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Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Blogging Phuket since 2006

23 April 2017

Street Art in Phuket Town

During 2016, art was appearing all over Phuket Town, and a few other spots around the island too. I am not quite sure if this is something organised or government approved, but it's happening and, in my opinion, adds something extra to the town although I'd not want to see the prettier streets in the old town messed with too much. Thalang Road, Krabi Road and Dibuk Road for example still have many older shophouse style houses and businesses and this area has already undergone a lot of restoration in the last 10 years with plenty of repainting, the removal of overhead wires and lots of nice little cafes and bars opening which mix with old shops selling hardware, Muslim fabrics or Chinese herbs. I really like the old town area and wish I had more time to wander around taking photos. The first street art I noticed was about 4 years ago on the corner of Thalang road and Soi Romanee, very much the heart of the old town. This amazing face was very striking ...

Phuket Town Graffiti

It was painted on an old crumbling wall by a French artist called Noé Two. And right away it became a focal point for photos, selfies and Facebook fans! The face stayed there, slowly crumbling over the last few years until it was painted over a few months ago. On this particular wall, it enhanced the environment. But quite a few streets in the old town look like the photo below, taken on Dibuk Road. I hope buildings like this can be left as they are.

Dibuk Road, Phuket Town

All this new art started appearing in April this year, with various artists involved such as Alex Face, Rukkit and Liudmila Letnikova. I don't know all the names of the artists. It seems to be part of a locally organised idea called the F.A.T Phuket Project, meaning "Food, Art, (old) Town". I saw some photos appearing on Instagram just as I went on holiday after Songkran.

Actually, there was a wall full of odd pieces of art at one end of Dibuk Road back in February 2016 although nothing that really stood out, more like a wall of graffiti - see here for photos. And (update) that wall has now been repainted with a mural of King Rama IX - see below :

After the death of King Bhumibol in October 2016, a new mural was painted on a wall along Dibuk Road just to the west of Wat Monghkon Nimit. There had been some rather bizarre graffiti / art here before, but that was painted over. Now we have this very nice mural ...

King Bhumibol Street Art in Phuket Town

So, with the art having been there for a couple of months, I finally had some time to have a look. We all headed into town one evening, not long before dark, had a good look around trying to find all the art we could, but the light was not great for photos, so I went back with the kids a few days later just after lunch for another "hike around town with Dad":) They love it really. We started at Krabi road near the Thai Hua Museum. Close to the museum, on the south side of the street is an alleyway that leads down to the main market on Ranong Road. And just after the narrow alley you find this ...

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Nicely brightens up a slightly dirty street. And directly opposite there's a little something too ...

Old Phuket Town Street Art

You could certainly argue that the whole wall needs a repaint, but it's the juxtaposition of the new art and the old walls that is so great. We carried on past the market and headed to Phang Nga Road where you can find a couple of art galleries and the old (but refurbished) On On Hotel. Just about opposite Southwind Books (a very good secondhand bookshop) there are a couple of local characters painted on another wall that could do with a full repaint :)

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Old Phuket Town Street Art

(above) Art on the wall, Phang Nga Road, Old Phuket Town. Just a few meters further along the road, but on the other side, is the entrance to the Sang Tham Shrine, a Chinese shrine built at the end of the 19th century in between the old shophouses and, until a few years ago, devilishly hard to find! The entrance was smarted up and widened in 2013. There's a lovely painting a few meters inside the entrance ...

Old Phuket Town Street Art

(above) Art at the Sang Tham Shrine

All along Phang Nga Road there are paintings on walls. Just a few meters from the shrine is a big building that used to be a bank. It's been empty for as long as I can remember. Someone has painted a lion here!

Old Phuket Town Street Art

After the On On Hotel, there's a yellow building called Pengman ... another old Chinese/Thai business. It's a very popular noodle shop with a cheap hotel in the back. And a big slice of art along the side wall of the building, very hard to fit into one photo!

