Jamie's Phuket Blog

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5 January 2017       

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Review of 2016

The general consensus seems to be that 2016 was a bad year. This is just a blog about Phuket, I don't want to talk politics or get all sentimental, but ... well, Brexit was dumb, voting for Trump was dumber, the world continues to fight and terrorists who will never actually win continue to kill random innocent people. And people get more upset about the death of a pop star than the death of children in Syria. But this is just a blog about Phuket. How was 2016 here? Well, pretty good really ... life goes on. This blog is now more than 10 years old, I am still managing a dive shop and watching my kids grow up and we try to do lots of family activities. We tried 2 times to take a long road trip up to the North of Thailand .. in April we were thwarted by extreme hot weather and haze, plus a builder who took a lot longer to finish work on our house than he'd promised! And in October, we wanted to try the long drive again but our daughter got sick. Plus, and this was the big Thai news, King Bhumibol (King Rama IX) passed away on October 13th. So it was not an ideal year, but here's my annual yearly review of what was featured on Jamie's Phuket last year, 2016.

Family at New Year

(above) Starting at the very end of the year ... all the Thai family. We all met in Chumphon (400km north of Phuket) for New Year. I drove up on 31st December and drove back on 1st January! Very nice to see all the family, all in one place at the same time! Happy New Year 2017! I have a good feeling about this year.

And now back to 1 year ago, January 2016. The first blog post of 2016 was a review of 2015 :) But we soon got out exploring and taking advantage of the very nice weather. It hardly rained for a couple of months in January and February. We went looking for a viewpoint in Phang Nga in between Phuket and Khao Lak. We found Khao Kai Nui and still plan to go back, but the drive up was a bit scary!

Looking West from Khao Kai Nui

(above) View from Khao Kai Nui

Also in January we did a more "touristy" thing and visited the 3D "Trickeye Museum" in Phuket Town. No idea why it's called a museum. I think someone just got mixed up between museum and gallery. These places have become quite popular in Thailand in recent years. Lots of 3D art .. you pose and take a photo. Lots of photos. Well, it was a bit of family fun!

Phuket Town Volcano!

(above) At the 3D Trickeye Museum

Quite a lot of restaurant posts on the blog in 2016, which I hope will continue in 2017! There should be more, but we do tend to have a few favourites and I admit we don't try new restaurants often enough. We ate a few times at Rum Jungle which is in the Naiharn area, and is a bit above our normal budget, but is very good! I had my birthday dinner there. Yes, not cheap, but .. might have my birthday dinner there again in 2017!

Rum Jungle Restaurant

And I updated the blog posts on a couple of favourite restaurants ... Kopitiam in old Phuket Town and The Big Chicken in Kathu. As we live in the Kathu area, we often eat around Kathu and the town. For more restaurant suggestions see : Phuket Restaurants.

There was a bit of a lack of new, exciting days out in the high season. I normally work 6 days per week and look forward to a bit more free time and some holidays from May to October! We had a very nice weekend trip at the end of April to Koh Yao Yai Island, stopping off at other islands on the way. We have been to Koh Yao Noi several times, but this was our first trip the bigger of the Koh Yao islands.

Thiwson Resort

(above) At our hotel on Koh Yao Yai Island

And we did more exploring in May. I'd seen this new viewpoint on Instagram, so we went looking for it - Samet Nangshe Viewpoint has quickly become very popular and I hope will not be spoiled. The view is amazing and we do intend to visit again soon for a sunrise view. Anyway. Wow!

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

More restaurants! First, one in the "business district" just outside Phuket Town, next to the Index mall. We have eaten at Zaab Tae Tae quite a few times this year. Not a place for Western food. They mostly do Isaan food, and plenty of spicy stuff. Guaranteed to tickle the taste buds! And then, one day the kids really really wanted pizza. We tried a place called Caffeine which is close to the aforementioned Big Chicken. Very good pizza!

Into the low season, in June we went looking at all the new street art that had appeared around old Phuket Town. And this needs updating again, the town is getting arty!

