Archive for March, 2010
Posted by: Ruth in China 2010
Randal’s niece Tammy from Salem, VA is here visiting us for a week and we’re having a wonderful time. She took instantly to sea travel and can even read in the front cabin while the boat rolls. Today we shopped till we dropped and then Tammy took us to a wonderful restaurant here next door to the marina where we watched the ferries come and go and the lights come on the cruise ships.” Our visit with Tammy began in Singapore so that’s where this email takes place. From Singapore we flew to Langkawi and then we did a 2 day cruise to George Town. We anchoredat night during the passage and had dinner on Labarque, the sail boat of our friends Patrick and Elizabeth who were also cruising from Langkawi to George Town. Patrick even put down their dinghy and was our taxi service. Sadly, Tammy leaves us the day after tomorrow. Randal and I will stay in George Town for a bit. Happily our friends Patrick and Elizabeth from Labarque will stay here too. Elizabeth was tour guide for Tammy and me this morning before she had to leave for her own chores. Tomorrow is our last day so we’ll have to cram lots into it. You’ll eventually see the photos.
Our Salem, Virginia niece Tammy arrived in Singapore March 17th at 11 pm after 25 hours of travel. She came to spend a week with us. So there was no time to rest at all! The very next morning we left our hotel at 8:30am to meet a walking tour group at 9:30 at exit B of the Bugis MRT! The 3 and a half hour tour of the Malay-Islamic Quarter was with The Original Singapore Walks Company. Our tour guide was quite good and very knowledgeable. But we weren’t allowed to take notes; only photos so it was hard to remember all of the stories…..
This is the tour description.
Sultans of Spice™
A Kampong Glam (Malay-Islamic Quarter) Walk
Winner of Singapore Tourism Awards for Best Sightseeing/Leisure/Educational Programme 2005
How was Singapore sold to the British for 60,000 Spanish Dollars? Find out about the man who did it, and the man who forced him to. No one remembers the sultans that used to rule, except us. The old Royal Palace, the Sultan Mosque, the Tombs of the Malayan Princes: they all carry an air of royalty snatched away too quickly. Uncover a curious blend of Malay folk traditions and Islam in the legends of the mysterious keris (dagger), exotic perfumes, jamu remedies to every conceivable ailment and the story of the faith that is so often misunderstood. Don’t miss this hidden cultural enclave where Singapore’s indigenous culture still thrives! (The perfumes have no alcohol because they are sold in the Islamic area by Muslims.)
Several cultures arrived and thrived in Singapore. The “Peranakan” are the result of Chinese, Indians, Arabs and others who came to Singapore and Penang and intermarried with local Malay people. The Chinese Peranakan women are called Nyonya and the men are Baba.
Peranakan and Baba-Nyonya (Chinese: 峇峇娘惹; pinyin: Bābā Niángrě; Hokkien: Bā-bā Niû-liá) are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region during the Colonial era. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted partially or in full Nusantara customs to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities.
“While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese (土生华人; named after the Straits Settlements), there are also other, comparatively small Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu Peranakans (Chitty), Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan) (Jawi being the Javanised Arabic script., Pekan a colloquial contraction of Peranakan) and Eurasian Peranakans (Kristang (Kirstang= Christians). It also parallel to Cambodian Hokkien who are descendents of Hoklo Chinese. They maintained their culture partially despite their native language gradually disappear after the few generation settlement.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan
Tammy learned how to wrap a sarong skirt and dress as a Nyonya. Our guide asked for a volunteer and I said, “Go Tammy.” I’d done this kind of thing on the rally with the sari wrapping lesson.
Step into the circle of cloth.
Gather the sides
Twist and twist and twist into a donut knot and tuck in the end
Or you can fold and fold and have the panel in the front…
Our guide was the only one tiny enough to model the chiffon jacket the Nyonya’s wore with their sarong skirt.
Tammy at Boat Quay
“Boat Quay is an historical quay in Singapore which is situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River on its southern bank.
It was the busiest part of the old Port of Singapore, handling three quarters of all shipping business during the 1860s. Because the south bank of the river here resembles the belly of a carp, which according to Chinese belief is where wealth and prosperity lay, many shophouses were built, crowded into the area.