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Old Phuket Town Street Art

This one was painted by local artist Mue Bon. Certainly brightens up that alleyway, bins and all. And not far along the same road you come to the Sinthavee Hotel, one of the older hotels in town dating back to the time before mass tourism. And they've got a giant tiger outside :)

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Old Phuket Town Street Art

There are a few unexpected paintings and I am sure we did not see everything yet. Just along from the Sinthavee Hotel is an alley leading to a carpark. A bit dim and dirty .. well, it used to be!

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Old Phuket Town Street Art

At the east end of Phang Nga Road at the intersection with Phuket Road, a couple of the more iconic buildings in town are being renovated - the old police station with the clock tower and, on the opposite side of the road, the old Standard Chartered Bank building, which was the first bank to open in the town - and the bank also financed the police station, much needed to deter robbers in the (at the time) fairly lawless mining town! The bank building is being turned into a museum and I have been waiting a fair while for news of it's opening! One other artwork was painted on this building, but had to be removed, which is maybe fair since it's already being renovated and is an important historical landmark in the town.

So at the end of Phang Nga Road, we turned left, then left again onto Thalang Road. The only new art along Thalang Road, which is pretty much a work of living art anyway, is found at the corner of Soi Romanee - as mentioned above. The beautiful girl's face that was painted in 2012 had all but peeled off anyway. And now you have this ...

Old Phuket Town Street Art

And it's a very popular spot for a photo. There's a wooden bench underneath. But hard to get a good photo - need a wide angle lens. Plus, right next to it, you have this amazing bird ...

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Hopefully the old town folks will allow all this art to stay .. maybe some more will appear. There have been various projects over the years to make the old town prettier. I can say that when I first went exploring these streets 10+ years ago it looked quite run down, like nobody really cared. But now things look way better and there are still works planned to bury more cables and events such as the Old Town Festival now take place every year to showcase the area.

Our little walk around took over an hour, and I promised my daughter a lemon and honey soda at the Bookhemian Cafe, a cool place with lots of books on Thalang Road, and likely to appear on this blog soon! We all had a drink and a rest there before heading home. Dad and kids enjoyed the walk :)

Phuket Town Street Art


Phuket Town Art - Location Map


Street Art in Phuket Town  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog




12 April 2017

Songkran Photos

The poopular Songkran festival is one of those "love it or hate it" events. It can be viewed as fun, but some people like to complain about it getting a bit silly and losing its traditional roots. Songkran is the Thai New Year festival and is celebrated in Thailand and also in neighbouring Laos, some parts of China and Cambodia. The Thai New Year and Thai calendar was in use until 1888 in Thailand, but now January 1st is used as the official start of the new calendar year. The old Thai / Buddhist year is 543 years ahead of the standard calendar. The water throwing is the most obvious aspect of Songkran, but the older traditions are very much still alive. At homes and temples. Buddha images are washed with water containing flower petals, and at some temples, people carry dirt to the temple which is supposed to replace dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the year - I saw this at a temple last year, but did not stop for photos.

When is Songkran?

Songkran in Phuket is really only 1 day - April 13th - although some people do start to party and throw water in the afternoon of the 12th and the official holiday is 13th to 15th - a public holiday, so there is plenty of partying mixed with the more traditional side of Songkran. This blog post shows some of my Songkran photos over the years.

In 2011 I was in Chumphon for Songkran, which is my wife's home town. Maybe the old way of life is a little more obvious here than in Phuket, or maybe I just got a more local feeling since I have been with the family. We had a ceremony at home pouring water on my wife's parents hands (this is called Rodnam Dam Hua). The water fights in Chumphon Town were just as big as Phuket - we drove around town in our pick up. I got singled out quite often - not many foreigners here! Bloody hot day resulting in a very wet and sunburned and ever so slightly drunk Jamie (that's me)!

