Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Soft Hills - ภูเขาอ่อน

These group of hills, more reminants of the mining industry, are located on the back-road between Kathu and the main highway (before the British international school). The road itself is very decieving, one second you can wind it on up and cruise around the clean cut roads and then there are sudden sections of road with massive bike engulfing potholes.

There is a giant archway which leads to some sort of conference centre / government building. You can park up here and walk up the road. At the top there are some beautiful blue birds that nest in holes made in the soft mud. There are many ways to tackle this hill and I am pretty sure we chose one of the most difficult/interesting ways. The last time we went, we were lighting a fire on the very top when all of a sudden a group of students turned up on a field trip. I think they were as suprised to see us as we were them. Here are some photos from along the route.

The Top

The Bottom

Higher than it looks...

 The Soft Hills

Overall, some great hills for climbs that you can make as tricky as you want. Again at the bottom is a little lake which is perfect for cooling down afterwards.

Panoramic Photos - ทัศนียภาพ

Here are some of my best panoramic photos from 2009. Most are comprised of several photos taken from one point and then stitched together using a computer program. A little tweaking of the contrast, light levels and saturation and some of the results are postcard worthy.. in my humble opinion. Please click on them to see the larger version.

Patong Sunset

Balcony View
Rang Hill
3 Beaches View
East Phuket
Bang Wad Dam Construction
Lake View
Patong View
Mangroves Edge
Phi Phi Bay
Shadow of Buddha
Big Buddha's Back
Promthep Cape

Kathu Hills
Phuket Town
Rocky Islands
Coral Island
Coral Island Umbrellas
Nai Yae Beach
Rang Hill Roots
Phang Nga Bay Island

Tin Mine Hills - ดีบุกขุดแร่

Tin mining used to be big industry here but now it has been mostly replaced with the tourism and rubber indstries. The mining left scars on the landscape which can be seen all around Kathu and some other parts of the island. Many of the golf courses have taken advantage of this and so have we.

There are some great routes through the surrouding Kathu hills but this is the one I tend to visit most frequently because of the climbing and views of Kathu town. To get to the base of the hill you wil need to turn onto the housing estate before and right next to the herritage near tesco lotus. There is a swimming pool / golf school at the end. Once you reach the entrance to that, look right and then follow that road up to the top of the hill.

End of the Road

You now have two options, go right to th end of the road and walk up the easy way or climb straight up the rocks to the top. There is a giant ridge at the very top which is made out of very loose rocks which makes it precarious to climb but fun to slide down.

Towards the Ridge

Away from the Ridge

Kathu District
You can cut round to the right of this ridge to get around it the easiest. There is an old shooting range and a new housing development at the bottom of the other side. Go past the shooting range up the valley for some intense jungle walks. You can follow the land boundary markers through some lush jungle and en route there is a gant Tapoc tree which I hope to climb later. 

The Other Side

Afterwards you will probably be hot and sweaty... so it's kinda nice that there is a pool at the bottom of the hill. I teach swimming there sometimes. 40 Baht entrance fee for the day and more food if you so incline.

Kathu to Patong - ทางเลือก

This little journey snakes through the mountains from close to Kathu Waterfall to just opposite of the Shell gas station in Patong. The route could be hiked or mountain biked, but I have only done it on scooters and motorbikes so far. The terrain is steep and in places very rocky, so be careful. Also (it hasn't happened to myself yet) however if it rains up there, there is no coming back down on a motorbike safely until it's all dried up!

To get there you must take a left turn off the road to Kathu Waterfall. It is the only turn before Banmariab school and cable ski park that will keep on going up the hill. There is a beautiful house covered in tree roots and then there is a small dam on the right as you go up the hill. Once you see that there is a little paved road to the left. If it is steep you know you are on the right track. Follow this up and you should eventually reach a small temple on your right. Now the route becomes a little hazy, but essentially follow the main track over the entire hill. If the track starts to close in or reaches a dead end then back track.

Josh with the ideal motorbike... and my CBR 150! haha

A little fun along the way...

There are a few houses dotted along the route. You will certainly get some very curious looks when the local farmers see you. Some of the small wooden houses have perfect views of the island. I imagine that most of the people that live on Phuket have never been here.

Patong Bay View
Hillside Farming