Though serving aquatic trade is no longer Boat Quay’s primary role, the shophouses on it have been carefully conserved and now house various bars, pubs and restaurants. Therefore Boat Quay’s social-economic role in the city has shifted away from that of trade and maritime commerce, and now leans towards more of a role accommodated for tourism and aesthetics for the commercial zone of which encloses the Singapore River. It is the soft front to the cosmopolitan banking and financial sectors lying immediately behind it.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boat_Quay
(Boat Quay is just along the river from Clarke Quay where Garden Salads include maraschino cherries!)
Tammy and Randal and the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore.
“The office towers at Raffles Place on the south bank of the Singapore River serve as a backdrop against Sir Stamford Raffles’ statue located at Raffles’ Landing Site on the river’s opposite bank.”
“Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the modern Singapore, Lieutenant-Governor of Java and Bencoolen, first landed in Singapore on 29 January 1819. He believed that Singapore was a great place for the British to start a trading settlement. He was responsible of the Raffles Plan of Singapore, dividing Singapore into different ethnic functional sub divisions which were segregated into four trading areas and the city was on its way to become the largest trading port in the world. Although, this concept was abandoned, the effect of the plan such as the layout of the streets and each of the districts still has present day effects. Located at the north bank of the Singapore River, this is the Singapore’s second of Sir Stamford Raffles. The first was cast in bronze and was located originally in front of the Victoria Theatre.”
Tammy and the Merlion
“The Merlion is a beautiful hybrid of a lion and a fish. Strong and lithe, its lion head alludes to the fabled beast that once roamed the ancient island state, while its fish body symbolizes Singapore’s origin as a prosperous seaport.”
“First built as an eight metre tall sculpture in 1972, the Merlion was located at the mouth of the Singapore River. In 1996, this prominent icon of Singapore was reproduced, on a much larger scale, on Sentosa island.” http://themerlion.com.sg/
You can see the dark sky in the background. We just made it to the staff entrance of the Fullerton Hotel when it started to pour. And that’s where we sat with about 20 other tourists until the rain stopped. The staff wouldn’t allow any of us to use the staff areas to get to the front of the hotel to get close enough to maybe run to the MRT. But we would have gotten soaked because it was really a downpour.
After a very long day we returned to our hotel in Little India. That night we had another really terrible meal. YUCK. But cheap. The awful lunch meal was actually quite expensive.
The next day we were to fly to Langkawi, Malaysia. But we still had the morning to cram in a trip to China Town for some shopping and then back to Kampong Glam for more shopping and hopefully some good food. And finally, taking our walking tour guide’s advice we ate at the local Muslim restaurant she had recommended. Very cheap and very good! Finally!!!
Finally a good meal.
We took Tammy to some really awful “just down the street” restaurants in Little India where in the past we’d eaten good meals. But Randal and I were tired of the same old “good” place so went off to find something new. Bad idea…go with what you know! And lunch at the yuppie dining spot of Singapore, Boat Quay? Have you ever had a garden salad that included maraschino cherries but no tomatoes? Tammy’s comment: “I don’t even like maraschino cherries in my alcohol!”
But aside from food…
Look at the golden dome of the mosque. The black ring below the dome is made of soya sauce bottles! Why? “Our tour guide told us a variation of this story. “In the olden days, to build the mosque, the rich Muslims would donate some of the money that they had and the poorer Muslims would donate soya sauce glass bottles which were worth a little value. However, the architect did not sell the bottles. He used the black bottles as a part of the decoration. The tour guide said that all the bottoms of the bottles were facing out because if they do it the other way around things will grow and live in these bottles.”
(We weren’t allowed to take notes on our walking tour so this story is gathered piecemeal from the web. But our guide did tell us about the bottles and their connection with the poor.”
We flew from Singapore to Langkawi and that’s the next story…
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I wish I could say that we left of boat issues behind in Thailand, but no such luck. We had smooth, fast cruising so got back a day early. We had one funny experience when we anchored off a "resort island" and Randal called them and asked if they would send a water taxi to get us around 5 pm so we could come for dinner. (We didn’t want to mess with our dinghy for such a short time.) The fellow on the phone said that he would. We were all showered and ready to go at 5 pm and finally gave up waiting and had dinner on the boat because no one ever came. There could be any number of reasons for the confusion but it really didn’t matter and I was just as happy to stay on the boat.
