Introduction to some of the most popular beaches on Phuket

Posted by admin on January 29th, 2008 filed in Uncategorized
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Gorgeous beach areas, crystal clear warm waters and pleasant balmy tropical air are for most visitors the chief attractions on Phuket in Southern Thailand. Well-facilitated beaches such as Nai Yang, Mai Khao, Nai Thon, Pansea, Bang Thao, Surin, Laem Sing, Kamala, Nakhale, Kalim, Karon, Patong, Kata Noi, Emerald Bay, Karon Noi, Kata Yai, Nai Harn, Rawai and Ya Noi rank among the most beloved ones in the country. Mentioned below are several of the top beach destinations that Phuket has on offer, accompanied by a brief introduction:
1) Nai Yang Beach. Many pretty and large casuarina trees grow on this beach. A national park is situated in the area’s northern part. You’ll also have a good chance spotting some Ridley Sea Turtles. Sunbathing and swimming are the main activities here. A spot to change your clothes you’ll have to find yourself!

2) Mai Kao Beach. This beach is reputed for being the longest on Phuket as its fine white sand stretches for about five miles. Visitors here will be impressed by the crystalline sand and tranquil ambience. Mai Khao is also Phuket’s only beach location where to find Cicadas. The next to the beach positioned mangrove area houses a visitor’s centre as well as the interesting Sirinat National Park.

3) Bang Tao Beach. Sunbathing and practicing water sports are the most popular activities on Bang Thao Beach. At the area’s southern part’s end you’ll find a private beach. There are several hotels on offer at this rather small beach as well. The beach is positioned on Phuket’s north-western territory.

4) Emerald Bay. Enjoying an ideal geographical position on the western section of the incredibly popular Patong beach area. Emerald Bay provides a quite pretty spot to unwind. Situated within a short distance are several accommodation establishments including first-class hotels. The bay is blessed with an abundance of corals. For those looking for a tranquil destination, Emerald Bay may be the perfect getaway.

5) Rawai Beach. Boasting many coconut trees, Rawai Beach allows holidaymakers to appreciate the exceptional natural beauty and sparkling ocean. Located nearby is a quaint village inhabited by the renowned Sea Gypsys. In addition, the Kho Hae and Kho Bon coral islands can easily be accessed from here. Rawai is Phuket’s oldest recreational beach destination.

6) Patong Beach. Definitely the most famous beach on Phuket, today Patong is fast-paced, highly modern and long crescent beach. This tourist hot spot is positioned about nine miles west from Phuket town. Patong Beach features a comprehensive tourist-infrastructure providing a wide range of leisure options, which are affordably priced.

7) Karon Beach. Enjoying the reputation for being one of Thailand’s most stunning beaches, the extremely clean and sandy Karon can be found on Phuket’s western part.  However, travellers should bear in mind that during the rain season certain parts of the beach might become hazardous.

Comprehensive online resource to Koh Samui’s finest beaches


Phuket, the perfect beach holiday destination in Thailand

Posted by admin on January 20th, 2008 filed in Uncategorized
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Ranking steadily among the top 5 of the most popular holiday destinations in South East Asia, Phuket is especially reputed for boasting a number of excellent beach areas. Each of this tropical island beaches features its own peculiarities. A place surrounded by an abundance of superb beaches guarantees a perfect vacation for the entire family. There’s a selection of beaches for tourists to choose from ranging from more tranquil to some of the country’s most crowded beach scenes.

Phuket’s sandy beaches enjoy undoubtedly the reputation of being the most popular on the globe and they attract many holidaymakers throughout the year coming from mainly North American and European countries. In addition, the beach areas offer a wide range of water sports and other highly enjoyable activities. Phuket attracts all kind of travellers as this island offers holiday entertainment for both the wealthy and regular vacationers.

Everyone here can experience great surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing and diving adventures! The sun-soaked beaches also provide the ideal spot for sunbathing tourists. However, you should respect Thai culture and understand that walking around topless or even nude is experienced by most of the Thais as very shocking!

You can find deserted beaches on Phuket as well.

Once you arrive at the beach of your choice you’ll probably notice the many dogs wandering around the beach. Often they might seem very cute. However, it is still strongly recommended not to touch these animals. Some of the cats and dogs strolling along the beach are infected with rabies! When bitten by a dog, you are advised to immediately go to a hospital for necessary vaccinations and treatment.

