Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cycling South Thailand 2016: Days 11 & 12 - Cycling Phuket

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Cycling South Thailand 2016 : Days 11 & 12 - Cycling Phuket

Tour of South Thailand: Days 11 & 12, 21st-22nd April 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour - Around Phuket Old Town.
Cycling Distance - Day 11: 7.60 km,  / Day 12: 6.65 km.     Level: Easy.
Time : A casual ride.
Time Taken :  not relevant.

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Route Recommendations :
1. The route are a couple of casual rides at Phuket Old Town, to explore the place a bit and visit some places of interest. It is a flat route and easy to cycle on, with some cycling/pedestrian paths near the seaside.
2. Places & Scenery
    - Saphan Hin seaside, a park with beautiful landscaping and seaside views (GPS: 7.86285, 98.40177)
    - The Hock Guan Kong Shrine (GPS: 7.87982, 98.39191).
    - Mosjed Yameay and the Malay village behind it (GPS: 7.87913, 98.39036).
    - Kua Tian Keng Shrine (GPS: 7.86243, 98.40011) at Saphan Hin Park is another temple worthy of a short visit.
    - Jui Tui Shrine, a magnificent Chinese Temple with an outstanding entrance arch and tower (GPS: 7.88324, 98.38338).
    - Phuket Philatelic Museum (GPS: 7.88398, 98.39253), although a small one, has many interesting historical stamps with accompany stories behind some of them.
3. Food
    Phuket has many places for good food, we ate at the following places.
    - Porridge & seafood noodles at stall (GPS: 7.88323, 98.39517) at Phangga Road opposite the Royal Phuket City.
    - Good Hokkien Prawn Mee at a shop (approx GPS: 7.88305, 98.39202) behind the Phuket Trick Eye Museum.
    - Good Chinese dumplings & dim sum at a shop (GPS: 7.88425, 98.38239) near Wat Put Jaw .
4. Accommodations
    - At Phuket Town, our accommodations for two nights was the Pho Thong Phuket Hotel (GPS: 7.88405, 98.39302).


Arising from a medical emergency, past three nights had been spent at Khlong Thom. This had thwarted our plans of cycling to Krabi and spending some time there and at the Ko Yao islands. Instead we had taken a truck ride to Phuket.
Now sufficiently recovered, we we eager to explore Phuket Old Town.


Cycling Route - Around Phuket Old Town.
Having sufficiently recovered, I did a couple of days ride to explore Phuket Old Town. I had though of going further, but it's best to take things easy for the time being. Instead I cycled to Saphan Hin Park on the 11th day, enjoying the sights along the way. On the 12th day it was a ride to visit the Put Jaw temple.


Front view Hock Kong Guan Temple, Phuket.
4:30am - I woke up suddenly, my growling stomach calling out to me. The antibiotics had started taking effect, killing of those nasty germs (that had me down with food poisoning for the past three days) and crazily in the early morning I got hungry. I posted a message in our Whatsapp group saying that I am heading out for breakfast at the porridge place and was joined by Sin. Had porridge again.... ughs... what to do? Sick people's diet. Sin headed out to explore more of Phuket while I headed back.
I went back to the hotel took a bath and feeling better decided to go out explore too!

My first destination was the nearby Hock Kong Guan Temple (GPS: GPS: 7.87982, 98.39191), just to see how different Thai Chinese temples are from those in Malaysia.

Though not as elaborate, the Thai ones have very beautiful carvings - a testament to the good craftsmanship of the Thai.

Next to it was the Mosjed Yameay (GPS: 7.87913, 98.39036). A Spartan looking mosque with topped with a couple of simple looking domes.

Here I met Haji Mohamad and was surprise he spoke very good Malay. I found out that although domicile in Thailand his ancestors were from Malaysia. And behind the mosque was a whole community of Malays with roots from Malaysia too.

Today, the monks were out in full force. It was probably a day when the novice monks were allowed out as I saw many of them going around. They look so serious, unsmiling; perhaps that is a part of their training.

The locals had laid out tables at the street side, full of food and other useful day-to-day things. As the monks pass by, the scoop us some to put into the monks' metal urns & bowls. After which the monks will chant their blessings while the patrons knee to accept.

Something funny happened here!
I was not familiar with the local custom, and had thought the shops had laid out the goodies on tables at the roadside for sale. At one table I started taking up some goods to purchase... the owner just curiously looked on - and must be thinking I was mad to simply take his things but he just said nothing and in a patient Buddhist way, he just let me take them. When I wanted to make payment, he said "No... no.... these are for offering, not for selling", and he was so generous asking me to help them distribute the things when the monks came.
Feeling that this was not enough and not truly from my own efforts, I went to a real sundry shop and bought some goods to offer to the monks.

Along this street was another temple (GPS: 7.87763, 98.39377), one with a large red lantern hanging at its entrance arch; this sort of reminded me of the Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo, the one with a gigantic and iconic red lantern.

And inside was this dragon urn joss burner; the dragons looking very fierce - enough to scare those with doubtful religious thoughts.

I sauntered further south, down to the Saphan Hin seaside park (GPS: 7.86285, 98.40177). Here there are pedestrian/cycling paths that run parallel to the coast.

