Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phuket Island & Patong Town

Phuket (ภูเก็ต), which was known as Talang or Tha-Laang; or Junk Ceylon. Junk Ceylon appeared in European charts, a corruption version of Malay words, Tanjung Salang which mean Cape Salang. It was later known as Talang, after the name of the main town on the island. The name of Phuket, only name when the administration centre was moved to a mining town in the centre of the island called phuket. The name Phuket is the Malay words for Bukit, meaning hills.

Phuket is one of Thailand's southern province(chanwat) on the west coast off Southern Thailand, in the Andaman Sea. It is the largest island in Thailand. It is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. The nearest province are
Krabi( กระบี่ ) & Phang Nga( พังงา ) . It has total area of 570 sq metre (including 39 other smaller islands). It was also reported that 60% of the island is covered by forest, rubber trees and oil palms.

Phuket Province consist of 3 districts(amphoe), namely (i) Mueang Phuket, (ii) Kathu, and (iii)Thalang & 17 sub-districts(tambon) and 103 villages(muban). The capital is Phuket city, which has the city status. Other tourist town, Patong and Kathu are having town status.

The population consist of 70% Buddhist(including Chinese), 30% Muslim mainly Malay. The Chinese are mainly the descendant of tin-miners who come in 19th century, most of them, especially Peranakan Phuket(or Phuket baba) have family ties with Peranakan of Penang and Malacca(nyonya and baba).

History of Phuket

Phuket was found in 1st BC by colonist from India; at that time it was called " Jang SiLang" or Junk Ceylon.

Phuket only become Thai state in 13th century, when the armies of Sukhothai took control of the island from Sirivijaya empire (a Malay kingdom ruled from Sumatra ,Indonesia),who had ruled the area. In the 17th century, the Dutch and English competed with each other for the trade with Phuket, France joined the trade competition in 1680, and the island was named Junk Ceylon at that time. Phuket was rich in tin , to avoid British and Dutch, King Narai of Thailand named French medical missionary, Brother Charbonneau, as the 1st Governor of Phuket (1681-1685). Following the Siamese Revolution of 1688, the French was however expelled from Siam( and Phuket).

Burma attacked Phuket in 1785, the wife of recently deceased governor,Lady Chan(or Kunying Jan) and her sister Lady Muk led the Thalang people to defence Phuket. Burmese withdrawn on 13-3-1785. The battle was known as Battle of Thalang. At that time, Phuket was known as Ko Thalang or Thalang island in English. Today, there is a monument in Thepkassatri Road, Phuket city, in remembrance of the two sisters. At that time, the British also sent Capt Francis Light to scout for possibilities of taking Phuket as a base for the controlling of Strait of Malacca. It was reported that it was Capt Francis Light that informed the sisters of the invading Burmese armies in 1785. Francis Light later selected Penang for its safer harbour.

The invasion of Burmese in 1809 destroyed the Thalang, and the original inhabitants left the place. From 1820, the mining of Phuket was in the hands of Chinese from the British Strait Settlements, particularly Penang.In 1850, a town of Tongkah was formed, which formed the core city of Phuket city today.

In 1933, Phuket become a province of Siam(later become Thailand).

Patong Beach
(หาดป่าตอง) or Hat Patong

The largest and longest beach in Phuket, located at central western coast of the island. The beach is along its 3km crescent bay. It is 15km from the town. Patong in Thai language means "the forest filled with banana leaves". It is famous not only for its beach , but also its night life & seafood.

Patong's two main roads are Beach Road or Thanon Thawiwong; and Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200 pit, running parallel along the beach.A handful of streets and alleys(called sois) connected the two parallel roads. The largest and most famous is the Bangla Road or Thanon Bangla.

Patong has two types of taxi, songthaews or small mini van, it is also called tuk-tuks; and the normal sedan car taxi. The tuk-tuks are normally parked along the
Beach Road or Thanon Thawiwong. There is another type of taxi by motorbikes.

On 26-12-2004, Patong beach along with other beaches along the western coast of Phuket was strucked by Tsunami caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake. Patong was one of the worst affected areas, many people died. The business however has recovered.

However the financial tsunami(or financial crisis) started in late 2008, has affected the tourism industry. This will neutralize the recovery effort from 2004 tsunami.

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