Appon's Thai Life

Phuket - Thai Life Archives

Phuket Aquarium

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I visited Phuket Aquarium today, it's in the south east of the island of Phuket, next to some beautiful views of the islands around Phuket and not far from the Port of Phuket. I enjoyed it.

I'm sure, like me, you've visited aquariums many many times, so I won't give you a list of fish pictures with their latin names and a picture of the inevitable tunnel through an inevitable fish tank. Instead I want to start a campaign to give fish meaningful names. For a start, lets start calling the above fish the Nemo fish. Why fight it scientists? just drop the old name and everyone is better off.

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Phuket Cashew Nuts

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The south of Thailand is famous for its cashew nuts, and Phuket has co-opted that into three Cashew Nut 'factories' for the tourist to visit. I'm visiting Sri Supphaluck Orchid Shop, a large cashew nut and regional produce shop famous for it's drink made from the Cashew Apple, Cashewy. There are two others in Phuket town itself, both 'Methee Phuket Cashew Nut' factories.

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Elephant Trekking Phuket

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In the north-east of Phuket island, is a elephant jungle trekking. You climb aboard an elephant, and he takes you for a walk around an old rubber plantation near the national park that has Bang Pae waterfall, gibbons and lots of scary bugs.

I have my reservations about elephant trekking. I've been before in Kanchanaburi, and saw some of the elephants had chains around their ankles, pacing forwards and backwards bored at being chained. But the Elephant Trekking in Phuket was a pleasant surprise. They stayed in the shade provided for them, eating the food provided for them, without the need for chains. More carrot than stick, so I don't have problems recommending this trip.

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Dim Sum Restaurant Phuket Town

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There's a popular dim-sum cafe, in Phuket Town, not far from the market, in the South East of Phuket island. It's a scruffy run down place, but packed out each morning with Thai people who go for the delicious dim-sum. It opens at 5am, and has sold out by 10am, so if you're not early you won't get much choice, and after 10am they close to make the next days batch.

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Fantasea Show Phuket

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Fantasea, is a night-time show with elephants in Phuket. There, I just sucked the fun out of it, in one single sentence. Let me try again, Fantasea is the show to see, in Phuket, but it's more than a show, they've built a park around it, with side shows, carnival games, a large buffet dinner hall, carp ponds, elephant walks and stunning themed gift shops, and I haven't even got to describing the show itself, which is definitely the high point.

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Xtreme Adventures Phuket

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Have you ever wanted to walk a tightrope? Or scale a wall? Or rope slide down a tree? Or Tarzan swing onto a net? All without the dying part? This is the place for you! It's Xtreme Adventures in the south of Phuket island. It's a large outdoor play area, that lets you experience the thrill of climbing without the risk of a rapid plummet, to a bone crunching death.

Equipment is provided, but you do have to wear proper shoes and no skirts. Flip-flops are not proper shoes for climbing in! They provide the harness, with 2 carabiners, and one pulley attached. In technical terms: the carabiners are the anti-plummet devices, the pulley is the wheeeeeee device.

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Phuket Hidden Flip-Flop Beach

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Phuket is an island, and the main attraction of an island is surely the beaches? Today I'm visiting Naithon beach, in the North West, the weather turns grey, and I quickly take a dislike to it. It's a small beach, the beach-combing is poor, where are all the shells?! The food selection is also poor. Russian Borscht Stew? Hamburgers? These tourists, they come on holiday to Thailand, famous for its food and eat Borscht???

Never mind! I found a secret beach nearby!

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Phuket Secret Beach, Cape Yamu

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Last week, I found a hidden beach covered in flip-flops on the west side of Phuket island, this week I thought I'd explore the north east side of Phuket. I've heard there aren't any beaches in this part, but that's just not true! There are loads of them!

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Drive in the Phuket Hills

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Looking at the photograph above, you'd think I was in France. Tree lined, modern roads, deep greens. But this is a hill pass that crosses the hills in the middle of Phuket Islands, the Talang part. I spent the morning searching for hidden beaches, and looking back over to the hills, the rain clouds and jungle cover were just asking to be explored.

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Yacht Spotting Phuket

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A visit to the Phuket boat marina is for people who dream of being rich and owning a luxury yacht. Ever dreamed of having really big money? Of having a private yacht, moored in an upmarket marina in an exotic far away port like Phuket? Well this is a good way of curing you of that stupid idea!

Although they're guarded, the two marinas I'm visiting today, are happy to let you in. They're side by side on the east of Phuket island, and like all rich people haunts they're hush hush q-u-i-e-t, with hardly a soul to be seen, life-less. But there are lots of boats, lots and lots of expensive gleaming boats.

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Boat Balloons Phuket

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Perhaps I didn't convince you that a luxury yacht wasn't the best way to spend your money having fun on the water? Well how about this? I found a pond, known as Boat Plaza in the middle oh Phuket, and they have the floating balloon boats to play in!

You climb inside and paddle like a hamster in a hamster wheel, the balloon turns and moves across the water. In theory this should work, but in practice, it seems to always go in the other direction. I think it was because my weight was leaning on the front, and pushed the balloon boat backwards instead of forwards. It took a while to get the hang of it.

This is fun, and for 100 baht, it's a lot better value than the luxury yacht. Watch the video below to see the worlds most inept hamster!

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Phuket North East Coast

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I'm exploring the North East of Phuket island today. Phuket is easy to understand, West is touristy side, East is the Thai working side. South has lots of people, North has few.