The gorgeous Phuket beaches are sandy while the crystal-clear blue waters are noticed by all the visitors. The beaches here consist uniquely out of crumbly sand. A large part of the beach areas are vegetated with waving palm trees, which attract many mynah birds. To fully explore all of the area’s beaches it might be great to hire a motorbike or jeep. This up-to-date Phuket beach guide provides complete travel information.


Regulations, what regulations

Posted by admin on January 15th, 2008 filed in Living here, The locals
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The word ‘Thailand’ transliterates from Thai language as ‘land of the free’. ‘Free and easy’ couldn’t be a better description of the country, for the Thai like nothing better than the freedom to do as they please, and that they do. Regulations here are somewhat vague. But this can be a godsend or a nuisance, depending on which way you look at it.

 

Foreigners who’ve come to live here appreciate the fact that you pretty much do anything (money permitting) without some sort of permit, restriction, community forum or protest. It’s what attracts many, and it can be a relief after living in an over-regulated society.

 

For sure, it’s so much easier to build a house without costly town-planners inspecting every tiny alteration you make, or the requirement of all sorts of paper work and approval. But there is a downside to all this. 

 

“the longer one resides in Chiang Mai the more one is struck by the almost determined lack of regularity, discipline and regimentation in Thai life” wrote Anthropologist John Embree in 1950. Not much has changed. After you’ve been here awhile you certainly notice, sometimes with exasperation, the sheer unwillingness of the locals to conform to regulations – well certainly one’s that make sense for the greater civil society. Living in Phuket.

 

Of course, it would be inaccurate to describe them as non-conformists, for within their behavioural social structure they go to great lengths not to upset the status quo within their little circle. Everyone falls in line with the traditional rank and file of a village or company hierarchy. 

 

But, outside of this, each individual will generally do as they please with little respect to laws, civil obedience, common sense and above all safety and consideration for others. It’s quite ironic, since Thai people appear to be quite considerate and polite in each others company, but as strangers they simply ignore any thought of ‘doing the right thing’.

 

For example, try walking on the sidewalks of any city centre in Thailand you’ll find them crowded with vendors and market stalls, set up wherever they please. Or a shophouse restaurant would have set out some tables and chairs on this area. You have to use the street to walk anywhere. Well, this is what sidewalks are for in Asia.

 

Don’t expect the traffic to be policed either. In rush hour people will mindlessly double-park in a busy lane while the browse the local market for supper ingredients. The traffic police are nowhere to be seen. Kaaraoke restaurants pop up in the suburbs and keep everyone awake late at night – but when there’s fun to be had like this, few people will take objection. Heck, you can even set up a roadside bar on your front lawn and no one will stop you.

 

There are few laws limiting what can be built in a suburban area, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly have a factory or huge condo as a neighbour. Complaining will do little good if they have ‘paid’ enough money to get the go ahead. When the rush hour is over, songteaw drivers make extra money by driving through quiet suburbs blaring out advertising from speakers on the vehicle’s roof. Try telling them to stop (making extra money). It’s hopeless.

It may be illegal now to burn rubbish, but this is a practice that has been going on for centuries and most residents in Chiang Mai are still essentially from the ‘farmer’ class, who see it as a perfectly sensible way of getting rid of excess leaves. They are too uneducated to understand the environmental consequences, and even if you campaigned to educate them, they would ignore this all for its much easier to burn than ‘compost’. Thais prefer the corner-cutting method. Chiang Mai has a severe health risk each April and May from burning and lack of wind to remove the smog, but nothing is ever done to control it, despite lots of conferences and news articles.

 

There may be laws and regulations but they are applied very loosely. Thai’s like to be able to do as they please (especially if there is money to be made) and the authorities probably realise that heavy handed enforcement of regulations will only create general discontent in the community. Thai people are remarkably resiliant at ‘putting up’ with unsatisfactory consequences. They simply ignore them and get on with their little world. 

 

Foreigners living here find this exasperating at times, but as the overwhelming minority there is little you can do, other than react like and Thai and say… ‘Mai pen rai’.

