Resilient Phuket and Its Seafood
The last time we visited Phuket was 4-5 years ago, before the tsunami tragedy struck the lovely island off the South-West coast of Thailand. We had wanted to visit earlier but the opportunity just never presented itself. Not being huge fans of beach resorts (because the mister doesn’t swim and the missus is not a particularly strong swimmer) meant that given a choice, we would usually rather be elsewhere.
This is not to sweepingly conclude that Phuket has nothing to offer to non-fans of water activities, because Phuket is anything but. While we do not go on island-hopping excursions or spend our time sun-tanning by the beach, Phuket is our go-to destination for cheap and good seafood. It is invariably also our top choice when we cannot afford the time for an extended trip or don’t wish to spend too much on a vacation.
It was only our 2nd time on a budget airline. The experience hadn’t been too bad since given our small stature, we do not need much legroom. In-flight entertainment wise, we could most definitely do without for a short 2-3 hour flight. Longer than that, I think I will probably bore to death though. 😆
Instead of going for the reputable hotel chains, this time the mister took the suggestion of one of his colleague’s to stay at a hotel he frequents whenever he travels to Phuket (which is like once every quarter!). At first glance, the hotel room wasn’t too bad but it didn’t take me long to find out that there was an issue with the drainage system; the room almost flooded when I took a shower because the drainage was so slow. And I have to qualify that I’m not one of those ladies who takes a 30-minute shower. Needless to say, I was rather unhappy with the mister’s choice.
While I’m not sure if all other other rooms are the same, or if the hotel improved the drainage system over the years, suffice it to say that I would not return to this hotel. Can’t even if I had wanted to, because I cannot recall the name of this hotel even if my life had depended on it.
On to the things that made me happy on this trip – the food. You might have already realised from the other blog posts that the mister and I are quite the foodie. And surprise surprise, despite his fussy palate, the mister actually loves Thai food.
Patong Beach is always our choice because it’s the most vibrant of all the beaches in Phuket, it’s accessible and food is easily available. If you are one of those who prefer to stay in the luxury villas at the quieter beaches, it is still rather convenient to get to Patong Beach either by renting your own bike or car, or flagging down a tuk-tuk. As a general rule, we do try not to drive overseas and diesel-driven vehicles make me nauseous so as far as possible, we walk everywhere when in Phuket.
As for seafood, it is not necessary to spend loads of money patronising the expensive-looking restaurants along the beach. But we are way too careful to randomly choose and settle for a streetside stall. There are cheap and rather hygienic options one or two streets down (parallel to the beach), we discovered on our first trip to Phuket years ago. Collectively, it’s like a big food centre with about 8-10 seafood stalls and clearly demarcated tables and chairs for each stall. We’ve been returning to this place every single time we revisit Phuket and our stomachs were always fine after dining there so I guess they passed the hygiene test.
The oysters were as fresh as they could get. Perhaps not as sweet and succulent as the ones I had in France but they were close enough. The way the Thais serve their fresh oysters are quite different from the way I am used to; a plate of 4 condiments was served to us but we couldn’t quite figure how they go with the oysters. I mostly just slurp them up with the chilli sauce that most resembled tobasco sauce.
We went back to the same place for dinner twice more when we were in Phuket. Clearly we are not very adventurous folks. But in our defence, there are close to 10 stalls we could try. And there is a large variety of seafood available. Only that we ordered almost the same dishes every single time. We are boring like that.
The second dinner at our favourite place, we had pineapple rice. And ordered the usual ‘suspects’ – fresh oysters, barbecued prawns, vegetables and last but not the least, Seafood Tom Yam soup. We learnt something about big King prawns: though larger their meat don’t usually taste that good in comparison to smaller Tiger prawns. The next day, we switched back to Tiger prawns. Lesser meat but tastier for sure. The soups… no complaints. They were as authentic as they could get. We don’t get such tasty Tom Yam soups in Singapore. Not even close.
We left the big birthday meal to the last night in Phuket. And since there really wasn’t much shopping to be done there, we used the money we saved to splurge on that dinner. Apart from the oysters, pineapple rice and Tiger prawns, we ordered something different – crayfish. I didn’t actually like the way it was prepared, and was quick to tell the mister that when the dish was served. But oh, I spoke too soon. The crayfish was incredibly tasty and delish. I loved it, probably even more than the fresh oysters. And I am pretty sure we ordered some vegetables because we really love our greens. Must have neglected taking pictures before we excitedly digged in.
The star of the birthday dinner? This lobster weighing over 700 grams. This was supposedly the highlight but to be honest, I found the crayfish nicer than this. Good thing it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. That’s why Phuket is our go-to place for seafood, with the exception of crabs. In my opinion, Singapore is still the go-to place for crabs. In my humble opinion, nothing beats our chilli crabs.