The rain on our first day in Phuket was pretty relentless. After our Snake Show, the sky still hadn’t cleared, so our guide brought us to the Sri Bhurapa Orchid Co. Ltd factory, which specialises in cashew nut products.
The ‘factory’ doesn’t really look like a factory at all. The main building has a big shop loaded with rows and rows of cashew nut items, seasoned in flavours beyond imagination. Other than plain and honey, there was also seaweed, wasabi (!), chocolate, and many more!
We hadn’t planned on getting ‘souvenirs’ this early into our trip, but since we were already here… the items were all nicely packaged and quite pricey. We were looking for big bags of wholesale cashew nuts but couldn’t find any. :( Had fun sampling the different flavours though!
Did you know that there’s something called cashew juice ? (Made from the fruit). It’s sweet and slightly sour, with a refreshing taste.
Two workstations were also placed at the back, so that customers can see how the process is done. The staff uses a sharp skewer to poke the nuts into a nutcracker, then presses down to peel off the hard shell. They did this with super speed and precision while chattering away.
The nuts will later be baked over a slow fire for long hours to remove all the poison (apparently cashew shells are poisonous in their raw stage)
We left 1000B poorer.. but this is a good place to visit on a rainy day, if you have cash to spare and you like munching on snacks.
Sri Bhurapa Orchid,
Thanon Kwang (opposite Kinnaree Media),
Tel: 66(0)76 263 787-9.
By the time we got to Phuket town, it had (thankfully!) stopped raining. Our first stop was the Old Quarters, or Soi Romanee in the heart of Phuket’s Chinatown. The beautiful Sino-Portuguese shops are similar to ones found in Penang and Malacca in Malaysia. Residents of Chinatown are mostly ethnic Chinese who have assimilated into Thai culture. “Many do not speak Chinese anymore,” our guide, Lek, explained.
Since the tourist boom, many of these old shophouses have been converted into guesthouses, restaurants and chic little cafes.
For awhile, I felt like I was walking down a typical street in Penang – the architecture is very similar. Not surprising, seeing as how the Chinese migrated to Phuket and settled down in towns as merchants and business owners, just like in Malaysia. The shophouses usually have a business on the ground floor, and a private home upstairs. Despite the sweltering tropical heat, these houses are very cooling on the inside – something that modern houses has struggled to emulate.
H & I were surprised to see that a Malaysian car, the Perodua Kancil (they’re obsolete now) all the way in Thailand! My mum had one of these compact car and they were super convenient to park and squeeze among roads during traffic jams. :)
The structures along Soi Romanee have been restored to their former glory; painted over with colourful coats of pink, yellow, blue and green. Architecture lovers will like the exquisite detailing found on each facade – from balusters to gold carvings, framed windows and old wooden doors.
Across the street was a wat (temple). It was closed because the temple is located within the a school compound.
We saw so many fat stray kitties while in Phuket! None of them seemed to want for anything, judging from their well-fed bodies, unlike poor strays in Malaysia. :(
Stay tuned as we explore more of Phuket’s Old Town!