Monday, 16 September 2013

The Power of Phuket Town

As I'm walking through the quaint, narrow streets of Phuket Town, I'm struck with an uneasy feeling. 

Something is wrong. Different. Very strange. 

It's not the noticeable lack of tourists in shorts and thongs. 

It's not the fact that this part of Phuket has been beautifully restored, with the historic Sino-Portuguese terraces a showpiece of the island. 

It's not even that there are really cool bars and coffee shops along these quiet streets. 

Then it strikes me. Where are all the power lines? You know the ones - the tangled mess of seething, sparking death that usually hover just above head-height. The incomprehensible and crazy black jumble of wires that are such an integral part of South East Asia's streetscapes...

How does this man know which wire to touch?

In 2009, at the bequest of Phuket's mayor, the power of Thalang Rd and Soi
Romanee in Phuket Town was moved underground at a cost of 20 million baht. More streets in Old Phuket Town followed the year after. 

The result is a view free from the eyesore of wires, a bonus for tourists armed with cameras and locals who take pride in the aesthetics of their town. 

What is wrong with these pictures? No wires!!

Old Phuket Town is a unique attraction on the island, the historic heart of the island dating from when it was a tin mining centre. The beautiful Sino-Portuguese mansions lining the streets, with their lovely wooden shutters and intricate detailing - were once the homes of tin barons who brought great wealth to the island (whilst pillaging the island of its natural resources and beauty - but that's a different story!) 

Interestingly though, wire-free Soi Romanee was once the red light district of the area, with one source claiming that the word 'romanee' means "naughty with the ladies"! It's now a highlight of Phuket, with galleries, cafes and gift shops making it a lovely place for tourists to stroll.

Reflexology shop on Soi Romanee. Pics: Julie Miller


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