Sunday, December 22, 2013

Phuket, Thailand

Nai Harn Buddhist Monastery -- Chalong, Phuket, Thailand
Thailand for a few weeks in Dec. 2013 and a few weeks in Jan 2014.

"Many people believe that the Nai Harn monastery helps prevent the area from overdevelopment as it is said that Samnak Song Nai Harn owns a lot of the beachfront land (that can’t be sold under Thai law). When visiting, there is no specific dress code apart from avoiding too-revealing clothes such as singlets or shorts on women as it is a place of worship. Shoes must be removed when entering the building."

And, I'd like to add, watch out for the dogs. They are not friendly, but they do listen to one of the monks that cares for them. I was able to speak to the monk for about an hour. He had made one trip to the US... Texas of all places. I wish I got his name.

Rawai Beach with Ko Bon (Bon Island) in the background. Solo day on my scooter exploring the island.

Shops outside the Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape cover up to escape the midday sun.

If you are hungry, there are street vendors waiting to cook up a good meal.

Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape Up the steps from the car park is a shrine to Brahma that is surrounded by 100 wooden elephants of every size.

Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape - Phuket, Thailand

Stopped on the road to take a photo of the luxury resort Royal Phuket Yacht Club and the Nai Harn Bay

Finally, I didn't get lost!

After a long day on the scooter exploring the south part of the island, I need a bite to eat with a view. I found this lovely restaurant on the Nai Harn beach called Mama Seafood. Shaded by the tress and canvas umbrellas, the Thai restaurant serves fresh, local fish, produce and beer. For 180 baht (5.50 USD) I got an entree and a Chang beer all the while with my toes in the sand and an epic view of the beach at sunset.

Mama Seafood restaurant located at Nai Harn beach - epic sunset and dinner for one and my new friend. See photo below.

This guy was just taking a nap. There are a lot of wild cats and dogs running around, but people seem to feed them and take care of them.

Mama Seafood Restaurant at Nai Harn waterfront

Sun is setting and I still have a long way back to Chalong Bay by scooter. Heading back the way I came - don't want to get lost in the dark. About 45 minutes from my hotel.

Stopped at the night market in Chalong Bay area to explore the food. It's nice being on a scooter. I can stop and go as I like and parking is not an issue. Vendors, farmers and local chefs converge under the gas lamps to cook, chop, and make magic flavors.

Stopped at the night market in Chalong Bay area to explore the food

Looks like hot-dogs!

Three people on one scooter!? No problem. We were doing about 45 to 60 kilometers per hour on these little bikes. Currently at a red light so I could take a photo.

First Ticket in Chalong Bay. Got pulled over. Keys taken. Ticket given. Walk 50 meters. Pay ticket. Get keys back. Continue on my way. 500 baht spent very well...

Back at my hotel - Super Green Hotel located at 42/14 Soi Chalong Pier, A.Mueng, Phuket, 83300 Chalong. If you are at the airport, tell your driver you are going to the hotel near the roundabout on the same street as the pier in Chalong Bay. No one has GPS and my driver couldn't read english text. If you do hire a taxi at the airport, find the metered taxi or make a deal before you start your trip. I made a deal with my driver for 700 baht (that includes a 100 baht airport tax) or about 16.00 USD.

Yes, that is 7/11 - I will talk about this later. Photo taken from the bar at my hotel. Second night in Chalong Bay - now off to check-out the 'working women' and girly-boys at the local bar. Yikes!

Across from the hotel is a 7/11 convenience store. They are in vogue. Not kidding at all. You can buy a 7/11 t-shirt and most tourist are wearing them while traveling around Thailand. 7/11 was my breakfast stop while traveling around Phuket and later Chaing Mai. A steamed red bean bun for 15 baht and a coffee (strong and good) for 35 baht (1.50 USD). This breakfast was a deal too good to pass-up.

Up early from jet-lag, off for a walk along the Chalong Bay area while my travel partner slept. Searching for treasure or something that was open this early in the morning. Instead I found washed up fishing net. Sad, really.

Walked into the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club and met this Kiwi who was here on holiday before heading back in Indo to work on an oil rig - talk for a while, then continued on my walk. The people you meet along the way...

Phuket cruising yacht club, yacht services, local knowlege, dingy security, marina style, moorings, beer, happy hour, wifi, shower, ice, water, bottom cleaning, brokerage, bbq.

Don't smoke or your feet will fall off

Continued walking down the beach to final destination - Ao Chalong Yacht Club. It's the place to be on a Friday night.

On my scooter ready to roll off on adventure in Phuket, Thailand... more dangerous than driving in Italy.

Gas station on the side of the road - one bottle of gas please!

Heartbreaking to see these beautiful animals chained by their foot unable to walk around and in direct sunlight. These elephants were swaying back and forth in frustration and fear. Please do not ride the elephants while you are on holiday. This is not the life they should live... in chains.

My travel mate and I headed to Wat Chalong - I was driver on the scooter and she was a bit of a backseat driver. Note to self, get your own scooter in the future. It way too dangerous to have someone yelling at you while you are trying to avoid head-ons with cars overtaking in your lane. Wat Chalong is located in the northern part of Tambol Chalong on Chao Fa West Road. The name 'Chalong' means 'festival' in Thai. It's nice to stop by and see this, but after a while all the Wat's look the same. Same, same.

Stopped by the Karon Beach for an hour to hang-out and relax. It's 200 baht per chair at the public beach. We had a fresh coconut for 50 baht and a beer (I need it after the near miss in Patong Beach).

Very strange jelly like things (thousands of them) floating around the waters at Karon Beach, Phuket Thailand

At the end of our day and after nearly getting hit head-on twice in Patong Phuket area, we stopped back at Mama Seafood restaurant for a lovely dinner and sunset.

Mama's Seafood Restaurant - 180 bath for this and a beer.

Very beautiful beach front restaurant

Next day got up at 6AM and headed to the Big Buddha in the middle of Phuket. The two of us on the scooter as we struggled up the very steep road to the massive white buddha. Wasn't sure the thing had the guts to get us up there, but we made it in one piece. Big Buddha sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and at 45 metres high it is easily seen from any location.

I wasn't in proper clothing, but free skirts and wraps are provided for us Westerners who are "inconsiderately dressed".

If you have the time, stop along the windy (windier) and windy road down from Big Buddha. There are several cafes along the way with epic views, relaxing atmosphere, strong Thai coffee and a bite to eat. It's more expensive to stop here, but the views are worth the extra 50 to 70 baht. The ride down this steep hill is sketchy so mind the sharp turns and go slow.

My travel mate and I were to meet the rest of our boat crew at 13:00 at the lighthouse in Chalong Bay. Here we waited for the skipper of our boat and our next adventure sailing the Andaman Sea.

Off on a boat!