Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

29 August 2015 

One Night in Khao Lak

Khao Lak was just getting to be very popular in 2004. A quiet alternative to Phuket, very nice beaches and easy to reach - just fly in to Phuket Airport and get a taxi north. It's not much further to Khao Lak than it is to Patong Beach, just in the other direction and to be honest, with the traffic, probably takes about the same time. And then, 26th December 2004. The Tsunami. Phuket was hit, but Khao Lak was hit far worse. Killed thousands in the area, compared to hundreds in Phuket. Many hotels were (and are!) right by the beach. The fishing village of Ban Nam Khem a little north was flattened. In places the water reached more than 1km inland. Recovery was quick, but in places the rebuilding took years. Phuket was quickly back on the tourism map and I felt that Khao Lak was a little bit forgotten. Not pushed as a destination by travel companies, more likely to attract independent tourists looking for a quiet place to stay. And even in high season, Khao Lak is not that busy. Hotels are strung out along a 20km coastline, some hotels are quite remote, some are in more built up areas. We did several short trips to Khao Lak back in 2013 - see Holidays in Khao Lak - we had some relaxing days and did trips to Koh Tachai island and visited the tsunami memorials.

I had wanted to take another weekend in Khao Lak, but just to relax and do nothing. My dear wife didn't fancy it .. "nothing to do", she said. Exactly! A relaxing weekend at a nice hotel, with crazy low season prices, sit by the pool, go to the beach, have a night in a hotel, and maybe visit a nearby waterfall or something. Perfect! Well, we finally got a night in Khao Lak on August 15th, and got lucky with the low season weather. We had first been white water rafting in Phang Nga and then drove to the west to Khao Lak, only about 45 minutes drive. Previously we'd stayed at Nangthong Bay Resort. This time, something new - The Leaf On The Sands, which is owned by Katathani resorts. They also run The Sands Resort, which is right next to The Leaf, and there's the Katathani and The Shore in Phuket.

As I understand it, The Leaf is the cheaper sister of The Sands. To reach the beach from The Leaf you take a path next to The Sands, takes about 5 - 10 minutes to walk to the beach depending on your walking speed. We checked in mid afternoon and I liked it right away!

The Leaf On the Sands

(above) The Leaf On The Sands. Our room was one of these by the pool :)

And the room rate? Not much more than 1,000 Baht! Low season prices can be a little bit nuts here! High season rates start around 3,000 Baht. We were straight into the pool for a splash about with the kids. There is also a second pool with a swim up bar, so I headed there too for a cold Chang with friends (we did this weekend with our friends from the Easy Day Thailand tour company). It's not a huge resort, has about 90 rooms. All with free WiFi, thank you! That has to be a given these days .. any hotel that charges for WiFi should be ashamed. Our room was comfortable, huge bed, big bathroom. Aircon maybe a little too powerful for the size of room, but .. right by the pool, inexpensive... I do like low season! We are lucky of course because we can decide last minute to take a trip. We can wake up Saturday morning and check the weather. Sunny? Let's go out! If you have a pre-booked holiday, well, you just have to be lucky.

I took a late afternoon walk down to the beach. Khao Lak has many different beach areas. This is Nangthong Beach. The hotel we stayed in before is just a 10 minute walk along the beach. Very quiet at this time of year, very few people around. I watched a few guys fishing from the rocks...

Khao Lak Beach

That evening our group all got together for a big dinner at a place called Baan Khao Lak Seafood, which is actually a few km south of the main Khao Lak beaches. I think it's more of a locals place to eat, being not that close to any hotels. We had a big spread of fried fish, penang curry and shrimp tom yum. And a beer or 2 :) And back to the hotel. I was back in the pool to let the kids jump on me, then popped out for a couple of beers at a small Italian restaurant over the street from the hotel, and enjoyed sitting with my wife on the hotel balcony. Easy life!

Next morning, no rush, but was woken about 7:15am by the kids (ours and their friends) who were already splashing around in the pool!

