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Phuket

 

phuket_sea
The word Phuket was formerly believed to have come from the Malayan word Bukit, which means a mountain. It has recently been discovered that Phuket is actually a Thai word meaning a mountain (phu) of jewel (ket). Formerly known as Ko (island) Thalang, Phuket was only noted for its rich tin oreas, from which its wealth was derived. Today, it is better known as a tourist paradise, a most rewarding place for holiday makers. Phuket have magnificent long white beaches, its luxuriant vegetation, its crystal blue sea water, its fantastic undersea scenery, its calm and relaxing tropical atmosphere, and its fresh prawns, lobsters and other kinds of seafood, the pearl of the south entices many travelers to visit her again and again.

Heavily developed, Phuket can, at times, feel a little like Bangkok-on-Sea, a Costa del Farang, with all the hubbub and brouhaha of a Club 18-to-30 sundowner sing-along. High-rise developments bear testament to the hegemony of the holiday buck, package tourists dramatically outnumber independent travellers and if you stick to the wellworn highways, quiet corners are few and far between. But if you can do without the beer halls and girlie bars of Patong, Phuket’s uber-resort, there’s a whole other island to discover. Whether it’s swanky resorts of the Laguna complex, the relaxed surfer vibe at friendly Kata, or the night markets of old Phuket Town, Phuket has something
to satisfy every appetite. Just don’t forget your Speedos.

History

Phuket Island was assumed by geologists to be once part of the mainland in the form of a cape sticking out into the Andaman Sea but millions of years later the cape was gradually eroded by natural forces and finally detached from the main land. The cape was mentioned in a book written around the year 157 by Claudius Ptolemy, a famous Greek philosopher, that to travel to Malay Peninsula by ship, the travellers had to pass a cape known among them as Junk Ceylon. It was located between latitudes 6 N and 8 N which is the present site of Phuket Island. Junk Ceylon was at that time visited by merchants of several nations including India, Persia, and Arabia because the island offered a bay that protected its harbour from the wind and monsoon, making it a good stopover. Moreover, it had plenty of tin ore deposits that fetched high prices at that time because the mineral was much wanted by some foreign countries.

Junk Ceylon was later known among the locals as Thalang, which was also the name of the main town in the north of the island. In 1785, Thalang town was besieged by the Burmese troops invading the coastal area but Chan, the widow of the governor who had just died, and her sister Muk rose to the occasion by jointly shouldering the successful task of defending the land for over 30 days until starvation forced the enemy to retreat. Due to their heroic deeds, noble titles were bestowed on Chan and Muk as Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon respectively. In 1966 a monument was erected at Tha Ruea Intersection, 12 km to the north of Phuket Town in memory of the sisters, who are still highly respected by Phuket people nowadays.

However, 24 years later, the Burmese succeeded in taking Thalang and many Thalang people fled to Phang-nga and Krabi. In 1825, some of them returned and re-establish a town on a new location but soon they moved back to their original site because of its better location for rice farming. This return of Thalang people did not make their town as important as in the past. Instead, the area in the south of the island (Phuket town today) grew quickly and became the centre of tin trade at that time. Known as Phuket, it was elevated to be a town in 1850. More people immigrated from Thalang and the nearby communities to Phuket. In 1894, Phuket was promoted to be a monthon (an administrative unit of that time). An important person who constructed Phuket as a modern city was Phraya Ratsada, who was appointed to govern Phuket monthon in 1902. His contributions also included improving the welfare of the locals, and setting up a network of markets in the countryside. In 1916, Phuket became a province. It was not until 1967 that Sarasin Bridge was built to connect the main land with Phuket.

Though the tin mining industry has played a specially important role in the economic development of the island province, it has declined especially after 1985 when the price of tin fell by half. The decline has also been due to the gradual decrease in the deposits after centuries of exploitation. So, Phuket had to look for a new industry on which to base its future economic development. Fortunately, its natural beauty was soon discovered and there was a boom of tourism in 1980's, which has lasted up to the 21st century.

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Info

Phuket

Location
Phuket island is located in the tropical zone off the west coast of the southern part of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and is connected to Phang-nga province by Sarasin Bridge and Thep Krasattri Bridge. It is 862 km. away from Bangkok by road and one hour and 20 minutes by air.

Area
Phuket is the largest island of Thailand but the second smallest province in area (the smallest being Samut Songkhram). The main island itself has an area of about 539 sq.km., about the same size as Singapore. The total land area of the province, including 39 small nearby islets, is about 570 sq.km.

Climate
There are only two seasons in a year -- the rainy season from May to October and the hot season from November to April. September and October are the wettest months. The best period is from November through February. But whatever the season, there is always a breeze blowing. The average temperatures range between 23°C and 33°C.

Topography
70% of the area are mountains stretching from north to south, while the other 30% are plains, mainly in the central and and eastern parts of the island.
There is no important river but a total of 9 brooks and creeks. The west coast are stretches of white sandy beaches which are major tourist developments.

Population
Total 315,498 (end Dec 2007) with 150,473 males and 165,025 females. They consist of Thai-Buddhist, 71%; Muslim 25%; and Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) 4%. The majority of population live in Phuket town and at Patong Beach.

" The total population includes only permanent residents."

Administration
The only island province of the country, Phuket is divided into 3 administrative units called amphoe (county) -- Amphoe Muang, Thalang and Kathu.

Language
Central Thai is the official language and used in business and tourism areas. People in general use southern Thai dialect, which sounds more succinct and is spoken faster than the central Thai. English is understood in tourist areas.

Products
The most important products of Phuket are marine products, latex, rubber, fuel oil and frozen fish.
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