Jamie Songkran

In previous years I have been in Phuket for Songkran. For a few years I tried to ignore this silly festival....then for a few years we tried to stay dry, but took drives around Phuket with me trying to take photos through the closed car window. In 2009 we did a drive round Patong in our pick up truck, with my wife and I taking turns to drive. Patong is certainly the main water fight, although if you head to Sapan Hin, in the south of Phuket Town, you get a good day too, with less tourists and more locals. In 2010 I did not try to take photos - just stood on the roadside outside a friends business, throwing water with one hand, bottle of beer in the other :)

Phuket Hotel Booking - Phuket is a great place to be for Songkran!

So, for Songkran 2011 in Chumphon I took some photos with an old underwater film camera, needed some photoshopping to enhance the colour as the camera used 800 iso film, so most photos were a bit overexposed. Also got some photos on the street near the homes of various family members.

In yer face for Songkran

I have you in my sights

More photos : Songkran 2011 in Chumphon

And here's some more photos of Songkran in Phuket over the years ...

Street battle in Patong

(above) Songkran street battle in Patong! If you want to party on Songkran, Patong is the place to be. You WILL get very wet, but at least in Phuket the water throwing is limited to just one day (13th April). We enjoyed the day we drove around on April 13th 2009, though the kids did start to get cold - people do tend to throw ice water, which can be a shock, but nice on a hot day!

More photos : Songkran 2009 at Patong Beach

Get that powder on your face!

(above) People like to use talcum powder mixed with water and will smear it on your face for good luck. Not everyone wants the powder, but you should accept it in the spirit in which it is offered. Hint: Don't wear your best clothes on Songkran!

Water pistol on a scooter

In town, people are scooting around on mopeds, in trucks, or some (like we used to) in cars with the windows up! It's a sad fact that there are a lot of accidents around Songkran mostly related to a combination of fast mopeds, alcohol, water and slippery roads. No fun to have a bucket of ice water in your face when you are riding a moped, but then again, if riding in town on Songkran day, you really should ride slowly and expect to get very very wet. The guy above with his colourful Songkran shirt is obviously enjoying the day! It was due to the number of accidents that the water throwing was limited to one day in Phuket a few years ago.

Songkran in Patong

Fun for all the family! If you are going to be in Phuket or anywhere in Thailand on Songkran, be ready, go out and have some watery fun! The photo above was taken outside the Jungceylon mall in Patong. I like the fact that the girl shooting her water pistol has no idea she's about to get a cup of ice water down her back :)

Songkran Kids

A day for the kids ... for one day every year, the kids can get away with pretty much anything! They can soak strangers, definitely soak their family, they can play with water all day and nobody can get mad at them. Our kids love it, I think all kids love Songkran!

Songkran Splash

And you're never quite sure where the next soaking is going to come from. This year riding around in the truck I got drenched at regular intervals, many times by unseen assailants. There's no point trying to stay dry! The guys on the scooter (above) just got owned! That photo was taken in Phuket Town on Phuket Road on the way south towards Sapan Hin.

Songkran 2008 in Phuket Town
Songkran 2007 Turtle release and Patong

Songkran is what it is - you can have fun or you can grouch. For one day, getting soaked is fun, especially as April 13th is normally going to be a very hot day, like it was this year. I am happy that it's only one day in Phuket - I know that in Chiang Mai it goes on for days, which could be a drag. In Chumphon, there was only water throwing in town for 1 day, but on the 14th people headed to the 2 main beaches near Chumphon (Sairee and Thung Wua Laen) to continue the party. I was very happy in 2011 to be more involved with the family. A good Songkran. Happy New Year!


Songkran Photos  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog




7 April 2017

Kopitiam Restaurant in Old Phuket Town

We first found Kopitiam in Old Phuket Town back in 2011 when it had just recently opened. This blog post was first written then, but updated 2017. I often enjoy a little walk in the old town with it's old buildings and interesting little shops. Thalang Road is the center of the old town, and over the last 5 years especially now that many of the ugly overhead wires have been hidden, the area has become very pleasant and more popular with tourists, especially Thai tourists - if you walk down Thalang road or the little side street called Soi Romanee you'll always see young Thai folks snapping photos of each other in front of old doorways! A fair number of small cafes and restaurants have opened on and around Thalang road over the last few years and there are also some older establishments like Abdul's Roti Shop. On that walk back in 2011 we decided to try out Kopitiam. There was a table full of Phuket locals sitting outside, always a good sign for good local food! It's become a favourite place for us since then.

