Travelfish contributions by Batfish
The first number represents the total number of published reviews by Batfish. The bracketed figure is submitted reviews -- reviews may not be published for editorial reasons or may be removed because the property concerned has been delisted from Travelfish or has closed.
Life according to Batfish
Living in Phuket since 1999
Ooh! India, USA, Canda, Mexico, Central America, South America, half of Europe, about 15 countries in Africa from Morocco to South Africa...
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Where to see Monkeys in Phuket
Published 9:16 am, 19 May 2015
I get the impression that a lot of visitors to Phuket want to see a monkey .. and preferably not in the zoo (the zoo will not appear on this list). Now, I am a bit blasé when it comes to monkeys. I have seen plenty. I have traveled in Africa, been face to face with a baboon outside my tent, seen hundreds of vervet monkeys in the Masai Mara, and I have seen gorillas in the Ruwenzori mountains (gorillas are not monkeys of course - they are apes). Nevertheless, I am still happy to see wild monkeys. There are not many wild animals left in Phuket - the island was jungle covered 200 years ago, and Phuket used to have wild elephants, tigers, rhino and a lot more. Industry in the form of tin mining and especially rubber led to clearance of much of the jungle during the 19th and early 20th century, long before any tourists came here. There are some untouched jungly areas, but much of the land is cultivated, and there are no tigers here anymore! Monkeys however are adaptable, and can live in just about any kind of environment. There are quite a number of places where you can see monkeys in the Phuket area....
I guess the best place to start is Monkey Hill (real name is Khao To Sae) on the north side of Phuket Town - it's the hill with all the aerials / radio masts etc. on top, and easy to spot from much of the south of the island, being around 270m above sea level. There are a lot of monkeys here, mostly they are found near the top of the hill. Local people come up to feed them, but it's not a "tourist attraction". You can drive up in a car. People also exercise here, but I am not sure I'd want to walk up to the top where the monkeys are. Not sure if they can get aggressive, but I'd rather be in a car! (update) I saw a news story last year - a tourist was bitten by a monkey here.
• Monkey Hill - More Information
Also on the north side of Phuket Town, Rang Hill (I am sure) never used to have monkeys some years ago, I do not recall seeing any until the last few years. Rang Hill is quite popular as a viewpoint, a place to eat or get some fresh air and exercise. Our last few visits, there have been monkeys a-plenty taking handouts or sifting through garbage. They just tend to hang around the carpark area and not the restaurants.
• Rang Hill - More Information
• New Viewpoint at Rang Hill
• Tunk Ka Cafe on Rang Hill
Sirey Island (east of Phuket Town)
As you drive to Koh Sirey, passing the fishing port and shipyards, you enter an area of mangroves and here be monkeys. They live in the mangroves and the local authorities even built a little monkey viewing area by the side of the road. We like the Sirey island area, nice and quiet and there's a very nice temple on the hill here too.
• Sirey Island - More Information
• Sirey Temple
Wat Suwan Kuha Temple
Also called "Buddha Cave Temple" and "that cave with a Buddha in it", Wat Suwan Kuha is a temple built into a cave close to Phang Nga Town, off Phuket Island, and about a 90 minute drive from Phuket Town. Certainly worth a visit, and outside the cave there are lots of monkeys. We have been a few times and I have not seen any monkeys inside the cave. I guess they know the rules.
• Wat Suwan Kuha - More Information
Bang Rong (northeast coast of Phuket)
I remember driving down the small road to Bang Rong pier to eat at the floating restaurant in the mangroves. We'd been before but never seen monkeys. This time - monkeys! We got quite excited - unexpected monkeys are the best. They hang around in the mangroves but also jump around on the roofs of buildings and chew car aerials. We know where *not* to park now. Bang Rong is where you can get a ferry over to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai Islands too. (Update) On our most recent visit monkeys were rather over friendly and even stole fruit from our table and tried to grab a bag of take away food from my wife's hand. Take care!
