Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Loy Krathong

As I browsed through the local papers while waiting for my flight to Bangkok at the Koh Samui Airport, a tourist – who had a view of my paper's frontpage, which featured local beauties in traditional Thai dress at a Loy Krathong pageant – asked me whether everybody always dressed up in such beautiful costumes for a ‘Full Moon Party’?

I smiled at the opportunity to share a bit of real Thai culture with a tourist.

Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually by Thais on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month to give thanks to the Goddess of Water ‘Phra Mae Khongkha’ for having blessed them with enough water to  cultivate the fields – remember that Thailand is an agricultural country.

This is done by floating candle-lit krathong (small exquisitely-crafted banana leaf trays) down waterways. The krathong can either be made or purchased – it is then taken down to the river or canal banks and carefully set afloat. Some people make a wish, some people place small change in it. This is a request for good luck to come or bad luck to be taken (floated) away.

What is more memorable is the beauty pageants, which are part of the Loy Krathong festivities, where local lasses dress in traditional dress to vie for the title of  “Miss Nophamas”.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Reclining Buddhas in Phuket

Last month when I was at Cape House, Bangkok, I had to take care of a group of guests who chose to take a Chao Phraya River trip to the Rong Mo Pier.  They chose to alight at this precise pier because they wanted to visit the World famous Wat Pho Temple and specifically the magnificent Reclining Buddha statue.

When I visited Kantary Bay, Phuket last week I asked if they had anything similar in Phuket?

Boonsong at the Front Office was extremely helpful; he listed them and showed me where they were on a map.

      3) Wat Phra Nang Sang, South of the Road to Ton Sai 

It was a wonderful and very special trip – thanks Boonsong.

View Reclining Buddhas in Phuket in a larger map


Friday, November 23, 2012

What do Thai people eat for breakfast?

When staying at the Cape Panwa Hotel last weekend I casually asked the waitress (I think her name was Apiradee), what she had for breakfast and she replied "patongkoh" – bewildered, I asked her what it was.

She showed me photographs of some little golden-brown curly-wurly pieces of dough on her phone - her friend’s mother makes and sells patongkoh where she waits for the staff bus each morning.

She then went on to explain how they are made:

The dough is made early in the morning and then left to rise. Then some of the dough is taken and rolled into a long thin strip and cut into about one inch-long pieces.

The pieces are then arranged into pairs and dusted with flour, each pair is squeezed gently together in the middle and immediately dropped into hot oil.

The dough ‘balloons’ into a butterfly shape (which the Chinese call “virgin’s knees”), and the outside cooks to a slightly crispy golden-brown colour while the inside is still soft.

The patongkoh is usually eaten with sweetened condensed milk that is sometimes flavoured with pandanus – that’s the green one.

Delicious – and now my friend tells me that the Cape Panwa Hotel sometimes serves it for breakfast too – a good excuse for me to be back!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surprises in Phuket Old Town

photo courtesy of timinphuket
I had been asked to explore the Public Bus route in Phuket, specifically the Pink Buses and I found that there was very little (except in Thai) public information regarding their route.

View all Pink Bus routes in Phuket in a larger map 

But that didn’t matter, I decided to explore and got on a Pink Bus and simply looked out of the side as it travelled. As I was gazing, I caught a glimpse of a red Public Telephone Box that are common still in the United Kingdom.

As the bus fare was only 15 Baht, I quickly dismounted and followed the small street to the Public Telephone Box I’d just seen, then I visited the large shop adjacent to it and also the coffee shop on the other side.
                                           Do you know where in Phuket Old Town I was? 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Concierges, the internet and real people

The team at the Front Office of Cape Panwa Hotel, that I have written about numerous times, make a great "Walking Talking Concierge".

This means that sometimes they do not need to refer to the cavernous concierge files, which are in the drawers nor the internet, which is a massive concierge in itself but, mind you, not everything that is posted on it is accurate.

The other day a guest approached the Front Desk to ask where they would be able to get a tattoo. The staff were flummoxed until Pavinee, a Guest Relations Officer, stepped up and told the guest that there was a place in Phuket Town.

There are some things that books and Google can help with but real people usually win.

The guest didn’t want a real tattoo though – just a Henna one for the holiday.

(Ed – have you seen Tim’s tattoo?)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where’s the new Phuket Bus Terminal?

As Cape Panwa Hotel’s concierge I have been asked by our head office to compile a list of frequently asked questions. I thought I’d share my list on this blog as well, as some readers may find the information useful on their next trip to the island . I’ll start with the popular 

Where is the main inter-province bus terminal in Phuket?”

After undergoing some difficulties during construction,  the new Phuket Bus Terminal was eventually completed earlier this year.  It is located just outside Phuket Town on Thepakasattri Road – opposite Supercheap and close to Wat Korsit (two more places that staff are often asked about).

The Phuket Bus Terminal is clean and convenient - there are seats to sit in while waiting, snacks on sale if you are hungry and comprehensible signs in plenty. When I went down, there was even personnel pointing tourists to the right waiting area for their bus, I think they were actually students practicing their English but that doesn’t matter.

Now if only the company will let me try out one of the yellow bus?

The special yellow Hua Hin bus next time I visit Cape Nidhra perhaps?

View tim in Phuket in a larger map