Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town

Including some of the beautiful old Sino Portuguese Villas from the Chinese Tin Barons. 
A highlight of Thailand's heritage but what are the doing in Phuket? They demolish this great structures because the greed after some money is overwhelming they just destroyed several of this beautiful pieces of architecture within the last few years among was the most beautiful between Phuket and Penang a real sacrilege of barbarians.

This was one of the villas demolished at Dibuk Street in Phuket old Town

Phuket Old Town

Why the name Phuket

The Malay seafarers and settlers who reached the western peninsular coast probably first encountered these Mon "Selang" or Selat boat people around Phuket. At that time Phuket was most likely still joined to the mainland. In 1598 the English geographer Richard Haklyut, using sailors' reports, wrote of "the mainland of Junkceylon".

In 1784 Thomas Forrest, a Scottish sea captain who came to Phuket noted that the island was still only divided from the mainland by "a narrow isthmus of sand ... about half a mile in breadth, which is covered only by high water and could be crossed on foot or by an elephant at low tide.

Tags: Phuket History old town Hindu Phang Nga Buddhist Claudius Ptolemy Chinese Southeast Asia ASEAN Phuket Town Phuket City Junkceylon Phuket City Phuket History

It was found in 1900 in thick forest overgrowth on the Phang Nga coast and confirms the early presence of Hinduism in the area. Several other ancient Hindu stone carvings and temple remains have been recovered from sites surrounding Phuket such as Takuapa, Chaiya, Surathani, Krabi, and Keddah. Analysis of the stone the statues were made from shows that some were carved in India and transported over while others were sculpted on the peninsula. Few, if any, stone buildings were built in Phuket before the 19th century, most ancient buildings or temples were made of wood and so would have disintegrated long ago in the tropical climate or will have since been built over by brick and concrete Buddhist temples and monasteries later.  

The "Pearl of the Andaman Sea" just got an almost new airport with the latest extension finished (June 10, 2016) at the northwest end of Phuket island with a history of the continuous building. 

That made a few people very rich via family and friends connections.  Actually some time ago when I went to my favorite restaurant in town I had some time left and thought to have a look around "Dibuk Street" where most of the attractive villas are still standing since about two centuries ago.

I got a real shock when I learned that one of the two Sino-Portuguese Villa (pictured above) was demolished and another smaller building in the usual ugly contemporary Thai Baroque style was placed there instead. The first reaction was "Oh Buddha, what awful vandals are around here?" This was a real landmark for Sino Portuguese Style they built, only a handful of top local architecture designs are still existing and they just demolished it. 

This is one of the ugly side here, they do everything for money even trashing the most valuable heritage. That reminds me to the Savoy Hotel in Yangon Myanmar were they had a similar beautiful house and never even thought about it to demolishing their national heritage, they renovated it  (Phuket make billions of baht every year with tourist, Myanmar only a fraction of it) and today it's a "cash cow".  There is such an overwhelming greed for money it's only here and now

This is one of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations for both domestic travelers and foreign tourists with an ideal weather pattern and an excellent accessibility, which makes it attractive for vacation and tourism-related investment. At the island are real idyllic locations with exclusive resorts. Other hotel and resorts are on the islands in the Phang Nga Bay. One of them is Yao Yai Island, an ideal place to play Robinson. Luxury beach villas have usually two and three bedrooms, plus an outdoor living area, pool, terrace, and garden. Some of the beach houses and hotels are stylish in a very modern design and have most of the time some traditional.

 When you are Phuket town have a walk through the old part around Dibuk street its worth it. The area is very compact and the sightseeing can be done within one or two hours. You will see great old colonial villas in Sino-Portuguese Style, Chinese Temples, Art Galleries, pretty restaurants and some beautifully restored houses from the last 3 centuries. There are also some small museums presenting the past, a very interesting one is dedicated to tin mining which was the big business before the tourist avalanche came.

Staying in Phuket Town 

To stay on Phuket island is very easy, especially in town. There are dozens of hotels, beach resorts, bungalows, cottages, houses and villas plus apartments and luxury resorts, just anything you can imagine. This is from the small backpacker hotel in the city all the way up to the huge luxury hotels and beach resorts at one of the great beaches at the western shoreline.