The Leaf On the Sands

(above) View from our room about 7:20am, Sunday morning.

Oh well, no sleep in for me! Another jump in the pool and then off for breakfast. Now .. hotels in Thailand do sometimes have very basic breakfasts. Often cold fried eggs, crappy white bread for toast, only sachets of instant coffee. I am happy to say that The Leaf was a good one. Fresh brewed coffee, and a cook who was making eggs to order. In my book, that's fancy, but then again we don't tend to stay at fancy hotels! Breakfast was included in the room rate too. A very good low season deal. After breakfast, I had to run to catch up with my son and a few of his buddies, who were heading down to the beach. It was a beautiful morning. As good as any high season morning. No big waves, just a gentle surf. Blue skies, empty sands. A shame it was Monday and back to school and work next day, I wanted another night!

Khao Lak 16th August 2015

(above) On the beach, Sunday 16th August

We all took a walk up the beach, kids darting in and out of the water, body surfing the waves. They can all swim pretty well, my kids and our friend's kids, but anyway, best to have some adult supervision. I don't think any of them wanted to leave either!

Khao Lak - Nangthong Beach

(above) My boy and a couple of buddies enjoying a perfect beach morning in Khao Lak.

My Boy at Khao Lak

Oh to be 10 years old again! Life is simple.

A very good weekend, with the rafting on Saturday and a relaxing night in Khao Lak. And my wife now wants to go again. I have finally convinced her that doing nothing for a weekend can be fun! Well, almost nothing ... we left from Khao Lak just about midday and headed back south to Phuket, stopping off at Lampi Waterfall on the way. It's not a really long drive from home to Khao Lak, we drive slow and it takes less than 2 hours. So, when will be our next Khao Lak trip?!

19 August 2015 

White Water Rafting in Phang Nga

It's been a long time since I tried white water rafting. Back in my young, fit days I did it a few times. The first was in Zimbabwe on the Zambezi river (see photo) and that was pretty scary! I also did easier (but colder) rafting trips in Chile and Wales. And here in Thailand we've tended to shy away from tourist activities, preferring to find our own adventures, but sometimes we certainly do what the tourists do, I mean you have to visit Phi Phi and James Bond Island and see the Fantasea show and so on, there are some "must see" things around here! To the north of Phuket you have Phang Nga province, which we visit often. It's a huge area with a lot to see, and even this year we have done several trips exploring roads that were new to us, including the Klong Kian area and the Tone Pariwat Waterfall. Along the road to this waterfall, which followed a river, we saw many rafting companies and lots of elephants (for elephant trekking). So last week when our friends who run the Easy Day Thailand tour company asked us to join a fun "company trip" including rafting and a night in Khao Lak, we knew where to go and looked forward to another drive in that direction. very nice scenery around there. It's only about a 90 minute drive from where we live near Phuket Town - out of Phuket, over the bridge, to Phang Nga Town and then about another 15km after the town. And we got lucky with the low season weather which during July and early August had seen plenty of wind and rain. On Saturday August 15th the weather was beautiful. We reached the "Best Rafting 4U" headquarters about 9:30am and had time to get some coffee, take a little walk by the river and wait for the whole group to arrive in dribs and drabs.

Song Phraek River

(above) The river next to the rafting camp. Not very rough! You see .. further upstream is a dam, which is opened when all the rafts (from various companies) are ready to go, this increases the river flow and makes things more fun :) In extreme weather the river itself can overflow the dam, and rafting can't be done. It did seem pretty safe to me, nothing too scary if you have done it before. Quite scary for my 10 year old boy :) I have read over the years of at least one death on a rafting trip, but not sure if that was here or in Khao Sok national park. We all had to wear helmets and lifejackets on the rafts, and it was plenty of fun, but in our group there were kids as young as 5, so I think that is a measure of the danger factor. Actually I am not sure if they generally allow kids that young, but as we were a big "travel agent" group, I guess any such rule was waived.