So the North East of the island is the quietest Thai part of the island. Perfect for me to explore!

The roads are quiet but well maintained here, and steep, lots of little hill to get over. Phangna bay is the main view here, as you reach the top of hills, the view opens out onto the bay. Breathtaking.

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Vegetarian Festival Phuket Thailand

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Every year, in late October, Thailand celebrates the vegetarian festival. It's a Chinese influenced festival lasting 9 days during which Thai's eat no meat, only vegetarian dishes. Since vegetables can be a little boring, they like to spice it up with some self mutilation, flagellation, and feet burning. Yes, this is that festival where Thais stick daggers through their cheeks and pretend it doesn't hurt, you've seen in National Geographic.

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Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Nice & Nasty

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It sounds so nice, 'the vegetarian festival'. Vegetarians wouldn't hurt animals, they're too nice. So naturally you'd expect the Phuket vegetarian festival to be a family friendly thing. Full of parades filled with flowers, lights, fireworks bouncy castles, and little toy scooters. Together with tasty vegetarian food, packed with flavor and meat free.

Well the vegetarian festival in Phuket certainly has toy scooters, fireworks, even flowers, but no bouncy castle, and its definitely not for kids. I caution you before clicking the 'more' link and reading the rest of the article, or watching the video.

Picture the scene, a man is playing with his young child. The child is scooting along on their little toy scooter, towards papa, "look at me papa, look at me". But where's the brakes? A toy scooter has no brakes! What kind of horrific scooter-papa accident might ensue?

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Tonsai Waterfall, Phuket

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If you recall my visit to BangPae waterfall, you'll know the basic recipe for my visits to waterfalls. 30% splashing around in the water, 30% crawling around in the jungle and 40% bug hunting!

Tonsai is free to Thais but visiting the national park is 200 baht for foreigners. If you only go and splash around in the waterfall, then you really haven't gotten your money's worth. Tonsai snakes up into the jungle, and to see most of it, you need to follow the jungle trail up the hill and deep into the trees. Tonsai has a 2km nature trail that makes this easy. At least relatively easy [added, see my article on the couple who got lost in this jungle the same day I visited].

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Talang Shooting Range Phuket

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On one of my random explores, I came across this place. A police shooting range in the northern part of Phuket island. Although it's run by the police, anyone can shoot there with a wide range of weapons, moving and stationary targets. They have 0.22 to 0.45 handguns, rifles, shotguns.

This range is used by the police for practice and it's not cheap for single visits, but there are membership options if you plan on doing a lot of shooting. I chose a 9mm, as my instructor advised me it was easy to shoot with not such a big kick. That cost 850 baht for 10 bullets and training. For 1000 baht/year you can join as a member, and then you only pay for bullets, about 850 baht for 200 bullets, depending on the gun.

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Naka Yai Island, Phuket

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Naka Island and its sister island Koh Naka Noi have been tempting me for months now. You can see them just off the coast on my visit to the North East Coast of Phuket. So close, I could probably swim out to them, but so far, I would probably drown from exhaustion on the way back.

Well today, I decided to visit, take a picnic and have a day of sun, sand and sea. The first hurdle is to find the cheapest way there. My usual trick of negotiation with the local fishermen doesn't work. They've formed a cartel! All of them take me to the ticket office at the pier, 1500 baht for a long tail boat for the day. I know $50 doesn't sound that much, but it is to me!
I try the next pier down, but he wants 4000 baht! Suddenly 1500 baht sounds really cheap, what a bargain!

The island has some nice beaches on the east side, and we landed there to begin with. It's clean water, lots of fish close to shore, but the noise from the jet-skis annoys me. I so want to try a jetski, but at 1500 baht for 30 minutes they're too expensive. Maybe on the other side of the island they're 4000 baht and I'll change my mind, but for now, I give them a miss.

Behind the drinks bar, in the middle of the beach, is a path into the jungle. I head off to explore. The bartender assures me it's safe, she lives on the other side of the island. It's not a difficult path, it forks a couple of times, and I always took the right fork until I was out of the trees and onto a dirt path. To the left the village, to the right, Tentara Naka, a beach resort with tents to sleep in for a closer to nature experience. I head off to the village.

(Video and maps after the break).

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Loy Krathong in Phuket

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Loy Krathong, is an annual festival in which we float rafts of flowers and candles. You wish your problems onto the raft and float the problems away. That's the tradition, but as so often with these things, it's an excuse for a party!
I'm celebrating it at Sisunthorn, which is central Phuket. They've taken an old mine pond and made it a venue for a Loy Krathong festival, but this is celebrated all across Thailand, so as long as you visit Thailand at the right time, it's fairly easy to find a celebration nearby.

Catch the video below to get a feel for the festival, it's beautiful, all lights, fireworks, flower krathongs, beauty contests, and food. Lots and lots of food.

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Layan Island (Swim from Phuket)

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This is my goal today, swim out to this island just off the west coast of Phuket, take a picnic and eat my picnic on private beach where no tourists can be seen! Most of this is surprisingly easy, the adventure part at least. The most difficult part is finding the beach road in the first place!
The road is down one of the streets in the Laguna Resort complex. Laguna is Phuket's Disney for millionaires, filled with expensive villas, built around artificial Lagunas, elephant walks, ATV rides, wedding chapels, golf courses and hotels, all walking distance to the beach... It's very nicely done, but finding your way through this tourist complex to get to Layan National Park can be a nightmare. Best to print out a map before you go!