• Bang Rong - More Information
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
Close to Bang Pae Waterfall and not far from the aforementioned Bang Rong, the Gibbon Rehab Project looks after gibbons that have been illegally caught, or kept as pets. Some are released back into the wild. It's illegal to own a gibbon, and if you see gibbons being hawked round the streets for photos, please contact the GRP. Gibbons are apes, not monkeys, I know that .. but want to include the project here, it's worth a visit combined with the waterfall, a jungle hike ....
• Phuket Gibbon Rehab Center - More Information
Related Phuket Blog Posts
Khao Sok National Park
Hiking to the Highest Point in Phuket
Kayaking in the Mangroves
Suggested Phuket Hotels
Kamala Beach Revisited
Published 9:09 am, 19 May 2015
Just before New Year I had a free day and felt like checking out Kamala Beach. There have been a lot of changes to the beaches in the low season with the army helping to provide the muscle to clear all structures off the sand, and helping to enforce new regulations keeping beach chairs off the beaches. Some people think this is great, some want their beach chairs! Just this week there have been moves to allow chairs on some parts of some beaches, but .. are they really needed? I blogged a few months ago about these changes and visited Surin Beach, Layan Beach, and Laem Sing Beach. Kamala used to be a place we visited often as we had quite a few friends living there, but I think in the last 5 years we've only been a few times! Kamala always used to be quieter than the 3 main beaches (Patong, Karon, Kata), but I know there has been development and new hotels. The middle section of the beach always used to have a lot of small restaurants right on the sand. I was guessing these would be all gone. Wrong!
So, as you can see from the photo above, there are still restaurants right by the beach. The change is that the restaurants now have no chairs/tables *on* the beach, which leaves the beach free for people to relax. Between the beach and the restaurants is a concrete path a couple of metres wide, and the path is mostly covered in sand, plus the floors of many of the restaurants are sandy. So .. you're pretty much right on the beach. Nice. I had parked at the police station which is closer to the south end of the beach than the north. There used to be a couple of restaurants there, but they had 100% gone. Walking north is a line of beachside restaurants for about 200 meters. The beach was pretty busy, there were a few chairs, quite a few beach umbrellas and a lot of people lying in the shade near the path under the trees.
(above) Kamala beach on 28th December 2014
Kamala is quite a small beach and development is limited because at the south end you have Kamala temple and school plus the very south of the beach is very shallow and a little muddy. And the north end of the beach has no development since the land that fronts the beach is a Muslim cemetery. Walking north past the row of restaurants the narrow concrete path continues onwards, but there are no buildings. There are a few mobile stalls selling food and drinks and a few people have got chairs and tables on the beach there. Space is limited, and I saw people lying almost on the path!
I mean, the beach is big enough, but people like to crowd the center. If you walk 100m you find some space! And yes sure it was a little crowded, between Christmas and New Year - absolute peak season. Aside from small restaurants there were also lots of stalls selling fruit shakes and juices. One of the lovely things about living in a tropical climate - no shortage of lovely fruit!
(above) Fruit shakes for sale at Kamala Beach
I had been reading how all the little wooden / bamboo massage shacks had been removed from the beaches, all part of the clean-up. With the restaurants and bars having to move everything to the other side of the path - bingo! More space for massage ladies to move in. No fixed structures, just mats on the sand and I saw plenty of people having a massage. Easy to relax here at Kamala - eat by the beach, massage on the beach, beer by the beach ...
(above) Massage at Kamala Beach
After a little walk up and down the beach on a hot afternoon, I think you'll agree nothing hits the spot like a cold beer. So I stopped at "Bob's Bar" for a Chang. Having a place to eat or drink right by the beach is great. I'm happy to see natural looking beaches, but the authorities may have been a little over zealous in some places. Tourists like to sit on the beach, but do need shade and do need food and drinks. Kamala looks like it's got the balance right at the moment.
(above) Kamala beach - Bob's bar is there behind the green umbrellas. I could have very happily sat there and had a few beers, but I did have to drive home! So one cold Chang went down the hatch in about 3 minutes. I was happy to see Kamala prospering. My main memory of Kamala is being there on December 25th 2004 with my wife 9 months pregnant, a little daughter, everyone playing on the beach. And next day was the tsunami. So this was another reason for visit Kamala on December 28th 2014, 10 years (and 2 days) after that day. Good to see Kamala looking busy and the beach looking very well cared for.