Kopitiam on Thalang Road, Phuket Town

(above) Kopitiam from the outside

Kopitiam coffee shops are found commonly in Malaysia and Singapore - the word comes from Kopi (Malay for Coffee) and Tiam (a Hokkien Chinese word for Shop) - Hokkien people migrated in large numbers to Phuket in the late 19th century and in Phuket Town this is obvious - many people are of Chinese descent (although the families now have Thai names), many shops have Chinese signs and there are Chinese shrines in and around Phuket Town.

Kopitiam locals

(above) Local folks sitting outside Kopitiam

Kopitiam is run by the Bumrungwong family who also run the well known herb shop next door - and the family also had the Wilai restaurant which was on the other side of the herb shop. Kopitiam is also called "Kopitiam by Wilai". The Wilai restaurant has now been turned into part of Kopitiam - same food, but it's airconditioned! And it has a little secret - a passageway through the kitchen leads to the Shrine of the Serene Light which has its entrance on Phang Nga Road one block south. I havve been through a couple of times, but not sure you're allowed to now. There's quite a bit of history here!

The Oldest Herb Shop

(above) Inside the old herb shop next door to Kopitiam

Kopitiam Phuket Restaurant

(above) Wiwan, daughter of Wilai. It's a family business.

The history is evident inside Kopitiam, which has kept an old feel, built in a turn of the century (20th century) style shophouse with wooden beams across the ceiling and a stone floor. This used to be the family home. You'll find decorations consisting of Chinese signs, old Phuket photos and tasteful wooden furniture. No need for aircon really - it was a warm day, but these old shophouses never seem to get hot. A couple of ceiling fans is enough. If you are too hot, well, pop over to the other side of the herb shop into the aircon!

Kopitiam Restaurant in Phuket Town

(above) Inside Kopitiam

Kopitiam Restaurant on Thalang Road

(above) Looking out onto Thalang Road from Kopitiam

Kopitiam on Thalang Road

(above) Outside looking to the east along Thalang Road.

Photo of old Phuket Ferry

(above) You can have a history lesson while you wait for the food - there are loads of old Phuket photos around the walls showing the town, tin mines, and I was particularly interested to see pictures of the old ferry connecting Phuket to the mainland - the Sarasin bridge was only completed in 1967. Before that, Phuket really was an island!

And the food! I note that despite our many visits I have very few food pics! I love the Phuket style pork, the various fried noodles, the penang curry is good, you can get snacks like french fries or tofu, they do Bak Kut Teh too. And many many different drinks. All kinds of juices, herb drinks, teas and coffees. And beer too! And during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival they do only vegan food.

Penang style stir fried flat noodle, "Char Kway Teow"

(above) Char Kway Teow Noodles

Kopitiam Restaurant  - Phuket Style Pork

(above) Phuket Style Pork

Mee Hokkien, vegetarian style.

(above) Mee Hokkien (during vegetarian festival)

Fried Tofu at Kopitiam

(above) Fried tofu with a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce

Kopi at Kopitiam Phuket

(above) "Kopi O" - strong back coffee

Butterfly Pea Flower Drink

(above) On a hot day, maybe even better than a beer - try a butterfly pea flower drink ("Anchan")!

I always enjoy a walk around Phuket Town. There's still more work going on right now on other streets to hide all the wires like has already been done on Thalang Road. The area has been considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is my favourite part of Phuket and my wife and I even joke (but in a serious way) about living in an old shophouse in town one day :)

Kopitiam Location Map (Phuket Town)


View Kopitiam by Wilai - Restaurant in Phuket Town in a larger map


Kopitiam Restaurant in Old Phuket Town  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog




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Words and Photos © Jamie Monk 2006 - 2017




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