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View From Khao Khad Tower, Phuket

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So far, I've been neglecting the south of Phuket. It's well documented by the tourist guides and I don't really expect to find anything new and interesting here, but actually I did. I found my new favorite bay, and a road to nowhere so steep, simply getting up the hill is a thrill ride all in itself!

But first Khao Khad viewing tower. There are a few viewing towers across Phuket, that let you see out to the islands and across the bays. This one is pretty spectacular with views across Chalong bay and back across Phuket city.

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Ao Yon Beach, My New Favorite Phuket Bay

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This south side of Phuket is well traveled. Plenty of tourists have been here, and I didn't really expect to find anything good here, well apart from all the tourist things, anything different, undiscovered, Appony.

But exploring the bays along this side of the coast, I found my new favorite beach. Ao Yon, and the beach next door around the headland.

The smell of barbecued meat and shrimp fills the air. There's game fishing here too, if you want to try your hand, there's an English speaking bar on the beach with a sideline in boat charters. Visit their website Phuket Game Fishing for details. That looks fun, and I'd love to try it some day, but for me the attraction is to scamper across a bridge onto the rocks, around the headland and find a beach with some of the luckiest residents on Phuket.

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Pheung Chang Cave, Phang-nga, You'll Get Wet

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Phang nga is full of spectacular rocky hills that jut up into the sky. The rock formations are on land and extend out into the sea. They contain some wonderful caves! Many of them completely overlooked by the tourist and Pheung Change is one of these. The rock is shaped like a elephant lying down flat on the ground, the cave extends 1.2 km into the stomach of the elephant. Pheung = Stomach, Chang = Elephant.

Inside the cave even the rocks are shaped like elephants, crocodiles and serpents. Bats live in the outer part of the cave, and fish in the inner part. The bats don't care about our visit,

You will get wet! Although the tour is in a boat, the boat only goes part way into the cave. The last part of the tour is on foot, walking through shin deep water. That just adds to the experience.

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Super Cheap, Retail Therapy Thai Style, Phuket

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[Supercheap burned to the ground, tragic.]

You've visited the western malls, and you need another shopping fix? Something different? Well Super Cheap is the mall for you, it's labelled a market, but it's more like a shop, a giant one.
Shelf after shelf of Thai produce, cheap, and in bulk.

This is something every tourist to Phuket should come to see, even if you only stay in the 'Thai Khanom' section looking for gifts to take home, (I refer to this section as 'base camp').

If you find the furniture store, well done, that's the North East corner so you can orientate yourself. Giant water tanks are no more than 2 days trek East from there. But if you want the giant speakers for your pickup truck, I'm afraid they're a lifetime away in the South West corner. Bad luck, you'll never make it in this lifetime, and perhaps in your next life you won't need speakers.

(Video after the break)

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Seafood in Phuket

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Well you're in Phuket, so you have to try the seafood. It's fresh, locally produced and it's Phuket's big food produce. You've seen me do this shot many many times, the beach on the left, the food in front and me posing behind. So this time I thought I'd do a before and after shot. You can see what the seafood was like before, and what it's like after. You can see we decimated it.

You don't need to eat at one of the fancy Patong tourist restaurants to eat seafood in Phuket, although naturally we did, it just didn't photo very well under their artificial lights. There's many places with views over Phuket and the sea to eat at.

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Phang Nga Bay, Islands, Caves & Kayaks

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Phang-Nga is the bay with the splinter like islands jutting up out of nowhere. Many of the islands have collapsed centers, secret tree lined lagoons filled with seawater. As the locals have explored these islands, so they've found caves that lead through from the outside of the island into these lagoons.

The caves are filled with water, and so he way in is by kayak with a local guide. The best way to visit these islands is to take a one day boat tour from Phuket. Ready made tours can cram in the Phang-nga bay experience into one day, and so this time I'm going tourist class on a ready made tour!

(Video after the break).

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Wat Chalong, Phuket, Religion and Texture

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One of the places you're likely to visit in Phuket is Wat Chalong, Wat meaning temple, Chalong is the name of the town it's at. This is a famous Buddhist temple and a nice half day trip to experience some Buddhist ceremonies.

The front of the temple is where the praying, incense and candle ceremonies take place, but this temple's main draw isn't here, it's the tower in the back. Inside a glass vile at the top of the tower is said to be a bone fragment of Buddha.

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Miles of paradise

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I've been exploring along the coast outside of Phuket, and stopped at a village next to the beach. Take a look at the photograph below. Do you see any beach umbrellas? any beach loungers? in fact do you see any people at all?? It's a completely empty, completely perfect beach. It's like that in both directions for miles.

This is Thai Mueang beach, Golden clean sand, turquoise clean water, a beach that drops off quickly, so you can be swimming very close to the beach without your feet touching the sand. I can't believe a beach like this exists so close to Phuket!

(Map after the break)

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Ta Pan Cave, Phang-Nga, Revisited

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I've visited Ta Pan cave before, it was a real delight, especially the monkeys. Since I was visiting Pheung Chang (Elephant Stomach) cave nearby, I thought I'd revisit Ta Pan and say hello to my monkey friends. I'm glad I did! I can't believe I missed so much.

