Friday, November 29, 2013

Nurses at Cape Panwa Hotel

We hope that you don’t need one but there is one at your disposal whilst you are at

The Cape Panwa Hotel has a longstanding relationship with Phuket International Hospital. Each day at 1pm a nurse will be stationed adjacent to the Front Lobby for your convenience. If you need any assistance from a nurse to or simply some advice or medication, drop by the Front Lobby and guest relations will be able to help you.

One quick thing to note, in my many years of experience of working in Thailand, I would suggest that you make sure that you’re drinking enough water to compensate for your dehydration – it will certainly help any tropical island paradise side-effects such as lethargy, overheating or headaches!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Loy Krathong

The Loy Krathong Festival was started approximately 700 years ago during the Sukothai period. It marked the end of the rainy season and the beginning of a dry period.

The festival gives thanks to the Goddess of Water – Phra Mae Khongkha for having blessed them with enough water to cultivate their fields.

The Krathong is usually made from a slice of coconut stump that is decorated with banana leaves and a candle placed on top.

The Krathong is lit and then placed into water, pushed and then watched whilst it drifts away. Many people will add something to make a request from the Goddess – putting a fingernail or small change on the krathong does this.

The second most common tradition is that of Miss Nopamas but the origins of this are not as clear. But what we know is that during one year of celebrating Loy Krathong a beautiful woman called Nopamas made a Krathong from banana leaves and shaped them like a lotus flower. 

The King was so taken by the beauty of the woman and the Krathong that he declared that the making of the Krathongs would continue but there would also be a beauty contest.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weird Symbols on Taxi Roofs

Last week a friend from Norway was visiting Phuket and I chose to take him on a bespoke tour of Phuket that included a selection of the hard to find Wats that do not always make the tourist maps.

As we drove in a taxi to Wat Koh Sirey my friend asked me what the symbols were on the taxi’s roof, just above the driver’s head.

The driver turned to us and explained that a monk from the temple blessed his car to keep him protected and to bring him good luck. He went on to explain this was common practice in Thailand and showed us the flakes of gold leaf still visible. I speculate that this is probably why some of the drivers drive so fast – they feel protected by unseen forces. 

He then took us to the very top of the hill and guided us around the little known but impressive golden reclining Buddha on the very top. It was beautiful and we left feeling very lucky and blessed for our good fortune.


View Buddhist Temples in Phuket in a larger map

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

cape+kantary’s ‘cuisine’ issue

The cape+kantary cuisine issue is all about food! Being a big foodie, the articles hit all of my favourite food groups! From street food in Bangkok to dumpling eating in Shanghai, this cuisine issue is full of insider’s tips on where to eat in Thailand and around the world. Here are a few of my favourite articles, but pick up your own copy to see more.

The article Dining with a Difference is all about unique dining experiences that creative restaurateurs around the world are offering the more adventurous diners.  Eating strapped in to a rollercoaster-like “restaurant” 50 metres off the ground in Belgium, inside a cave in Southern Italy, or romantic movie-like private dinners right on the beach at Cape Panwa Hotel. My “experiences to have before I die” just got much, much longer. 

Being a ‘food addict’ the article about food bloggers was truly inspirational. With lots of photos, honest recommendations, and an insider’s perspective to their home city, food bloggers like your favourite foodie friend that seem to always know the smallest local joint with the biggest taste. It’s one of those aspirational jobs that everyone dreams of having, but very few people achieve it, nevertheless do a good job of it.

Last but not least, my favourite article was the quest for the best beef noodles in Thailand. The article gave a short but sweet list of the many different types of beef noodles across the country, and gave recommendations on where to get them according to cities. ‘Guay Thiew Rab Arun’ was their choice for Phuket (another noodle shop on my must visit list). I’ve never had ‘Guay Tiew Rab Arun’, but my personal favourite in Phuket (at the moment) is Mee Ton Poe. See a review here on Phuket magazine:

From sea-to-mouth squid fishing in Hua Hin and the best hawker stands in Bangkok, to the art of coffee roasting and Shanghai’s famous dumplings, this issue was jammed packed with entertaining, useful local insights and international travel information. Why spend money on a guidebook when you can pick up a free copy of cape+kantary? 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Phuket’s Baba Wedding Festival

Baba, or Straits Chinese people, are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the island seeking a new and better life by working in tin mines back in the 19th Century. The annual mass Phuket Baba Wedding Festival is a celebration of the old memories of the tin mining industry, and is a great photography opportunity for tourists!

Thalang Road in Phuket Town was temporarily closed for traffic and there was a Chinese Dragon show that was taking place in the middle of the road!

After the Chinese Dragon dancing show, a procession of beautifully dressed people in elegant traditional costumes of the Perannakan and white suits is followed by the brides and grooms in their finest.

Around them were children dressed in a similar fashion throwing flower petals over the wedding couples as they paraded past.

The atmosphere was all embracing. It was predominately locals but even as a tourist I was welcomed and asked to participate! I met some of the local bloggers Jamie and Tim when they were taking photographs, but I soon lost them because there were just so many people. You can see their accounts of the festivals over the years here: and here:

If you’re planning a holiday to Phuket next June, this is a must-see!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

John Gray Sea Canoe – the Sunset Trip

My heart skipped a beat last week when I was asked to take a trip with John Gray Sea Canoe.  John Gray is a bit of a local – and international – celebrity in the ecotourism industry, and I was excited to finally go on one of his famous trips in Kho Hong, an island just half an hour from the Cape Panwa Hotel beach.

We left the jetty in the afternoon and slowly cruised to the ocean – I really enjoyed the ride because the scenery of the Phang Nga Bay was beautiful all along the way (and the trip hadn’t even started!) We arrived at an island where we switched to ‘impact free’ inflatable canoes that gave us the mobility to travel into the ‘hongs’ that literally translates to ‘rooms inside the island’. 

Approaching the caves on our kayaks was one of those enthralling life moments that I hope to forever etch into memory as what the imagery of “paradise” would be. Being at sea on a kayak is an interesting feeling. The quiet, idleness of it all makes you feel like you are absolutely surrounded by tranquility and peace. Each couple in the three-person kayak had a guide to help paddle and maneuver in the wavy seawater; this also allowed us to just sit back and take it all in. 

The view from the kayak was simply fantastic! The miniature islands stood ever so majestically above the water, as if someone had dipped each of them in thick stalactites and then sprinkled their tops with the lush greenery of tropical vegetation.

Because you can get so close on a kayak, you can see every bump and concave of the varied rock formations that were shaped by the changing of tides over the years, little by little.

We soon arrived at an entrance to the caves. They were these naturally formed tunnels that lead to the middle of the island. The space of the entrance was so tight that we had to lie flat and keep our heads down just to get through to the other side. I felt a little claustrophobic being so close to the ceiling of the tunnel, but it was all the while exciting.

Inside the caves, it was breathtakingly entrancing – it felt like I had been transported to another world. On a side note, I was happy that John Gray’s team makes it an effort to give all tour-goers an introduction to how to behave on the trip and how to keep nature the way it is. It is important to be an observer and take in the gracious gift of beauty that nature had given us, without leaving our footprint in it.

We visited two more caves, and discovered a plethora of different wildlife inhabiting the islands, there were bats in some of the caves, all sorts of birds flying in the surrounding areas; and surprisingly unafraid of humans, monkeys were goofing around on the walls of the caves.

After exploring in the caves, we were given time to free paddle around the islands before we had to get back on the boat for sunset. For dinner, the guides moved the boat to a special spot in Phang Nga Bay for an amazing view of the sunset, while we feasted on a superb fresh seafood buffet on deck.

After dinner, we made our own Kratong with the assistances of the guides. The Kratong is a lotus shaped container decorated with an intricate folding of banana leaves, flowers and candles. 

Once the darkness of the night blanketed the beautiful bay, we returned to a Hong on our kayaks to release our Kratongs. Traditionally, floating of the Kratong signifies letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements. It was sort of a cleansing of the mind kind of ritual for the local people.

We weren’t allowed to use torches and were asked to keep quiet as respect to the others when we released our own Kratongs. We sat quietly as the candles on our Kratongs went out and continued to float forward in silence.  In this moment, we were surrounded by peace and mesmerising starlight. It was as if time stood still and your mind all the sudden clears of all worries. The experience verged on being mystical.  

It was a truly magical and out of this world experience – the feeling was so special, I didn’t want it to end. Next time, I think I will join John’s overnight camping trip – I’m sure it will be just as unforgettable as this.