Day Five (Saturday) – Before we left for our trip, I had done some research into different things to see once we were in Phuket. I’d planned our few tours and made sure we had some rest days. I wanted the girls to see some Buddhist Temples and I’d read a bit about Old Phuket Town and the weekend market so I organized to hire a driver to take us around for an afternoon.
As the weekend market is only late afternoon and into the evening, the driver was booked to pick us up from our hotel at 12.00pm and then spend 6 hours showing us around. As luck would have it, we got our first taste of monsoon rain and it started just as we left the hotel. It bucketed down and it wasn’t looking too good for our afternoon of sightseeing which was a bit disappointing. The driver drove us up the hill to the Big Buddha but the rain was so hard that we could not see anything. The road was steep and the drains don’t work too well so there were flooded sections and the van was slipping around a bit. I was a bit nervous but we finally made it to the top of the hill. It was a bit of a waste of time, the Big Buddha would have been right there, but we couldn’t see any of it! People were huddled under awnings waiting for the rain to stop but we really had no idea how long that would take.
We turned around and went back down the hill and drove to Wat Chalong, a stunning Buddhist temple with beautiful artworks and golden Buddha statues. The Grand Pavilion holds a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone and many people come to worship here. It’s a very popular place for tourists. When we arrived the rain was still falling heavily and it wasn’t worth getting out of the van.
We were really starting to worry that our afternoon would be a big disappointment. Our driver said that even Old Phuket had ‘Big Rain’ and he suggested taking us to a couple of places that were inside. Typical of tour guides, he took us to some overpriced jewellery emporiums aimed at rich tourists in the hope that he would get some commission I guess. We also went to a cashew nut factory which was not really a factory at all, just another overpriced shop to sell flavoured cashew nuts.
Thankfully by the time we had wasted a bit of time, the rain cleared and we asked to go back to Wat Chalong so we could wander around and take some photographs. I’m really glad we managed to get back there, it really was special.
We then drove to Old Phuket Town and walked around the streets looking at the beautiful Portuguese influenced architecture and quaint little stores and cafes. It was more upmarket and trendy than Patong and Karon and we really enjoyed the colour and atmosphere of the streets. I bought myself some beautiful fabric though I really have no idea what I’ll do with it. We stopped in a little café in an alleyway and enjoyed some iced coffees and smoothies.
After an hour or so exploring Old Phuket Town, we went to the weekend market to explore for a couple of hours. The market is open from 4pm until 10pm and is a mix of food stalls and clothes, shoes, bags etc. Most of the clothes stalls were very similar to everywhere else in Phuket and we didn’t see much that interested us. We bought a few little bits and pieces, some clothes for the girls and a cheap pair of shoes for me.
I think we were more interested in looking at all the different food stalls, there was so much to see and smell. We were keen to try out a few different things but also mindful of what street food would be safe to eat. We tried some little coconut fried pancakes and I had some mango sticky rice. The girls had a homemade icecream each and fruit shakes which seem to be a daily occurrence. Linden bought some thai fish cakes which were being fried fresh as we waited. 10 fish cakes cost around $1.50 and were delicious! As we were leaving we bought custard filled donuts to take back to the hotel. The food there was so good!
All in all it was a big day and well worth hiring a driver to get us around. It was a shame we didn’t get to see the Big Buddha but I think considering the weather, we did pretty good to see everything we did.
My next post will be about our day trip to Phi Phi Island.