The Big Buddha of Phuket
The Big Buddha of Phuket

The Big Buddha of Phuket

We have organised Mr Bee, a local Tuk Tuk driver to take us around Phuket today. We had met him the day before when we needed a lift to Kamala Beach, about ten minutes from the resort.  Mr GG, Anais and myself had gone in search of food, cash and a motor bike for easy transportation.  The Nakalay apartments are quite isolated, so without transport we would have been confined to our hotel.

Thai Tuk Tuk

Mr Bee and the Blue Tuk Tuk

We hired a motorbike almost immediately which meant we could scoot about exploring and finding food.  The added godsend has been that we are now able to send the teenager out on the bike sightseeing when he was wearing us down! WIN!

*Please note although the teenager is only 17 years old he has an Australian bike license and everyone in the family has been riding dirt bike since they were about 7years old… me included. I would not recommend your first motor bike experience to be on the streets of Thailand.

At only $1500 baht for 6 days ($9.00 per day) it was money well spent.  It didn’t solve the problem of transporting the family for sightseeing or shopping purposes.

Although I had seen whole families riding along the streets I didn’t like my chances of getting the five of us on the little Honda step through.

So that’s where Mr Bee came into the equation. He agreed to drive the family around for the day and wait while we shopped or visited temples.

On the dot of 9.00am he was at the hotel to collect us. Our first stop was Patong Beach, ten or so minutes away.  Mr GG and I had already had a look at the shops and knew we wanted to bring Locky to find some surf gear, and Anais for the amazing “Hello Kitty” store.

Mr Bee dropped us at “The Hard Rock Cafe” and we gestured that we would be back at 11.00am. Our first stop was for drinks all round. It was already HOT! While I found the kids something Mr GG mused about whether to have a beer.

As he walked to the counter with a long neck he said, “Does it look bad to be drinking this early?”

I said jokingly, “We’re on holidays, so I wouldn’t worry about looking bad, I would be more worried about what wanting a long neck at this time means about your alcoholic tendencies.” He looked at me seriously and then agreed. He turned around and went back to the fridge.  This was a little unexpected, but I presumed he didn’t really want the beer. He came back to the counter with two stubbies instead.  He said “Your right, this is better.” LOL! Not what I meant!

With the drinks sorted we began the process of haggling and being swamped by retailers until we had three surf shirts for Locky and some white Oakley sunglasses. Brett bought himself a pair of boardies and Anais got a “Hello Kitty” satchel and watch.

I just wanted to get out of there!! I don’t like Kuta in Bali, and Patong Beach is very much the same. I am really not a “shopper,” at the best of times.  Haggling with vendors and trying on clothing in the debilitating heat with throngs of people was not my happy place!

It was time to find the driver and crack the second beer. Mr Bee was taking us to “The Big Buddha of Phuket” next.  The journey commenced with a scenic drive along the coastline.  We past a few less populated beaches and then headed into the mountains. Gradually the streets became less busy and the shops gave way to lush green jungle. We spotted a monkey or two in the trees and periodically elephants were being led around the streets. We noticed that tourist were able to feed or photograph the elephants for 100 baht so we made a note to come back and do this as the children were loving seeing the animals.

Big Buddha Phuket

Big Buddha Phuket

Once at the Big Buddha I needed to cover my shoulders out of respect. A wrap was provided at the entrance to anyone immodestly dressed.

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Brett took this photo of me with my modesty protecting shawl around my shoulders.

We learned that Buddha had been constructed by donations alone. There were drop points everywhere for tourist to leave money.

Buddha Shrine

Buddha Shrine to light incense and pray.

Also at the Big Buddha were a multitude of places to purchase Buddha souvenirs, with proceeds going toward more construction. We came across a stand offering Buddha wishes for a couple of hundred Baht.  Customers would write their family name and a wish on a marble tablet in an artline pen. The price of the wish depended on the size of the marble you choose.  The marble was then supposed t to be used in the construction of the Buddha. They were doing a roaring trade at this stand, once a customer moved on, the marble was wiped clean and a new wish was bought by the next person.

Gong at Big Buddha

Gong at Big Buddha

So we climbed the stairs to reach the Buddha, I am sorry to say that I did not reach enlightenment along the way… maybe because I didn’t “wish” to be enlightened.  It was however a spectacular view over the island.

Buddha Phuket

A second golden Buddha Phuket

Buddha is perched on the very top of the highest mountain to be seen in Phuket. On a clear day it would have made a spectacular photograph.

