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Posts tagged “phuket

Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – School Views

Koh Panyee School must have one of the more unusual locations for a school, in a fishing village built on stilts set in a stunning bay of limestone karsts off the northeast coast of Phuket in southern Thailand. 

Following on from my last post Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – A Thai Fishing Village On Stilts; these are some photos I took in Koh Panyee School where our local guide took us during our trip to the village.

I was previously a teacher in Thailand so this especially interested me. I bet those kids don’t even notice the view!

Playground, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandRow of shoes outside classroom, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandStudents in classroom, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandHouses on stilts and mosque, view from Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandSeaside football pitch, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandFootball pitch, mosque and limestone karsts, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandHouses on stilts, mosque and limestone karst, view from Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandSea view from Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandHouses on stilts, mosque and limestone karsts, view from Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandClassrooms and playground, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandClassroom interior, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandFootball pitch with sea view, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandClassroom exteriors, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, ThailandMessage written on playground wall, Koh Panyee School (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand


Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – A Thai Fishing Village On Stilts

Against a dramatic backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs rising out of Phang Nga Bay off the northeast coast of Phuket in southern Thailand, a web of narrow boardwalks and rickety jetties link Koh Panyee (or Ko Panyi) into a compact fishing village on stilts. 

Simple buildings with contrasting colorful roofs and wooden plank walls painted or left the rustic shades of nature, cozily nudge each other, perched above the shallow water on timber stilts sunk in the seabed.

Houses, shops, cafés and eateries cram together along a maze of wobbly walkways. Open-fronted seafood restaurants line the waterside and corrugated iron shacks reflect a mosaic of muted tin tones on the briny surface. Market stalls display sarongs, shell trinkets and other souvenirs as well as fruit, vegetables, dried fish and other wares for daily living. 

Koh Panyee School with playground and football pitch sits right on the water’s edge and a mosque with golden domes, still under construction, is sprouting up on the small area of dry land under the limestone cliff.

Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Koh Panyee

Stilted houses on Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Stilted houses on Koh Panyee

Mosque and floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Mosque and floating houses on Koh Panyee

Colorful roofs of stilted houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful roofs of stilted houses

Floating seafood restaurants with a sea view, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Floating seafood restaurants with a sea view

Approaching Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi) in a long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Approaching Koh Panyee in our long-tail boat

Colorful floating houses, boats and fish traps, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful floating houses, boats and fish traps

Close-up of long-tail boat engine, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Close-up of long-tail boat engine moored at Koh Panyee

I’ve read that three nomadic fisherman families left Indonesia in search of a new home around 200 years ago, agreeing to plant a flag on the highest landmark to signal they’d discovered a place to settle. When they found bountiful fishing off a tiny limestone island, they raised a flag on the cliff top.

So, it became known as Koh Panyee meaning Flag Island and inhabitants of this Muslim fishing village today are descendants of these families. Traditionally surviving off the fishing trade, tourism has more recently become a major part of the economy.

On a recent long-tail boat trip around Phang Nga Bay including a quick stop at James Bond Island, we also visited Koh Panyee. This was my second visit after about 15 years.

We arrived early to miss the boatloads of tourists having lunch at the waterside seafood restaurants and explored village life beyond before having an early lunch ourselves there.

View from Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

View from Koh Panyee walkway

Local woman mending fishing nets, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Local woman mending fishing nets outside her home

Golden domes of new mosque, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Golden domes of new mosque

Typical local restaurant behind tourist seafood restaurants, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Typical local restaurant behind tourist seafood restaurants

Woman threading strings of locally farmed pearls to sell, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Woman threading strings of locally farmed pearls to sell on souvenir stalls

Typical local restaurant, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Another typical local restaurant

Stall selling dried fish and chilies, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Stall selling varieties of dried fish mixed with chilies

Close-up of dried fish and chilies, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Close-up of dried fish mixed with chilies

