JAMIE'S PHUKET: The Old Town is given a facelift
PHUKET: One of the things that everybody notices here in Phuket, and just about everywhere in Thailand, are overhead cables.
Thursday 31 May 2012, 02:57PM
There are power cables, phone cables, internet cables, all kinds of cables, and more often than not they look terrible.
After living here for so long, I have developed a blind spot for cables, but when you come to an area with no wires hanging over the street, it’s very noticeable. Sadly, there are very few cable-free places in Phuket. Putting all cables underground is expensive and with continual upgrades in technology, can lead to endless digging with cables being replaced.
In the old heart of Phuket Town some roads have been dug up, but all the cables – now inactive – were still there. And then suddenly a couple of weeks ago we drove through the old town, and along Krabi Road we could see a whole new street view with no ugly wires. It was like the work had happened overnight, because I’d just driven down Krabi Road the day before.
Doing this work will allow the old buildings to show their true face. Much of the old town was built in the late 19th and early 20th century at the height of the tin mining boom.
Some new buildings are present, but there is a very active old town association led by important local families, so these streets (I hope) will not be allowed to become ugly.
I went to take a little walk in the Old Town on May 19, a week after the work had been completed in Phase 2.
Well, not totally complete, the section on Phuket Road is not done yet (see map). But part of Dibuk Road is done, and the shophouses look better for it.
For instance, the Aekwanit building on the corner of Dibuk and Yaowarat Roads is now wire-free and looking great. On the opposite corner of the same junction from the Aekwanit building, corner of Dibuk and Yaowarat, is a section yet to be done – quite a difference. Once you’ve seen a street looking great without wires, then the wires look even worse.
Krabi Road, just to the west of Thalang Road, is now also wire free. The Thai Hua Museum is found here. Of course some parts of old town are like a living museum with businesses such as the Old Herb Shop on Thalang Road that have been run by the same family for 100 years or more. And I love the old buildings. My wife and I joke about trying to buy one, but a small shophouse might be too small for us and the kids to live in. But maybe...
With the Peranakan Culture Centre having opened in the old Standard Chartered Bank building at the intersection of Phuket and Phang Nga roads, things are looking up for the Old Town.
And thankfully, soon there will be no wires blocking the view.
Read the full version at Jamie's Phuket Blog. Jamie works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers in Karon, 084-626-4646, sunrise-divers.com