last night of the vegetarian festival.

Maybe next year with a new camera that can also shoot video ... The procession passed by the circle, Tim and I cut through to the next street where the procession was now passing having done a little loop round the old town. In a narrower street I found the firecracker smoke really can be a bit nasty. You really do need to be prepared. I saw one guy watching with no facemask, trying to cover his face with his hand. I had a spare mask in my pocket and gave it to him.

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) So, the guys on the left are holding strings of firecrackers on bamboo poles above the group of guys carrying a god statue, while their helpers on the right try to use towels to fan away the smoke a bit! It is just a little bit nuts! Well, I'd pretty much had enough by 11pm, although really had wanted to follow the procession down to the sea at Sapan Hin to see what goes on there. But .. too much smoke. I found a quite side street and a stall selling cold orange juice. Much needed! And then, walking back to the car which was parked on quiet Thalang Road, I found another section of the procession heading through the old town. Still crazy, but not quite as crazy as down by the circle. And with old buildings to make a nice photo!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Passing by the former Standard Chartered bank, built in 1907 as Phuket Town grew rich from tin mining. I wonder what the vegetarian festival was like then?

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Last night procession in old Phuket Town.

Headed home by about 11:30pm. Could still smell smoke 2 days later. Clothes still smelled of smoke after being washed! Yes, it's a little crazy, but not too bad with some preparation. Need a better mask, might need a hat, and I think next year I'll risk a nice camera! Well, the vegetarian festival is done for another year. What's next?

Related pages on Jamie's Phuket

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - More Information
Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

My favourite Phuket festival is over for another year! The vegetarian festival is just a little bit crazy. A lot of people look at photos and can't quite understand what or why. The photos that get shown most often show the pierced faces and maybe a bit of blood for good measure. Sorry for that in advance! The festival lasts 11 days. This year it started on 12th October and the final ceremonies were on 22nd October. There were morning street parades in Phuket Town every day from 14th - 21st October, and plenty of local street parades and evening events such as fire walking and bladed ladder climbing. There's a lot going on. A lot to see. And the food too! The general idea is that people will eat only vegan food during the festival, or at least the last 3 days, to cleanse the body. Those who take part with pierced faces in the processions are known as Ma Song, and they are said to be possessed by the spirits of the emperor gods. Not all have pierced faces. Some take on the spirits of birth and death gods. You see men walking bent over like they are 100 years old and women skipping down the road like children. They too are Ma Song. All with their groups of helpers. And then come groups of young men carrying statues of the gods, and the local people throw firecrackers into the street to greet them. The smoke and noise (and blood) can be too much for a timid soul! The processions are to bring good luck to the community.

I've been going to watch parts of the festival since about 2005. The first few years I was in Phuket, to be honest I had no idea about the festival! I guess it was not promoted that much. It's certainly better known now, but even now, you really don't see too many tourists watching the processions or visiting the shrines. I know most people come here for beaches, sun, nice food, fair enough. If this became just a tourist spectacle, it would mean a lot less. Well, this year I have to say, until the last few days I was not really in the mood for the festival. I was on holiday until October 17th, so was not in Phuket for half the festival, and when I got back here, I was tired and felt no great desire to wake up early. Finally by the 20th I was "in the zone" after a couple of days eating vegan food (I normally do that for the whole duration of the festival). Very early on October 20th, I rode my scooter to Kathu shrine, not far from our house. I was there by just after 5:30am. The good stuff happens early.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

(above) It's early morning, the Ma Song are getting ready. Some odd stuff happens. Some of them really do look possessed. I do struggle with reality here. This can't be a show. Who is the show for?

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) The same guy a few minutes later at the shrine with his helpers.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) And a few moments after the previous photo. Is this real life? This all happened before dawn, timestamp on the 3 photos is from 5:42 - 5:49am. And the shrine is already very crowded by this time. There are people coming and going, lighting incense and candles and saying prayers and there are Ma Song suddenly rushing into the shrine in an agitated state, their helpers aid them to put on ceremonial clothes. Some of them head outside to get pierced.

(above) A video inside Kathu shrine, a little before 6am on October 20th 2015. You can see several Ma Song approach the altar in the shrine. I try my best to blend into a wall and keep out of the way.

Outside the shrine, it's just as crowded. And there are faces getting pierced everywhere. In some past years I have tended to take a lot of rather gory piercing photos. Other times, more "spiritual" photos. Well, to be honest, there's no plan, I just hang around and snap photos of what I see. There did not seem to be too many pro photographers around on this day, sometimes I see plenty of big lenses! I find that at Kathu it can be a little quieter, as I guess the pros get their photos earlier in the festival, plus the biggest street processions from Bang Neow and Jui Tui shrines in Phuket Town are on the preceding 2 mornings. However, I did bump into blogger Tim (see his photos of the same morning at Kathu Shrine) and pro Adriano (see his website @ Phuket Paparazzi). We all wandered around squeezing through the crowds to get a few decent photos. Can be hard sometimes with so many people, you just can't get into the right position for the right photo, or you have to try and stick your lens between people's legs! Well, here's a couple of pierced Ma Song ...

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

Heavy Face Piercing

And a non-pierced female Ma Song. Actually at Kathu there is some female piercing. Some shrines have only males. The ladies who do get pierced tend to not go overboard like the men!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

By 6:30am, the procession was ready to leave the shrine and walk to Phuket Town - and back! About 20km of walking. On a hot day, with spikes in your cheeks, or carrying statues? It's got to be hard work. The procession starts through the old village of Kathu and the locals greet the Ma Song and the gods with a barrage of firecrackers. Strings of firecrackers are hung on long bamboo poles and dangled over the road as the parade passes. Or people just throw firecrackers in the street at the feet of the Ma Song. For 15 minutes it's absolutely nuts. Taking photos is a bit of a gamble. If you want to get close to your subject, you're going to get hit by shrapnel and the smoke is choking at times and also means you can barely see the procession! Having felt rather apathetic towards the festival this year, this was what was needed. Get out there and smell the smoke!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) Carrying the emperor gods through the streets in Kathu village. It's all a bit crazy for a few minutes!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Ma Song, pierced and non-pierced walking through Kathu village.