A panoramic view of the sea at Saphan Hin coast. Locals come here to stroll, jog, cycle, do fishing and even Tai Chi.

At the seaside, I saw this group of cyclist taking a break. Close up, I noticed they were AhPeks also, even older than me - old men into their seventies. Curios, I approached them and they asked me where I was from. In my poor Thai, I said Penang, Malaysia and they suddenly switched to talking Hokkien AND in similar  Penang Hokkien accent to that of my home town! Soon we were chatting like old friends, like there was a close bond between us.... and there was as I found out that they were Hokkiens too and some had the same surname as me... no wonder we could bond that well.

We just chatted for a short while, but sometimes it's little things like this that make a day and also make a tour memorable.

The roads at this area was quite quiet in the morning, almost devoid of traffic; many local cyclist take advantage of this and use it for their morning rounds.

Almost at the far end of this park was another temple, the Kua Tian Keng Shrine (GPS: 7.86243, 98.40011).

What attracted me were the rows of elaborately carved granite statue at the entrance platform.

In the afternoon, we all went a hunting for a good massage place and found one at Kim's Massage & Spa (GPS: 7.8838, 98.39152). They had several types of massage from the normal Thai massage to herbal oil massage. The session started with a foot wash by the masseurs before proceeding with the massage proper. They were good as after finishing the sessions, we felt refreshed. Needless to say, all of us went for double sessions. Even at their slightly higher cost of 500 Bahts per session, the pricing was reasonable.
Massaging always make one hungry, and we then a hunting for food, something light as it was tea time. Found this very good prawn mee (GPS: 7.88305, 98.39202) cooked Chinese style which we appreciated very much. Good as Thai food may me, we were beginning to miss other food and wanted a change.

We then each went our own ways. Always interested in old things, I dropped by to visit the Phuket Philatelic Museum (GPS: 7.88398, 98.39253) it's housed at the old Post & Telegraph building.
Although just a small single-storey building, inside were many exhibits, from stamps to historical post-box to a mock-up of an old post office.

Two interesting exhibits were - the first stamps of Thailand, the Solot Series, that were issued in 4th August 1883. This featured King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in profile. By comparison, the first adhesive stamp ever printed - the Penny Black - was issued in 1st May 1840, so Thailand was not to far behind in their postal progress.

This is Thailand's most expensive stamp.

Dinner time was at a food stall near the Talat Yai Market (GPS: 7.87762, 98.39535) Played it safe and had plain soup noodles prepared by this ever-smiling Thai vendor.

Phuket Old Town has good night sights. May of the buildings are colourfully lit up, like this Kasikornthai Building.

... and this Baba Museum (GPS: 7.88372, 98.39072).

I never realised there was a community of Baba-Nyonya here, at the ground floor of the museum were murals, one of which showed a traditional red-black Nyonya rattan tiffin carrier.


I am out again at 5:00am and will have to be back at the hotel and check out by 9:00am to go up to the airport for our return flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
Yong Sin had messaged during the night that his tummy problems were coming back again, and was worried that with that he might not be in a condition to fly back. We were considering all sorts of possibilities... him checking into the hospital with Roger staying back to accompany him, etc.

After a quick breakfast, I headed for the seaside again, hoping to explore the other side, the port side. Half way there, I recalled Sin's photo of an impressive temple he had visited the previous day, the Jui Tui Shrine, with it's distinct entrance tower. Time was running short, a quick U-turn had me headed for the temple.

Inside at the compound, colourful banner flags on poles...

... and within the entrance prayer foyer, white overhead banners instead of the usual red ones.

The feature that makes the temple easily recognisable - the bright red squarish tower with dark green inlays and four round columns at the corners.

(Click here to read more about the Jui Tui Shrine)
(GPS for Jui Tui Shrine: 7.88324, 98.38338)

Time's running out. I popped by to a nearby small shop for some dumpling breakfast that was served with a pot of hot Chinese Tea.

Saw this unique sculpture of Penny Farthing bicycles at one of the intersections.
Then I saw Yong Sin's message that he was feeling better but had run out of antibiotics. He would be able to make it for the flight back but as a precaution would wear some adult diaper. Nearby was a pharmacy and I dropped in to get the required antibiotics and asked for adult diaper. But pharmacies in Thailand, unlike those in Malaysia, only sell pharmaceutical products and diapers were not one. The friendly pharmacist who spoke excellent English gave me directions to a supermarket where I manage to get the diapers.
... and then I started heading back, using my Google Maps for directions but somehow I still got lost. And worst this was.... my phone was running out of batteries.
Panic! ... okay... try to calm down... look around for landmarks... but every street looks the same. Fortunately I was able to get back to the hotel before the batteries went totally flat.

I got back slightly late and the most of the rest were already packed and waiting for the truck and MPV that will take us up to Phuket International Airport. I rushed to pack, double-checking and triple-checking that I did not leave anything behind (one have a tendency to do that when in a rush).
And here we are, up at the airport, pushing trolleys with our luggage and packed bikes.

Back in Malaysia, we collected our luggage, said our goodbyes and headed our individual ways home. After almost two weeks away, we were all looking forward to seeing our loved ones.

This is page 9 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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