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Lumpee Waterfall Phang Nga

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I'm doing two waterfalls today, Lumpee (Lampi, the transliteration is not quite right), and Ton Prai. Both of them are not far from Thai Mueang beach, the beautiful empty Andaman beach stretching up the west coast north of Phuket. If you visited the beach and want to get the sand and salt out of your hair, why not visit a waterfall and splash around!

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Ton Prai Waterfall

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Ton Prai is the larger waterfall next to Thai Mueang beach. After a day of sand and salt sea, spend several spare seconds at this splendid stream to shower.

Combined with a visit to Lumpee Waterfall, this can fill an afternoon, and better than Lumpee, you can get into the falling water and enjoy the waterfall fully.

There's a nature walk here too, if you want to explore the forest, this takes you up one level to a higher section of the waterfall, where another pool of water is there to play in.

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Phrom Thep Cape, Phuket

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The south tip of Phuket has a cape, Cape Phromthep. It's famous for, well, being a cape. Every New Years Eve, Phuketians come down here at sunset to see the final sun of the year since this is the southern most point of Phuket, it's the latest sun they'll see that year.
Shops surround it, an elephant motive guardian angel watches over it, it's very much setup for tourists, and in the bottom corner of Phuket where the tourists usually stay.
It's also a movie location.

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Ya Nui Beach Phuket

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Not far from Phrom Thep cape, in the south of Phuket, is a tiny but very popular beach. Just off shore is a tempting island, too far to swim unaided, but a short kayak trip out.

Snorkeling is a favorite here, coral around the island is worth seeing, as are the bright blue star fish. But you don't need to kayak out to the island to see the fish, this beach has plenty of fish, and they're quite use to the swimmers. I was quickly surrounded by fish.

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Eat like a local in Phuket

If you're visiting Supercheap classic mall, while you're in Phuket, then here's the place to eat once you're all shopped out! It's an unlimited Korean barbecue just next door.
Open from 4pm to 11pm, they don't speak English, indeed many of the waiters are Burmese and barely speak Thai! But they know the routine, and so do you, you can always wing it.

They give you a hot burning charcoal burner, a Korean style one with hot water around the outside, and a grill plate in the middle to cook your meat and fish.

The price is cheap, 128 baht a head, the choice is plentiful and the staff friendly and helpful. See the map below.

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Monkeys Phuket Town

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You don't have to go far to see monkeys in Phuket town, and you don't have to visit the zoo either! Next to the center of Phuket town is an island, surrounded by mangroves. A bridge connects it to Phuket main island and monkeys live in the mangrove swamps. They're wild, they won't come close to you, hopefully, and the dominant male didn't look too friendly either.
Still, they're a lot easier to find than the monkeys in Bangkok!

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Siray Island Temple, Phuket

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On the only large hill in Siray Island stands a temple. A quiet almost forgotten temple, that's one of the best places to visit, just for the views alone. The view across Siray island is just fantastic. One one side you can see the fishing village, with all the ramshackle huts, on the other a view across a pristine green island.
From the balcony, there's a view into a bay with a very intriguing blue line that stretches well out to sea. I must explore there later, but for now, I want to explore this temple and see what surprises it has in store.

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Floating Pier, Visible from Space, Phuket

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Well perhaps not from space, but from Siray Temple, this blue line out into the sea caught my eye. Sirae island, is an island right next to Phuket town, and a bridge connects it to the main island. This little island has quite a few surprises and this pier was definitely one of them.
It's a floating pier, made of blue plastic, tied down with plastic ropes, stretching far far far out to sea.

You see the boat in the photograph? It's near the start of the pier. I've taken another photograph from the end of the pier looking back, can you see the boat in that?

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Wat Maneesee Mahah Tad

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There are a lot of temples in Phuket, the most famous is Wat Chalong, famed for containing possible bone fragments of Buddha himself. But I'm visiting a far newer temple for one of the opening ceremonies, and this temple is really quite impressive.

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Anthem Wakepark

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A new Wakepark has opened in the center of Phuket, so I decided to try it out. A Wakepark is a lake with a system of pulleys and ropes, that pull people around on wakeboards, flat, surfboard like things.

It's early days for them, they're 'pre-opened' and so they're not quite up to speed with novices like myself. But if you're a seasoned wake-boarder, the expert rope loop is available. You can find them on the map below.

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Monkey Hill Phuket

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I did monkey spotting over on Siray Island, the Island connected to Phuket town by a bridge. But now it's time to do the full on monkey experience.

If you visit Phuket town in Phuket, and look up at the hills, you'll notice one with telecoms towers on the top. This is monkey hill, it has a temple at the bottom, satellite uplink for television stations at the top, and half way down, monkeys, lots and lots of monkeys. This is where the locals come to feed them.

I run into a man feeding them from the back of a truck, these are some well fed monkeys! He says they really like nuts the best, and as soon as he opens a bag, they desend on him. I get him to put some on the seat of my bike, maybe I can get a shot of a monkey driving my scooter... the monkey has different ideas, and refuses to grab the handle bars or even look forwards.

(Video/Map after the break)

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Wat Kowrang Phuket

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I went up to the top of monkey hill, in the center of Phuket town, and while I was there, I noticed a temple and golden Buddha I've never seen before. Time to explore!

This is Wat Kowrang, I couldn't find it marked on Google maps, but strangely it's there in the satellite and photographs, so it's not new. There's a few things to see here, the colourful demons that hold the temple up, and the large golden Buddha. Next to that, a bell just asking to be struck, and a temple surrounded by little monk statues.

