Monday 15 June 2015 – Phuket Town, Thailand
A bit rainy today. Started with a walk around town to get my bearings, which didn’t take long. Then a stroll around the wet market where the stallholders were remarkably tolerant of the tall farang taking photos but not buying anything.
Back in the old town it started to rain so I took shelter in a café-cum-bookshop named Booktopia with an iced latte. I’ve been looking for a decent book on Phuket Town – the market must be ripe – but this place had mostly second hand pulp. Wandered the streets some more taking photos of the architecture, a mix of newly tarted up and the renovator’s delights. There is still a great mix of the new and trendy and tourism focussed business with the work a day garages, shops and agencies in the old town.
Found a sweet little café for lunch – an excellent Pad Thai and the nicest prawn cakes I’ve ever had. I’m getting a bit sick of Thai taxi drivers (who isn’t). They lurk on street corners and bark at any foreign-looking person, often startling them. They only exist to rip people off. At least the massage ladies, who similarly accost passers-by, will actually give you a massage at the stated prices.
Phuket Town is noteable for its distinctive for its own version of the Straits Chinese or Peranakan architecture, which here has its origins in early settlers from Portugal. The beauty of the old town had struck me on my previous visit, and now there was clearly being some money spent on renovating and conserving this part of the city.
There is a museum to the town’s Straits Chinese heritage, which charges TB200 admission. It isn’t worth it. Given the town’s apparent cultural confidence and wealth this is a shame, despite being located in a fabulous heritage building (an old Chinese school) in the heart of the old town. If I had not known about the Peranakan culture already, I’d have been little the wiser after visiting this place.
Looking ahead, I booked a coach to Hua Hin for Wednesday and two nights in a hotel there at a relatively expensive – for Thailand – AUD$50 per night. Took a break at the hotel before setting out to find dinner. After being pumping on a Sunday night, the town was pretty dead on Monday, with many places closed. Settled on a little place around the corner that did both Thai and western food, before realising the Thai food was only available during the day. So dinner was a disappointing chicken parmigiana with fries. Bought a small tub of Tim Tam ice-cream at a mini mart to eat back in my room as solace.