Old Phuket Town Getting a Face Lift
One of the things that everyone notices here in Phuket, and just about everywhere in Thailand - overhead cables. There are power cables, phone cables, internet cables, all kinds of cables and sometimes it looks terrible. After living here for so long, I have developed a blind spot for cables, but when you come to an area with no wires hanging over the street, it's very noticeable! It looks so clean and tidy. And there are very few wire/cable-free places in Phuket. Putting all cables underground is expensive and with continual upgrades in technology, can lead to endless digging with cables being replaced. In the heart of Old Phuket Town - which blog readers may know is my favourite part of Phuket - a couple of streets were cleared of cables already a couple of years ago.
(above) Thalang Road, photo taken December 2010 during the Phuket Street Show
(above) Soi Romanee, a narrow lane connecting Thalang Road with Dibuk Road
Only these 2 streets had been done, but plans were in place to remove cables from many other sections of street around the old town along Dibuk Road, Krabi Road, Yaowarat Road and Phuket Road. A map might be useful to explain, and voila ...
Thanks to the Phuket Gazette website for the map. Well, plans are all very well, and over the last year, certainly some roads have been dug up, but all the cables were still there. And then suddenly a couple of weeks ago, we drove through the old town, and along Krabi Road we could see a whole new street view with no ugly wires. It was like the work had happened overnight, because I'd just driven down Krabi road the day before. The cables and electric poles were all gone and other wires had been run very neatly along the front of the buildings, barely noticeable. Great!
Doing this work in Old Phuket Town will allow the old buildings to show their true face. Much of the old town was built in the late 19th and early 20th century at the height of the tin mining boom. Some new buildings are present, but there is a very active old town association led by important local families, so these streets (I hope) will not be allowed to become ugly! Some buildings certainly need some paint and some need a bigger fix, but I do like a few crumbly façades and I love old tiled roofs too. Hope that the remaining streets in the plan can be attended to soon. I went to take a little walk on May 19th, a week after the work had been completed in "Phase 2" (well, not totally complete, the section on Phuket Road is not done yet). But part of Dibuk Road is done, and has some great shophouses...
(above) On Dibuk Road with no wires
(above) The Aekwanit building on the corner of Dibuk and Yaowarat Roads. Now wire free and looking great. And look at the photo below. This is on the opposite corner of the same junction from the Aekwanit building, corner of Dibuk and Yaowarat, photo taken same day, this section yet to be done - it's quite a difference! Once you've seen a street looking great without wires, then the wires look even worse!
(above) Krabi road, just to the west of Thalang Road, now wire free. The Thai Hua Museum is found here. Of course some parts of old Phuket town are like a living museum with businesses such as the Old Herb Shop on Thalang Road that have been run by the same family for 100 years or more. And I love the old buildings. My wife and I joke (?) about trying to buy one, but a small shophouse might be too small for us and the kids to live in!
(above) Old Tiled Roof on Krabi Road
Old town is looking good, and I read that a new museum will soon open celebrating the local Peranakan culture (for more about this, see my story on Baba Weddings in Phuket). There's always something new to see around town. The Shrine of Serene Light is being renovated, hope that's finished soon. I plan to make some more walks in town during the next few months. Always something to photograph!
• Hotels in Phuket Town