 

Living in Bangkok 

 


Another complaining farang

Posted by admin on January 7th, 2008 filed in Living here, The locals
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One main difference between Thai people and Westerners is that us ‘farangs’ like to complain. Thai seldom complain, they simply accept, and this has a severe impact on their character and efficiency. On the one hand they are famous for being relaxed, on the other, their services can be surprisingly poor.

 

I should admit, from the start, that as a farang I’ll only ever value this concept from a Western point of view. Simply put, complaint is an important mechanism for improvement. It shouldn’t be seen as negative but constructive. It is what drives Germany to efficiency or America to ‘good value’. It’s the same principle that keeps Briton’s indignant about slipping standards (dear boy!). And here in Thailand it has an opposite effect.

 

All too often we find ourselves living in country that, superficially, is on the brink of being ‘newly industrialised’ yet essential resources of this modern society, such as 100% reliable electricity supply, or decent broadband internet for business services are simply not dependable. There is plenty of money and potential customers around, so why not meet the demand. The answer lies in public expectation (or lack of it) and a forgiving society that allow public services to under-deliver. 

 

Complaint is a very un-Thai characteristic. It causes people to lose face, get hot-headed and creates confrontation. Of course when there is business opportunities or politics involved you will hear plenty of ‘legal’ complaint (usually in the form of law-suits!), but on a personal level Thai people will refrain from complaining. Instead they learn to adapt, put up with, and take their business elsewhere. They are infinitely patient in this manner, happy to waste time finding alternative or suffer the frustration of delay and let-downs. This is one of their strengths but it has some appalling consequences on the end results of service in general.

 

As a farang I feel insulted when someone takes liberty with my time or customage by presenting something that is clearly sub-standard or unacceptable. If for example I’ve come all the way to a particularly recommended restaurant, sat down, got comfortable and ordered drinks only to hear that they have run out of all pork dishes, I get angry. Sure I could eat chicken, but why can’t they do their job properly and provision more carefully. It happens so often that it simply winds me up even more, rather than laughing it off as an unlucky once-off.


Thailand election blues

Posted by admin on December 25th, 2007 filed in Living here, The locals
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Thais, love elections, in fact they have them as often as every 18 months. Why? Because they prove to be such a windfall for everyone. Even the latest round – the first since the Sept 2006 coup – has seen a lot of money possibly changing hands despite a concerted effort to stamp out the age-old practice of vote buying. Now it’s left us all in a dilemma.

Thai politics is complicated but fascinating, and anyone with an interest in the country should pay attention to what’s going on these next two weeks, for it is a strong indicator of the direction and moral compass of the nation.

Now, as we wait to see who will form the next government, this issue of vote buying has become the trump card. Here’s how. The clear winner on Sunday was the People’s Power Party (PPP), widely regarded as a reincarnation of the Thai Rak Thai juggernaut of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. TRT was dissolved and 111 of its executive members banned from politics, following a lengthy enquiring into cheating during the snap poll of April 2006. And despite 80 more MPs defecting to other parties, the PPP phoenix somehow managed to pull off a stunning clear majority victory. How come? I’ll leave you to join the dots. As we wait to see who can muster the needed coalition support (no party gained a clear majority although the PPP came within 8 seats), the Electoral Commission is poised to issue at least a dozen ‘red cards’ after they conclude investigating vote fraud. This could tip the scales significantly.

The PPP has already declared it has the co-operation of three small parties in forming a slim-lead coalition, but should it lose some of its seats to red cards, it will almost certainly need to pull in one of the ‘big’ three, who garnered 25 seats or more. Of these, the Democrats are their arch-opposition and will try to launch a counter coalition deal. So, the balance of power lies with two mid-sized parties, the long-running Chart Thai (37) and the TRT defectors of the Pue Pandin (25). Either can swing the result, depending on what is offered to them by the deep-pocketed PPP (believed to be financed by Thaksin). Should one blink, the other will follow, not wanting to be shut out of a new government. However, the idea of being associated with the PPP is not good for either party and here’s why.