A fast growing segment of the tourism market is luxury hotels and villas at the beach with private swimming pool. There are several gated villa compounds offering beautiful luxurious villas at the beaches or close to the beach, some of the top notches are at Mai Khao beach north of the Airport close to the JW Marriott hotel.

This beach is located in a Thailand National Park so it is rather strange how someone can build something there because usually this is strictly forbidden. Anyway, this kind of luxurious villa vacation offers the best in terms of privacy but you need a car since this places are about 50 km from Town, Patong, Karon and other beach areas.

Cheaper houses close to the beach can be rented around Chalong Bay and Rawai. The south of Phuket Island has a good history for cheap accommodations. Now in 2016 also most Chinese tourists and many locals stay around here.

Newer buildings in Phuket City are of a neo-baroque version and excuse me, just ugly. Even during the tin mining age, the Chinese built formidable villas and more. 

Today this came down to noncreative structures fast and quickly built without any creativity and quality it's just hit and run.

The next similar styling od the old version is about 800 km further down south at Penang Georgetown, actually, these two places have a lot in common. First, both are islands and second they have a very similar history which was always interconnected in particular during British colonial times. Here is how to travel to Penang and to Kuala Lumpur.

To see this interconnection between Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Phuket Town is Chinatown in all 3 places. Penang has many similarities just visit Dibuk Street and you will be convinced. Also, Kuala Lumpur Chinatown is very similar in terms of architecture and night markets, they even sell the same fake goods from China. Most of the hotels, resorts, houses and so on are not further off than about 60 minutes road travel to the airport, there is a 4 to 6 lane highway from the northern entry to at the Sarasin Bridge all the way down to Rawai Beach at the southernmost tip.

The usual tourist comes to Phuket from a radius of about four flight hours for the weekend golf are not very interested in history. Many of them have their “golf apartment” of the course; there are many golf courses for every level of experience. Today Phuket vacations are an addiction to sun, pleasure, sexy, scuba, girls and sailing Phuket in the Andaman Sea. At Phuket Thai girls and sex is almost as important as food and water. The local scene, with its very own style, has some international influence but the island is pure Thai and has more to offer. A Thai sucks music, dance, and Sanook with the breast milk. Already barely stand or walk moving to the exotic music is natural. Thai entertainment, music, and Thai girls are ubiquitous. Phuket is the epicenter of amusement and nightlife in Asia together with Bangkok and Pattaya. The traveler to Thailand wants fun at night to enjoy life. On no other island, there are so much non-stop amusement and fun girls.

Influences also come from outside, since the 16th century Phuket is a rest and restock point for cargo en-route from Europe to Asia that is a cruise through the Andaman Sea. Today there are cruise ships and the jumbos who unload cargo and tourists at the Phuket Airport. In the 500 years or more since the discovery of the island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea, the Indian Ocean countless merchant ships and tourists passed on a pleasure travel tour. Before the tourism industry started all the business was concentrated at Phuket can be a holiday destination.

Today the island in the Andaman Sea 

It can function a temporary residence or long-term exile, Phuket is the right place for it. Most people are quite happy with the life at Phuket Island here, relax at the beach, have a drink on the terrace of one of the Phuket beach resorts in front of the Andaman Sea and enjoy great Thai food for relatively low prices, compared to Europe, the US, and even Singapore or Hong Kong. Everyone can have a cheap holiday on Phuket Island, or luxury Phuket holidays or vacations. The Phuket luxury is mainly concentrated around Laguna and Bangtao Beach plus further north at Mai Khao Beach. The lower price life, in particular in terms of house rentals, hotels, and beach resort are at Phuket Town plus Chalong and Rawai Beach that is all on the east side of the Island.

 With around $ 10,- per day plus an apartment somewhere on the island. In town are plenty of apartments for about $ 150,- / month and up, you can have an easy living. This could be a quiet living or active living plus a great nightlife where there are dozens of positive thinking young Thai girls around and you pay less than $ 3.- for a small bottle of beer. You deserve the good days when you stand up late, get some Thai food, maybe fried seafood with rice and a coke for about $ 3,- just around the corner in front of the beach. There are other great Phuket restaurants serving Italian food, Chinese food, Indian food and more on the international scale.

