photo slideshow

Monday, 8 August 2011

Half Day City Tour of Phuket!

As you can see, we were up bright and early and ready to go! Our day tour started with a trip to a rubber tapping estate......

Yes! Now that I'm back in KK, I can finally finish this post as I've gotten all these next photos from Ray's iPhone (lazy bugger refused to email them to me.. Pfft!)

Our guide for the day was Kevin (pictured below).He told us that the rubber tree was a very important source of income for Thailand, but that they brought the first rubber trees in from Malaysia (meaning they did not originate in Thailand). *proud moment* =)

Rubber tapping is the process by which the sap (rubber) is collected from a rubber tree. An incision is made in the tree's bark, which cuts through the planting cycle to optimise the latex yield.

Each night a rubber tapper must remove a thin layer of bark along a downward half spiral on the tree trunk. If done carefully and with skill, this tapping panel will yield latex for up to 5 years. Then the opposite side will be tapped allowing this side to heal over. The spiral allows the latex to run down to a collecting cup. The work is done at night or in the early morning before the day's temperature rises, so the latex will drip longer before coagulating and sealing the cut. (Info source: Wikipedia)

When the cup is full, the rubber tapper will collect all the latex and take it back to a small "factory", usually right next to the plantation. Then, it is poured into moulds and formic acid is added to coagulate the liquid latex. This transforms the liquid latex into a firm solid block of rubber, which is initially rolled using a wooden roller so that it is thin enough for it to be rolled by the mangle machine.
The rubber sheet is manually rolled using the mangle several times to make it thinner by squeezing out the water. This make it easier for the sheet to dry.
This machine is then used to texture the rubber.
Before it is sent out to be sold, it must be hung out to dry, like these sheets Ray is posing with! ;p

Next on our itinerary, was a visit to Three Beaches View Point, the best view in Phuket! You can see the beautiful bays of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon here, and let me tell you, the view really is spectacular! =DSorry for the lamp post.. Lol..
As you can also see, it was windy too! Haha.. I have so many photos with my hair all in my face.. =.="

From there on, it was one breathtaking view to another!

We visited the Big Buddha on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata, and even donated a THB300 to get a marble slab with our 祝福语 (words of blessing) on the base of the statue when it is complete!
Please ignore the ugly handwriting...
After the donation booth, there's like a hall with the King's photos and writings of Buddha, which you walk through to get to some stairs which lead to the Big Buddha. As we were rushing (the whole reason I dont really like tours), I couldnt get any photos there.. =(
These are the steps. Yes, this is my expression every time I see a long staircase.
A photo of the bells that were hanging along the top of the staircase. Just because. =)The view is really pretty from the top of the hill, but my (crappy) camera couldnt capture it very well as it was getting ready to rain.. =/This is the 2nd Buddha that's on top of the hill. It's 12 metres high, made of 22 tons of brass and cost 8 million baht to complete.

According to www.phuket.com, about 10 years ago a group of friends were walking through the forest in the Nakkerd Hills when they stumbled upon a place with stunning vistas of both sides of the island – Chalong Bay lay in one direction while on the other they looked down over Kata and the Andaman Sea. It would, they thought, make a perfect place for a viewpoint – something that could become as well known as Phuket’s favourite sunset viewpoint, at Laem Phromthep.

As time went on, and as the friends discussed it again and again, the idea evolved. The place in the hills, they soon agreed, would be perfect not just as a viewpoint, but as the site for something much more ambitious and, to Buddhists at least, much more significant: a giant image of the Lord Buddha.

The project had its hiccups, not least of which was battling through a mountain of red tape required to get permits to build in virgin forest at a height above the usual building limit. But the paperwork was finally completed and construction began in February last year.

Funding for this massive project is coming entirely from donations, and is expected to cost about 30 million baht to complete. The Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha – to give it its official name – will be 45 meters high and 25 meters across at the base.

The smaller Buddha image, will be devoted to HM Queen Sirikit, while the big one will be devoted to HM King Bhumibol to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Interesting huh? The Thais are very respectful to their King, and you can see his face on banners and posters almost everywhere in Phuket!

Next up, we made a stop at the famous Wat Chalong, a Buddhist temple not far from Big Buddha. Our guide explained that a temple is not famous because of its beauty or whatnot, but it is famous because of the monks who stayed there. The 2 monks who made this Wat famous are Luang Pho Chaem (1827-1908) and Luang Pho Chuang (1875-1945). There are gold statues of them, plus another (Luang Pho Gluam) in the prayer hall, and many Thais stick gold leaves to these images to pay respect to them and ask for their blessings.
I also did the whole shake-the-tube-til-a-stick-falls-out.. Haha.. For the life of me I cant remember what it's called!! Argh!! Freaky thing is, nothing was happening for the longest time, until I thought to myself "Please just let me know what the next month will be like for me". Within seconds a stick with a number flew out! =O Apparently I'm only gonna have normal luck tho.. Nothing good nothing bad.. Haha.. Yes I know the girl next to me looks scary, and I apologize for the crappy photo. Ray is obviously not a photographer. Hahahaha..!!There were fire crackers going off in this stack outside the prayer hall. Apparently, this is to show gratitude for answered prayers.

Next up, we went to this wooden house which is air conditioned inside (so I satyed a few minutes more than necessary ;p) There are wax (very real looking) statues of the 3 monks in here too.The 3rd building on the site was this one:
The Grand Pagoda dominating the temple contains a splinter of Lord Buddha's bone and is officially named Phramahathatchedi-Jomthaibarameepragat (is that a mouthful or what?!). The pagoda is decorated with wall paintings depicting the Buddha's life story and also features various Buddha images.Unfortunately, we didnt have time to go up to the top. I heard the view is also amazing!

Then it was on to Wang Ta Lang, a gem factory, which of course I did not get to buy anything in! ;p Diamonds, rubies, sapphires.. *sighs with a smile*

Pornthip (I know, funny name) was our next stop, and Ray and I happily stuffed our faces with the many samples of local snacks. We also bought a lot, spent about THB800! Haha.. Yes, we like our food.. ;p I'd recommend the dried pork slices (they're crispy, like crackers), and also the dried mango.. Ray liked all the sotong (cuttlefish) stuff as well.. =)

For some reason, we seemed to have a lot of time here, as we were the 1st ones back to the van.. And guess what Ray was doing? Mm-hmm..
We also saw the Century-old Sino-portuguese buildings on Thalang Road, which look like the ones in Singapore to me, and then to a honey factory which makes really good honey.. Thumbs up! I wanted to buy some honey chocolate as well, but Ray kept looking at my tummy when I said that so.. =( No fat Calista then? Sigh..

Our last stop was a huge compound full of stores, called Premium Outlet Phuket. Every brand you could think of was there, with cheap prices on everything! Unfortunately, this was also our lunch stop so we didnt have much time at all.. =( We were both upset we couldnt shop, but I suppose Ray's credit card was happy.. ;p

And that was the end of our tour! It was really fun, and we packed a lot into 5 hours, as you can see! I was gutted we couldnt go on the elephant safari though, but that tour was twice the price.. This tour only cost us about THB600 per person if I remember correctly..

This was going to be my last Phuket post, but then I realised what a long-ass post this was, so to refrain from boring you, I'm going to separate this from my last one, which I (half) promise wont be as long! =) That one should be up soon so do keep reading k? =)

On a side note, I'm taking my JPJ (driving) exam tomorrow morning, so keep your fingers crossed for me, cz I really need to pass first try! ;p

Love you guys..!! xxx