Food stall, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Food stall

Houses on stilts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Houses on stilts

Houses on stilts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Houses on stilts

Potted flowering orchids and bougainvillea adorn floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Potted flowering orchids and bougainvillea adorn floating houses

Poster of mosque construction, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Poster of mosque construction

Washing line behind mosque construction site, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Washing line behind mosque construction site

Fish drying in the sun, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Fish drying in the sun

Mosque under construction & satellite dishes, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Mosque under construction & satellite dishes

Poster of mosque in outside kitchen area, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Poster of mosque in outside kitchen area

Boat engine & fishing paraphernalia, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Boat engine & fishing paraphernalia by the water

Between floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Between floating houses

Washing line, bird cage & life between floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Washing line, bird cage & life between floating houses

Colorful floating tin shack, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful tin mosaic of floating shack on stilts

Fishing long-tail boat moored off floating raft with fish traps, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Fishing long-tail boat moored off floating raft used for storing fish traps & fish in nets in the water

Long-tail boats, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Long-tail boats moored outside restaurants

Long-tail boat, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Lone long-tail boat moored at end of jetty while boatman waits in the shade of an umbrella

Long-tail boats & limestone karsts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Moored long-tail boats against a backdrop of limestone karsts

Take a look at Jamie’s Phuket blog post about Koh Panyee for another perspective. At the end is a video worth checking out. In Jamie’s words “Finally – a video (actually an ad for a bank) which features Koh Panyee. The story of the kids on Koh Panyee starting their own football team, despite the lack of a pitch to play on! Nice story – great scenery!”

Also, for photos of a community built on stilts over the sea in Malaysia, check out my post Penang Snapshots: George Town’s Clan Jetties and for another island in the area Phang Nga Bay: Ko Yao Noi.


Phang Nga Bay: A Long-Tail Boat Trip – James Bond Island

In the Andaman Sea between the island of Phuket and the mainland of southern Thailand, Phang Nga Bay’s sheer limestone cliffs tower majestically out of the sea.

Ko Khao Phing Kan, one of the many islands in the Phang Nga Bay archipelago, was the film location for Scaramanga’s hideout in The Man with the Golden Gun. Now more commonly called James Bond Island it’s become a popular tourist destination on boat trips around the scenic bay.

After my recent weekend trip to another Phang Nga Bay island Ko Yao Noi, I took a private day trip (to avoid the crowds) in a long-tail boat around the bay with my friend Paula and her parents.

Here are some images from that trip.

Floating restaurants & long-tail boats, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Floating restaurants & long-tail boats

Moored long-tail boats, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Moored long-tail boats

Moored long-tail boats, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Moored long-tail boats

View of bay from long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

View of bay from long-tail boat

View of bay from long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

View of bay from long-tail boat

Long-tail boats at James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Long-tail boats moored at the beach on Ko Khao Phing Kan, more commonly called James Bond Island

Long-tail boats at James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Long-tail boats at James Bond Island

Morning light on plants growing on rocks, James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Morning light on plants growing on rocks on James Bond Island

Ko Tapu (Nail Island) just off James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Ko Tapu (Nail Island) just off James Bond Island

Souvenir stalls on James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Souvenir stalls on James Bond Island

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

View from long-tail boat of Phang Nga Bay

Limestone rocks of Phang Nga Bay towering over long-tail boat, Thailand

Limestone rocks of Phang Nga Bay towering over long-tail boat

Inside long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Our guide and driver

Phang Nga Bay views, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay views

Inside long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

My friend Paula, her parents, our guide, driver and long-tail boat pilot

Views from long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Views from long-tail boat

Views from long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Heading home


Phang Nga Bay: Ko Yao Noi

Ko Yao Noi (Small Long Island) is the baby sister of Ko Yao Yai (Big Long Island), both part of the Ko Yao Archipelago in Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and Krabi in southern Thailand.

