Phuket. A note from the past.

Things were different when I arrived in Phuket back in1987. It was November and close to sunset, and with nowhere to stay my friend and I cycled off from town to Ao Makham. Not finding the kind of accommodation we were looking for, we cycled back to town again and headed for Rawai instead. In those days there were not so many cars, just old pick-up trucks, songtaew buses and some old motorbikes. Cyclists were obviously a rare sight and people called out to us as we cycled past. By the time we arrived at Rawai It was sunset and we were exhausted and paradise for 100baht a night seemed too good to be true. (Although I didn’t see the setting until the next morning) We ate in the restaurant expecting a set meal as we seemed to be the only people there. However we were presented with a comprehensive menu, in English, supported by good food. The owners were wonderful people and our bungalow felt like it was in the jungle and close enough to the beach to hear the sea. The room was simple, made of woven bamboo with a thatched roof. Mosquito net windows, a hard bed with no top sheet, no wardrobe, no toilet paper and a sit on toilet with a bucket to flush. The atmosphere was completed by chirping crickets. That was the first night in Phuket and at the time I had no idea just how long I would end up staying!

Ya Nui, Phuket 1987
In the morning I had my first chance to see the scenery surrounding Ya Nui. The red dirt track,now part of the road around the coastline, was lined with rice fields, water buffalo, coconut palms and other vegetation, accompanied by butterflies and dragonflies galore, and, of course, the odd chicken, duck and goat.

Soi Ya Nui, Phuket 1987

Looking back now it's hard to believe that people were still growing rice on land so close to the beach.

Koh Kaew, Buddha Island, Phuket 1987Koh Gaew or Buddha Island was very simple when I visited it in 1988, although well know by local Thai people it was not the tourist destination that it is now. The resident monks would come ashore at Ya Nui to collect building materials and I accompanied the boat one day. The beach was empty and a small temple boy came over and presented me with a coconut freshly picked on the island. To the rear of the island amongst the rocks is a footprint of Buddha although on that visit I had no idea of it's presence.

Buddha's Footprint
Fishing was, and still is, a very important part of life in Phuket and whilst the tourists were out on Deep-Sea Fishing trips with expensive equipment, the locals could, and still can be seen, wading out into the sea with the simplest of fishing rods, or even just a fishing line wound around an empty water bottle.

Traditional Phuket