View from the Big Buddha

View from the Big Buddha

We returned to Mr Bee and our blue Tuk Tuk, we asked to stop at the elephants we had seen on our way up the mountain and as always we received a big smile and happy nods.

When we arrived at the elephant’s people were setting out for a trek through the jungle.  This was an activity we had also been considering doing with the children. The children had made a beeline for a chained baby monkey that was jumping and dancing about on his short chain. The owner came over to see the fuss.

Feeding Baby Elephant

Feeding the baby elephant

I asked if we could pat and photograph the elephants, he agreed and pointed at the food baskets for 100 Baht. We purchased a basket of food and I photographed as the children slowly overcame their fear. They were so excited to be patting a baby elephant.

Thai Elephant feeding

Thai Elephant feeding

Mr GG and I were not so comfortable with the exercise. The animal was beautiful and I just wanted to hug it, but it was attached by chains to the ground.  The handler had a metal barbed stick which he was using to draw on the elephants hide.  To relieve his own boredom the handler would periodically slap the elephant on the calf with the piece of wood. When he moved the elephant away he seemed unnecessarily cruel using the barb on the animal’s ear.

I could see hubby getting annoyed and he started to say something to handler. At this point I thought it best to conclude our visit.  The handler was only about 15 years old and life is obviously so different here.  These people depend on the elephants to feed the family and to provide a poverty line existence; it would be too easy to judge what we don’t understand.

Regardless of our own misgivings the experience was a highlight for the children.  They talked about the monkey and elephant constantly.

Karon Fishing Boats

Karon Fishing Boats

Back in the TukTuk we asked Mr Bee if he could take us to one of the beaches for lunch.  It was already after 1.30pm and the children were hungry. He drove us to Karon Beach and suggested the restaurant under the palms on the water’s edge called Kan Eang @ the Pier.  We had a walk along the pier and I took some photos of the fishing boats and islands.

Karon Beach Fishing Boats

Karon Beach Fishing Boats

It was too hot to stay out in the sun, so we took refuge under the shade of the trees in the restaurant.

Singha Beer in Thailand

Singha Beer in Thailand

We found a cool spot at the water’s edge, took a seat and ordered some drinks.

Phuket Paradise Cocktail

Phuket Paradise Cocktail

I settled on a Phuket Paradise at $165 Baht or a whopping $A5.20 and hubby ordered a long neck for $130 Baht or $A4. I love the prices here!

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

For starters we ordered four entrees;

Chicken Sate sticks w peanut sauce $120 baht

Sate Chicken

Sate Chicken

Vegetable spring rolls w sweet Chilli sauce $90 baht

Thai Spring Rolls

Thai Spring Rolls

Crab & minced pork balls $150 baht

Thai Pork Balls

Thai Pork Balls

Fishcakes w cucumber sauce $150 baht

Thai Fishcakes

Thai Fishcakes

All the starters were so good! The children loved the sate skewers and spring rolls especially.  They left the Thai fishcakes for Mr GG and I as they were so deliciously spicy and the pork balls were a hit with everyone!

Steamboat at Karon

Steamboat at Karon

We probably didn’t need any more food but everything tasted so amazing I wanted more. Next I ordered the fried squid with garlic and pepper, and the Korean BBQ Beef, a self cooking dish.

I tried the squid dish but it wasn’t as flavoursome as I had hoped, Mr GG enjoyed it, the kids tried some and thought it was ok, but it wasn’t a winner.

Steamboat Ingredients

Steamboat Ingredients

We all thought the Korean BBQ Beef was fantastic. We were given a piece of pork belly to use instead of cooking oil to fry the beef on the Korean BBQ.  Around the outside of the frying dome was a moat of flavoursome broth and green vegetables.  Periodically we would add more broth and vegetables as eating depleted the supply. The beef was cooked on top of the BBQ dome as needed. It was such a fresh, healthy and tasty dish.  I would love to repeat something similar to this at home.

Cookies and Cream Ice-cream

Cookies and Cream Ice-cream

Relaxed and full I was happy to sit a little longer and look at the water.  It was still so hot I decided to order some ice-cream for the little ones.  Locky chose the cookies and cream whilst Anais settled on a delicious passionfruit sorbet.  I wonder how my passionfruit are going at home?

Passionfruit Gelato

Passionfruit Gelato

Then we made our way out of our coolish oasis, and into the blistering sun. I had noticed a Roti Canai stand selling banana and chocolate dessert Rotis on the way into the restaurant and although we were full I didn’t want to let the opportunity to sample some go by.

