Phuket – Part 2 (Chasing the Sunset)

Right after our short nap and solat, we immediately packed our dry pack since we gonna chase the sunset late in the afternoon. Again, we gonna travel all the way up to the view point with our tiny little motorbike that we’ve rented. To be fully recharged since we’ve skipped our lunch earlier, we stopped over at the Jungceylon Shopping Mall which is situated in the Patong Beach. To be exact, on the corner of Bangla Road and Patong Soi 2 which is the busiest spot on Patong Beach. We just realized that ‘Jungceylon’ used to be a name of Phuket way back in 1511 during the prosperous year of the port town. That’s the reason why the design and concept of the Jungceylon Mall resemble the scenario of port with a replica of big traditional ship.

FF making his way on the orange carpet.
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The main reason we’re here is to fill up our stomach. Makan time! Right after browsing through the shopping mall, we finally headed directly to the lower ground food court where there’s one halal stall which is Islamtai Bangja. Check out the selection! Everything looks tempting to us. It takes us quite sometimes to decide on the menu that we wanted to order. Nafsu, nafsu.

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Right after that, we stopped over at the famous Hard Rock Cafe Phuket to get a shot glass for my mum which is just a minutes away from Jungceylon Mall. She’s an avid collector of HRC and Planet Hollywood glass.

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Done with Patong Beach! We rode our motorbike and go further up to Karon Beach. With such a hilly road compared to the road towards Surin Village which is found to be much safer, it really challenged FF riding skills. The roads are narrow with a 45 degrees gradient which served us a magnificent sea view from top. Once we reached Kamala Beach, FF decided to get wet and swim by the beach while I stayed.

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As i don’t have anything else to do and FF is happily swimming there, I strolled down by the beach on my own.

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As mentioned earlier, our main plan this afternoon is to chase for sunset. So, we shall proceed to the Karon View Point or formerly known as Kata View Point. It took us about 15 – 20 minutes passing by Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach. We basically love to see all those unique, private bungalows and high-end hotels along the way. Seriously, its way different in Patong Beach which is full of entertainment with small budget and boutique hotels around. We’ve made a mistake by riding directly to Kata Noi Beach as we missed the junction up to the view point. The junction is exactly in between Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach.

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The road up is slightly dangerous for a small motorbike like us since buses, vans, cars and superbike were driving and riding fast in a steep hilly area. The same roads were used to go further up to the Promthep Cape as well. Promthep Cape is one of the islands most notable natural landmarks with high cliffs an uninterrupted views. The best parts of riding a motorbike is that we could just stop whichever we want. Before reaching, we could see that the road going up offers a spectacular views of the beaches on the Southern part of Phuket island.

Karon Viewpoint (which used to be Kata viewpoint) is one of the most frequented viewpoints in Phuket. From here, it is possible to take in views of Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches. Located between Nai Harn and Kata Noi beaches, the viewpoint is busy most days of the year and is a staple of many tour itineraries. Called locally ‘Khao Saam Haad’ (Three Beaches Hill), the local municipality for some reason has officially renamed it ‘Karon Viewpoint’.

Source: Phuket.com

There’s an ample parking space and large gazebo at the view point too. No worries. We rest a bit longer here experiencing and appreciating the view and the fresh air.

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As we’re still early and there’s no sign of sunset, we decided to go down and spent our time at the Kata Beach. The first thing attracted us is definitely the Surf House (a place where you can ride the waves every day no matter what the weather conditions. In other words, artificial waves), surf school and beach boys carrying the surf boards. It is believe that because of the waves here, it becomes popular among surfers and it hosts a surf competition every year. Again, you can see less crowd here compared to Patong Beach.

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After a long waits, finally here come the sunset.
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There goes our 2 days of short trip to Phuket. If you’re happened to be in Southern Thailand, do visit this island which used to be one of the most famous or major trading routes in between China and India  as stated in the historical calendar plus Thailand’s wealthiest province. There’s more to explore in Phuket especially the beaches on the west coast, nearby island such as the famous Koh Phi Phi, Similan Island, Koh PanYee and others. Unfortunately, time doesn’t permitted us to do so as we’re going to travel all the way to Koh Samui and Surat Thani in this journey.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Phuket – Part 1 (Beach Hopping)

Assalammualaikum and Hi there!