A day later and our converter stopped working so we had no lights unless we plugged them into outlets. Most of our lights are built in. I can’t begin to explain the problem, but it involves a battery that went dead and is also our start engine battery. We were really lucky that it waited for us to return to Rebak before it died. Now it will be fixed and several back-ups planned. (Our back-up also had issues.) We’ve never had so many things go wrong, but we seemed to be in the best places to deal with them.
Tomorrow we’re going to Singapore where we will collect our new converter sent from The Netherlands to a shop in Singapore we have dealt with in the past. We’ll also get a better battery charger than the one we bought in Kuah Town the other day. Not such a good battery starter. And we need air conditioning pump parts. We’ll get all that stuff done so when Randal’s niece Tammy arrives at midnight on the 17th we can devote our time to touring. We’ll spend a few days in Singapore, return to Rebak, cruise to George Town and spend several days there with Tammy before she flies home. We’ll stay in George Town for a few weeks.
I’m glad to read that it’s finally warming up back home. We really wish we could use some of your cold weather to cool off our too hot weather. Even the monkeys have been in hiding. We did see several this morning after last nights hard rain. Two of the monkeys had very tiny babies. The males hissed at us which struck me as brave since they have to see how much bigger we are than they.
So that’s what’s happening with us.
Everyone lined up to get their photo taken with “ Miss World 2010”
This little girl and her sister were there with their dad.
Ever see a monkey look graciously bored?
I was the last in line and the monkey was really ready to be done with all of this posing and hand holding. She actually had gotten up and started to walk away. Her trainer put her back for one last photo. Samlee was just so “genteel” that you just wanted to take her hand and thank her for taking the time to see you. Like an audience with the queen…..
Monkeys are trained to climb the coconut trees and throw the coconuts to the ground to be collected.
Monkeys are colorblind, we were told, so they are taught to feel if the coconuts are smooth or rough. I think the monkeys are taught to pick them when they are rough, so more mature. Neither Randal nor I can remember which though obviously this monkey did remember. He pulled one off and threw it down as he had been trained to do.
Thai kick boxing.
It looks like shadow boxing because I was shooting into the sun. This was a staged demonstration but Rick and Suza had seen an actual match and said it was pretty amazing. I was surprised to see that they wore boxing cloves and could hit as well as kick.
There was cooking and tasting. Our guide made a Thai Salad
Thai salad ingredients (photo by Suza)
Carrots, and ? on one plate. Lime, tomato, green beans, chili peppers, pine nuts. We all voted for one chili pepper but a second one slipped it. Very spicy hot for me, though mild for a Thai.
Grinding it together (photo by Suza)
She followed a certain order and ground it all together with whatever is in that bottle almost out of the photo. Obviously the tomatoes and green beans went in toward the end so nothing became mush.
Rice fields (Suza photo)
Nunchuk and rice
I knew what a nunchuk was because I once had to find the Virginia statues that referred to nonchucks as a weapon. (nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku are all possible spellings.) Here they use them to help with the threshing process.
Ignore the cooking demo and the rice growing demo and spend more time with the waterbuffalo.
That’s actually sort of true, especially for me which is why I don’t really remember all of the ingredients of the salad. This waterbuffalo was tied just at the end of the cooking demo and rice demo area so I kept walking over to rub behind its ears and commune. Therefore I can’t tell you how to make a Thai salad or grow Thai rice. Shades of elementary school where I found my own interests rather than what the teacher might have been explaining at the time. I do know one thing for sure about Thai rice: it tastes really, really good and might be the best in the world.
Thailand produces rubber and we saw a rubber collecting and processing demo.
Rubber sap collected somewhat like maple sap
Roll out the white blob
Press it into a flatter sheet and then trough a slightly different type of press that gets the rest of any liquid out…I think.
Finished rolls hanging to dry
Suza and Rick, our safari partners.
They both worked for and retired from the space program. Their boat’s name is Voyager and their home port is Cape Canaveral! Both are trained as engineers but Suza spent a great deal of her time promoting the space program even in exotic places overseas.