Banana Roti Cania

Banana Roti Cania

I ordered Anais a banana and nutella, Locky a banana and chocolate, and Mr Bee a banana and honey one.   It was great watching the vendor make the roti.  He firstly flattened the dough balls and stretched them until they were thinner than tissue paper.  They were cooked in a wok and chopped banana added to the bread.  He then folded in the edges forming a square. A little butter was added and the square was flipped to fry a little further.

Street Vendor making sweet Roti Cania

Street Vendor making sweet Roti Cania

Once the roti was placed on the serving plate the topping of choice was added to the roti with a generous serving of condensed milk for even more sweetness.

We carried the dessert roti back to the Tuk Tuk where the children could eat in the shade.  Mr Bee was surprised by treat and also enjoyed the dessert.  It still shocks me when I do the currency conversion and find that these were $1.00 ea.

Although it is only 3.00pm, we are a hot and tired family.  We let Mr Bee know we were finished for the day and asked if he could return us to our hotel.  Once back at our temporary home we paid him the agreed rate of $1000 baht for the day.  It seemed like such a small amount of money.

As we were walking away hubby and I quickly asked each other if we thought it was enough.  We both came back with a resounding” no!” and ran back to give him another $500 baht. Bringing the cost of being driven around all day, and being waited on from $45 -50.  Still very cheap, but my conscience feels more comfortable with this arrangement.

Kan Eang @pier Restaurant

44/1 Viset Rr, Moo 5

T. Rawai A. Maung, Phuket

Ph: 076 381212

Tuk Tuk Service

Mr Bee

Ph: 089 7879315

International: +66897879315

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Comments

  1. What an interesting day. I don’t think I would like to go to Patong (have heard a lot about it). That Buddha is enormous! The baby elephant is a darling but the fact it is chained up and treated cruelly is very upsetting. And I know this isn’t an isolated case as my father lived in Thailand for a while looking into the treatment of the elephants in Thailand and tragically and unbelievably, so many of then spend their lives tethered, even in their so called ‘rescue’ shelters. That’s not the way any intelligent animal should live its life, especially one being used to feed/clothe/house/provide for its ‘carers’. xx

  2. What a great idea to have the tuk tuk driver for the day, and he probably loved the arrangement too. I don’t think I would wish to enlightened either, but it does seem to be a remarkable piece of construction indeed.

  3. What amazing experiences you are having. I love that first picture with the blue van and the thought of your 17-year-old having the freedom to head off solo. It sounds like a really great family destination with something for everyone, and a lot of culture and history (and food!) thrown in!

  4. I swear that Roti guy was following us when we were in Phuket.. every where we went, he was there (we did stay off Patong) and we snacked from him very night!

  5. Sad about the baby elephant but the rest of the day sounds so exotically fun. I loved all the photos.

  6. I know what you mean about paying local suppliers. It seems like such a small cost to us but it means that they can buy things that they not be able to ordinarily. Good on you and Mr GG 🙂 And I can’t wait to go back to Bangkok!

  7. I’ve been to Phuket once, but mostly spent in the resort (it was for friend’s wedding). I wish I could explore more. My brother lives in Koh Tao and my husband and I have been thinking of another trip there… your family and your photos inspired me! 🙂

  8. I really enjoyed tagging along for the day. The nice thing was that I didn’t notice the heat. 🙂

  9. great post, lovely shot and holiday

  10. This really makes me want to go to Thailand. I’ve not really traveled to Asia yet. With it being so cheap to fly there, I don’t know why I haven’t been! =( Travel envy right here.

  11. Thailand is on our wish list for retirement travel destinations, so loved your post. Those satays look truly yummy.

  12. I’ve heard it’s best to hire a Tuk Tuk driver too, but I’d wondered how easy or hard that would be, and now I know. 🙂 I love reading about your visit here. I don’t know anyone who’s been who hasn’t loved it.

    I like that you ran after your driver because you felt it was the right thing to do. 🙂

  13. LOVE that picture of you and the huge lens hehe is that why your photos are always so pretty 🙂 Maybe I need a bigger lens too or just polish up my skills hehe we have a big buddha in Hong Kong as well but its a bit different to the ones in Phuket ~

  14. Great pics! I love Thailand … we returned to Phuket earlier this year to get hitched so it’s particularly special to us! It was pretty hard to find that served bad food…it was all so good!

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