Last weekend I visited Ko Yao Noi with a friend, staying in a bungalow near the beach. It was a chilled out trip spent mostly lying in a beachside hammock reading and a sunrise wander with my camera along the sands, capturing the stunning scenery right on our doorstep.

Here are a few of my images from that weekend.

Approaching storm over Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Approaching storm over Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay view, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay view from my hammock

Phang Nga Bay view, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay view

Stormy skies, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Stormy skies

Phang Nga Bay sunrise, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay sunrise

Early morning sunlight on the beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Early morning sunlight on the beach

Hammock dock at sunrise, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Hammock dock at sunrise

Phang Nga Bay sunrise, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay sunrise

Phang Nga Bay sunrise, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay sunrise

Early morning, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Early morning

Hammock on the beach in early morning light, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Hammock on the beach in early morning light

Fungi bathed in early morning light, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Fungi bathed in early morning light

Hammock dock, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Hammock dock

Long-tail boat, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boat

Long-tail boat, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boat

Long-tail boat, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boat

Mid morning view of Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Mid morning view of Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Phang Nga Bay

Tsunami hazard sign on beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Tsunami hazard sign on beach

Children playing on beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Children playing on beach

Children playing on beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Children playing on beach

Children playing on beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Children playing on beach

Children playing on beach, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Children playing on beach

View over Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand

View over Phang Nga Bay


Phuket Snapshots: Rawai’s Sea Gypsy Village

Curving along the south-eastern tip of Phuket, the northern shore of Rawai beach is the home of sea gypsies known as Chao Lay. The sea is their life and livelihood.

Children splash and shriek floating on plastic ice box lids and pieces of broken board alongside long-tail boats anchored to the beach by long lines, bobbing lazily in turquoise waters.

Rickety wooden stalls hug the beach, facing stores and seafood restaurants across the dirt road dividing beachfront from village. Long strings of varying hued pearls dangle with displays of shell handicrafts blowing in the salty, fish-scented breeze.

A rainbow of freshly caught fish lie lifelessly on metal counters alongside plastic trays packed with shellfish on ice. Over-sized, water-filled tubs placed on the ground in front of stalls crawl with live crabs and crayfish.

Locals and tourists browse and buy seafood then cross the road to one of the open-fronted restaurants where, for a small fee, the kitchen serves it up in the dish of choice.

Check out my post Phuket Snapshots: Rawai Beach and Local Life at Rawai Beach on the informative Jamie’s Phuket Blog.

Also, read the eye-opening article Tourism imperils way of life for Thai sea gypsies to learn about the plight of the Chao Lay.

Children playing in the sea at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Sea Gypsy children playing in the sea

Children playing in the sea at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Sea Gypsy children playing in the sea with ice box lids and pieces of broken board

Beachside vegetable stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Beachside vegetable stall

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Beachside fish stall

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Close up of colorful fish

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Another fish close up

Litle girl's feet show size of giant lobster at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

A little girl’s feet show the size of lobster swimming in a tub at a seafood stall

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Array of fish at a beachside stall

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Close up

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Freshly caught fish on ice

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

More fish

Beachside fish stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Beachside shellfish stall. Prices are in Thai baht per kilo

Children playing at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Children playing behind the stalls

Beachside seafood stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Beachside shellfish stall

Beachside seafood stall at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Close up

Fish trap on the beach at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Fish trap on the beach

Old house at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Old house near the Sea Gypsy village

Long-tail boats moored off the beach at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boats (“ruea hang yao” in Thai) moored off the beach

Dead puffer fish stabbed on long-tail boat engine shaft on the beach near the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Dead puffer fish stabbed on the shaft of a long-tail boat engine

Close up of dead puffer fish stabbed on long tail boat engine shaft on the beach near the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Close up of dead puffer fish

Beachside shrine at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Beachside shrine under a tree. Offerings include bottles of red Fanta soda and a model ship to protect the fishermen