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Randal and I took a taxi to Ao Chalong to check out at the Harbor Master’s Office. Then we stopped for groceries at the "Westerners’ Market" with imported anything. Fritos for a zillion dollars and Ziploc bags among other things. Now we’re just waiting for the tide to rise high enough for us to leave Boat Lagoon. We’ll be back in Rebak soon after a 3 day passage. We’ll anchor at night. No Mooring Balls!
This email has the fun photos of our elephant ride. Suza or Rick, not sure who, took the ones of us.
Thailand Island Safari part 2
Next time they asked for volunteers I jumped up actually believing they asked, “Who wants to massage an elephant?” Actually, they asked, “Who wants an elephant massage?”
First lay down on mat
Next get comfortable and try not to think of everything that could go wrong even though everyone ahead of me had survived
Tap, Tap, Tap very gently
Honestly, I hardly noticed the elephant tapping on my back because I was focused on its trunk “kissing me!
Actually it was over all too fast before I could really absorb the experience. I’d like to spend time with a very little elephant because the “hugeness” of the big ones intimidated me.
They are so quick with their trunks though not aggressive. I’m feeding the small one a banana. (Photo by Suza)
The ground seems a long way down.
I have just fed the elephant a banana. They know tourists buy bags of bananas and so continually stick their trunks back to be fed. (All of these photos of us on the elephant were taken by Suza)
All of the other elephants kept going but our driver stopped at the pond and began to hose down the elephant who is asking for yet another banana.
While we were at the pond the cutest little elephant came along and went for a swim. This man is the elephant’s keeper. Apparently our elephant is the mom so we stayed at the pond while the baby bathed.
The point of this photo is that we have no driver!
I sounded a bit worried so our driver he handed me the elephant “control stick” and told me to drive.
The stick had a small curved piece of metal on the end. And I guess if you can control a huge horse with a small metal bit, you can control and elephant with a small bit of metal. A well trained elephant anyway.
He’s not really holding on to Randal’s knee.
The year before I got my library degree I worked in the stable of a resort taking out trail rides. One day I decided to ride my horse bareback. He was a retired carriage horse so quite big. During the ride I had to get off and this photo reminds me of how I had to pull my way back on. Our driver was quite quick and graceful. I was not.
I don’t know how it felt to be sitting just behind the head, but it was really rolly on the back like being on the boat with waves hitting us on the beam. And there was really no place comfortable for our feet. I kept thinking I was telling the elephant something depending on where I put my foot. I guess that’s a left-over from my horse riding days. Our backpacks kept us from leaning back to get comfortable.
Everyone else was on the other side of the pond. That’s Rick and Suza on the right.
I just kept waiting for our driverless elephant to try to race over to join the herd. That’s what trail horses tend to do.
Getting off at the end.
Interestingly, while the elephants would lean against the platform and rest their trunks on the floor while we got on an off.
So ended our elephant adventure which was the last part of our tour. We were then taken for refreshments: juice, oranges, and, of course, bananas!
We learned about rice growing and rubber plantations and how to make a simple Thai salad. We also saw a demonstration of Thai kick-boxing and a monkey show. That will be next email.
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Miracle of miracles our inverter is fixed. Everything that went wrong since we arrived has now been fixed, even our anchor light that has been out for a very long while. The inverter service guy climbed our mast and changed the bulb so now we have a real anchor light and not the stobe kind. Many boats have gone to non-regulation anchor lighting to save battery power and to be more visible at night. Now we have a choice.
Tomorrow, Friday the 5th, we are planning to take a taxi to Ao Chalong and check out from Thailand. Saturday we will leave Boat Lagoon Marina around mid-day at near high tide and cruise to Phi Phi Island. We’ll be back at Rebak Marina around the 10th or 11th. I’m not sure if I should hope our luck holds or changes. Given what could have happened during the mooring ball episode and how the inverter might have been unfixable, well, maybe our luck has been good. Everyone would say it’s all just part of cruising.
Here is part 1 of our visit to Island Safari Park.
Thailand Island Safari
In 2000 during Randal’s ‘round the world bike trip, he visited Thailand staying in Patong Beach. Just by chance he found a great tour group led by a man known as Charlie. When we first arrived in Phuket Randal and I took a trip to Patong Beach looking for Charlie. Randal took a photo of Charlie with him and we showed it to tour operators but nobody recognized Charlie. So the Charlie tour was not to be. Instead, Suza and I talked to two of the tour operators here at Boat Lagoon. We had a vague idea what we might want to see and do. We settled on Eco-Nature Tours Island Safari Program B. Programs C and D included water travel which no one wanted. Program A didn’t include the cooking show which we all wanted. So Program B it was. It would be a full half-day and that seemed plenty. And I would get a photo op on a water buffalo, finally.