New style shopping malls have opened on the island, now everyone has more of less everything virtually just around the corner, no it's not the way to heaven but a good and very affordable living. Have some Thai beach massage or visit an herbal sauna in the afternoon or maybe a Bikram Yoga studio or upmarket spa facilities with something for your health. Plus the great Thai massage, if you lay down at almost any beach you will be approached by women offering the original Phuket beach massage. But be careful most of this fat and ugly message women do it the hard way. If you want the gentle Thai massage approach there are the parlors, preferable visited by the guys who get everything what the want. A very popular and huge massage parlor with dozens of real nice ladies is Christine at Patong and in the first floor of the Pearl Hotel in Phuket Town.

Dining in restaurants or buying drinks in bars or clubs is also much less expensive as what most tourists are used to paying back in their home countries. 

 Phuket History

Around AD 140 the Greco-Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemy wrote his compendium Geographic, which was essentially a travel guide for Greek sailors heading east to trade. In the Geographic some of the physical features of the western Malay peninsular coast are described (although all with the wrong longitudes and latitudes). Ptolemy was a scholar, not a sailor and most probably gathered his information in Egypt from returning Arab and Greek or possibly visiting Asian sailors. Ptolemy did note that the main trade emporium on the western Malay peninsular coast was a port called "Takoma". Takola is presumed by many scholars today to have been Takuapa, in Phang Nga province, just north of Phuket, though others believe it could have been Trang. 

Ptolemy mentions a large promontory near this port of "Takoma" which may well have been the headland (Ujang) of Phuket before the sea created the channel now separating Phuket from the mainland. Ptolemy also makes mention of an island in the west of the peninsula called "Saline" which may have derived from Phuket's old name of "Salang" or "Salon". He noted that "In this Island, there is a large number of shellfish and the inhabitants are always naked.' The Romans were certainly huge consumers of eastern spices and luxuries and it was the maritime trade with Asia, not the better-known overland "silk road", via which the bulk of this trade was carried. Chinese silk, for example, was so popular in Rome it was at times worth more than its weight in gold. 

In AD 78 Emperor Vespasian even had to make an edict prohibiting the export of gold to the East for this trade as it was bankrupting the empire. The Roman noble Pliny the Elder complained that "by the lowest reckoning Indians, Seres and Arabs take from our empire millions of sesterces every year ... that is how much our luxuries and women cost us".' His son Pliny the Younger also noted that -India is brought near to us by [the Roman traders] lust for gain." 

It is therefore quite possible that to try to cut out the probably voracious Indian middlemen, these profit-seeking Greco-Arab and Roman ship captains would have sailed their ships a couple of weeks further east from India to try to reach the markets of the Malay Peninsula directly.

A Roman gold embossed cape clip dating to the 2nd century AD which was dug up in Klong Thom, Krabi, along with many Mediterranean style beads — but is this sufficient evidence Ro-mans visited the region? Or were they just ancient trade items there is still many unknown about Phuket History.

In these small river-mouth communities on the peninsula west coast, Indian (mainly Tamil) and then later Arab and Persian mariners and traders developed trade connections and friendships with the local communities and rulers. These traders would often return to the same communities year after year and often stayed for months to trade and waiting for the monsoon winds to turn. They would be allocated a home and a wife for their stay and they got mixed-race children and just as with foreigners today, many decided to stay on and live there permanently. These Indian traders also brought with them their holy men who spread Hindu, Buddhist, and Brahmanist beliefs which — handily for the local leaders — included the Indian concept of a "Deva-raja" (a god-king). This promoted the idea that kings owed their power not only to the strength of arms or being born to the right father but also to divine providence. 

These local Malay, Mon and Tamil leaders gained both economically and in prestige and power from associating with these foreign traders and their holy men. In this way, the Indian religions, or at least modified versions of them, merged with the existing animistic beliefs of the locals, were adopted in much of the peninsula from around 50c) BC onwards. The Indian historian Professor D.P. Singhal summarizes this process: "Indians came into contact with Southeast Asia principally for commercial reasons, but they [also] settled and introduced their culture and civilization. In turn, they were influenced by the indigenous culture, laying the foundation of a new culture in the region."4 Hinduism appears to have been dominant in and around Phuket for over a thousand years between about 500 BC and around AD 700. In the foyer of the Phuket History Museum in Thalang stands a large and ancient (possibly ninth-century) stone statue of the Hindu god Vishnu and there is also one dedicated to the Chinese population.