Phuket Town doesn’t seem to be regarded as a must-see spot in Phuket, and if you’re already familiar with Straits-Chinese culture from, say, Penang, Malacca or Singapore, those are certainly better places to experience it than Phuket Town. But perhaps in the same way that some travelling Chinese gravitate towards foreign Chinatowns to see what “their” version of “us” is, this Peranakan and unofficial Peranakan (given that ang moh Alec probably knows more about Peranakan food and culture than the average Singaporean, I think he’s allowed that status) decided to check out if Phuket Town could compare to our beloved Katong and Joo Chiat. The short answer is that it can’t, but it was still more fun than sitting on a beach the whole day.
My research had indicated that the Kata beach taxi cartels won’t accept less than 400 baht for that trip, so I smilingly insisted on that in the face of offers for 600 and 500 baht. We took the cab to the area around the Robinson’s store, where a 70s UFO building made me happy and a cardboard cutout child gave me the creeps.
In the central touristy area of town, we stopped for a drink in China Inn, failed to see the Shrine of Serene Light (the travel agency next to it was being renovated and the path to the shrine was blocked by rubble) and took a gander down Soi Romanee, which was pretty but seemed devoid of life except for a few other tourists, a couple taking wedding pictures and this kid feeding pigeons. (Click on any photo in this post to see a larger version, by the way.)
With our tweeness quota fully satisfied for the day, we walked to Natural Restaurant for a late lunch. It’s a bit of a walk from the historical streets but the famously wacky decor is worth the visit, and while I’m normally wary of places with voluminous photo menus, the simple, delicious lunch we had there was one of our best meals in Phuket: winged bean salad (it’s hard to find winged beans in Singapore so I was really happy about this), fried catfish with chilli, steamed rice, beer for him, lemongrass juice for me, less than 500 baht in total. I highly recommend it, except that you may want to avoid menu item number 163.
We wandered around a bit more after lunch, not really looking for sights but enjoying the low-key feel of this part of Phuket where nary a souvenir stall or travel agency had set up shop.
By about five, constant sweatiness had finally worn us down and the streets of Phuket Town had gone very quiet. Although we had been besieged by “Taxi?” requests earlier in the afternoon, there were none to be found now and we had to walk back to the touristy bit and ask a travel agency to call us one. Later the same night we would discover the awesomest minigolf experience known to man but I’ll save that for another post, and end this here with one of the views through the windscreen on the way back to Kata.