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Phuket Old Town: A Colourful, Cultural Melting Pot

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

With its rainbow of colours, elegantly arched windows, shade-giving covered walkways and ornate facades, the architecture of Phuket Old Town is unique in Thailand. Strolling these bustling streets, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the colonial-influenced trading centres of the Straits settlements of Malacca, Penang or even Singapore.

So how did these candy-coloured shop houses of Phuket Old Town come about? Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Phuket was a hub for the tin-mining industry and the wealth that this brought attracted the attention of both Chinese and Portuguese merchants. Phuket Town grew around the protected natural harbour used by traders from east and west. To house their families and their businesses, buildings were constructed by immigrant workers from China, incorporating elaborate Chinese plaster and paintwork, but designed in a Western architectural style favoured by the Europeans. Thus, the Sino-Portuguese style was born.

As well as building grand mansions for the wealthiest merchant families, many shop houses (so-called because of their dual function as a workplace and a home) were built in long terraces, with a very narrow frontage but often extending up to fifty metres back from the road. The front part of these buildings were used for trading, while the shopkeeper or trader lived with his family in the remaining ground-floor space and on the upper floors.

Exploring these fascinating streets is to step back into Phuket’s rich, multi-cultured past, but extensive restoration work has brought Phuket Old Town back to life in recent years. The spaghetti-like jumble of black cables have been hidden below ground on several of the roads now, and the ornate facades have been brought back to their original vibrancy.

We suggest starting your walking tour in Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town’s main historical artery. Don’t miss two important landmarks near the Phuket City Market: the beautifully renovated Sino-Portugese mansion that now houses the Thai Airways office (not opened to the public), and Jui Tui shrine, a Chinese temple that plays an important role during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, celebrated every year during October.

Make a stop at the unique Lor Rong market to sample some typical Phuket food and sweet treats and then,

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Chef du jour: Villa Amarelo

in Culture/Dining/Families by

At Elite Havens, each villa’s menu showcases an extensive range of Asian and western delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own specialties that shouldn’t be missed. 

The stylish six-bedroom escape Villa Amarelo, part of the Sava Beach Villas estate, seamlessly melts into the white sands of Natai Beach, less than half an hour’s drive north of Phuket airport. Featuring a 25-metre pool, a garden gazebo, private chef and large indoor and outdoor living areas, Villa Amarelo makes for a memorable holiday and wedding destination on the shores of the Andaman Sea, the ideal spot for a family holiday, dream wedding or group soiree.

In the kitchen at Villa Amarelo, which has stunning views of the swimming pool and the beautiful Natai Beach, Chef Lek cooks up a traditional Thai starter Goong Sarong, ‘wrapped prawns’. It looks great and tastes even better.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Lek: I worked as a housekeeping attendant at Villa Saanti, but the villa didn’t provide a chef. Therefore, I needed to learn cooking to help out the owner. Later on, I worked as a comis chef at Akyra Hotel for a year and a half. There, I learnt how to cook many kinds of western dishes.

EH: What do you think makes a good cook?

CL: Ensuring that all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. A good eye for detail and being able to adapt to different styles and requests from guests.

EH: What did you cook for us today?

CL: Goong Sarong, which is whole prawns wrapped in rice noodles.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us?

CL: Thailand, especially the south, produces amazing fresh seafood, and the prawns are a must-try if you visit Phuket. Local prawns and local Phuket noodles together make a great-tasting and wonderful-looking dish.

EH: What is your specialty dish or the flavors you like to cook with?

CL: I love local Southern Thai food. It has such amazing flavors. I really love to cook Southern Thai Red Curry with beef.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

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Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn Just Crowned

in Culture/News by

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn was crowned Saturday, May 4, 2019.

“I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever,” the King announced.

66-year old King Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne 2 years ago. On Saturday, during a televised ritual from the Grand Palace, he took his crown from the country’s chief Brahmin, a Hindu priest. The ceremony was a mixed Buddhist-Hindu ceremony, observing the country’s main religions.

 
 
 
 
 
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#ขอพระองค์ทรงพระเจริญ

A post shared by Lan-laCafe.rimtang (@ls.nookie) on May 4, 2019 at 5:18pm PDT

King Vajiralongkorn became Crown Prince and heir apparent in 1972. He studied in Australia and the UK. He has two daughters and five sons. Last week, the king wed his new queen, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya.