Long-tail boats moored off the beach at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boats moored off the beach

Fish traps by the beach & long tail boats moored offshore at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Fish traps by the beach

Beached long-tail boats & sleeping fisherman near the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Sleeping fisherman next to beached long-tail boats

Long-tail boats moored off the beach at the Sea Gypsy village, Rawai, Phuket, Thailand

Long-tail boats moored off the beach and children playing in the water


Thai Flowers: A Lone Lotus

This lone lotus flower is so stunning it deserves a post all to itself! It was growing in an earthenware pot of water outside my local restaurant near where I was staying in Karon on the Thai island of Phuket.

For more of my flower posts check out Thai Flowers: Lotus Buds & Orchid Blooms and The Darling Buds of Guatemala: Lakeside Blooms.

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Phuket Snapshots: Rawai Beach

Just around the southern tip of Phuket on the east coast sprawls Rawai beach, a more local scene than the touristy swimming beaches of Kata and Karon.

At low tide long-tail boats, fishing boats and speedboats used for island sightseeing trips, lie stranded on expanses of sand, tethered to the shore by long ropes attached to stakes while locals forage for shellfish in pools among exposed rocks.

Along the southern shore, fishermen mend nets and repair or build boats. At the northern end beyond the pier in a sea gypsy fishing village, stalls sell pearls, shells and a medley of freshly caught seafood. Here you can buy mackerel, snapper, lobster, crab, prawns, mussels, squid… then take to one of the nearby restaurants to prepare your dish of choice.

Restaurants, many just rustic eateries seating customers Thai style on woven mats, spread along most of Rawai beach offering an array of mouth-watering seafood dishes. Popular with locals and visitors to Phuket they fill up quickly with families on public holidays and weekends.

Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Boat on beach, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Boats, low tide, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Fishing nets, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Fishing nets, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), low tide, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), low tide, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), low tide, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Boat building, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Boat building, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Old boat, fish traps, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Tsunami hazard zone sign, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand Long-tail boats (ruea hang yao), Thai flag, Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand


Phuket Snapshots: Kata Beach Sunsets

Stunning sunsets seduce at beaches all along the western coast of Phuket. While selecting photos for my Phuket Snapshots: Kata Beach post and realizing most of my Kata photos were sunsets I dedicated a post to them.

For other Phuket beach photos check out my post Phuket Snapshots: Karon beach and for more in-depth information on Phuket head over to my favorite Phuket blog Jamie’s Phuket.

Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand Sunset, Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

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Phuket Snapshots: Kata Beach

A tree-lined shore fringes a pretty, sweeping curve of white sand nudging lazy, turquoise water in high season and crashing surf during monsoon. Kata beach is another of Phuket’s popular beaches lying to the south of Karon.

A road runs between much of the leafy shoreline and the manicured grounds of the Club Med resort behind. Except for a cluster of hotels and restaurants sprawling along the sand at the southern end, most of the beach remains undeveloped. The northern end is quieter with a tiny inlet often crammed with long tail boats depending on tide and time of day.

VIewpoint, Kata Noi, Kata, Karon beaches, Phuket, Thailand

VIewpoint of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

View of Kata beach from the southern end

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Late afternoon view from Villa Elizabeth at the southern end

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Midday at the beach. Koh Pu is on the horizon.

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sacred tree at the northern end

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Fishing boats at the northern end

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Yachts at anchor during regatta

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

Jet ski zone at the southern end during high season

Kata beach, Phuket, Thailand

In front of The Boathouse during high season


Phuket Snapshots: Karon Beach

Karon, a three km wide, open expanse of squeaky, white sands is the second most developed beach in Phuket and an ample playground for beach bums. Here are some of my snapshots.