Life jackets

(above) Get your lifejackets on!

So we were driven in trucks a few km up river to "the dam" where rafts were launched down a slide and we walked down stairs to the water, and then had to exit the raft again 20 meters later and clamber over rocks to get to the actual river. And then wait for the dam to be opened .... Before this, a briefing was given explaining how to sit in the raft, to listen to the guide on the raft and what to do should we fall out! Rafts could hold 4 - 5 people. So we took a raft for our family of 4.

Rafting family!

(above) Rafting family ready to go!

Launching the rafts

(above) Launching a raft into the calm water above the dam. Actually the hardest part of the trip for big, clumsy me was climbing over rocks to get back into the raft just below the dam. This dam is not huge, but holds the water about 5m higher than the river below, so once they open it, there is quite a rush! Our rafts waited until the water was high enough and then set off pretty darn fast!

Rafting in Phang Nga

They do recommend not taking phones or cameras. We took an older iPhone and had a dry bag. The photo above (my boy and me) was taken as we started moving. I think, in hindsight, I could have taken a nicer camera in the dry bag and snapped photos between rougher sections of river, but this is ideal GoPro camera territory, or any small waterproof camera. My helmet even had some kind of mount built in. A selfie stick with a GoPro - even better :) But I can't stand people who, instead of enjoying something, are constantly taking their own picture, so they can enjoy watching themselves later. Enjoy the NOW! And as the rafting company takes photos as you head down the river which they will frame and sell you later for 200 Baht, you will get a good action shot of yourself!

White water rafting in Phang Nga

(above) That's us! Photo taken by the rafting company. Looks quite rough actually .. I guess there were a few little sections that had me falling over backwards in the raft and nearly squashing my son! The whole rafting experience was over in about 30 minutes. I am sure they told us it was a 5km ride, but if I look on Google Earth, looks like about half of that. And at times as we rushed down rapids and into calmer areas, it did seem surprisingly crowded, especially as this is low season. There were rafts from several different operators at the same time. Although - when I say "low season", it's probably the best time for rafting. If you try this in a dry February, the river might have low water levels/ Now, after some rain, it was just about perfect.

River Rafting in Phang Nga

(above) On the river - photo by Paul Flaxman

Rafting in Phang Nga

(above) A busy low season day on the river!

We finished our rafting right next to the BestRafting4U camp, where they have some decent bathrooms, so we could change, dump wet clothes in our cars, and they provided a big buffet lunch. We were just here for rafting, as the weekend was to be combined with a relaxing stay in Khao Lak (about 50 km to the west). Most people would sign up for combination adventure tours with rafting, visiting the waterfall, maybe elephant riding, ATV rides, jungle zip-lining, there are several options - you can ask our friends at Easy Day Thailand about these trips. We just came for a bit of whitewater fun, and then headed off for some time by the pool in Khao Lak at The Leaf On The Sands Resort.

Now that we've done this trip, yes I do recommend it of you are of a sporty nature (and can swim). The hills and rivers in Phang Nga make a nice day out especially if you are staying at a busier beach area in Phuket. It's good to see more than just the beach here in Phuket, and a bit of rafting combined with other things is something to add to the Phuket "to do" list. And now we've done it :)

Book a Tour like this with Easy Day Thailand

Related Posts on Jamie's Phuket

Tone Pariwat Waterfall
Elephant Trekking in Phuket
Exploring Phang Nga Province
Phang Nga Bay

10 August 2015 

Phuket Wake Park

The Kathu area of Phuket is where I live. It's not far from Patong Beach (just over the hill on the way to Phuket town) and if you wish to get away from the most touristy beach in Thailand, get on a bike and ride over that hill past the temple on the hill, down to a quieter, largely residential area with a lot of history (Kathu was the center of the tin mining industry, and the famous Phuket Vegetarian Festival originated here). The daily Kathu market is worth a visit and you'll find temples in and around the village.