 
 
 
 
 
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#ขอพระองค์ทรงพระเจริญ ???#เรารักสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์ไทย??

A post shared by Duangjun Phunniam (@phunniam) on May 5, 2019 at 8:52am PDT

We are honoured to join the kingdom of Thailand in celebrating the auspicious occasion of the royal coronation of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Long live the King.

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Treat Mum To Mother’s Day in Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui

in Culture/Destinations/Recreation by

She’s the one who made sure your food wasn’t hot enough to burn your tongue and put a band-aid on your knee when you fell down. She’s the one who fed you when you were hungry, cared for you when you were sick and gave you an allowance. She helped you with your homework and made sure you wore the perfect dress to your first dance.

 

She’s the first one who cheered you on and made sure you grew up happy and able. Most of all, she’s the one whose hugs made you feel like everything was alright, and that nothing bad would ever happen. Why not give her the getaway of a lifetime? Take her on an unforgettable trip to Bali and Thailand. Here’s what you can do when you’re there:

Bali

Give Her Breakfast in Bed

Spoil your mum first thing in the morning on 12 May by giving her breakfast in bed. Prepare a basket of freshly-baked French butter and almond croissants. Add some elegant macarons to the mix for a real indulgence. Get them and more delicious treats at Monsieur Spoon, a bakery run by two Parisian cousins. The bakery has shops in Canggu, Petitenget and Seminyak.

Take Her To an Authentic Balinese Cooking Class

Venture to the market in Ubud to pick vegetables and meat. Chat with local farmers and observe the townsfolk going about their daily activities. Then, take an authentic Balinese cooking class inside a traditional Balinese house. Discover the way the local live – and eat. Enjoy the food you and your mom have made for lunch and dinner. You can do all this at Eat With.

Pamper Her in the Spa

What better way to say ‘This is your day’ than a pampering at the spa? From reflexology to a scalp massage and even hair colour to brighten up those roots, Therapy has it all.  Want something more off- the-beaten-track? Take mum to a bar-cum-salon. Blow Bar is an alternative bar where you can sip on a martini as you get a manicure, perched on a bar stool. Dad can enjoy the popular Scotch & Shave.

Have a Heart to Heart Over Tea

It’s your turn to listen to mum.

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Insider’s View: Villa Naam Sawan

in Destinations/Tips by
Naam Sawan - Stunning villa setting

The luxurious, fully staffed four-bedroom Villa Naam Sawan  located on Phuket’s east coast was designed by world-renowned architectural design team, Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Gathy,  and it is one of my favorite villas.

The modern style of this breathtaking villa and the friendly and helpful staff will exceed all your expectations and will not disappoint you.

Located on what is considered one of Phuket’s most unspoiled areas, this beautiful villa offers fabulous views of Phang Nga Bay, and is surrounded by hills blanketed by lush tropical plants and trees. Something that sets it apart from other villas on the east coast is it’s beachfront.

Villa Naam Sawan - Bedroom Painting

The arrival alone at the huge entrance gives you a sense of grandeur as well as a sense of excitement to see what lies behind the big wooden doors.

Villa Naam Sawan - Dining Room evening

As you enter the villa you will be drawn to the views overlooking Phang Nga bay and, naturally, you will start to walk through the spacious living room with high ceilings and stunning panoramic views.

Villa Naam Sawan - Elegantly designed

The pool area is where you will want to spend most of your time; we did. The sunken pool bar and outdoor space make the outside living area perfect for groups or families. If you need to relax and have a massage, this can be done poolside. A massage and a pina colada at the same time – now if that is not heaven I don’t know what is.

Naam Sawan - Absolute ocean view

A short walk down through the tropical gardens and you get to the almost private beach. The overhanging mangroves and palm trees give the beach enough shade during the heat of the day, and it also gives this east coast beach an idyllic tropical feel.

Naam Sawan - Villa feature

We were able to take the villa’s stand-up paddle boards and the kayaks out and take advantage of the calm waters of Phang Nga Bay. The east coast is tidal so there were times when the tide was out, but if your children are anything like mine, this was a great time to go exploring and looking for hermit crabs and shells.

Naam Sawan - Tropical escape

The major advantage of the east coast is that you are able to swim and play 12 months of the year,

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