Our transport to the “safari”
We were told to be at the hotel lobby here at Boat Lagoon by 9:30 am. Our driver found us and led us into the parking lot where this elongated jeep was parked next to an air-conditioned van. Randal and Rick hoped for the van. Suza and I, more in the spirit of the adventure, hoped for the jeep. Suza and I thought it was great fun. Randal just said he thought it wasn’t too bad and those were probably Rick’s thoughts too. It took about 30 minutes along the main road past malls and hospitals and car dealerships before we got there. This is more “Disney Safari” than real safari.
Remember this photo when you see us riding the elephant
This never fails to amaze and scare me. A whole family on a motorbike.
The travel guide warns against renting motorbikes. Any accident is considered the fault of the foreigner no matter what. Not that we would have rented on anyway.
A bit off the main road and here we are: Island Safari
My first stop at the Ladies was very civilized rather than safari-like
First we went for a wagon ride that was fun. I wanted to drive
Our view from inside. That’s Suza on the left and Randal on the right.
During the day professional photographers would take photos. They were quite good but way too expensive even in the lovely rice paper frame. Two photos in a frame cost 800 baht which is about $24 US. 33.16 baht =$1US. Considering we were taking our own photos, we took a pass on theirs.
Not exactly a ride, but it had to do. Water buffalo are just so personable, like horses as opposed to cows. Maybe it’s the confidence they get from those giant horns! And its back was smooth and brushed clean. It stood there quite calmly while about 20 of us took turns getting on and off and flashed cameras in its face. Our tour leader kept trying to rush us along but everyone wanted lots of photos and to "pat" the waterbuffalo. Like WC Fields said, “Never act with kids or dogs.” Or water buffalo either.
Then I had to commune with it
Next came the elephant show
The middle elephant is only 5 years old and really seemed to enjoy performing and interacting with all of us. We saw some elephants just relaxing around the complex so hopefully this is a good place for them. Apparently there were many unemployed elephants because they had been being abused in the forestry industry.
They dunked baskets and threw darts at balloons
They played soccer! Suza volunteered to be goalie!! (photo by Rick)
Two goals for the elephant! (Photo by Rick)
When they asked for a volunteer no one would until Suza jumped up, waved her arms and yelled, “I will!” I tried to capture it in a video which didn’t really work but kept me too distracted to really see what was happening. Later Suza said it was quite amazing to stand there while an elephant ran towards her.
Next email Suza and I get an “elephant massage and kiss.” And then we go for a ride.
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As I’m typing this email, the inverter guys are fixing (hopefully it will all work as it seems it will) our inverter. Yippee. And if our inverter were going to have issues, this is the best place since the only Vitron sales and service office of Thailand is here. If there is one in Malaysia, Randal doesn’t know where it is. But then we didn’t need to know up until this week where any local dealer was located. The service guys seem pretty knowledgeable and friendly and really trying to make it work. Anyone who wants to know more specific facts about the inverter story will have to email Randal. We might possibly need to replace the small control box; but that "only" costs about $400 US rather than the $4,000 to replace the entire inverter. So how’s our luck doing? I did light those incense sticks at the seafarers’ temple. Actually, my real faith is in Randal to get things fixed and he knows that.
Mosaic floor at the Tourism Authority of Thailand Visitor Center.
Notice the shoes. Sometimes you are told to remove your shoes: other times we asked and were told we could wear our shoes. I wore my sandals just for this sort of thing rather than my more comfortable sneakers. Flip flops that slide on and off are the best, but I can’t wear mine for long treks. We rested here in the AC for a bit. They provided water, coffee, brochures and a rest room. Perfect.
The Old Post Office now the Philatelic Museum
The new post office is just next door. We mailed our post cards careful not to lick the stamps. Not for health reasons, but because Thai custom finds that very unclean. There was probably a wet sponge somewhere. I just licked my finger and then spread it on the stamp. Too much info, huh? The old post office reminds me of old diner restaurants back in the US.