But there's more! If you turn left at the lights next to the Caltex gas station, you pass the market and are heading towards Loch Palm Golf Course and the old Kathu village when you will see a left turn to Kathu Waterfall (Nam Tok Kathu). There's actually a fair amount of new houses around this area - Kathu is getting quite popular! The road up to the waterfall winds along for several kilometers. It's all residential with houses old and new, and lots of small shops and restaurants. Along the way you pass the entrance to the Phuket Wake Park. It used to be called Phuket Cable Ski - but was rebranded with new owners (Russian, I believe) a couple of years ago. There's plenty of parking, and a wakeboard shop outside too.

Wake Park Entrance

Shop at Kathu Wake Park

I first blogged it back in 2007 (this is an updated post), we used to bring our little kids just to watch, but as our kids have got older it's become one of their favourite things to do. It's quite a big set up, with a 400 meter long artificial lake surrounded by hills and palm trees. There's a restaurant too and I can get a cold Chang beer while I watch our kids. You can try wakeboarding, water skiing or kneeboarding. Lessons are available, or (like our kids) you can just learn by trial and error! They are quite good now, but not doing any jumps yet :)

Phuket Wake Park - Cable Ski

(above) Phuket Wake Park in Kathu

Wakeboard Park in Phuket

Wakeboarding - Cable Ski

(above) My kids at the Wake Park

Pick up Service

(above) When people fall off, there's a pick up service - just swim to the side and wait :)

We tend to go at weekends, which are busier, lots of kids of varying levels of ability. The serious dudes tend to be there outside the busy hours, but every time I have been there, we've seen some more experienced folk too, doing flips, jumps and other fancy stuff. Never tried myself, not my cup of tea and I am a bit big these days ... though I have been rafting on the Zambezi and raced bicycles downhill at 80 kph in the Pyrenees... when I was younger! Quite happy to watch my kids now, they like to try all kinds of sporty stuff.

The prices are reasonable I guess - 650 Baht for 2 hours or 1150 Baht for a whole day (adult rates - kids are 350 Baht / 550 Baht). There are also long term rates. We normally let the kids do 2 hours and they are tired enough after that. There are some boards, helmets and life jackets for free rental, though I guess they are not the best ones! There is some better gear you can pay to rent. We won't be buying gear unless the kids get really serious!

• More information: Phuket Wake Park Website

Kathu Waterfall

Just up the road from the wake park is Kathu Waterfall, where you can take a little jungle walk or even a swim if there's enough water. Like many of the waterfalls in the Phuket area, it's nothing too amazing, but if you're exploring, have a look!

Kathu Waterfall - More Information

Phuket Cable Ski (Phuket Wake Park) - Location Map

View Phuket Wake Park in a larger map

9 August 2015 

Phang Nga Bay Revisited

If anyone asks me for a list of "must see" places in the Phuket region, Phang Nga Bay is top of the list. The bay is actually very big covering all the sea and many islands in between Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi and I have seen only small parts of it. One of these days I want to buy a boat and go exploring! We have done several trips in Phang Nga Bay with friends and family. Our last one was back in .. wow, I had to double check. It was back in September 2010, I did not realise it was so long ago! I had planned that trip as an afternoon excursion, renting a longtail boat and aiming to reach James Bond Island late in the afternoon when all the tours had gone home and hopefully with the bonus of some golden afternoon light - it half worked. We were the only visitors on this otherwise crowded tourist attraction, but on that day the light was poor, with dark clouds and some light drizzle. So I said "we have to try that again!" and time has ticked by, and life has moved on, and it's been more than 4 years since our last Phang Nga Bay trip. Well, earlier this month my cousin and his family who live in Singapore came to Phuket for a few days, I had a day off on Saturday February 7th and the weather looked good, so we decided that Phang Nga Bay had to be visited again. And everyone had a great day out.