The PPP stormed to victory on the strength of the large numbers of poor voters in the North and Northeast who are attracted by the populist policies of TRT, which the PPP have vowed to continue. But its comes with one condition which all these voters seem happy with – bringing back Mr Thaksin. The PPP campaigned openly on this ticket and it worked, they love the man. There’s only one problem, should he get off the plane back in Thailand (presently exiled in London and Hong Kong) he must be arrested for contempt of court on multiple charges of corruption launched since the coup. They are very real charges, very serious charges and probably only the tip of the iceberg. The PPP will move to drop all charges if they form the next government, and reverse the carefully and transparently deliberated decision to dissolve the TRT and ban its executives from politics for 5 year for blatantly cheating in an election. It is also likely the new PPP government will dissolve the active and powerful Assets Scrutiny Commission which is busy investigating scores of corruption cases stemming from the TRT administration.

This, the other parties cannot accept, and neither will most the well-informed and politically aware/active people of Bangkok who voted mostly for the Democrats. And should this judicial meddling occur, they will take to the streets in massive protests similar to those against Thaksin’s ‘ethics’ in early 2006 that eventually prompted the military to step in and remove him. The mid-sized parties are aware of the disunity these PPP pledges will create, and will be under extreme pressure from the current power clique, industry and economic leaders, and Bangkok elite (Royals probably notwithstanding).

So, in a nutshell, we have a dilemma. 48 % of the population want Thaksin and his cronies back.  But it’s complicated as the man will have a tough time clearing his name and the PPP will be closely monitored to see if they try to interfere in the judicial process (as they have been known to do in the past as TRT). If they try too hard to clear Thaksin (their del facto master), the coalition partners might withdraw and their government will collapse. This is a common scenario in Thai politics.

Now, lets look at the alternatives. Firstly, it’s fair to say that behind the scenes the military and Bangkok elite (a powerful lot) are trying their very best to shut down the PPPs options and keep them out. But when a party pulls off such an awesome victory it’s very difficult. There will almost certainly be retribution against key military figures for their involvement in the coup. The PPP will want to recoup the enormous monies spent on gaining their advantage and will probably resort to the same sophisticated blatant corruption for which the TRT were so despised. But in this day and age the military have to take a back seat and be subtle.

This is were the EC becomes so important. There has been widespread vote buying to be sure, and the PPP are most likely to be the most guilty. This places a lot of pressure on the EC, who are considering about 50 genuine cases that are supported by good evidence (there were more than 900 complaints originally). Disqualifying too many PPP candidates will make the election look like a farce. But they are impartial and share the military’s view that this election should be disciplined and a precedent set against vote buying. Indeed it’s widely acknowledged that Thaksin previously bought his way into power by this method.

Once the red cards have been dished out there will be re-run elections. Some candidates will get yellow cards, meaning a re-run election in their constituency which they are free to run in. The voters in those constituencies care little for election ethics and will simply vote for whoever belongs to a party that plans to join the PPP in a coalition. So, it’s a bit of redundant exercise really. Should it go the other way and the democrats find a chance to form a coalition to lead, it will have to be a six-party coalition which will be fractious and weak. This will make them sitting ducks, unable to achieve anything.

Possibly the PPP will find themselves one or two seats short of a house majority after all is said and done. They will have to make big concessions to one of the mid-sized parties to get a comfortable mandate among MPs, and one of those will be that they follow the correct judicial process in dealing with Mr Thaksin. I predict this to be the outcome, and that problems will arise down the line as they try to influence the result and suppress investigations (many of which will be against individuals who are now PPP executives). It will result in more disunity, street protests, threats from the coalition partners, fillibustering from the PPP and so on.

Eventually it will all come to a head 18 months from now when the government collapses and new elections announced. Which is what Thais love; more money dished out in huge quantities and we’re back to square one. It’s a kind of wicked samsara of politics that Thailand finds itself perpetually in.

Bangkok Post  Nation Newspaper 


Racha Koh Racha Yai, one of Phuket’s outstanding first-class resorts

Posted by admin on December 23rd, 2007 filed in Uncategorized
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At the moment we reserved our guestroom in the Racha, we were not aware about this establishment, ranking as one of Phuket’s most luxurious four-star rated hotel resorts. However, after spending our holiday here, I undoubtedly can conclude that this excellent and professionally run hotel offers the most comfortable and best facilitated accommodation, Phuket has on offer.

I was using various holiday resources to find the most lucrative deal and it was purely coincidence when suddenly the Racha Koh Racha Yai resort caught my eye. The provided information about all the services and guest amenities sounded really attractive while the rooms seemed reasonably priced too. So I decided to go for it and did choose this resort as our next holiday accommodation.
    
Once we arrived at Phuket International Airport we were immediately picked-up by a stylish Mercedes Benz car. It really impressed us and for a moment we felt like celebrities. Our comfortable ride finally dropped us off at the hotel’s dedicated boat trip check-in facility. After less than 15 minutes the boat arrived. The refreshing boat trip to the island location of the hotel lasted about 30 minutes. During the sea voyage I started to realise that our choice of accommodation was wonderfully positioned on an exotic island, known as Koh Racha Yai!

Other guests’ experiences made it clear that it is recommendable to be aware of the time you have between the arrival of your flight and the boat’s departure. This will avoid possible hours of waiting time. As we didn’t check the amount of time, it was pure luck that the boat arrived very soon.

As to the Racha hotel resort itself, the reputed establishment is certainly gorgeously presented, situated in a charming area on a superb and sun-soaked sandy beach. It might be a great option hiring a villa on top of the hill, as this location is free from disturbing passing motorised vehicles. Because of this you can fully enjoy the very private surrounding environment. The scenery here is pretty as well. The villa featured a rather modest but essential interior. I really appreciated the outdoors shower. The villa remained extremely neat as during our stay, the always smiling staff frequently cleaned the property. The available infinity swimming pool was really a pleasure, particularly at dusk.

Although I’d heard about a few guests having complained about certain services, I never experienced any problems. The services, which were provided to us, during our entire stay, were even faultless.

The daily served, rich breakfast was another enjoyable experience. However, dining at the Racha isn’t cheap! The local restaurants can be reached within a short stroll from the resort and serve good and inexpensive meals. The sandy beach wasn’t always peaceful as occasionally it became crowded. However, there was always the option to walk to a nearby deserted beach.

 One of Ratcha Yai’s superb beaches

We all truly enjoyed our holiday at this recommendable resort. For those who mainly wish to unwind and not being too active, this is the place to be! You can easily pre-book Phuket resorts including the Racha, online via the 1stopphuket.com website. Usually you’ll also benefit from discounted rates, which only are offered by the internet booking services. 


Tips on how to enjoy your Phuket boating vacation to the fullest

Posted by admin on December 17th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized
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Phuket is a great destination for holidaymakers who mainly wish to spend their time yachting. The waters off Phuket’s eastern shore offer year-round sailing while this popular tourist hot spot also hosts the renowned King’s Cup Regatta sailing event. This annual event, which celebrates the Thai king’s birthday on the fifth of December, attracts many boating enthusiasts from all over the world. Mentioned below is some useful advice on making the best out of your boating holiday in the Phuket area.

A succeeded boating should be a happening that is filled with excitement and fun. If you’ve decided to bring the children along, than you should make certain arrangements, that will avoid bored and fun-spoiling kids. After all, constantly whining kids might ruin your well-deserved relaxing holiday. It only takes a little bit of planning making sure that all participants will get their kicks. The first step should be making the decision about what kind of yachting holiday you wish to have.

There are several different options possible. You could hire a charter vessel. A chartered boat will provide a professional and experienced crew so you are free to relax while getting yourself a nice tan on the sun-soaked deck. You also have the option to enjoy some excellent deep sea fishing, mind-boggling underwater adventures or just simply appreciate the wonderful scenery. Your crew can assist you with realising your desired plans as they are very familiar with the area and all the interesting options it has to offer. It is like having your personal tour guide onboard! A boating vacation like this will most likely be pleasurable for everyone.

Phuket is an outstanding yachting and boating destination

Another popular choice is renting a boat which allows taking only you and your family members onboard. However, this option is only suitable for persons who have good navigation skills. Once you successfully convinced the yachting company that you are able to smoothly operate the boat, they will hire it to you as long as you wish. In this case the family will function as your crew.

A boating holiday like this is most likely going to be an adventure that everybody won’t easily forget as you and your beloved ones all have to depend on each other, which will create an atmosphere onboard of comradeship. It is also great to be away from the daily pressure of your job and friends for a while. Most persons who completed a trip like this all shared similar experiences of feeling totally revitalised.

In addition, this type of boating tour will save you a considerable amount of money too as the renting rates for crewless boats are much lower. If you wish to experience the most joyful Phuket boating vacation than I highly recommend this fantastic option to everyone.             
 