Phuket Town Street Art

(above) Checking out some Street Art in Old Phuket Town

I found time to revisit Laem Ka Beach, close to Rawai Beach. I had not been for many years. I hear that it gets busy in high season, but in June it was almost deserted! Also in low season, I managed to blog about Mosques in Phuket. I had meant to do this for a while, and took several drives around the island to take photos of mosques. There were more than I realised!

Laem Ka Beach

(above) Laem Ka Beach

Bang Tao Mosque, Phuket

(above) Bang Tao Mosque in Phuket

We finally tried the very good One Chun restaurant in Phuket Town - very good local Thai food. We ate there a couple of times including our daughter's birthday. It got very popular, probably not due to this blog .. another couple of times we thought about eating there, but it looked too full for us. I don't like getting shoehorned into a restaurant no matter how good the food is!

One Chun Restaurant

(above) One Chun Restaurant

More exploring in July - we had seen the Little Amazon tour before. It's north of Phuket, near the town of Takua Pa in Phang Nga Province. A boat ride down a tiny, jungly river, onto a bigger river .. and I guess you can imagine that it's the Amazon (on a smaller scale!) We enjoyed the trip.

Little Amazon Tour - In the Jungle!

(above) On the Little Amazon tour.

Another new restaurant ... Maireab Zaap Ver is in Kathu not far from our house. The owners used to have a smaller place on the road to Kathu waterfall, but it closed years ago. We were happy to see them back. We have been eating here quite often!

And a new market in Phuket too! There are actually lots of markets in Phuket including several night markets. The new Chillva market opened in April 2016 and is the current trendy place to hang out! Lots of food, a few bars, lots of clothes and random stalls. More on the blog : Chillva Market.

Chillva Market at Night

(above) Chillva Market on the edge of Phuket Town

We keep on finding new places in Phang Nga Province just over the bridge from Phuket. Phang Nga is way bigger and we like to explore. This year we found a "new" waterfall, and only 10km from the bridge, just north of Khok Kloi town. Wat Khao Waterfall is not the biggest, but very pretty in the rainy season, and not so big as to prevent swimming. Plus we found a good restaurant right next to the falls!

Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Wat Khao Waterfall

Later in the year I had another trip to the UK to see Dad in the care home and to organise the selling of the family home. Tiring! I got back to Phuket just in time for the 2016 Phuket Vegetarian Festival which ran from 30th September - October 9th. I did my usual 9 day diet and attended several of the street processions, although not as much as previous years. Still got lots of good photos!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - Face Piercing

Procession through Kathu village, 8th October 2016

(above) Phuket Vegetarian Festival

And then as the year grew old .. more exploring! We headed to the same area of Phang Nga as the Samet Nangshe Viewpoint where we'd seen a small fishing village back in 2015. Now this village has started a tour operation with longtail boats heading out to nearby islands, some with caves. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be one the best days of the year - read more @ Exploring Islands in Phang Nga Bay.

Flamingo Cave

(above) Exploring a cave in Phang Nga Bay

As mentioned a bunch of times on this blog, I have friends with a tour company - Easy Day Thailand - who you can contact for all kinds of trips around Phuket. The trip we did in Phang Nga Bay was something they plan to turn into a tour and indeed we traveled with these guys to Koh Yao Yai island earlier in the year. So with a bit of help from them I wrote a Top 10 Phuket Tours page on the blog, and it's well worth a read if you are not sure what to do around here!

Last couple of blog posts in 2016 - more restaurants! We really like Nern Khao View Talay, which is close to Wat Khao Waterfall. We ate there a couple of times and went there for dinner on New Year's Day 2017 too! Bit of a drive from the south of Phuket of course, but if you are exploring Phang Nga and it happens to be lunch or dinner time, this has become a new favourite after just a couple of visits!

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

(above) The kids at Nern Khao View Talay

And the last 2016 post was a small roadside eatery in the Karon Beach area, just over the street from where I work at Sunrise Divers. Have a look at Pim's Kitchen! I vow to keep trying new restaurants in 2017, partly for the variety, partly to have something to blog about!

