The Big Buddha
Thursday dawned as another early morning. We had a scheduled tour for the day to see many cultural spots on the southern part of the island. So we had a quick breakfast, packed our stuff for the day, and then headed up to the lobby to meet our guide. We were surprised to find that we were the only ones scheduled for the day, so we were getting a private tour for ourselves!
Our first stop on the tour was the Big Buddha. We drove up one of the mountains on Phuket
(the same one we went up to go on our elephant trek) and this time we went all the way to the top. The Thais are building what will be the largest Buddha in Thailand. Construction started sometime after the Asian Tsunami in 2004.
Meeting the monk
At the Big Buddha is a small temple with a Buddhist monk. Our guide led us to the monk where we gave a symbolic donation. He accepted it and then gave US gifts. Hubby got cake and a necklace and a bracelet. I got the same bracelet and lots of fruit. Then he blessed us. It was a very interesting experience. After meeting the monk, we walked up a long set of stairs to the very top where we saw the Big Buddha. He is immense.
After Buddha, we headed back down the mountain and went to a Buddhist temple back in town. The grounds of the temple where beautiful, with several buildings and vendors. It was a little touristy, but still a nice spot to visit. We were able get some great pictures. And I finally got to drink a coconut. Then we stopped at a touristy souvenir center.
The bottom story was a jewelry store filled with annoying salespeople and overpriced jewelry. Upstairs was souvenirs, still overpriced and still filled with annoying salespeople. I'm positive we were brought there because the tour guide gets a commission off of anything we buy. We didn't plan to get anything, but ended up getting some essential oils. Only because I wasn't able to find them anywhere else.
When we left, we went to a Chinese Buddhist temple in Phuket Town. I found the Chinese temple to be really interesting. The Chinese Buddha looks so different. He is smiling and jolly. People come and they buy sticks of incense and leave some at each "station" at the temple. On our little tour, we happened to be behind a man who was stopping at each place and leaving incense.
a worker shelling cashews
The buildings and the idols were beautiful. Unfortunately, all of my pictures here were taken with the camera where the pictures got deleted.
After the temple, we headed to a cashew factory. I had no idea, but a cashew actually grows at the bottom of a fruit that looks a little like a bell pepper. Each fruit gives one nut. And they have to boil the nuts before they crack into them because the liquid inside can burn you . No wonder cashews are so expensive. The factory was neat and we got some cashew candy to take home. We also got to sample cashewy juice, made from the cashew fruit. It tasted a little like kvas. I was unimpressed, but the hubby drank two glasses.
Then it was lunch time. Our tour provided a Thai lunch in a restaurant at the top of Kang Hill, one of the mountains overlooking Phuket Town.
Dummies in the mine museum (except the one on the right turned out to be an actual person, ha ha)
Lunch was delicious and the view was amazing. When we were through with lunch, we headed to a museum. It was a museum about the mining history of Phuket. Very interesting, although a very new museum, so still being completed. There were several exhibits showing the history of tin mining in Phuket, most of them with dummies demonstrating something or another. At the first such exhibit, there were two hunched over figures who were poised in water like they were sifting for tin. The guide said "Watch this" and clapped his hands and one of the dummies came to life, sifting the silt. He said the other one must not be working. I went to the front to take a picture and hubby stayed at the side. All of a sudden the moving "dummy" stood up. Scared the hubby half to death! Ha ha! That was one of the best parts of the day! And at each exhibit after that he was checking cautiously to see if the dummies were alive. Too funny. Then it was off for another massage and back to the hotel!
The tour was good, but maybe a little much since it took a whole day. In hindsight, I'd have chosen a half day tour of some sort. And unfortunately, this was the day that I lost all but the thumbnails of half of the pictures that I took that day. But all in all, it was a good day.