Post Tsunami Patong
Patong is rebuilt-and is nicer than before
Post tsunami finds Patong rebuilt - better and nicer than before.
You'll find live bands playing at some up-market night spots-something that was not available before the tsunami. More and more modern shops are coming up, and international brands have made their way to Patong, in some ways, crowding out the older tailor shops and smaller street stalls. Foreign workers from nearby Laos and Cambodia, even Sri Lanka are manning the clothing stalls-this is a sign of Phuket's prosperity.
Streets & pavements Walking is more of a pleasure with the tilling up of pavements. Pavements are more even & the long stretch beach front from Kalim beach to South Patong beach has been cleaned up. Old & New Phuket
I miss the old, more quiet Phuket, before the rebuilding took place. Yes, it was more disorganised and disorderly, but that was what made it special & quaint.
I have been visiting Phuket for more than 10 years now and the growth in the past few years has been at a tremendous pace. Certainly , it was laid back and the pace was slower, and people were friendlier. Now, there are not as many smiles, and shop keepers are barely interested to even call you into their stores.
Still, the new revived Phuket is endearing in its own way. It is alive, there is a buzz, and people actually live here all year round. It used to be that during the low season of April to October, the town would be practically devoid of people and quite dead because without the tourists, there weren't that many locals living here. Now, even during the low season, Phuket manages to attract some Asian tourists and a sprinkling of Australians and the odd British or two, or three.
The Europeans start to flood in around late November to January and the high season lasts till March/April.
Loy Krathong Festival
November's festival of light of "Loy Krathong" is held on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month when the tide in the river is highest and the moon at its brightest. The festival is believed to have originated in Sokhothai in the 13th century, when a young lady, Nang Nopamas, floated the first Krathong offering to the deity of the river.
This year the festival was on November 8th, and I was lucky to be in Thailand on this day. There was a festive dinner at the hotel and each of the guests had a chance to float their Krathong (made of banana leaves and pieces of trunck of banana trees) in the hotel's pool and make a wish.
It really looks and feels very romantic...
You can have your own Loy Krathong in Phuket, even if it's not November, just go to John Gray's Starlight Canoe trip (see my tip).
volun-tourism in phang nga
I’ve just spent a month with the NGO 'Andaman Discoveries' and it was the best month of my life!! They're based on the North Andaman Coast and do eco-tourism with villages that were destroyed by the tsunami. In fact it was the villagers who came up with the idea after having lost everything and realising they were in need of finding a new way of income and sustainable livelihood. I did a mixture of things, from jungle hikes and snorkeling off deserted islands, cooking with my home-stay family, orchid and mangrove conservation, soap making and batik work shops etc etc... Then I spent two weeks teaching in the local school. They do so much other cool stuff as well but it depends how long you want to stay and what you decide to do with your time. You can stay for anything from one day to a few months, unlike some other organizations like this which make you commit for a long time an pay a shed-load!! That’s another great thing is you get to choose your itinerary yourself so you can have as much work and as much play time as you want!! It's like nothing I've ever done before. I really felt like a part of the community- they take you in as one of their own and the interaction is like you'd never get in any of the popular destinations like Phuket and some of the other islands. I'm going back next year to teach again and revisit the villagers. I really recommend it for anyone really- single travelers or groups, families...apparently the youngest volun-tourist they ever had was 7, and the eldest who is coming back for a second time is 73!! So if you’re specifically looking for something interesting to do this holiday, or you’re in Thailand and fancy a change for a day or two, go see them coz they’re wicked! Everyone should do it, it's the best thing ever!!
Haggle to your hearts content
Otop Markets are probably the largest group of market stalls in one place in Patong, so certainly worth a look, if you dont mind the haggling and the heat! They are open from about 10am until late at night, certainly they were still open anytime we went past there at night time, so Im not entirely sure what time they actually close!
A huge selection of anything you might like to buy, from clothes to shoes to handbags to watches to sun glasses to Thai souvenirs, and all at bargain prices. You MUST bargain with the stallholders here, as most times you can buy your stuff for around half the amount of their starting price, even lower if you are lucky and good at bargaining hard!!!
Lady boys dances
It's a show made by lady boys and it is definitly funny!Definitly full of tourists but still really worth, they are really good at dancing and singing and all the performance let you spend a couple of hours in a good way.