Slightly uncertain times in Thailand with a new King, and no exact date for new elections .. the coup was nearly 3 years ago. And yet tourism always seems to be unaffected! Phuket is not a perfect paradise, but I have no plans to leave, very much enjoy living here and exploring the area. The blog goes on! Any questions about Phuket, please do ask on the Facebook Page. And please do follow on Twitter and Instagram! And find lots more photos on Flickr. Here's to a happy 2017!

Previous Yearly Blog Reviews : 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Review of 2016  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

27 December 2016       

Pims Kitchen - Cheap Eats in Karon

Along just about any street in Thailand you're going to find small restaurants and street stalls selling all kinds of Thai food. These places don't normally look very fancy, and many tourists will not really consider this kind of restaurant, preferring something nice at the hotel or a restaurant with a chance of some western food, or something they have found online with lots of good reviews. At the same time, many tourists want "proper Thai food" and (in my opinion) this can be hard to find in the more touristy areas of Phuket. If you want good, cheap local food you normally have to get away from the beach onto the back roads and find where the locals are eating. I don't normally blog about this kind of restaurant because there are so many of them and my advice is .. try a restaurant like this. If it looks clean and friendly, go for it! I'm going to give Pim's Kitchen a mention because I eat here quite often! It's about 1 minute walk from where I work at Sunrise Divers on the back road in Karon. I might blog about a couple of other options in the same area, the places that I go for lunch. Not dinner, only lunch. My house is 20km from Karon, so I don't really ever visit the main beach areas at night. If we eat out as a family it will normally be around Kathu or Phuket Town.

Pims Kitchen

Pim's Kitchen opened in 2015 and is run by a lady called Sai who used to be working at the nearby Pineapple Guesthouse. Pim is her daughter's name. It's by the main road called Patak Road behind the beach road of Karon. Only a few minutes from the Hilton or Thavorn Palm Beach resorts, next door to a hardware store and opposite several banks. When it opened it was immediately popular with local workers like the bank staff. And me! I do like having cheap, tasty Thai food without having to walk far from the aircon office!

Pims Kitchen

(above) Sai is always rather jolly. And (bonus for tourists) she speaks decent English too! You can get a menu, or just think of any standard Thai dish and you can probably get it. And it will cost around 50 - 60 Baht. hey do a decent bowl of noodles (and it's big too!) I like noodles with lots of crispy pork and a spoonful of crushed nuts.

Thai Noodles

(above) A nice big bowl of noodles for lunch!

It's a simple place inside, just half a dozen tables. If you want a drink you grab a cup from the back and help yourself to ice. There are beers and soft drinks in the fridge or you can just have free water. Another plus point! I like local restaurants that don't charge for water. I mean, you can get 20 liter bottles delivered for 10 Baht, so charging for a cup of ice and water is a bit cheeky.

Another easy meal in Thailand is chicken or pork on rice (with chicken = khao man gai, with bbq pork is khao moo daeng, and with cripsy pork is khao moo grob). I like to mix the pork and (if they have it) add a few bits of chinese sausage (goon chiang). This comes with some sauce which you can pour over the top. Add half a boiled egg and some soup and that's lunch (see photo below)!

Khao Moo Daeng

If you order noodles or rice with chicken / pork, they will come quickly as there's not really any cooking needed. You can also order "a la carte". There are so many possible Thai dishes you can order. A few of my favourites below ...

Grapow Gai

(above) Phad Grapow Gai (fried chicken with holy basil, a very common Thai dish, often made wit pork instead .. or prawns)

Grapow Moo Grob

Or you can get Grapow with crispy pork (above). Look at that!

Phad Thai

(above) And they do a tasty Phad Thai too!

This is the kind of restaurant to look for in Phuket or anywhere in Thailand for easy Thai food, nothing fancy, certainly inexpensive. I'd not be driving miles or getting a taxi specially for Pim's Kitchen, but if you are in the Karon area and feeling hungry ...

