Old Phuket Town has applied to become a Unesco heritage site, following a large restoration and improvement plan in Thalang Road.
Thalang road, the historical heart of Old Phuket Town, has saved most of its old Sino Portuguese houses and is now the best known street in town. Many shophouses and mansions got refurbished, repainted or entirely rebuilt. Travelers find Thalang road and Soi Romanee real nice, but you'll find many little gems hidden here and there in the streets around.
Even though I do appreciate the effort of renovation, I still prefer old houses in their state of... old houses. You can feel their story, how many lives they witnessed and how many little secrets they are hiding. Soi Romanee for instance was once one of the naughtiest area in town, and not where the sophisticated girls were. Today it is the trendiest and most renovated street... nice, but soulless.
"It costs a lot to make a nice new house from an old house. It cost a lot more to make an nice old house out of an old house". China Inn is only house applying that idea. It takes is more than just fresh paint to preserve the spirit of an old town, just walk in front of China Inn and you will instantly know what I am talking about.
Phra Phitak Chyn Pracha Mansion (top and last photos), known today as the 'Blue Elephant' restaurant didn't see it this way. This huge Mansion has a long history, it was once a trader's house and was abandoned, surrounded by a very large grassy park and giant trees. I could never walk by this house without staring at it, imagining all the history and stories hidden behind these closed wooden windows. It was fascinating and a bit eerie at the same time, but I really loved it. It was grand. And I was not alone, a lot of people unsuccessfully tried to buy it. Recently, what I thought would never happen finally happened, renovation works were starting. It took a while, and to their credit, they did their best to preserve the architecture, features and colors, but just like I anticipated, they lost the soul of the house. It's now 'just' a beautiful restaurant...