Kamala Beach Information and Links
Phuket Blog page about Kamala 2009
Kamala Beach Hotels (at Agoda.com)
Laem Sing Beach
A Tour of South Phuket
Published 7:45 am, 19 May 2015
We had some new visitors to Phuket last week. My aunt and uncle were in Thailand for the first time, staying 7 nights at the Centara Karon Resort which is a few minutes walk from the sands of Karon beach and a couple of kilometers up the road from my office at Sunrise Divers. We had a couple of evenings with them visiting a few favourite places like Kopitiam and the After Beach Bar, but since it's high season I could only take one full day off that week. On Sunday 11th January I drove to pick them up from the hotel for a little tour around some of the sights in the south of Phuket before heading to the beach in the late afternoon for my son's birthday party. And, as it happens, it was also my aunt's birthday. All photos on this page were taken on the same day.
This little tour covers a lot of beautiful scenery and is only a small corner of southwest Phuket. It was one of the first parts of Phuket that I explored when not diving. It was a very quiet area then, but even now the roads are not so busy and it's a nice area for a ride on a moped with lots of possible stopping off points. It was nice to be a "tour guide" for half a day and this trip with my relatives helped me remember that Phuket really is a nice place to live! We started from Karon to the south, past Kata beach and then on the hilly, winding road along the coast to Naiharn beach.
First stop was the well known Karon Viewpoint (also called "the Phuket Viewpoint" or Kata Viewpoint). And as you can see the weather was perfect, just what you'd hope for in January. Always a great view from here looking north along the Phuket coastline. There are many great coastal views in Phuket.
From the viewpoint you drop down towards Naiharn. This area has got so much more developed in the last 10 years, lots of restaurants, houses, a few resorts, and there are banks and local businesses. When the road gets to Naiharn Lagoon, there is an option to turn right and stop at Naiharn Beach, maybe visit Naiharn temple or follow the coast round to the very small Ao Sane beach. But we headed on south. The road here is narrow and hilly. You climb from beach level up to about 50 meters above sea level where there's a wind turbine, a great view and not a lot of parking space! This is one of my favourite views in Phuket.
(above) View from the wind turbine viewpoint just south of Naiharn beach (read more about this viewpoint on the blog here). The beach on the left side of the photo is Ya Nui Beach just to the south .. and after taking in this great view on a great day, we stopped at Ya Nui for a quick drink. It's always been a fairly quiet place. The one beach-side restaurant has now gone, but there are a few places to eat and drink by the road - and the road is very small and quiet. Ya Nui has a few nearby bungalows, and other people come by car or moped for a relaxing beach day without too many crowds. And this was in peak season ...
Just a few minutes drive from Ya Nui is Phromthep Cape, which is the "end of Phuket", the most south-westerly point on the island and a very popular stop for sunset views. I actually think there are better places for a sunset, but that's another story! Certainly the views are lovely. I was disappointed this time, because the lighthouse was closed (normally you can climb up for a better view). A hike to the very end of the cape was not an option with a couple of "not so young" folks, but I do recommend it.
I did consider lunch at the Cape Phromthep restaurant. We have eaten there only once before and I do want to try it again sometime, but preferably at sunset. On this occasion, I thought we could try a place at Rawai beach, just another 5 minute drive. Rawai beach is changing too - more modern looking buildings on the beach road and a resort under construction. I chose a place called "Rimlay" for lunch towards the jetty end of Rawai beach (east end), next door to the well known Nikita's restaurant. Rimlay has some tables in the shade right by the sea, looked ideal and I'd say my aunt and uncle thought so too!