From our house it takes just over an hour to drive to Phang Nga Town. We live just outside Phuket Town. If you were driving from the north of Phuket island, it would be a shorter drive, if you started at Kata beach for example, it would probably take at least 90 minutes - remember it can take well over an hour to get from one end of Phuket to the other! We do this trip without signing up for a tour, we drive ourselves, we negotiate a boat, we find a place for lunch ... doing it yourself in a foreign land is not for everyone, but it's not exactly brain surgery. There are lots of tours doing this area, but many are cheap, rushed and crowded. My friends at Easy Day Thailand can do a tour which is based on the way we do Phang Nga Bay - more personal and trying to avoid the crowds!

We headed up to Phang Nga in 2 cars as there were 9 of us altogether - my wife and I, our 2 kids, my daughter's friend, my wife's cousin's son, my cousin and his wife and their son! We set off late morning, no particular rush and stopped off first at Wat Suwan Kuha temple which is just before Phang Nga Town. Glad to see the entry fee is still 20 Baht (and no dual pricing). Wat Suwan Kuha features lots of monkeys outside and a big reclining Buddha inside along with many other Buddha images and behind the Buddha cave is a larger cave.

Wat Suwan Kuha Entrance in the rock

Monkeys outside Wat Suwan Kuha

(above) Entrance to Wat Suwan Kuha and monkeys outside the temple

Reclining Buddha at Wat Suwan Kuha

Wat Suwan Kuha - Buddha Images

(above) Inside Wat Suwan Kuha temple

After the stop it was time for lunch. Now, back in 2010 we ate at a place called Samchong Seafood, which is on a mangrove river which leads out into the bay and we rented a boat from the jetty next to the restaurant. In the last few years I have heard from several independent sources that this restaurant has gone downhill. Our friends at Easy Day Thailand don't use it now .. and although I will reserve judgement until we go check it again, on this trip we played it safe and went for lunch at Dairy Hut Seafood which is just past Phang Nga Town. We've eaten here a number of times, and it's always been good, as it was this time too! Then we backtracked a few km - just before Phang Nga Town if coming from Phuket there is a right turn and a sight saying "Phang Nga National Park" which leads down to the Phang Nga municipal jetty. Arriving at the jetty, longtail boat drivers leap into the road to flag down cars. We negotiated a boat for 1600 Baht, actually a little more than I was expecting and my wife and I both thought the drivers were a bit of an unfriendly bunch, reinforcing our idea to give Samchong a try again some day, as the longtail driver we had there was really nice. However - 9 people, 1600 Baht .. yeh, let's not worry too much about the price! I am not sure a "tourist" could get exactly the same deal and even if you end up paying a little more, I'd suggest doing a trip with Easy Day Thailand, with a guide along for the ride to explain things.

Phang Nga Pier

(above) at the Phang Nga pier

Longtail Boat Boys in Phang Nga Bay

(above) Our longtail boys for this trip were a right couple of charmers.

We know you can also get a "local" boat from here to Panyee village, and we'd like to try that sometime. We arranged with the boat boys to take our group to Panyee village first and then James Bond Island (real name Koh Khao Ping Gan). The jetty is up a mangrove river about 7km north of Panyee, about 20 minutes by longtail boat. Payee is a stilted village built around a large limestone karst. I find this place very interesting, once beyond the row of restaurants and souvenir stalls. It's what I think of as a micro-society, a place slightly removed from reality, a little isolated from the rest of the world although these days there are hundreds of tourists visiting every day. Thus even more reason to find some backstreets.

Koh Panyee from the water

(above) Koh Panyee from the water - the mosque is just about the only building built on solid land. Everything else is on stilts.

Koh Panyi Village on Stilts

Everything is built around the rocky island called Koh Panyee which towers above the village. Since our last visit there have been a couple of changes ... the mosque has been rebuilt with shiny golden minarets, and the island has a floating football pitch! We walked through narrow streets passing the mosque to the west side of the island.

