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JAMIE'S PHUKET: Floating restaurants off Coconut Island
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:56PM
If you head north from Phuket Town on the main airport road there is a small side road to the right (you’ll ned to do a U-turn)leading to Laem Hin, a fishing community where you find the very popular Laem Hin Seafood restaurant. A new jetty was built at Laem Hin a few years ago to serve Koh Maphrao – Coconut Island – and allow larger boats to dock in the area. In the water just off the island, there are several floating restaurants to choose from, among them Kruvit, Bang Mud and Kru Suwit. To reach them, you need to get a longtail boat from Laem Hin – boats leave from a wooden jetty with shallow muddy water all around, and longtails jammed in like sardines in a can. The deal with the boats is that if you spend a certain amount at the restaurant you don’t have to pay the boat. While I don’t know the exact amount, don’t be worried – I think the idea is just to stop people trying to get free rides to drink a coke. On the way out to Koh Maphrao (the ride takes only five minutes) there are fishermen’s huts floating in the water too. Is this the same Phuket you see on the west coast? I think not. Things tend to be more traditional here. We chose to eat at Kruvit restaurant (full name ‘Kruvit Raft’). Even on a grey day, quite a few tables were occupied (all local people, although I did see one farang arrive later with a Thai woman). We were met by a friendly boatman who held the longtail steady so we (especially my mum, who cracked a rib on a longtail last year) could step off easily. Nothing to worry about really; the sea over here is calm as it’s very sheltered. Kruvit has space for a couple of hundred people.  We found our table near the fish tanks. Live seafood is kept in large enclosed keep-ponds built into the raft. We ate very well too, but with a restaurant like this, eating is only part of the experience. The boat ride, the view, the fresh air, getting away from the crowds... good food is almost a bonus. The bill was very reasonable (we don’t do expensive). We do eat at Laem Hin Seafood now and then and maybe the food there is better, but hey, you don’t get that floating feeling or the boat ride...   Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: You can read more about Phuket on Jamie's Phuket Blog or follow Jamie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Flickr.
A beach of inactivity
Friday 18 November 2011, 05:37PM
  Despite its Thai name meaning ‘active’, Khuk Khack Beach is far from it. The long white stretch of sand, on the Phang Nga coast just north of Khao Lak, stretches out into the sea-spray haze on either side as far as the eye can see. It’s early on a blue morning. A solitary visitor jogs along the edge of the lapping waves from the calm sea. He is not in too much of a hurry either. On the tourist map, the beach is dotted with resorts, the dots all bunching up towards the south of the beach, although few can be seen when you are on the sand. Certainly at this northern end, there are only Adamania Beach Resort and, at some distance along the beach from it, JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort. Khao Lak resort managers will tell you that many Thai and foreign tourists, especially from Europe, come to this long beach to escape the crowded western coast of Phuket. But there are hardly any visitors to be seen this morning, and very few during the day, even though the high season has just started. The white sand is, for a good change, almost free from litter. Instead, a small army of hermit crabs scuttle happily along this morning, dragging an assorted selection of mobile homes. Their little eyes on the look out with little feelers sensing the air, always ready to retreat into their shells and shut the front door at the first hint of disturbance. A little grey and white wader bobs along on the wet sand, scooting after its breakfast of scurrying wind crabs. On a branch perches a family of birds. One takes off after an insect, flashing yellow plumage on its body and iridescent blue above its wings. Now and then wrecked holiday bungalows on Khao Lak beaches, overgrown with creeping vegetation, still provide sobering reminder of the tsunami of 2004. The sunny hours are long here – you can catch up on your reading, get tanned or to have a massage in the sea breeze. As the sun slowly sets, one looks forward to sipping a cold beer and dining on freshly-cooked prawns, fish and squid. The dark horizon ahead now shows lights of local boats that are netting your seafood meals tomorrow. The moon is becoming full for the Loy Kratong festival on the walk back to your resort. It’s very comforting to anticipate the same care-free day tomorrow...   – Norachai Thavisin To get there: Drive north from Phuket Town on the Highway 402 across Sarasin bridge into Phang Nga province. Then follow Highway 4 north along the coast in the direction of Takuapa to Khao Lak town, and further north to Khuk Khack beach on your left, some 110 km from Phuket Town.