If you're quick, there's adorable puppies from one of the temple stray dogs. I hate big stray dogs, but cute puppies cooling themselves next to a fan, on the other hand! Awwwwww.

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Geocaching in Phuket

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When you're in a new place, a game, known as geocaching, is a great way to find new sights to see and places to visit. A geocache, is a container, placed at specific GPS coordinate. You find the container, and usually log your name in a log book provided inside.

Phuket has several caches, in some really nice locations. If you get time on your holiday come and play.

GPS isn't very accurate, so finding a cache isn't as easy as it may seem, and caches can be hidden or difficult to reach. I chose 3 easy caches in Phuket Island, and will take you through the basics.

Firstly a website (links below), lets you find and log geocaches in your area. This is your starting point for any geocache adventure. Find a cache on the website you want to visit.

Next up equipment, you'll need a GPS enabled smartphone or GPS tracker. There's an official app you can buy for Android and iPhone. But I used an Android tablet running 'GPS Geocachng Location Finder", a free, and simple app that lets you enter a GPS location and track to it, which is all you really need.

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Rawai Beach, Seafood Sunset

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There are plenty of places to eat seafood on Phuket island. This one comes highly recommended by Chef Win, so you know its good. Along the beach at Rawai, on the very southern tip of Phuket, there is a street. On one side, fisherman stalls, selling the days catch. On the other, restaurants that will grill, BBQ and fry it for you.
You buy the fish that you want, on the left, and tell them how to cook it on the right. This is a great way to spend a pleasant evening, dining in Phuket.

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Flown on the 4th July

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There are 2 airports on Phuket, the one you arrived in and the one richer people than you arrive in. I'm talking about Phuket Airpark, in the North East of Phuket. It's quite a new airport that's only been open a couple of years. Part American owned, they hold a 4th of July celebration each year, with hot dogs and burgers and an airshow with stunts.

But the high point for me is the short trips you can take for $20 in a light aircraft. A quick tour of this side of Phuket, a loop around and island and back, it's short but a nice experience.

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Andaman Viewpoint Phang-na

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(Updated!)
Not far from the Phangna side of the Sarasin Bridge that connects Phang-na to Phuket Island, is the Andaman Viewpoint. It's a crane lift, on a hill, with a viewing gondola, for 40 Baht it lifts you up into the sky for a good look over the land and across into the Andaman sea.

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Wat Phra Thong, Talang Phuket

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The big famous temple in Phuket is Wat Chalong, but there are plenty of smaller temples in Phuket, each with their own legends and stories.

Wat Phra Thong is in the North of the island, near Talang town center and it's story is a tale of a man who tied his buffalo onto a stone statue stuck in the mud. He died suddenly, and so did his buffalo. They found he'd tied his buffalo to a stone Buddha statue that had sunk into mud.

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Thai food delight, Vareeya, Paklok, Phuket

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I've discovered a new great restaurant! When I say discovered, more like, was-told-about and then followed the directions. This is a word-of-mouth restaurant, happy diners tell their friends.

It's called the Vareeya in Paklok Phuket, up in the North East corner of the island, and it was everything I'd been told it was. The food is cheap, the standard is excellent and the surroundings relaxing, moody, sensuous, romantic.

See the rain outside? That's not rain, that's a waterfall running down the windows. The restaurant is a husband and wife team, he's an engineer and he's really gone to town on this place, water features abound, lighting and styling are perfect, but none of this would matter if the food couldn't match, and it does.

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Big Bee Farm Phuket

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Today I'm visiting Big Bee Farm, to see the bees and buy some honey.

There are a few shops like this in Phuket. They're themed as a farm, or a factory, but they're more gift shop with farm attached, than farm with gift shop attached! Nevertheless, they're free to visit and so it's like shopping with a little show. I've covered Sri Supphaluck Cashew 'Factory' before, that one was cashew nut themed, as you can imagine, this one is bee products themed.

Royal Jelly, Propolis and of course the most important thing, honey!

They give you a quick free show of a hive, the bees don't bite, as long as they get sprayed with water they're calm, they think its raining and so better not fly.

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Don't Forget Your Trowel, Patong, Phuket

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(This was 2012, don't forget to attend this years commemoration tonight at Patong Beach, Phuket, at the north end).


It's Boxing day, and I'm off to Patong Beach in Phuket. The most touristy part of Phuket, with a busy night life, restaurants, and a lot of activities at the beach.
For this I will need some candles, a trowel, and some matches. The candle I can get at the beach, but without the trowel I would have to dig with my own hands and that would be silly. You can't go to Patong on Boxing day without a trowel!

Don't forget your trowel.

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Aphrodite Cabaret Phuket

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There are a couple of famous Katoey Cabaret shows in Phuket, Simon Cabaret is the oldest and their big show is based in Patong near the tourist resorts, the second and newer one is Aphrodite, based in the middle of the island not far from Central Festival mall.

A katoey is a ladyboy, either a transvestite or transsexual male. They're more lady than real ladies! The legs are more slender, the features more perfect, no cellulite, taller, more predatory. I dressed up for the evening to compete but felt a bit frumpy by comparison.

A friend of mine, a hotel receptionist, explained that the identity cards of a Katoey still show their male names. So they may be called Orchid or Bird or Lily, but their id card calls them Mr Somchai or Mr Suthep! Even if they've had the operation, their male names on the id card are a giveaway.