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset on Karon beach

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset on Karon beach

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset on Karon beach

Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Squeaky white sands of Karon beach

Umbrellas, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Quiet time

Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Quiet day at the beach

Naga shrine (pa ya nak), Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Naga shrine (pa ya nak) at northern end of Karon beach

Offerings, naga shrine (pa ya nak), Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Offerings at naga shrine

Close up, colored ribbons, naga shrine (pa ya nak), Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Close up of colored ribbons at naga shrine

Naga, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Naga’s head against deep blue evening sky

Lotus flower, jasmine garland, naga shrine, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Jasmine garlands and lotus flowers at naga shrine

Marigold, garland, naga shrine, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Marigold garlands at naga shrine

Incense, candles, offerings, naga shrine, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Incense and candles at naga shrine

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset over Karon beach

Naga, sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Glowing naga at sunset

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset

Sunset, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset dip in the sea

Check out the excellent Jamie’s Phuket Blog for in-depth information about Phuket!


Songkran: Thai New Year Water Festival

Aquatic mayhem infects the kingdom during the Thai New Year Water Festival or Songkran when Thailand plunges into a frenetic nationwide water fight on the grandest scale. Not just child’s play, crowds hit the streets armed with hosepipes, water guns and cannons, pails and tubs to spray, splash and douse.

Pickup trucks stocked with barrels of icy water cruise along overflowing with drenched merrymakers showering anyone they pass, in turn receiving a deluge. Barefoot water warriors stand at the roadside targeting all who pass by, hurling bucketfuls of chilly water over motorcyclists, pedestrians and truck troopers.

Older Songkran traditions still thrive, a time to visit family, pay respect to elders, pray at Buddhist temples and leave offerings for monks. People cleanse Buddha images in homes and temples using fragrant water containing flower petals. The “blessed” water is then collected and gently poured over the hands and shoulders of elders to pay respect and bring good fortune. Throwing water in the streets originated from this custom as relief from the heat.

Shared with neighboring Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, Songkran runs from 13 to 15 April each year in the hottest month at the end of the dry season. It has been a national holiday since 1940 when Thailand’s official start to the calendar year changed from the Thai New Year to 1 January to coincide with the Western business world. The Buddhist calendar however, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, is still in use. The year 2013 is 2556 in Thailand!

Different parts of Thailand play with water for a varying number of days at Songkran. When I lived in Nakhon Sawan in central Thailand, it dragged on for about ten days but here in Phuket the law now allows it only on the 13th as they try to cut down on accidents. This was the first Thai New Year I dared get my camera out (from the relative safety of a doorway) and take some photos. Afterwards, I joined in the mayhem, splashing and soaking to my heart’s delight!

Songkran (Thai New Year) water fight, Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Roadside mayhem!

Songkran (Thai New Year) water fight, Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Motorcycle target!

Songkran (Thai New Year) water fight, Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Kids enjoying the fun!

Songkran (Thai New Year) water fight, Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Cooling off!

Ice truck, Songkran (Thai New Year), Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Buying ice from an ice truck to chill water for throwing.

Soaked with faces smeared in white powder. Songkran (Thai New Year), Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Soaked with faces smeared in white powder.

Ice buyers become victims of icy water, Songkran (Thai New Year), Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Ice buyers become victims of icy water!

Pickup truck armed with barrel of water gets a drenching, Songkran (Thai New Year), Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Pickup truck armed with barrel of water gets a drenching.


Soi Romanee: Old Phuket Town’s Ex-Red Light District

Pastel stained Sino-Portuguese shop-houses, elaborate Chinese shrines, golden Thai temples and Sino-Colonial decaying mansions color the streets of Old Phuket Town.

This history rich pocket of the city traces back to Phuket’s tin mining boom. Nowadays, it’s a busy commercial center of cafés, restaurants, stores and tiny printing shops lit at night by Chinese lanterns glowing crimson between arches and shuttered doorways.

Soi Romanee, a lane of vibrant renovated buildings in the heart of Old Town, was the red light district for Chinese laborers working in the tin mines. Now, it’s mostly home to mixed Thai-Chinese families with a splattering of guesthouses and cafés.

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