The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Phuket Old Town and the Weekend Market

Phuket is known for its beaches, bars and nightlife, but this popular tourist destination is so much more than that. I am not very good at being a beach bum, and I packed our itinerary with as much as travelling with a toddler would allow (got great tips from this blog written by an expat who has lived in Phuket a long time). After our delicious lunch, we called for a taxi to bring us to Phuket City for 500baht. That's quite pricey by Phuket's standards, but it was a very comfortable 30-minute ride in a very nice vehicle. It's worth to just pay a little extra to make life easier for travelling with a young child. At some point during the drive, I negotiated with the driver to bring us not only to Phuket Old Town, but also to the weekend market and then back to our resort on Kata beach. The driver was willing to take out 3 hours of his time waiting for us at each site and doing that round-trip for only 1200baht (he was asking 1500baht), and we didn't have to worry about how to procure transport between locations and back to our hotel. (In our pre-kid era, we would have gotten around the local way of using tuk-tuks and taken on the streets and language barrier by accepting that getting lost is just part of the experience - but having a kid changes everything.)

These are shots of what we saw, did and ate that day in Phuket City.

Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town is historically rich, and Thalang Road is lined with 100-year-old Sino-Portuguese 'shophouses'. Walking down the road reminds me of my mother's hometown Malacca which was also subject to the Portuguese rule for 130 years.

A traditional outfit we encountered, very similar to the Nonya Kebaya. My maternal grandmother is of the Nonya heritage, and a lot in Phuket Old Town reminded me a lot of my mother's side of the family:

A typical mini-bus in Phuket - not exactly the safest way to get around, but probably safer than hiring a scooter:

Talad Tai Rot (Phuket Weekend Market)

The weekend market in Phuket town is also known as Talad Tai Rot, which means "car boot sale". According to this website, these types of markets started after the East Asian financial crisis in 1997 when many lost jobs, and selling housewares from 'behind the car' was a means of survival. All sorts of things can be found in this market - clothes, shoes, watches, various knick knacks and food. We spent most of our time in the food section, after I'd bought a pair of sandals for me and sunglasses for the boy. The market is off Chao Fah West Road opposite Naka Temple (Wat Naka).

We arrived at the market around 4pm when stall owners were just setting up shop. This shot was taken on the periphery of the market, where it wasn't so crowded. Part of the Naka Temple can be seen to the right of the shot:

Khanom bueang (crispy pancakes) in the making:

Various fish balls and meat balls skewered and ready for cooking:

Squid satay sticks on the grill:

The internationally popular Thai fish cakes being fried in a deep-fryer:

We got one packet of 8 fish cakes, which were yummy:

The boy eating a fried sweet potato ball (after checking that it didn't contain any of the ingredients he is allergic to - my list of allergenic ingredients translated into Thai came in very handy):

I'd heard of Phuket pineapples, and these were the best pineapples I've ever eaten:

Very sweet and deliciously juicy:

A stall selling various cakes and sweets wrapped in leaves:

There was one stall selling crispy insects, and I bought a little of everything for 20baht, to try later if we were game:

Back at the hotel, the sweet goods we bought at the cake stall. Very similar to the Nonya kueh that I love so much. The spherical gray balls to the top of the image is sakoo sai moo (steamed tapioca balls filled with pork and peanuts), and are savoury and a little spicy:

The insects. Just hearing them clatter onto the plate made my skin tingle:

Our adventures in Phuket continued onto the next day, when we went on the Multi-adventure Safari tour - which included elephant trekking, watching Muay Thai and Thai cooking demonstration

1 comment:

  1. I am someone who really love white beaches and crystal clear waters on the beach of Krabi and phuket.
    I am sure, i will come back.