When a ladyboy comes with a one-night stand to check into the hotel, she reads their name on their id card, and she knows that the voice is a giveaway, so she tells them in Thai not to speak and sends them off to their room.

She said that modern cards even have the English name too. But perhaps it's better not to look. If your date for the evening is a sexy woman, what does it matter whether she's had plastic surgery on her boobs, or on his penis?!

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Raya (Racha) Island Phuket

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I decided it was time to visit the famous Racha (or Raya) island, So I went down to Chalong bay in Phuket and asked around the pier. I quickly found that the price was 10,000 baht for a speedboat with no haggling! It made no difference if I rang the telephone numbers on the speedboats, or asked the stalls offering boats for rent, the price was fixed. For that price, a per-person tour would be a lot cheaper.

Eventually I found a cheaper option, the long-tail boat men offered a price of 5,000 for a long-tail. These are smaller boats and slower, but have more tradition and most of all, they're cheaper!

The boat ride the next day was choppy, 1 hour out to Raya island, I can't believe how far out this island is, Phuket is invisible across the horizon, but the long-tail boatman knows where he's going, he's done this journey many times before.

Raya island has a reputation as a beautiful island, overrun with tourists. This is far from the case! A short walk from the main beach and you quickly find quiet beaches teaming with fish! Oh and the sand and the blue blue water. What a delight!

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Phuket Trick Eye, Bring your camera!

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Phuket Trick Eye is a new museum of optical picture tricks. I'm sure you've seen the 3D painting on the floor, you stand in a certain place, take a photograph in a certain way and it looks like a realistic 3D scene.

The building is full of these 3d visual paintings, look around for a guide photo to give you a hint at what you can do, get yourself into position and get your friends to take a photo. Don't have a friend? There are plenty of staff around to take the photo for you, but you do need to bring your own camera.

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Bang Pat, Sells Seafood, Near the Sea Shore

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So you've visited Phang-na, you've seen the caves and the viewpoints and you fancy a meal next to the sea. Where to go?

Perhaps a seafood meal in-keeping with your location? Somewhere rural and Thai, with a high volume of sales to discerning Thai consumers, so you can be sure its cheap and tasty?!

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Dairy Hut Farm, Phang-na

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This is a small petting zoo on the Phangna road. We Thai's have a thing about sheep, many places across Thailand feature sheep farms for you to visit and enjoy the sheep! If you've never seen a sheep before they're fascinating, and Thai's don't normally see sheep, so they're enthralling, we don't eat mutton or lamb, and a wooley animal is a novelty.

While its great that Thai children can see sheep, its not so great for the sheep! The heat is a bit much for them, and they spend most of their time lying around dozing in the shade.

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Khuha Cave, Phang-na

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This cave is smaller than some of the others I've covered, it's famous the monkeys that live there. This lot are not well behaved, like any group, it has its dominant male monkeys, the alphas, who take everything for themselves with threats of violence. It's not a very happy group of monkeys thanks to the violent males.

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Cherng Talay Sauna & Spa, Phuket

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Cherng Talay municipal pool is one of the best town provided facilities in Phuket, and now they've expanded it to add a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and fitness rooms full of the latest running and cycling machines.

Or more precisely two saunas, two steam rooms, two jacuzzi. They have separate facilities for men and woman to stop us women harassing you poor men.

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Upside Down House, Phuket

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They should give you a manual for some tourist attractions. This one for example. The upside-down house in Phuket. It's an upside-down house in Phuket, but what does that actually mean??

It's a photo opportunity. You take a photo of you interacting with the upside-down house, you turn the photo right-side up, and you appear to be doing acrobatic tricks on the furniture.

If you are the sort of person who visits a place, takes plenty of photographs then never ever looks at them again, why are you visiting this place? The effect works in the camera not in your eyes and you'll never see it!

In a way its like Phuket Trick Eye something to Instagram to your friends.

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Phuket Sunday Night Market

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In the center of Phuket city, along the old colonial Talang road, every Sunday evening is a street market. They close off the road at either end, set up stalls, and fun-up the place!

It's a mix of shopping and food and today, a fund raiser for the Nepal earthquake victims. I decided to spend the evening exploring the market to see what they have that's new. This is a nice place to sit and listen to some music, have a drink and some food and watch the crowds go by.

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There were new things for me too, I found a toasted open sandwich of Tom-Yum-Chicken, tom yum paste covered in dried shredded chicken. Pork and fish form nice fibers when you cook them this way, but chicken forms more of a powder. Making it dry.

You really need a drink with it, or your don't get the flavors, even then, its an experience rather than a delight.

I was somewhat more horrified to find these bags:

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Pizza Run to Coconut Island

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Maprao Island (Coconut Island), is off the east side of Phuket, and on it is a large resort called 'The Village'. The village is pricey, very expensive full of large villas each with their own pools, or jacuzzis.

I was told by one of the boat captains that it has the best pizza on Phuket, cooked in a large stone oven with all the proper ingredients.

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Finally an excuse for a trip! Time to do a pizza run out to the island, catch the live band, and return home. A little holiday and a night out away from Phuket. I check with the resort manager, boat tickets are 100 baht return, if you're not staying at the resort, and 400 baht a day to use the facilities.

