Our son and daughter-in-law know the island well and offered to take us for a trip around and show us some better sights. So about 09:30 yesterday morning, we set off in a convoy of 2 cars and multiple scooters. The plan was to start at Big Buddha and then work anti-clockwise around the island,stopping for refreshments and lunch.
The plan and schedule were very relaxed, and at any time, you could drop out and return to the villa. As usual it was a perfect day with clear blue sky and hot.
A short drive from the villa we passed through an arch and continued along the causeway to Ko Phan, a small offshore island off the north coast. This is the location of Wat Phra Yai, or in English, “Big Buddha Temple.” We found a parking spot within the numerous shops and stalls and walked over to the Big Buddha, which is orientated to the west, so the sun sets behind. Therefore, early in the morning is the best time to visit.
Once we all reached the lower level and removed our shoes, we commenced the hike up to the Buddha. The stairs confirmed the adage of wearing light colours in the tropics, as the white stairs were fine, but the red ones were extremely hot. Due to the low rise on each step, it was an easy climb.
Even at 84 years my dad made it up to the top, slow and steady without taking a break.
While the view from below was impressive, at the top you get to see the intricate carvings and statues.
From the top we had an excellent view of the island and local shops.
The statue is about 40 feet tall and was built in 1972, and is now one of the busiest tourist attractions on the island. This particular Buddha Statue depicts Buddha in a state of calm, purity and resolve.
Street addresses don’t seem to exist on the island, so for directions to the next stop we were told turn left at the main road and drive until you spot the big statue with many arms. Well we missed it and ended up about 5 mins down the road, at which point we finally figured the big statue wasn’t too visible. Turned around, we spotted it at the 2nd attempt, noting it was a very apt description.
Wat Plai Leam Temple with statue with many arms behind the Temple. Lots of parking was available and in addition to the Temple we found 2 big statues.
The photograph above is of the laughing Buddha statue, which has smaller statues in each corner of the platform. Of the 4 smaller statues, the elephant got the vote as best background for photos.
Some of the details at the base of the laughing Buddha were amazing
Heading over to the Temple, we noted this house on the opposite side of the road. The intricate roof is simply amazing.
The Temple is built on a platform at the edge of a lake that is accessed via a short bridge.
With time approaching high Noon, it is thirsty work playing tourist, so a refreshment stop is next on the agenda. Iain and Heidi know of an excellent hotel in Chaweng they would like us to see. The directions this time were similar – head down the one-way street in Chaweng and just past the shopping mall look for a sign on the left for, “The Library.” I thought we were heading for refreshment, not to read books.
Apparently The Library is a very upmarket boutique hotel, with a very distinctive pool.
It comprises a central strip of grass with rooms, or pages, off each side. At the end, just prior to the beach is the red pool.
The bar is located down by the pool and has an excellent view of the ocean and the many activities taking place. Drinks were excellent, although definitely pricy.
After about 90 minutes hunger pangs were rearing and it was time for lunch. A short drive down the beach road and we stopped at “Stacked”, a burger restaurant highly recommended by Iain and Heidi.
This sign was prominently displayed at the entrance. Clean the plate in 20 minutes or less and it was free, fail and it costs 1,000 Baht ($40 or UKP 20). We started taking bets on how many of the boys would sign up.
Well we certainly weren’t disappointed, as 3 of them opted for the challenge.
They started out well, with a very worried looking manager hovering in the background. However, after only 7 minutes, 2 of them required a break. We aren’t sure if it was the burgers or extreme hangover that did them in. Jessie, closest in the photo of all 3, survived the entire 20 minutes, but came up short. Apparently the record is about 7 minutes to polish off the entire burgers, chips and coleslaw.
We all had a more moderate sized burger and single portion of chips, with all burgers well cooked, well presented and tasty. This was another excellent recommendation from Iain & Heidi.
It was now after 16:00 and my dad was exhausted from the heat, so we decided to head back to the villa for a dip in the pool.