Feather Duster man. Suza asked to take his photo. Then she bought an ostrich feather.
Promthep Clock Tower
“Built during WW1 (2457 on the Buddhist calendar) the clock tower towered as a four storey structure without a clock for 62 years. The original clock brought from Europe was lost due to the ship sinking. A clock finally arrived in 1976, through the Lion’s Club Phuket donations. The roof resembles an old style police cap.” www.ArtAndCultureAsia.com
You can tell who tours Thailand by the languages of the books in the used book shops. German, French, Italian, English. And what expats, tourists and cruisers read. Lots of murder mysteries! Suza and I didn’t go in, but a few days later Randal and I did. He bought a book about Stanley and Livingston and I bought a murder mystery by Jill Paton Walsh. One of the small restaurants here at the Marina has a book exchange so I will check there too and bring some of my “already read” books. I do miss having a library!!!! Being able to read for free is an incredibly wonderful service that most Americans take for granted. You should all go immediately and thank your local library!!!
Shrine of Serene Light (Suza’s photo) Our final stop of the day
“Built in 1889 (2432 on the Buddhist calendar), this Taoist Temple was constructed by a local Hokkien Chinese family. The interior wall murals tell many of the stories of Si-in-gui, a legendary folk hero. Chinese characters on the two side walls are blessings and protection for Tungkah, now known as Phuket.” www.ArtsAndCultureAsia.com
Suza taking a photo of the murals.
Unfortunately this was our last stop for the day and I know that I was too hot and tired to appreciate all there was to see. Now, having read more, I would like to spend the time to see it again. You can see the ostrich feather that Suza bought from the feather duster man.
Blessing and Protection ?
The one on the right is holding a sword. When Randal and I visited Old Town Phuket the entrance to this temple was blocked by construction and Randal really didn’t want to go anyway. If I go back again someday, I’ll pay more attention.
Hand holding paint brush.
I was also curious about the lady too. There were several “volunteers” taking care of preparing paper offerings and things.
Suza and I had met at 9 am, caught a taxi to Phuket town, and returned to the marina about 6 pm. A very full day. Randal and I went back the following Tuesday. We lasted about 4 hours tops!
First stop, a hardware store
Randal and I skipped most of the tourist spots and visited hardware shops and the supermarket. Luckily I’d already seen lots with Suza. Suza and I agreed that when the guys go, hardware shops seem to be their favorite and there’s too little time for souvenir shopping. Now souvenir shopping doesn’t mean buying; it just means spending time looking. And as stereotypical as it sounds, guys go for the hardware shops and women go for the souvenir shops. Define souvenir as “non-boat things.” Everyone equally seems to like shopping for food and drink, at least the big provisioning expeditions. And there are some women like our friend Marie-Louise who single-hands her sail boat and loves hardware shops too. I certainly appreciate them more than I used to, but not for long amounts of time. Now I bring a book when I go with Randal. He looks around the hardware shop and I read my book.
This guy either owned or managed the restaurant where Randal and I ate lunch. He was also a musician. All that hair must have weighed a ton. And hair that weighs a ton is definitely something I know. It looked like a typical funky restaurant you’d find in the US with old Coca Cola ads and such. Just the food was more authentically Thai.
We walked around a bit more but then, about 2 caught a taxi back to the marina.
Suza and I toured Old Town Phuket on Friday, February 26th. The following Sunday Suza and her husband Rick and Randal and I did a half-day "Island Safari." It was hokey but fun and I finaly got to, if not ride a waterbuffalo, at least sit on one. We also went for an elephant ride though I think I don’t like being so far off the ground and so little in control. I prefer a small, oldish horse with the reins in my hand. I have about a zillion photos from that too.
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The Temple of the Goddess of the Sea (Suza’s photo)
Sam San Shrine built in 1853 serves as the patron saint of sailors. Suza and I had actually skipped this stop but doubled back when we read that the temple is dedicated to “cruisers.”
Phra Phitak Chyn Pracha Mansion 9 Krabi Road
The “grandest angmor-lao (foreign mansion)” was owned by a Phuket born Chinese mining tycoon. Until recently it had been uninhabited for many years. Bearing the lucky # 9….has many Sino-Colonial features including Doric styling seen in the 3 sets of archways.