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Family Sauna, Laemin Hin, Phuket

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There are quite a few fancy sports clubs in Phuket, where you can get a sauna or a session in a steam room. Even the municipal pools have a steam room for you... well when its working they do!

Usually these saunas are all European style wood cabins with a gentle electric burner in the corner heating rocks. You pour a little water on the rocks, perhaps with some added fragrance and gently let the steam and pine smell clear your head of the days worries.

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Then there's the other kind. The no frills, this-is-what-your-lobster-feels-like-as-it-dies kind! As I was exploring Coconut Island for a second time, I discovered that near the pier is one of these more basic saunas, at 50 baht a person, naturally I just have to try it!

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Seafood, at Sea, Coconut Island Phuket

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So far I've visited Ko Maprao, aka Coconut Island, twice already. For the pizza at the Village Resort, and even on a boat trip to walk around the island. This time, I'm visiting the Sea Food rafts between Coconut Island and Phuket Island.

The principle is simple, fish, seafood and shellfish are kept in pens under the rafts. You visit the rafts by boats from Laemhin pier, these boats are free, but the captains receive a commission for customers they deliver.

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There are two main rafts, Kruvit Raft, and Black Crab raft. You can visit either, I chose Kruvit because it was nearer to the pier at Coconut Island. Since the boat man gets paid for my visit, he was happy to drop me off at Coconut Island first and wait for me to finish exploring the island.

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Simon Cabaret Patong, Phuket

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I've done these Ladyboy shows before, for example Aphrodite is in the middle of Phuket Island, and Mimosa is in Pattaya over to the East of Bangkok.

But the most famous of the Phuket shows is Simon Cabaret, over in Patong Beach, Phuket. I just had to do that too. I caught the late show and went for a meal beforehand at a restaurant suggested by my travel agent friend over at Indo Thai Tours, who also got me cheap tickets for this show.

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9th Floor is a fine dining Swiss restaurant in Patong. I'm guessing its Swiss owned because of the menu, Swiss German, lots of cheese dishes with a touch of schnitzel and noodles! European prices, expect to pay about 2000 baht a head for a 3 course meal, plus a good bottle of wine will set you back another 2000! Well if you're on holiday, I guess you can treat yourself!

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Hok Arn Dim Sum Phuket Town

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Morning Dim Sum eating sessions are a tradition here in Phuket. Dim Sum restaurants open in the morning, sell all their dim-sum and close in the afternoon. It happens that Jig, a friend of mine runs a Dim Sum restaurant called 'Hok Am' in the Chinese part of Phuket Town.

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Phuket Vegetarian Food

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Phuket's Vegetarian Festival is on again, and among the parades, the blood and the gore, there's some food too!

Vegetarian Food! The center of Phuket town turns into walking streets filled with stalls selling vegetarian food. I was in a snacks mood, and its easy to forget how many of our normal snacks are meat free.

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Phuket Vegetarian Parade Preparation

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Before you click 'see more' below and read the full article. Take a look at the above photograph. If you find it shocking, even repelling, then don't click. There are plenty of other articles you can read.

You really don't need to see such a pitiful excuse for a mustache! Appalling, simply appalling, in this day and age to sprout such top lip fluff! Oh and the skewers through his cheeks, but mostly the terrible caterpillar on his lip!

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Sarasin Bridge by Drone

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I've visited Sarasin Bridge before. It's the bridge that joins Phuket island to mainland Thailand. The last visit, was by scooter and I was determined to find a road to the headland, but eventually gave up, one wheel drive is no substitute for 4 wheel drive! Now I have a drone! I can simply fly out and see that headland!

(Video Below)

Since I visited last time, there are a lot more tourist busses here. Chinese tourists enjoy a meal here, with a view onto the water and bridge.

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Kamala to Kalim, Millionaires Row

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Kamala beach is your typical family mainstream resort beach. Filled with reasonably priced, family friendly hotels, and with some excellent main attractions like Phuket Fantasea.

But if you head south from there, along the coast road instead of the main road, towards Patong, things get a lot quieter and a lot more expensive. I took my drone and my curiosity around this coast line to take a look.

The Kamala bay beach is the first thing you reach, if you can find a place to park, there's food, drink, a quiet beach, and ants! As you drive further on, the road twists up into the cliffs with glimpses of pools and salas from the rich villas on the cliffs below.

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The people who live here want the sea view, access to the night life of Patong, a private pool, and privacy, and this little twisty coast road is where they find that.

But don't let that put you off, there are lots of little bays here, dirt tracks take you down to hidden beaches, where only you, a shack selling food and beer and a few other locals are found. You can enjoy rich peoples treats on poor people's money!

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Khao Rang Revisited, Phuket

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They've finished the viewing platform since I last visited Rang hill, and now that I have a drone, this is the perfect place for a dronie! A selfie taken with a drone.

They've done a really great thing with the viewing platform, it sticks out over the hill giving you a clear, tree free view.

I can also revisit the temple below. I've done a few things here, a golden ball, a few donations and a few dedications but I've always been unhappy with the photographs, always distorted views looking up at tall buildings and statues!

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Great Pizza, North West Phuket

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I've found a decent pizza place if you're on Phukets *east* side, although you need a boat ride to get there! Well, what if you're on in the North West of Phuket, like Naiyang or Naithon beach? What then?

Thankfully, a friend of mine has the answer, Macarona Pizza place, on Naithon beach. A proper crust, and 4 cheese pizza with some blue cheese on it!