Phuket! Yes, that was our next destination right after Hat Yai as Phuket is one of the biggest island in Thailand facing the Andaman Sea. Since we’re going to discover the Southern of Thailand, Phuket is definitely in the list. While we were in Hat Yai, we quickly search for a minibus ticket. We walked from one travel agent to another travel agent and we ended up paying for 350 baht for the earliest trip in the morning. That’s the cheapest that we could get at that point of time. The journey took us about 6 hours in overall with one stop. We’re very much satisfied with the condition of the minibus where it is limited to 10 pax only.

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Phuket is slightly similar to Penang where the mainland and the island was interconnected and linked via a Sarasin and Srisoonthorn bridge. We decided to drop at the minibus main office instead of Phuket town which is far from Patong beach. From there, we decided to car pool with our new local friend as she headed to the same destination as well. It took us about 30 minutes drive with the fees of 100 baht each. Ya, it sound expensive but trust us, it’s reasonable referring to the traffic condition, distance and time-consuming. Actually, we’re lucky enough to have her with us since she helped and assisted the driver in finding our hotel. She speak fluent English as well!

At this time around, we decided to stay and discover western of Phuket coastline.  To tell the truth, it’s hard to decide on the accommodation in Patong. Too much choices ranging from cheap to expensive hotel rooms. We ended up at The Marq Hotel which is the newest boutique guesthouse in the quiet environment of Phang Muang Sai Kor Rd. at Soi Nanai 8. We got attracted with the hotel exterior and interior and we glad that we’ve made the right decision. Plus, it’s super cheap! Another plus point. We paid average of 400 baht per night for a standard room.

Our room for the next 2 nights
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Thai language Class. How cool is that?
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As we reached Phuket somewhere around 3pm, we decided just to lay back and stroll down along Patong Beach, Bangla road (where we walked from one end to another end and decided to get out from the area immediately) and night market nearby to complete the day.  We observed that night markets are fully occupied with 80% of local meanwhile all the shops are all occupied majorly by Bangladeshi and Pakistani.

We rent a motorbike with the price of 250 baht per day and negotiated to 350 baht for 1 and 1/2 days just next door from the hotel that we stayed. Renting a motorbike in Phuket is the most cost-effective way to explore the island.

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On the next day, this is where our journey of beach hopping started where mostly the best beaches are along the west coast of the island. We wanted to get our early breakfast and got clueless on the direction with such a gloomy weather and drizzling in certain area. We headed up to Kalim Beach passing Patong Beach. From there, we saw a Halal stall selling sticky rice / glutinous rice with fried chicken and decided to pack for us to eat along the way. Simple yet delicious!

We’re ready. Let’s go!
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Kalim Beach. It’s quite privacy here since you can find private bungalow with a beautiful sea view which is for daily or monthly rental. The beach itself is a mixture of sand and small rocks.
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From there, we decided to go further up to Kamala Beach area.  Due to the geographical of Phuket which is hilly everywhere, it took us quite sometimes riding with a 125cc motorbike just to reach from one beach to another beach. Riding a motorbike in Phuket demand a high extra precaution and careful consideration as well.

On our way to Kamala and Surin Beach.

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As we reached Kamala Beach area, we spotted a numbers of halal stall again. Looking at the varieties of food offered, we definitely couldn’t resist. We stop from one stall to another stall and ended up eating at one of the small restaurant. Again language barrier is our big problem while buying all the foods. We’re lucky that one of the buyer explained to us on the price and how does it taste. Rasa macam nak try and grab semua. Oh ya, Kamala is named after the Muslim fishing village which situated in the north of Patong. This is where the most famous themepark, FantaSea Phuket is located too.

Local traditional foods
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Taste are similar to ‘Dim Sum’. Yummy!
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Enough with all the foods. Let’s continue with the journey up to Surin Beach. Once we reach Surin Beach, we found that it was such a quiet and peaceful place without the absence of jet ski and speed boats on the beach. The beach is quite popular among local especially on the seafood stalls and restaurant.

Us. FF with his pink raincoat. We hate the helmet very much!
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A few meters away from the beach is Surin Village, a predominantly muslim area of Phuket which offered delicious Halal food and fresh fruit picked by the roadside. Mosque can be found scattered around the village too. We bet,there are big Muslim community here.

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If you go further up, it will bring you to the main road of Phuket Town. As our butt hurt so much spending hours and hours on the motorbike, we decided to turn back and take a short rest as we have another plan late in the afternoon. It’s time to return to Patong Beach!
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Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Hat Yai – Accommodation and Halal Food

Where did we stayed and ate while we were in Hat Yai in less than 24 hours?