New life as a cooking school and restaurant
Maybe the next time we come it will be open. The banner said that the “soft opening “ went from February 27th to March 30th. Suza and I were a few days too early. Days later, when Randal and I walked by we saw some chairs set out in rows on the lawn, but nothing different. Cooking classes seem to be a big tourist draw here. Randal took an all day class 10 years ago during his world bike trip.
Oldest Herbs Shop in Phuket
Filling a prescription
These concoctions are used for medicine, vitamins, herbal soups, etc…. Suza and I bought some herbal soup mix and also some Goji Berries (Lycium Barbarum.) The Goji Berries look like oval shaped dried cranberries. I just took about a tablespoon of them and they taste a bit like chocolate licorice. (That’s amazing in itself since Chinese medicine always tastes terrible.) They are supposed to invigorate my liver, kidneys, and lungs; maintain a strong immune system, stabilize my blood pressure, lower my blood sugar, prevent cancer and improve my eyesight. I think there are some included in my soup mix too. I know that chicken soup cures a cold so maybe these magic berries work too. I guess I am a bit skeptical though I have no rational reason to be. I do know that when we were in China and Randal was very, very ill with food poisoning, he had great care and the doctor was wonderful. Dr Zhou.
Time for food!
A lovely and relaxed lunch
Info from the China Inn menu
It was a long, narrow, tall building. The front rooms offered items for sale. The very back was the dining area. A separate building at the end of the garden was the kitchen. We sat and relaxed and ate lunch while it rained briefly. And, although the day was mostly very sunny and hot, the shaded dining area with a few fans was very comfortable.
“As a strong feature of Phuket’s unique Sino-Colonial architecture, the ‘five-foot way’, arcade or ngho-kaa-kee is the high roof covered, curved archway. This walkway allows the visitor to browse many shops without exposure to the weather. Some archways have been closed in, while others, under municipal conservation programs are voluntarily being re-opened.” www.ArtAndCultureAsia.com
Can you see the dragon’s face?
I read that many of the building fronts supposedly resemble the faces of dragons. The door is the mouth, the big windows are the eyes and the small curved windows above are the eyebrows. I can see it.
End Part 2
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It’s Wednesday the 3rd of March. We are still waiting to find out if our Vitron Inverter can be fixed or if we need a new one. Things just move way too slowly here…. Our relaxing, easy going, laid back visit to Thailand has been anything but. So far, during this Year of the Tiger, we are running into its claws! We have done some touring while waiting to hear about the inverter. Here is part 1 of Touring Old Town Phuket.
Phuket Town Treasure Map Tour ….part 1
We came to Phuket to relax, see some sights, and check out some boat yards. Randal had been here 10 years ago on his bike tour and had done quite a bit of touring on Phuket. So far this visit, with all of our unexpected boat issues, Randal has had to spend almost all of his time getting them resolved. They all began when we swapped boat yards to “save money” and to be closer to all of the marine supply and service shops here at Boat Lagoon. Not that Royal Phuket Marina was so far away; but you had to either walk several miles to the marine shops and small supermarket, or you could take the half-mile short-cut, including a tiny bit through brush crawling with ants, ugh! and then walk across the new construction area. So moving seemed to make sense. The channel between the two marinas is so shallow even at almost high tide that we had to basically crawl the 8 tenths of a mile between the marinas with barely enough water to keep us from sticking in the mud and were only able to breathe a sigh of relief when we were safely tied to our berth. But like a bad horror movie, as soon as we hooked up the shore power, our rear salon/pilot house Air Con stopped working. Then more importantly our Inverter stopped working. The inverter changes our DC current to AC current which we need for most of our appliances though not the frig exactly, thank goodness. I only sort of understand. Luckily there is an Air Con shop here and a Vitron Inverter dealer here too. The Air Con guys did get us the parts we needed and some spares and didn’t charge for their time which was nice. The inverter people came and mostly have no idea even when they hooked it up to their diagnostic computer. They do have a pile of old broken inverters that no one could ever fix. Doesn’t bode well especially since the company is in Holland and there a 3 day weekend here in Thailand. I’m writing this Monday so hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow and Mick, the local Vitron deal will have some answers from the Dutch company. As it is now, Randal was able to jury rig everything so the AC power works with shore power or when we are underway; but not when we are at anchor. The bottom line is that we need our inverter fixed or we need a new one which, with shipping, costs about $4,000 US. I guess it will be rice and beans for dinner!
In the mean time, I have gone touring. Our cruising friends Rick and Suza from Voyager are here too. They had come to Boat Lagoon for the boat services. This past Friday, Suza and I took ourselves on a walking tour of Old Town Phuket. Or rather Suza took me. She had been before but hadn’t had time to follow the walking tour. Both Randal and Rick had boat work to do and didn’t need our help so off we went feeling just a tad guilty. However, we both agreed that had Rick and Randal been there we would have spent more time in hardware stores and too little time really seeing the sights so it worked out best for everyone. If we have time, and he wants to go, I’ll go back with Randal and we can see the sights and the hardware shops and I’ll be okay.
Walking tour map of Phuket Town
Phuket Town is a small part of Phuket Island located close to the east coast. It was the west coast, especially around Patong Beach that was hardest hit by the December 26th, 2004 tsunami. It is now rebuilt and we spent one afternoon there and that’s all either of us needed. It appeared a mix of Vegas, Atlantic City, and Key West. Great if you like that kind of thing. We’d gone to look for “Charlie” who’d owned a tour company back in 2000. But that’s the Patong story and this is the Phuket story.
According to the Phuket Guide book “most of the buildings in present “Old Town Phuket” were built over 100 years ago when the mining industry (tin) began to prosper. The architectural style of these buildings clearly shows the influence of “Sino-Portuguese” which had more depth than width.” The walking tour map says that during the 19th century Hokkien Chinese arrived bringing the row house architecture that we definitely also saw in Singapore. Like George Town and Singapore, Phuket was an important trade center for Indian, Malay, Arab and European traders. I found Old Town worth visiting, but it certainly didn’t appear to have the vitality or ethnicity of George Town, Penang. It was more like an “older town” housing a modern way of life than an “Old Town
Basically I followed Suza around having no specific interest of my own. She was a great tour guide and both of us had cameras so we took zillions of photos.
Suza snapping a photo of the Bank of Ayudhaya Sino-Colonia building.
A new pastel apartment complex built in the “row house’ style.
There were wired everywhere! It was hard to get good photos. Now the overhead wires are being buried underground in the designated Old Town area to be less obtrusive. Several days after this Randal and I went back and did the hardware tour of Phuket Town. We walked down this street to check out the supermarket at the far end. We also found that this was a good place to catch a taxi.
Suza taking a photo of the chubby blue yoga figurines!
One of the best parts of touring with another “cruising lady” is that you can skip the hardware shops and browse in the souvenir –local products shops. We’d asked if taking photos was okay and were told yes by one clerk only to have another one several photos later tell us no. Suza did buy a pewter-looking tin bud vase decorated with elephants. And I have to admit that when Randal and I were in town we returned to the shop and I bought one too because of its elephant motif.
Thavorn Hotel, the oldest hotel now a museum.
We didn’t have the time to tour and it was too expensive to just pay and leave in 5 minutes.
I told Suza I felt as if we were on the Titanic!
Cars but no overhead wire tangles in the olden days
Pretty typical of Phuket town scenery with the two level buildings.
Phuket was fun to see but not architecturally special. The older part of town and the temples were more interesting architecturally.
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Just a quick note. No free wifi here.
Went to Island Safari yesterday with cruising friends Rick and Suza from the sailboat Voyager. They worked for NASA..so that’s where their boat name comes from Friday Suza and I did our own walking tour of Old Town Phuket. Sunday Suza, Rick, Randal and I went off for the half day at the small park where you get to sit on a waterbuffalo for a photo op, watch performing monkeys, and ride an elephant. It was fun. At one point our "driver" got off the elephant and that felt a bit scary but wasn’t. Our elephant’s baby had come to the small pool for a bath and she wanted to be there too so we waited while the baby bathed and our driver hosed down our elephant.
Lots of photos taken and when I have a good connection I’ll send them.
We’ve had some never before boat issues…so the vote is still out about our luck. We’ll be here another 2 or 3 days and then head back to Rebak.
ps: It is baseball season! Yippee
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