I had a great seafood salad and (of course) a cold Chang. We sat by the sea and I thought "damn, Phuket is a great place!". I think I'll blog this restaurant a bit later, it's certainly one to visit again. A very pleasant lunch. Time ticked by, a second cold beer was enjoyed and it was time to move on. We could have stopped at the Phuket Seashell Museum, but time was limited. We drove to Chalong and then up and up the hill to the Big Buddha. It was rather busy up there. My aunt had to borrow a sarong to cover her shoulders (they hand these out for free at the entrance). You are supposed to dress properly at temples. I saw a shirtless guy being stopped by "Big Buddha Security" and not allowed in without a shirt. The day continued to be hot with blue skies.
From the Big Buddha, given a little more time, a stop at Wat Chalong Temple would have been next on the list and between there and home there's also the Phuket Botanic Garden and the Bird Park. A bit too much for a day! We had a party to get to, and so the Big Buddha was the last stop on this trip. We stopped home to pick up the family, headed off for the party and the day ended like this ... Perfect.
(above) Sunset on 11th January 2015
This kind of tour is something I often suggest to people. This corner of Phuket has a lot to see, and the scenery is beautiful, plus there are loads of options for restaurants and bars - if you did this as an afternoon tour it would finish nicely with a sunset at a viewpoint or the After Beach Bar. It's a very nice part of Phuket away from the busier beaches, lots of places of interest, sea views and small beaches. Especially ideal if you have a hotel around Karon beach or Kata beach. It had been a while since I'd done a little tour like this and even for me, living here a long time, it was a lovely day!
For guided tours like this or around any area in or near Phuket, ask my friends at Easy Day Thailand!
Map - Tour of South Phuket
The Phad Thai Shop
Published 3:29 am, 12 May 2015
This blog post was first blogged in 2008. The Phad Thai Shop is still there and I finally got round to updating this post now (May 2015!).
Phad Thai is a very common Thai dish made from noodles, egg, chili, tofu, normally some shrimp or some chicken, plus onion, fish sauce, nuts, lime... ingredients can vary. You can order Phad Thai in 10 different places and get 10 different tasting meals depending on the amount and variety of sauces added, the size and type of noodles used, type of meat added and so on... Phad Thai can be bland sometimes or it can be spicy, it can be dry or saucy. You get a lot of variety out of one dish! If bought from a street stall or roadside restaurant you're normally only going to be paying 40 - 50 Baht for your lunch - it's a cheap dish to make and thus a popular lunch all over Thailand, nearly as popular as Noodle Soup (Kuaytiow).
Close to our dive shop, Sunrise Divers in Karon Beach, on the back road near the Baan Karon Resort, there's one of the most popular little lunchtime restaurants I have ever seen in Phuket. Every day workers in the local area flock here for lunch, and the most popular dish is Phad Thai. The restaurant does not really have a name except "The Phad Thai Shop". They also do noodle soup with chicken or beef, a good Phad Gapraow with beef, a popular fried rice with crab. The menu is expanding - when I first ate here in 2005 they had only Phad Thai or Noodles and beef stew. It's open every day from quite early until late afternoon. Mostly caters to a lunch crowd.
(above) These used to be just a wooden handpainted sign, only in Thai - now the Phad Thai Shop is easier to spot!
It's only a little place but it can be packed at lunchtime. You can get Phad Thai to eat there or take away - the take away is wrapped in a banana leaf. The cooking is mostly done by one guy, with others helping to serve noodle soup, package up takeaways etc.. You can see the huge bowls full of chicken and beef at the counter - these are ladled over the noodles. The famous Phad Thai is really tasty, and you have extra bowls of chili sauce, prik nam pla (fish sauce with chili) and dried chili on the table in case it's not spicy enough for you.
(above) Cooking Phad Thai
You can get Phad Thai there either to eat there or take away. Bear in mind that by Western standards this is not really a "restaurant" - a collection of tables in a shack by the road outside someone's house... but this is real local eating here in Phuket. If you want to mingle with the people, get on the back roads and get some Pad Thai right here! I tend to get food from here at least once a week as it's so cheap and close to work.... oh and very tasty! Phad Thai is 50 Baht and it's a huge portion.
