Phuket 101 shares 24 years of Phuket exploration and thousands photos for those who love Phuket as much as we do. We are not paid and we are not sponsored. This blog is based on real experience. We personally tried and visited every place, we paid for everything which allows us to keep our true opinions, and we are pretty strict about this.
What does ‘101’ mean?
101 (pronounced “one-oh-one”) is the 1st course in a subject taught at a college or university in Australia, Canada, South Africa, or the United States. By extension, “101 is generally used to indicate the basics of any subject”.
About Willy Thuan
Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. I travelled and worked in 40 countries around the globe. Most memorable are Tahiti, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, New Caledonia, Burkina Fasso, Niger, Algeria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Sahara, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, blah, blah, blah… so my love for Thailand follows a long history of exploring other countries. The 4 countries I love most are Thailand, Japan, France and Italy, all known for their excellent food, because food matters to us, a lot.
In previous lives I was Radio DJ, Set Designer in Club Med, and had a successful advertising company in Phuket called Andaman Graphics specializing in logos and website designs.
My passion for photography and my permanent curiosity has taken me to many places in Thailand and Asia, living between Bangkok and Phuket. I still travel here and there in the world several times a year, both for fun and for work.
I was a set designer in Club Med for several years. My job was to setup the stage for daily shows, switching it every night on a 15 days basis. That was quite physical but always fun and creative. With Club Med you get to change country every 6 months or every year, which allows you to travel a lot. I had a lot of free time which I used to explore a lot of countries.
In 1993 I was working in Tahiti when decided it was time to do something else. My dream was to live in Japan but at the time, Japanese economy wasn’t very good, so I decided to pick a random place in Asia for a couple of years. This place was Thailand. It was really a random choice. It was 24 years ago…
In Thailand, despite the moaning of some negative people, you get the best of all worlds (Read this: 10 Reasons Why We Can’t Leave Thailand)
How did I get a job?
When I landed in Phuket, I had no job, little money, a suitcase and a camera. I had no plans and no friends in Phuket. I first picked a small guesthouse in Soi Sansabai Patong Beach called Swiss Garden (it’s still there). From there I started to write letters to every hotel in Phuket (there was no such thing as email or even a mobile phones). My design skills weren’t really demanded but I was good with languages, so after 2 months of writing resumes, I finally got a Guest Relation job at Banyan Tree Resort Bangtao. My salary was 12,000 baht so eating in the street was a necessity (but it was always good).
Banyan Tree was my first encounter with computers. We used them to write welcome letters to the hotel guests and I started to play with the Microsoft Word drawing toolbar. That was super basic but I managed to do some presentations (remember it was the early days so don’t smirk 😀 ).
With those simple designs I approached another hotel to help them designing their special events and I got a designer job: it paid 15,000 baht! (3,000 baht means a lot when your salary is so low).
I worked for a year, saving enough to buy my own computer (Pentium 486! Woohoo!) and started to do some logo design and brochures at night for the many businesses growing in Phuket. There was so much demand that I was making twice my salary at night so guess what I did!
in 1996 I opened my own advertising company called Andaman Graphics. It was a registered company and I had proper work permit and registration. I never took a chance with this. I was so busy I worked until 4 am and open the office at 9 am every day for a couple of years. It grew fast, got bigger offices and staff. Don’t blind yourself, if you think moving to Phuket means be on the beach and work when you feel like, you will have a serious shock. It’s very very hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun!
I was specializing in Logo Design, Brochures and printed matters. One day a good friend introduced me to ‘Internet’ and told me I should do websites. I shrugged and said I’m good with logo. But I gave it a try. Order were flowing in and we couldn’t be fast enough, mostly the growing diving industry. We had a nice portfolio.
One day an expat businessman got in touch and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: growing a new network of travel website and hotel bookings called AsiaWebDirect. Phuket.com was the start of all. I got a team and we started to grow. The network got huge and was bought by bigger and bigger companies and I’m still here with most of my team! Living here is an fabulous adventure and it is still full of surprises.
From 1st bike to the latest car… quite a story
Why Phuket 101
There was quite a few websites talking about Phuket but none were really fun. Some were too formal, some were hard to read or not visually attractive and some were too niche. I wanted to share the thousand photos I took along my life and the fun things I discovered in my endless wandering around Phuket.
Would I go back to France?
“Go back to live in France? No way, ever… But for holiday, anytime!”
After so many years in Asia, France starts to look exotic but I wouldn’t want to go there for work: I remember why I left and France didn’t get better since (I won’t tell you what it is not to upset French people, but it had to do with French people permanent moaning). Do I feel French? Errr, sorry I don’t; Thailand is still the best place to live in!
Despite all the stories you read or see in the medias, you can live a smooth happy life in Phuket and Bangkok… it’s media’s purpose to highlight bad news, mine is to show you the best of Phuket and Bangkok.
What do I do for a living?
I’m a content director in an online travel business and I build… travel websites 🙂 I manage an enthusiastic team of writers, designers and photographers who all share the same passion: travelling and photography.
Things that make me smirk about Phuket (not to say annoy me)
- People who think that only the cheapest street food it worth eating and anything above 30 Baht is a rip off.
Errr, it’s called cuisine! Savoir-faire, creativity and best ingredients make a huge difference, even on the most simple dish. Of course there are many overpriced restaurants but many Thai restaurants make it to the international scene for a good reason.
- Phuket beaches are crowded! Yes 5 out of 36 beaches of Phuket are busy. Be smart!
- Your photos are nice, you must have a good camera!
What camera am I using?
Canon 6D with 8-15mm, 16-24mm, 24-105mm, 24-300mm but often iPhone X
Are we sponsored?
Do we get paid by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote Phuket?
Absolutely NOT : We pay for all our meals, the large majority of our hotel stays, flights and trips