Koh Panyi - Street View

Buying Ice Cream - Koh Panyee Village

(above) The back streets of Panyee village are narrow and (to me) full of interest. At every step I wonder what it's like to live here. I imagine it's a very close community where everyone knows everyone and doors are always open. Life will have changed a lot over the last 20 year with tourism generating a lot of income, but it's still a fishing village at heart.

Koh Panyee Mosque

The mosque when we last visited looked rather sad. Now looking much healthier. Panyee is Muslim like much of the Phang Nga coastal area (and also much of Krabi and a fair amount of Phuket!). Although the stallholders selling souvenirs look a little bored, I see a lot of smiles here, I think it's an easy lifestyle.

Crossing over from where we landed, past the mosque I found what I wanted to see - the floating football pitch. It wasn't there when we visited in 2010 although there was a concrete recreation area attached to the school. The story of the Panyee football team is now well known thanks to a video made by a Thai bank. You can find the video and more photos on a blog page I wrote in 2010 about Koh Panyee. And what a spectacular place to kick a ball around!

Koh Panyee - The Floating Football Pitch

We all enjoyed a run around. The kids realised that you'd get quite wet playing here, as you'd need to jump into the sea to retrieve the ball any time it went out of play! We spent about an hour at Koh Panyee and I think I would happily spend half a day there taking photos. It was nearly 4pm when we started heading towards James Bond Island, which is about another 7km south. We went via a small island where several sea kayak companies have their bases and on a busy high season day you can find hundreds of tourists on a little kayak tour (part of a day trip package) - not for serious kayakers! Our longtail picked a path through the kayaks and through a small cave. All of these little islands are beautiful. I want a boat!

Through the cave

Cruising through the mangroves

We got to Koh Khao Phing Gan (the proper name for James Bond Island) about 4:30pm. Rather shocked to find we were a bit early .. still a couple of groups of Chinese here!

Last tourists of the day

We got there after the national park staff had left, so in theory we'd not need to pay the entry fee .. except our boat boys had collected 900 Baht from us in advance. Did we see that money back? Ha! The last trip in 2010 we'd also got there late and not paid any fees, and nothing to the boat dudes. I could tell these 2 young guys did not want to be the last ones back to the pier, but .. tough! This is the Monk family you are driving and we do it our way! We stayed until the last Chinese group had gone and the light was very nice this time. Would have been even nicer at high tide .. have to plan that next time :)

At James Bond Island

The tall rock that sticks up from the water is called Koh Tapu, which means "Nail Island". I wonder how many years until it falls over? I'm sure the base looked fatter in the movie! In the late afternoon light, this area is gorgeous. The photo above was taken at nearly 5:30pm, by which time we had this "crowded" tourist attraction to ourselves. Even the souvenir stall holders had gone. I had not noticed before, maybe it was the light, but you can see Koh Panyee from here, 7km to the north - what a view!

Panyee Village

(above) Panyee village as seen from James Bond Island. Touristy or not, it's pretty frikkin' spectacular! And if it can be called "touristy" then it's only for a few hours per day. We must do this again sometime soon, and not wait another 4 years! We stayed as long as we could on Scaramanga's island, but for sure the boat boys were worried they'd be getting back late. I was snapping photos up until we left just after 5:30pm.

Koh Tapu

Now I only wish I had a better camera ... Well, it's my birthday soon :) These pictures were taken with a Panasonic Lumix G1, not the most modern camera. Actually a couple of these photos were taken with an iPhone. I am really considering splashing out this year on a Canon 7D or something of a similar quality. Anyone got a spare?

Anyway .. we sped back to the Phang Nga pier in about 25 minutes from James Bond Island, passing Koh Panyee with the sun sinking low. Every time we've done this trip it's been a great day out. We drove back to Phuket, straight into Phuket Town for dinner at Kopitiam at about 8pm. Perfect day!

Koh Panyee Sunset

(above) Not far off sunset as we dash past Koh Panyee on the way home.