Some of the main reasons for visiting Phuket

Posted by admin on December 12th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized
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Phuket in the south of Thailand is the country’s wealthiest, best visited, most coveted, busiest, prettiest and most popular tourist hot spot. The island is rightfully nicknamed “pearl of the Andaman and pearl of the south”. It is Thailand’s largest island, ideally situated in the tropical nation’s southern part. On the west Phuket faces the shoreline of the blue Andaman Sea.

Phuket boasts an abundance of natural beauty such as fabulous white sandy beach areas, stunning limestone cliffs, serene broad bays, and lush in-land woods. This extreme popular travel destination is renowned for offering a comprehensive set of marine recreational activities. Here visitors will find some of the country’s finest accommodation establishments, including several first-class resorts, and unforgettable and adventurous elephant rides.

Every kind of leisure and fun is available, whether you are seeking a peaceful corner, an enchanting vacation retreat or an exciting action-filled packed time bounded by crystal clear blue waters, gently waving palms and sun soaked beaches. There are without a doubt many reasons to spend a few weeks on this island. Mentioned below are some of the sights that attract travellers from all over the world.

The island’s flora and fauna has become a star tourist attraction. You have the option to observe a wide range of animals in the outstanding Phuket Zoo, while fun activities, such as elephant, monkey and crocodile shows are at hand as well. The Zoo houses more than 600 different types of birds, around hundred species of amphibians and reptiles, and nearly 50 sorts of mammals inhabiting the ten hectares large area.

You better not try this!

Another principal draw card is Phuket’s jaw-dropping natural beauty. You can appreciate some spectacular scenery by visiting Prompthep Cape. This magical spot is renowned for the most fabulous sunsets.

Jaw-dropping beauty!

Just a short distance away from Rawai Beach on Viset Rd is the Phuket Museum. The facility displays a fascinating selection of more than 2,000 rarities. The left-handed Noble Volute is one of the main attractions as it is the only specie, which was ever discovered. Other rarities feature fossils dating from the stone age, giant clams and one of our planet’s rarest golden pearls.  

Buddhist temples, among others, characterise culture in the “land of smiles”. The island’s most significant temple, Wat Chalong is positioned behind Chalong Bay on the southern part of the region. This sacred construction is one of Phuket’s largest Buddhist institutions. The story goes that two monks who once lived here miraculous healing powers. The Phra Thong temple is located in the core of Phuket. This religious attraction is also known as the Golden Buddha Temple. The site houses an enormous, half-buried Buddha of great historical interest
 
Visitors wishing to experience the tropical forest’s sounds and superb panoramas should not miss visiting Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. This magnificent park boasts Phuket’s last territory of untouched rainforest. The park, which is located in the north provides a great base to enjoy scenery of fantastic waterfalls, while the gibbon rehabilitation centre does an excellent job, rehabilitating abandoned pet gibbons to their natural environment.

All nature buffs should definitely head to the wonderful Phuket Butterfly Garden & Aquarium. Less than two miles situated outside of Phuket Town, the attraction houses a stunning collection, containing hundreds of the finest butterfly specimens. It is a wonderful experience to see these colourful creatures, freely flying around under a gigantic dome. Other exciting features include: an abundance of lush plant life, tranquil ponds and watercourses.

Phuket’s most renowned beach resort is Patong. This highly-popular beach area offers a wide range of nightlife venues and activities. Patong Beach provides an ideal spot to play and party. After sunset the town’s pulsating nightlife comes alive. The numerous restaurants, bars, pubs, and several spacious discos guarantee a great night out!

Complete online info on Phuket attractions.


My extraordinary life as an English teacher in rural Phuket

Posted by admin on December 4th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized
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Since three years now I live in a tiny village, which is located in Phuket’s lovely countryside. The internet and English speaking locals can’t be found here and pineapple was the only eatable stuff familiar to me when I arrived here. I rented my house from a Thai lawyer and below me lives a Thai rural family. The oldest family member is the non-English speaking, 78 years old grandfather. This adorable man often comes to visit me and always brings some freshly picked fruit along. By now I can speak and understand some Thai and I always enjoy chatting with the old man who likes to smile and laugh a lot. He assured me that his three faithful dogs will protect our house against invading snakes but sometimes I fear some of the many dogs in the neighbourhood more than snakes, which so far I never spotted in the house’s direct surroundings.