By 7am the procession has just about cleared Kathu. It's quite a hike to town. Now, if I had more time, one of these days, I'd like to walk all the way with the procession. Just to get an idea of what they go through. And also, one of these days, I'd like to see what happens when they return to the shrine and the pierced faces get un-pierced and presumably the Ma Song get released of the spirits? There is a lot to see and understand at the festival. Next blog post coming soon (part 2) will cover the final night in Phuket Town. Now that really IS crazy!

Back at D.J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY

It has been almost two years since we have been to D.J.'s International Buffet. This is an Asian buffet that is a considered to be a step above most of the others in this area. It has been around for a long time - closed suddenly, reopened a year or more later, with a new owner though keeping most of what it had been prior including most of the menu. Since then it has changed in menu and interior decor a few times. There have been newspaper ads in the past several months - maybe longer - saying new menu and changes. There are usually coupons and we clip them just in case we decide to go. We don't generally go. The price for dinner here is $19.95 on weekdays and $27.95 from Friday through Sunday. This is just too much for just any meal. We have in the past gone to this buffet for "special occasions" when spending the additional amount for dinner for the two of us to celebrate seems more justified. We just had a special occasion and considered two "special" buffets to go to -  Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet or D.J.'s International Buffet. Since the dinner price at Minado is $31 on a weeknight we decided to go to International Buffet - and we had a $3 off each dinner coupon. Prices for dinner do not include the beverage.

Visit to a coconut farm #2

I have already posted pictures of the trip to the coconut farm , but I forgot to post a few pictures I was able to shoot at the coconut factory . This place was amazing , I never knew they did soooo much with the coconut , the tree , the leaves , the husk , the fiber , the meat , the juice , they even make charcoal and mulch for gardens out of the husk , and ship to other countries , and when the trees get old they saw them into lumber to build homes , and as you can see in the pictures , the ladies working there bring  little kids and babies to work with them.

This is a must do if you ever get a chance to visit.

Visit to a Coconut Farm

My best friend B-Bie , manager of the Big Sheep Resort here in Wang Pho , was raised in Prachuap Khiri Khan, he still has a Mom and brother and lots of family that live there now . We were talking one day and he was telling me about growing up in Prachuap and that his family owned a coconut farm and that his childhood was spent on a coconut farm , well this was all very interesting to me as I had no idea about raising coconuts for commercial use.And all the many uses of the coconut and the tree and all the bi-products made from it. I guess I was asking to many questions , and B-Bie said ," next week we go to Prachuap and see my Mom and the coconut farm and my friend coconut factory and then you see for yourself and don't have to ask , and you can stay at my friends little resort on the beach and we will drive around the country and you can take lots of pictures."Well I could hardly wait till time to go , it is a seven hour drive from Wang Pho and a very beautiful drive to say the least . Was a easy drive, as far as directions go , from Wang Pho 321 to right before Bangkok turn right on Hwy. # 4 and away you go .We left home about six o'clock a.m.and,we got there just in time for lunch . We checked in at the resort and headed straight for a little beach side restaurant , that was one of B-Bie's favorite , and as it turned out will be #one on my list on our next visit also.From there we went to the country side for a beautiful drive and then , a long trip down a dirt road to the family coconut farm , you will not believe it, but it was harvest time on the farm and they were cutting the coconuts from the tall and I mean tall trees and bringing them to the house to be sorted and counted and ready for the factory truck to pick up the next day. I thought that you got coconuts once a year like any other crop , but nooooo they can harvest them every month , and lots of them too,as you will see in the pictures . After the harvest and show and tell and join in the work time ,it was time to eat and our little resort had a great cook ,and we ate our dinner right on the beach again. Now the great thing about this beach is there was no one else and no other resorts around for miles we, were just like on a Island all to our selves . What a great and relaxing evening we had . At night the squid boats were out in force, right in front of the resort a couple of hundred yards,. out , but we could see their lights and watch them pulling in their nets. it was breath taking to say the least , next morning breakfast at another restaurant right on the beach again with very few folks around, and a great view as you will see in the pictures. and then off to the coconut factory, but not before a great foot massage , to watch the process from start to finish .I could almost write a mini BOOK about the experience there , but will just show pictures and let you see it in action.I would like to say that it was a high light of times in my travels around Thailand.That afternoon ,after it cooled down we were off to a Thai Temple that was located way up on a mountain top , were you could really as they say "see for miles ". so much to tell , but again will let the pictures speak for themselves . Then before going back to the resort B-Bie suggested we go to his favorite spot , known by few , and have a cup of coffee before dinner .I tried to buy a small little house that was empty , just so I could live there part of the year and have it for friends, the rest of the time . But they have big plans for the area if the economy picks up again , and said no , I hope somehow it never happens for this beautiful place as it would be a shame to spoil it at all , even tho they have started a little already . Then off to the resort for dinner and , this evening a swim in the ocean for me and feet wet for Ciejay, a good nites sleep and then breakfast and a nice drive back home . Needless to say this place called Prachuap is a beautiful place to visit and on our list for a longer stay this summer . Thanks to my friend B-Bie for this wonder time and
for being a great tour guide. Malcolm