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.
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 motorbike 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.
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.
We learned that Buddha had been constructed by donations alone. There were drop points everywhere for tourist to leave money.
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 pen. The price of the wish depended on the size of the marble you choose. The marble was then supposed 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.
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 spectacu, however, over the island.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was too hot to stay out in the sun, so we took refuge under the shade of the trees in the restaurant.
We found a cool spot at the water’s edge, took a seat and ordered some drinks.
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!
For starters we ordered four entrees;
Chicken Sate sticks w peanut sauce $120 baht
Vegetable spring rolls w sweet Chilli sauce $90 baht
Crab & minced pork balls $150 baht
Fishcakes w cucumber sauce $150 baht
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.