I have a job teaching English in a little school. The majority of my enthusiastic students have rather poor and hard-working parents. These kids are, compared with students in the West, really a pleasure to work with. Their polite and respectful behaviour is something I never experienced with children when I was teaching in Europe. The lessons are always fun and often I let the children play roles. I think this method is the best way to teach them the English language. It is by far better than just letting them read books and write certain words over and over again. When giving classes I never speak Thai and prefer to act out all kind of situations. I have worked as an English teacher in Korea (Seoul), Vietnam (Hanoi), Czech Republic (Prague) and in Russia (Kiev) but teaching here in this laid-back rural environment is totally different from anything I have ever experienced before. I really started to love the simple way of live here.

Every Friday evening I drive in grandfather’s old but solid truck to the south of Phuket, where my friends Roger and Anne live. The ride takes about 90 minutes. My two best friends built a bungalow, made from rattan. The construction is standing on stilts and the blue ocean is just a two-minute walk away. The entire weekend I spend snorkelling, surfing, swimming and chilling out on the fabulous beach. After sunset we usually eat freshly caught and prepared seafood by the campfire while listening to our favourite music. It is really awesome, knowing a tranquil beach area away from the crowds of tourists. There is even a modest but good restaurant on ‘our’ little beach and a bakery, selling tasty croissants, can easily be reached on foot.

Sunday around 5pm I drive back again to my place. Once I arrive I thank grandfather for borrowing his truck again but he thanks me even more for returning the truck each time with a full tank. In the evening I prepare the lessons for Monday. God! I wish I could stay here forever. If you might be interested in teaching English in Phuket, this complete Phuket website provides useful information on living in Phuket.         


Poor attention to detail in Thailand

Posted by admin on November 28th, 2007 filed in Living here, Property, The locals
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Attention to detail in Thailand often comes in quite different forms. Thais are obsessed with presentation, from clothing to food and gardens, but it’s all a little superficial. It all looks good from far, but close up it’s far from good.

In fact Thailand could possibly be described as a short cut nation. Looking good is always important to Thais – whether you are going shopping, or mountain biking, it’s important to look the part and this affords you some measure of respect.  But looking good can be costly and it’s surprising how much quality is compromised simply to make something look fantastic with very little expense.

Ex-pats who’ve been here awhile know better, and though they appreciate how good local people are at making something look impressive, such as a house, they’ve learn’t to take the trouble and check the finer details and close up workmanship.

Recently I had a house built and find this out for myself. The house turned out well and the construction company were quite competent at putting it up – but I did take the trouble to visit the site once a day and keep an eye on things, during which time I realised that behind the nicely painted walls, the actually brick work is practically slapped together.

But when it came to the finishing I wasn’t at all impressed. I realise the workmanship is relative to what you pay people and the cheap building labour in Thailand is an advantage though fairly unskilled. However, some of their habits really surprised me.

Paint was applied with brushes made from grass (even though decent brushes here cost less than a few dollars), never once did they bother putting down any canvass or newspaper so that although the managed to get the paint onto the wall successfully they also managed to get paint everywhere else and fir weeks after I was discovering speckles on everything.

Edges weren’t tapped so that the colour borders were all messy, the varnishing on the wood was full of ‘spots’ and runs, they would happily be varnishing while metres away someone else was sanding beams and creating lots of dust.

Of course some things come with correct training, but many of the faults were just common sense and you start believing that they must know but just don’t care. The consequences of poor word of mouth and loss of face doesn’t occur to them. A carpenter who has been fitting doors for years puts the hinges on the wrong side so that it obsctructs the light switches when you open it, fitting are mounted in the most bizarre places and quite the most impractical height in the bathroom, no one asks, they just go ahead without any real thought, eager to get the job done!

Some of the faults really are astonishing and though you’ll end up with a nice looking house, closer inspection reveals skewed fittings, cracks, big ugly holes accidentally drilled in the wrong places, dirt left everywhere, mismatching colours painted on the roof, afterthought adjustments and more. A lot of effort sometimes goes into the most meaningless superficial appearances while the important structural and practical details are hopelessly inadequate. That’s the difference between priorities of one culture and another.