IN Phuket’s Old Town, there are plenty of photogenic spots to visit for some great shots showcasing the antique Sino-Portuguese architecture that reminds us of the history of the island.
However, not all of these exquisite buildings have been through interesting stories as the ones located on Soi Romanee, a truly unique historical destination.
The alley was initially called “Hung A Lai”, which is based on Hokkien. Later on, the name was changed to Hang Jue Neui, which came from Mandarin this time.
However, in 1902, when the mining industry was at its peak on the island, male laborers poured into Phuket for work and were quickly followed by a number of “professional companions”, who came from several provinces and countries such as Japan, Macao, and Malaya.
Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahitsaraphakdi, aka Kho Simbi Na Ranong, who was then the Commissioner of Monthon Phuket (the term used for Phuket province), had a policy to control the prostitution only in this Soi and renamed it Soi Romanee which means “lovely, pleasing, fun, comfortable”.
The long raw of colorful Colonial / Sino-Portuguese buildings filled with “Romanee” memories has become a tourist attraction which now offers guest houses, cafés, souvenir and ice-cream shops.
As the alley is connected to Thalang Road, it is often packed by shoppers during Sundays for the weekly market as well.
Top and inset: Soi Romanee is beautiful both during the day and at night.
By Nattha Thepbamrung