Jamie's Phuket Review of 2014
The year is almost over. I've been in Phuket for over 15 years now and this blog is over 8 years old. 2014 has not gone totally to plan. It has been a funny old year. Every year I do a "best of" post showing what's been new on the blog. This has been 2014. Blogging has slowed down somewhat, especially later in the year. I spent 5 weeks in England. Mum was very ill. Cancer again. She'd beaten cancer 3 times before. I was hopeful. Dad has dementia which has developed very fast. I don't want to recount too many details here. Mum died at the end of August. They have both been to Phuket many times. I will start my 2014 review with a photo of them taken in 2013.
(above) in Memory of my Mum. This is Mum and Dad at Khao Lak in 2013.
2014 is ending with sad memories in another way. 10 years ago on December 26th "the tsunami" happened. Killed something like 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean. More than 5,000 killed in Thailand. We visited the tsunami memorials in Khao Lak with my parents in 2013. I wrote about my tsunami memories a few years ago. No plans to write more.
So let's begin with a little review of what's been new on the Phuket Blog this year.
January ... To the north of Phuket, over the bridge is Phang Nga Province which covers a huge area. We often drive this way and keep exploring and finding new places. First couple of blog posts of the year were about Phang Nga, first a viewpoint cafe and then I wrote a long post about Exploring Phang Nga Province.
(above) Phang Nga Viewpoint
Aside from time spent in England, a couple of other things have slowed down new blog posts in 2014. Aside from laziness. One thing is work. In high season I normally work 6 days per week at Sunrise Divers. A day off is a chance to get out and see new things, but also a chance to relax! Another reason - a lower than usual desire to take photos. I ended up selling my camera this year and mostly just use a phone, though I did pick up my Dad's old camera from England and used it later in the year at the vegetarian festival.
In February, I think the only new blog post was a Top 10 Phuket Hotels list. March - I wrote a page that every other blog and website has, and should have been on this blog before - an "About Jamie" page. That should explain a little about who writes this blog!
In April, a blog post that is more of an article. When I first came to Phuket I had no idea that the area had such a long and rich history. And I imagine many visitors also see very little beyond the beaches and tours. But Phuket has a lot of history and culture and over the years this blog has tried to show that. And also in April I found a new place to hang out - a bar on the hillside way above Patong Beach - Wassa Homemade Bar.
(above) Sunset above Patong at Wassa Homemade Bar
A nice little thing happened in May. There was something called a Worldwide Instameet. Users of Instagram around the world meeting up to take photos of their own place. We did one in Phuket, meeting up at the Chinpracha House mansion in old Phuket and after taking some photos using iPhones and other similar devices we headed to a cafe for a few drinks :) A very nice time - see : Phuket Instagram Meet Up.
After selling my proper camera I am using the iPhone for most photos though it does of course have limits and I think the new year of 2015 will see a new camera coming my way! In the meantime, please do follow me on Instagram, thanks!
The Phuket Blog Facebook Page is also very busy and sometimes I ask questions there to get some opinions. In May I asked people what they think about Taxis and Tuk Tuks in Phuket - lots of opinions voiced! A few days after writing this, there was a coup, we had curfews and martial law for a short time, though in Phuket it was quickly back to normal. Except the new military government have cracked down on so-called taxi mafia groups in Phuket and then later started a process of beach clearance, with structure not allowed on the sand, and beach chairs being removed. Controversial! Beaches look better, but it's nice to have some shade and some little restaurants by the beach!
In June I blogged the "new" Sunday walking street market that takes place every Sunday evening on Thalang Road in old Phuket Town. We go quite often for a walk, to buy some snacks, enjoy the old town - see Phuket Sunday Walking Street Market.
When the aforementioned beach clearances started I wanted to have a look, so took some drives to check out a few beaches. In July we visited Surin Beach and Laem Sing Beach. The clearance was still going on at Laem Sing. We first went there 15 years ago and it was very quiet. It then got touted as "the quiet beach" and thus became a busy beach with many small bars and restaurants. I think it looks better empty. There was still a man there with an ice box to sell me a beer :)
(above) View of Laem Sing Beach in July 2014
(above) Our kids enjoying Surin Beach
It was in July that I headed to England for a 3 week stay. There was another 2 weeks late August into September. Exploring time in Phuket was thus limited and, well, there was a lot on my mind. The blog is still just a hobby, so it got rather ignored sometimes this year.
We did find time for another beach recon session .. this time to Layan Beach which was (as it always did) looking very nice although the beach club there looks rather out of place.
(above) Layan Beach, August 2014
Well, after my second trip to England it was nearly time for my favourite time of year, although given my somewhat melancholy mood, I nearly gave it a miss. But, after not bothering too much about he start of the festival, I went to quite a few parades and for the first time went to the crazy last night in Phuket Town. The 2014 Phuket Vegetarian Festival (September 23rd - October 3rd) got blogged in 3 separate posts ::
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 - Part 1
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 - Part 2
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 - Part 3
And I did enjoy taking photos .... here's a few from the festival. I'll skip the gory ones. Check the 3 links above for much more.
After the festival we took a short family holiday north of Phuket to Chumphon, Hua Hin and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces. A very relaxing time, which I much needed and felt very lucky to be here in Thailand and have such a lovely family.
A new blog post in November revisited a place that I first blogged in 2006. Rang Hill in Phuket Town now has a fancy new viewpoint with even better views than before. I must get up there again at sunset one day! I also blogged in November about the Uber Taxi App, which has started in Phuket .. if it's allowed! Struggled to find time in the last month for blogging, although we've had some nice family days out. Last photo for this 2014 summary - see below. Me and the kids at Mai Khao Beach a few weeks ago. Happy New Year from Phuket!
(above) This is my Phuket!