Accommodation – Tune Hotel
This is definitely our first time staying at Tune Hotel and its mainly situated at Niphat Uthit 2 Road. Tune Hotel can be easily accessible by walking either from Hat Yai Railway Station or Lee Garden Plaza. If you’re taking a Konsortium Bas Ekspres all the way from Kuala Lumpur, there will be two option of drop off area which is the Hat Yai Bus Terminal or in front of Lee Garden Plaza. In our case, we opt for the 2nd option which is nearer to the hotel and other local attractions. Travel agencies can be easily found near to the hotel which is along jalan Niphat Uthid 1, 2 and 3 Rd and also Sanehanusorn Rd.

As mentioned in our previous entries, we managed to book everything just a few days before we departed. The price of the hotel is ‘still’ within our limited budget.  But frankly, it’s expensive than our hotel in Phuket, Koh Samui and Surat Thani. The check in time will be at 2.00pm meanwhile check out is at 11.00am. Additional charges of 120 baht will be imposed for early check in. We decided to drop our luggage and explore Hat Yai in between time.

Niphat Uthit 2 Road. This is exactly in front of Tune Hotel.

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The friendly and attentive receptionist.
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Our room.
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Oh ya, they even have this interactive camera via LCD TV just in front of the hotel lift and the copy will be directly sent to our mail.
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Halal Food
Klong Hae Floating Market
90% of the food here are HALAL. As we reached the canal, we can actually see the vendors busy preparing the food from fried rice, som tam and others local Thai traditional foods with the range of 20 baht to 40 baht for each serving.

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Yellow Chicken Rice near Night Market area
This stall is not something new to all Malaysian out there. It’s like a phenomena. So, we definitely not gonna miss this stall since we only have 24 hours in Hat Yai. We headed to the location making assumption that the stall is open at that point of time. We reached the stall somewhere at 10.30am for brunch and the owner is still busy preparing and setting up the stall. We could smell the crispy fried chicken.

If you’re wondering where is this stall, it is located in Niphat Uthid 3 Rd off Supasarnrangsan Rd (Night Market area). Another landmarks is definitely the Kim Yong Market or Talad Kimyong Market.

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Sulaiman Restaurant
We opt to have our dinner and breakfast here. They offered delicious Thai food in a very reasonable price. Furthermore, it’s only a block away from Tune Hotel. It’s located in Niphat Uthid 2 Rd.

Our delicious dinner.
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Breakfast menu – Gruel chicken with hot tea. Way tooo delicious. They even have local traditional kuih and roti canai too.
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Not to worry much as it is not difficult to get Halal food and good accommodation around Hat Yai. Just pick your restaurant / stall and hotel as preferable within budget. Prices can be high because of Malaysian and Singaporean tourist around as this is one of the most popular tourist spot among both countries.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Hat Yai – Hat Yai Railway Station

Right after our visit to Klong Hae Floating Market, we requested the driver to drop us at the railway station just to satisfy our self since we didn’t get a chance to travel to Hat Yai via train. Furthermore, our next route and destination doesn’t permit us to travel by train as well. Thinking of that, a short visit to the Hat Yai Railway Station wouldn’t make any harm right? In fact, we could just walk back to hotel and catch up our dinner along the way.

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The railway station is officially managed by the State Railway of Thailand and this is the largest station in the southern part of Thailand. The station is strategically and conveniently located in the middle of Hatyai City Center. It is also centrally located for the ease of transfer either by bus or van (minibus) services from nearby travel agencies. There are several trains passing through the station daily coming all the way from Bangkok, Sungai Kolok, Yala and even Malaysia (via Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad – KTMB).

Once we entered the station, we saw a bunch of security guards or maybe a local police at the station staring at us. So, we made a quick conversation by asking whether is it ok for us to walk, look or maybe photograph and they said OK. 😀

The overall view of the station.
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Just right on time. A train all the way from Bangkok just arrived heading to Sungai Kolok (Golok).

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Oh ya, we even hopped into an open air train car just to see and feel the condition of the local trains. Just a quick one. Very vintage and clean.

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And, some cliché post by both of us. Without fails, of course! 😀
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If you are an adventurous person, you might want to discover Thailand via train just like locals especially using the Bangkok Line from Hatyai which goes via Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Petchaburi, Hua Hin, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phattalung.  It will be sooo much fun.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma