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History

Phuket Villa

Phuket Villa

Phuket (Thai: ภูเก็ต, IPA: [pʰuːkɛt]; formerly known as Tha-Laang or Talang, or Junk Ceylon in Western sources, a distortion of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e. “Cape Salang”) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga and Krabi, but as Phuket is an island there are no land boundaries. Phuket Villa.

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The region has an area of approximately 570sqm and it’s made up of 1 large and 39 small islands. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber.[citation needed] The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader’s ship logs. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

Phuket Villa

The name Phuket (of which the ph sound is an aspirated p) is apparently derived from the word bukit (Jawi: بوكيت) in Malay which means hill, as this is what the island appears like from a distance. The region was formerly referred to as “Thalang,” derived from the old Malay “Telong” (Jawi: تلوڠ) which means “Cape.” The northern district of the province, which was the location of the old capital, still uses this name.

In the 17th century, the Dutch, the English, and from the 1680s the French, competed with each other for trade with the island of Phuket (the island was named Junk Ceylon at that time), which was valued as a very rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship from the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin. In 1681 or 1682, the Siamese king Narai, who was seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named Governor of Phuket the French medical missionary Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau held the position of Governor until 1685

In 1685, king Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to a French ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont. Chaumont’s former maître d’hôtel Sieur de Billy was named governor of the island. The French were expelled from Siam in 1688 however, following the 1688 Siamese revolution. On April 10, 1689, the French general Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture the island of Phuket in an attempt to restore some sort of French control in Siam. The occupation of the island led nowhere, and Desfarges returned to Pondicherry in January 1690.

The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Captain Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, sent word to the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook(คุณมุก) then assembled what forces they could. After a month-long siege, the Burmese were forced to retreat March 13, 1785. The two women became local heroines, receiving the honorary titles Thao Thep Krasatri and Thao Si Sunthon from King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket (มณฑลภูเก็จ)was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself. Old names of the island include Ko Thalang.

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Visiting Buddhist Monasteries in Phuket

Visiting Buddhist Monasteries in Phuket

Foreigners are welcomed into Buddhist Monasteries, or Wats
But please remember these are places of worship, reverence and meditation, and cultural sensitivity is required

Visitors, both Thai and foreign, are usually welcome inside Buddhist monasteries, and a visit there can be most informative and interesting. There are scores of monasteries on Phuket, and virtually every Buddhist community here has a wat as its traditional cultural center. So it is acceptable to walk into the grounds of any monastery on the island during daylight hours. Most close their doors at night.

Since these are quiet sanctuaries where monks are supposed to live with the minimum of material possessions and where they are challenged with the task of overcoming physical desires, it is expected that women – representing the physical desire perhaps most difficult to overcome – should act and dress modestly. A Thai woman would normally not come into the presence of monks dressed in sexy or revealing attire. Women, therefore should avoid visiting the monasteries in beach clothes or short pants. Monks are also forbidden to have physical contact with any woman, or to receive an object directly from one hand of a woman. To give something to a monk a woman must first place the object on a table, or mat, and leave the monk to pick it up. Or give it to a man who can hand it to the monk.

When entering any building within a monastery shoes must be removed. They can be worn throughout the grounds – unlike in Burma, where shoes must be taken off when entering any monastery grounds.

The typical Thai temple is composed of several parts, including the ‘temple’ itself, called ubosot, in which the most important Buddha image is usually housed. Identifying this building is easy: look for short, carved stone pillars buried in the ground around it, one at each corner, with others in the middle of each side. The ubosot is usually closed, except on Buddhist holidays (one every 14 days) and perhaps in the evenings or early mornings when monks may come to chant prayers. When the monks are doing this laymen may enter the back of the temple hall quietly, sit down and absorb the holy atmosphere.

Other buildings in the typical wat include a cheddi, or stupa, the soaring golden spire that represents the Buddhist strive for infinity, or the ultimate. A second temple-like building is often present, and is recognised by the lack of the holy pillars that surround and sanctifying an ubosot. This my also contain Budddha images, and will be used for more everyday Buddhist functions. A sala, or meeting hall, is often present, and is often distinguished by a lack of walls. This will be used for public gatherings, and monks may eat their meals here and receive offerings from laymen. The guthi are the monks’ simple accommodation, and may be built as small Thai-style homes, often surrounding a raised eating platform.

In former generations Buddhist monasteries were the site of learning, and had the only schools in the country. Today the government builds independent schools, though still today many monasteries contain schools within their grounds. The monastery at Rawai is a good example of this, and here each morning hundreds of students parade under the coconut palms in the monastery grounds.

The Buddhist site most often visited on Phuket is Wat Chalong, a sprawling temple in the middle of the island with lots of room for tours buses. But the island has numerous, equally interesting monasteries that can be visited freely. One of the most curious, with a strange history, or fable attached to it, is Wat Phra Thong (Golden Buddha Monastery) on the airport road on the north side of Talang town. To read about the fable attached to it, see Phuket Magazine’s story on The Legend of Wat Phra Thong.

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A Town of Tradition and Treasures

Phuket town is a small urban treasure full of surprises, many of which are not readily visible to the visitor simply passing through. To really appreciate many of the attractions here one has to spend time, hunt and often walk.

The rich cultural heritage evidenced in its architecture is perhaps the foremost of attractions here. But there are also fascinating markets, Chinese shrines and Buddhist temples and shopping opportunities both modern and traditional.

A Town of Tradition and Treasures

Phuket town was largely founded by Chinese who emigrated to the island to work in the tin mining business. Many began as penniless coolies but ended up as rich moguls. Thus, much of the interesting architecture of the town is Chinese in style and origin. Thai of both Buddhist and Muslim origin lived largely in rural villages, where the finest examples of their temples and mosques are found.

Viewing Phuket town

One excellent way to get an overview of Phuket town is to go to the top of Rang hill, one of the two very prominent hills on the northern edge of town. Rang is the one to the west, the one without the TV and communications towers.

At the very peak of Rang hill is one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, Tunka Ka Café, run by a true gourmet and lover of Thai cuisine, Khun Thira. This is a great place to enjoy the view of the town from – and a great place to eat in. Khun Thira makes sure every dish in his restaurant is just right. (if you want to see the love that goes into food here, try Thira’s Som Tum, hot papaya salad). Khun Thira is also one of the best-known characters in town, and your day is made if you chance to meet him. And since Tunka Ka is a favourite hang-out for the Thai staff of PHUKET Magazine, you might well find us there also – always with Som Tum on the table.

Sino-Portuguese Mansions

This description is given to several score houses set in grand gardens and built by Chinese moguls, often about 100 years ago at the height of the tin mining boom. The name reflects the influences of Chinese owners building in European style in Singapore and Malaysia, where the Portuguese had set the first standards for grand tropical mansions.. In fact, most of the Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket town were built by Italians, whom the wealthy Chinese employed. They also imported many of the materials, like tiles and fittings, from Italy.

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