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Freedom Beach

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Another weekend, another micro-beach! I've decided to visit Freedom Beach, one of the small beaches around Patong, that tourists come to visit to get away from the crowds.

One of the earliest videos I did in Phuket was Paradise Beach which is on this very same headland, just across on the other side!

I thought this would be a good place to try out my new toy! A sea-scooter, an electric propeller to save you having to swim. It's very very heavy and by the time you've carried it down the hill, you realize that this isn't easier, its a lot lot harder! Swimming would be far less tiring on the arms!

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Big Buddha Chalong, Phuket (Updated)

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At the top of a hill in the south of Phuket island, you can see a white marble Buddha statues. This is the Big Buddha of Phuket, and it's only a short drive up the mountain on an easy, but winding road. A the road twists around the hill is offers stunning views of Phuket island below, you could come here simply for the views.

Update: Now that the workers have finished the outside, you can see Big Buddha in much more splendor!

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Layan Beach with Toys

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I've covered Layan beach before, its one of my favorite beaches in Phuket. The last time I wrote about Layan Beach, I took a picnic, waded across to the island and had a meal on the rocks.

That time I had only a wet bag, this time I've brought more serious toys to play with!

My sea-scooter, my drone, my underwater camera, my regular camera, several water proof bags, a beach mat to place it all on, smartphones with 4G for Google Maps, the list is endless!

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Real Isaan, Real Ant Larvae, Phuket

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I've found a real Isaan restaurant, on the main airport road north of Monument in Phuket island! It even has some Isaan people working in it. Which is actually a bit of a surprise because most of the restaurants in the South here have Burmese and a few Southern Thais working in them.

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They make the singers sing only Isaan songs, but a sign saying "Isaan food" and Isaan singers are not enough to make this authentic, so I took a close look at the menu to find dishes only served in Isaan.

Soft bone ribs? They're served everywhere. Grilled salted fish? Again, this is a staple of the whole of Thailand. These are not dishes from my youth....No, what confirmed this restaurant as authentic was the ant larvae dishes available.,

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Thai Muang Camping Trip: #1 Khao Pi Lai Beach

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I'm going camping at Thai Muang National Park. They have a campsite there, where you can rent a tent, with sleeping bag and mat next to the beach. For a change of pace, there is a beach that stretches for miles and miles and is almost empty.

That stretch of sand starts here, at Khao Pi Lai Beach, which is a rocky headland that is good for fishing.

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Thai Muang Camping Trip #2 Beach BBQ

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Phuket may have busy beaches, but a short drive north up the coast of Thailand takes me to a tranquil National Park at Thai Muang.

You can rent tends overnight next to the beach, buy some fish from the town market and barbecue it next to the beach on a moonlit night.

The beach at Thai Muang is almost empty, this strip of land is cut off from the mainland by a river, at the end a small hill is there for hiking.

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I arrived at the campsite in the afternoon, to find the few bungalows they have were all full. No matter, I'll stay in a tent. It will take me closer to nature anyway.

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Exploring Thai Muang #1

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I'm exploring around Thai Muang, to see the temples, beaches, the Sea Turtle Release festival and tourist sites there. I passed this pagoda, at Wat Suwannawad, and decided to take a closer look with the drone.

There's beauty in decay, something nice about mould and lichen slowly taking apart concrete, layer by layer. With a gold painted pagoda, the faded gold and black mould, age it and somehow that sets it in place. When its nice, new and shiny, it could have been moved in yesterday on a truck, and moved somewhere else the next day. But let it age and mature into its surroundings, and it becomes more anchored in place.

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Rum Distillary Tour, Phuket (Chalong Bay Rum)

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Eating at a restaurant in Phuket, I noticed they had a display of Rum bottles from the "Chalong Bay Distillery". Very fancy bottles, all nicely presented. I wonder if they have a distillery tour? There was a url: chalongbayrum.com, and there it was, a distillery tour.

I've lived in Europe and done wine tours and brewery tours and so I know the score. They usually have a fancy area for tourists full of old oak casks, and dust covered bottles, and you're taken around that. They you see the factory and its modern and shiny and complies with all the heath and safety laws for every country in the world.


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Bird Egg Islands Phuket (Khai Nui, Khai Nok, Khai Nai)

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These three little islands are a day trip out from Phuket, and they're not such much islands, as sand banks nears rocks! Sandbanks absolutely covered with tourist beach umbrellas and stalls.

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The full day trip wasn't expensive, I got it heavily discounted to 1000 baht a head including a meal, so I decided to enjoy a day out and use by snorkeling gear to see some fish. Might as well take the sea scooter with me.

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Laem Sak Temple

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I've visited Laem Sak pier before, but not the temple. Well now they're building a huge white temple raised up high with a view across Phang Nga bay, and it should look amazing when it's finished.

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Paradise Beach Patong, Phuket

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When I first went to Phuket, the very first thing I did was find a quiet beach, down a long windy difficult road, and swam in the sea.

The beach was paradise beach, and it had private access, you paid 100 baht to enter, and very few people were there, it was clean, there were food and drinks and sun beds and it was great.

I decided to revisit this beach and see what's changed over the last four years and there has been a lot of changes!

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For one thing, it's now free to enter the beach. You can't really own a beach in Thailand, but you can own the access to it, which is effectively the same. Here the access to the beach means you cannot take your own drinks or food onto the beach, and drones are a no-no.

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