Book Tours with Easy Day Thailand

Phang Nga Bay - More Information

Our Phang Nga Bay trip in 2010
James Bond Island
Koh Panyee
Exploring Phang Nga Province

30 July 2015 

Wine Connection Restaurant

Most of the time, if we eat out, we eat at cheaper Thai restaurants or local seafood places. We like the kind of places where we can all eat until stuffed and the bill won't be more than 1,000 Baht for the family, normally much much less than that! We tend to avoid restaurants for tourists or places that only sell "Western" food. Partly because I am a cheap skinflint, partly because we don't like "fancy" places where you pay for the appearance rather than substance of the food. Best Thai food is to be found at local restaurants that don't worry too much about presentation. However, of course now and then we do fancy something a bit different. I have an English belly and it seems my kids have inherited this too, mixed with my wife's absolutely Southern Thai belly - her favourite food is Gaeng Som, a very spicy and sour curry.

Anyway - Wine Connection is a big chain of stores all over Thailand. They started off selling wine. The first store in Phuket was in the Chalong area and there are now lots of branches in Phuket. I am not a wine person, but I have bought wine there quite a few times for parties. They expanded a few years back and started doing restaurants. I always thought of it as an expensive place for expats and "Thai people trying to be fancy" to eat, and we'd not eaten there before last week. We had gone to the Central Festival mall (just outside Phuket Town) to watch a movie, then found that the movie we wanted had stopped its run the day before. My daughter mentioned Wine Connection, and I found out she had eaten pizza in there with some friends .. not too expensive she said. So we went to have a look...

Wine Connection

(above) Outside Wine Connection in the Central Festival mall

A quick look at the menu outside .. Pizza starting at 170 Baht, pasta dishes around 200 Baht, and lots of meaty things (lamb, steak) at higher prices. No Thai food. The pizza and pasta seemed very well priced. My daughter assured me the pizza was good, so we thought we'd try. If you convert these prices to my old UK pounds, it's cheap - just over 3 pounds for pizza, 4 pounds for pasta. Yeh, if you are on holiday, Thailand is very cheap! We ordered a pizza each for the kids (are you sure you can finish it?) and I ordered fettuccine with chorizo. Drinks? Very happy to find some German Weissbier on the menu (which cost nearly as much as the food, but what the hell, we're here now!)

Inside Wine Connection

(above) Inside Wine Connection

Food came very quickly, but then again it was just before midday and not at all busy. My pasta arrived first and I was actually surprised by the size of the plate - often these slightly fancier restaurants have artistic, but small portions. The pasta was very tasty and went down very well with a German bier (yes I know it would go better with wine, but ...)

Fettuccine with Chorizo at Wine Connection

German Beer at Wine Connection

(above) My lunch - Fettuccine with chorizo and some very nice beer :)

The pizza is a kind of litmus test for me. I like pizza. I like good pizza. I can happily stay away from chain pizza places like Pizza Company. The kids got their pizza, and of course Dad took a slice to check the quality. Looks good, tastes good, thin and crispy, plenty of cheese. And of course the kids had no trouble finishing off the whole thing, they eat like horses!

Pizza at Wine Connection

(above) Good pizza!

Wine Connection is now on our list :) Actually the pizza was better and cheaper than Pizza Company. Bill was 880 Baht for 3 people - my wife skipped, she had her curry waiting at home :) There are several places we eat semi-regularly in the Central Festival mall. Often we use use the food court (4th floor, same floor as the cinema) Wine Connection is on the 2nd floor, same as many chains like Burger King, KFC etc.. We have eaten many times at the Fuji Japanese restaurant, and also the Zen Japanese restaurant. Many people come to Central at the weekend - a good hideout in the aircon on a really hot day, and a place to go on a rainy day! Shopping, a movie, a good meal, Phuket has certainly embraced the mall culture :) I'm not saying we spend that much time here, but we can't go out exploring every weekend!