(above) Inside the Phad Thai Shop
The place was "tarted up" a couple of years ago with a concrete floor and nicer tables, but still the same food and same price (50 Baht). Just before the Baan Karon Resort on the way from Karon to Kata on Patak Road. It's not a big obvious restaurant, just a small local place... just look for the sign saying "The Phad Thai Shop". If in doubt come to see us at Sunrise Divers first. Only a few minutes away. Part of the reason for the new sign and the slight improvement in decor was the visit of a writer from the Lonely Planet guide, who was directed here by me and a former employee at Sunrise Divers. I recall the owner being very happy to be listed in the guide and they have a 5 foot tall copy of the page on the back wall!
(above) Listed in Lonely Planet and proud of it!
The Phad Thai Shop (Karon) - Location Map
View The Phad Thai Shop near Karon Beach in a larger map
Rimlay Restaurant at Rawai Beach
Published 8:40 pm, 11 May 2015
Rawai beach is very different to the main west coast beaches in Phuket such as Patong, Karon, Kata and all the rest. Rawai is located right in the south of Phuket close to Phromthep Cape and the beach faces southeast. Like most beach and coastal areas on the east side of Phuket, Rawai is not a swimming beach, but it is fairly busy, as the beach road is lined with many small restaurants and a few hotels. Plus Rawai is home to many longtail and speed boats which can take people out to nearby islands such as Coral Island or Koh Kaew Yai. The east end of the beach past the pier has a fish market and a small sea gypsy community. I don't come to Rawai as often as I should. I like it and will try more of the restaurants here in the future.
Rimlay (actually the full name is Baan Rimlay) is close to the pier. If driving in from Chalong, turn right and you can park in front of the restaurant - it's just after the turn. It's next door to the well known Nikita's bar/restaurant. Back in January I stopped here my my aunt and uncle for lunch during a tour of the south of Phuket. It was a good choice! We got a table by the sea and on a hot day it was an ideal place to enjoy a cold beer in the shade.
And I was glad to see the prices are reasonable. 60 Baht for a Chang beer when you are sitting by the sea in Phuket is a good deal :) Baan Rimlay has been there for many years. I'm pretty sure it was there back in 1999 when I arrived in Phuket, I know it's neighbour Nikita's was there back then and if I recall, Nikita's did not do food, but you could order and they'd bring it from Rimlay. Is that right? Heck, it was a long time ago! Nikita's does do food now and I should stop by sometime soon. On this occasion, my uncle, aunt and I ordered some small dishes (and another beer). The whole place is in the shade with some big trees growing above the restaurant. A light sea breeze is all you need, so it's not too hot even on a hot Phuket day.
(above) I ordered Yam Sam Grob, which is a seafood salad. Very good with a beer, very good on a hot day when you don't want a huge plate of food. Phuket (and neighbouring Phang Nga province) specialises in this kind of dish - you can also get a salad with crispy dried shrimp or with lemongrass or with fish eggs, it's very local food and hard to find outside this region.
(above) And some garlic shrimp, another good snack to enjoy with a cold beer. I need to go again and order something else from the menu to complete this blog entry! It's a comfortable place for a seafood lunch or a drink and a nibble, with seating by the sea and good prices - you struggle to find this at the more developed beaches. I was back again last weekend taking some photos and stopped in just for a cold afternoon beer. It's not a huge place, maybe 10 tables, service quick and friendly. Might be a nice place for dinner too.
(above) Baan Rimlay Restaurant
There are a whole bunch of small restaurants here in Rawai. If you visit the fish market on the other side of the pier (see photo below) there are restaurants there which will cook what you buy - totally fresh seafood! There are also a couple of fancier looking places further along the beach. I hope Rawai can stay nice and simple - the fact that you can't swim and sunbathe here tends to keep the hordes away. To be honest, it's not changed that much in 15 years, a bit more developed, but still quiet.
Related Links / Nearby Attractions
More about Rawai Beach
Rawai Beach Hotels
Ya Nui Beach
Koh Kaew Yai Island
Sunset Tour to Coral Island
Baan Rimlay Restaurant - Location Map