Other restaurants near here

The Phad Thai Shop
Sala Bua
Mama Noi
Or try 'Gluay Nam Wah' next to the PTT gas station or 'Nong Built' opposite the Karon post office

Pim's Kitchen - Location Map

Pims Kitchen - Cheap Eats in Karon  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

13 December 2016       

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

We tried a new restaurant this weekend and we like it! Nern Khao View Talay (เนินเขา วิวทะเล), which means something like "on a hill with a seaview" is located just north of Kok Kloi Town in Phang Nga province, only about 10 kilometers from the Sarasin bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland. Actually we did stop at this restaurant one time before, just for a drink, and decided it was worth another look. Nern Khao View Talay is on a small hill very close to Wat Khao Waterfall, which we visited earlier in 2016. A pretty little waterfall, and there is another restaurant right there at the falls too. At first we thought Nern Khao View Talay looked a bit fancy and expensive, but a quick look at the menu showed that actually the prices are very good. So, it was on the list for a proper visit!

Only takes about 1 hour from our house to reach Kok Kloi (we are in Kathu, near Phuket Town). The restaurant was not busy when we arrived, so we got a prime table with the best view. I mean, it's not a spectacular view, there are no big mountains here, but you can see for miles and you can see the sea (which is about 4km to the west). The turn off the main road is not that easy to see, just a small sign that says "Wat Khao Waterfall", and the restaurant is up a steep hill. There's parking for about a dozen cars. And then a path which for some reason features dinosaurs!

Walking up to the restaurant.

And here's our kids enjoying their table with a view :

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

The menu is extensive, lots of local food, seafood, lots of Thai salads (my favourite!), and simple rice and noodle dishes, tom yum and plenty more. Prices decent - tom yum was 150, fried rice 60 Baht, salads around 150 Baht and rather pleasingly a Chang beer only 60 Baht. We ordered what we thought would be maybe a bit too much, but I get carried away with big menus sometimes! After a while I realised we only had 1000 Baht with us, and we wondered if we'd ordered more than that!

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

(above) At Nern Khao View Talay restaurant. There were only a few tables occupied when we arrived. It got busier later. Our food arrived very quickly, we were only waiting about 15 minutes for everything. It was all good and I was stuffed. Didn't have any dinner that night! Aside from drinks (a couple of beers, a few cokes and water) and a bowl of steamed rice, we had ....

Tom Yum Gai

(above) Tom Yum with chicken

Yam Tuna Fu

(above) Yam Tuna Fu ... mango salad with fried crispy tuna (I mean, like deep fried until crispy and crunchy). Normally made with catfish (Pla Duk). It's great.

Fried rice with prawns

(above) Simple fried rice with prawns. I had this rather than just plain steamed rice.

Yam Kai Pla

(above) Yam Kai Pla - spicy salad made with fish eggs. Super tasty.

And there was also a stuffed omelette (kai yat sai). It was all good!

Mrs Monk

(above) Mrs Monk enjoying a glass of fine water (she doesn't drink any alcohol)

We're likely to go again soon, maybe for an early dinner, as the sunset would be good from there - looking out to the west towards the sea. Sitting there with a full belly, I felt very happy to have found another little gem of a restaurant. The manager suggested we walk further up the hill to a Buddha statue, so we did.

Path to the Buddha

(above) Follow the sign to the Buddha

Quite a steep little hike up to the very top of the hill! The view slightly enhanced by the extra height ...

View from the Buddha at Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

And here's the Buddha on top of the hill :

Buddha above the restaurant

Buddha above the restaurant

And my dear wife said a little prayer before we descended to the restaurant to get the bill ... only 890 Baht for 4 of us with all that food. The restaurant had filled up a bit by the time we left. I recommend this place, or the one next to Wat Khao Waterfall, though that one is a bit more basic. Kok Kloi has another popular restaurant called Poo Dam (Black Crab) which people tell us has great food, but it's by the road and I do like a view! I am sure we'll be back at Nern Khao View Talay again sometime soon.

More favourite restaurants in Phang Nga

Dairy Hut Seafood
Tha Sai Seafood
Thanoon Seafood

Nern Khao View Talay - Location Map

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog