Guidebook Entry 2 for Phuket High Trail Section B
After hiking the first part of the trail 2 weeks ago from the southern tip of Phuket at Prom Thep to the top of the mountain at Big Buddha, today we continued the walk on what i will call section B from Big Buddha to Patong.
Since our trail is being designed as a “high trail” of the peaks of Phuket, it will NOT go into Patong although a side trail (dirt road) goes down from our end point aproximately 500 meters to the town where everything is available. Patong being the premiere tourist attraction on the whole island.
Getting started a little later than we wanted to this morning, first we had to set up a shuttle by dropping off one motorbike at the east side of the mountain near what I call “yellow gate” on my GPS’s waypoint.
Driving back up to Big Buddha, we started walking about 9 AM. The Buddha statue was very picturesque this morning with the morning sun shining on it brightly. Also, we noticed the scaffolding has finally been removed as it is almost near completion. I have been going up here for 5 years now and remember when the road was dirt all the way up and they were just working on the base. Now, it is all but complete and shiny with small squares of white sparkly marble covering the whole statue.
Clear blue skies today for a change make for very scenic but probably hot day for the hike.
We headed up the steps at the tourist attraction but at this hour it was still pretty quiet. There are great views from the top, especially from a small lookout to the left before you get to the stature right at the top of the steps. Then from the top, we head to the left (west) side of the statue and go around and down on a dirt road that is used for construction vehicles.
At this time, we are going to have to walk the concrete road for a few hundred meters to a junction with a good sized dirt road on your left that I have marked “motorbike”
Take the dirt road heading northwest, then it immedietly turns due east for a bit. Coming up on some great views of Chalong bay to your right then watch for a smaller dirt road and take it left and up instead of the road you were on turns right and goes downhill.
It is a pleasant walk along the dirt road with rubber tree and banana tree plantations on both sides of the road with the occasional abandoned shack that the workers had lived in. Some of these are very beautiful and in picturesque spots. Sometimes they have a great view also.
Continueing along the road winds around so much that when I first explored this section, I thought i was headed towards the highest point on the island, which is a mountain called Sip Song (means #12 in Thai) that has a huge “golf ball” looking thing on top. This is a Navy radar station and restricted area that I’ll talk more about later as the restrictions are causing me problems. Back to my story, I was heading towards the golf ball mountain when i topped a rise and saw directly in front of me was Big Buddha again! I got completely turned around because i wasn’t watching the compass and hadn’t gotten my new Garmin 60 CSX GPS yet. The new Garmin is amazing as it can see through the trees and i never lose signal now. Before, i would have to search for a clearing and wait.
So, I eventually came to this scenic spot with Big Buddha in front of me and had to go back and look at Google Earth again. I noticed some young children playing in the jungle with an old tire on that first day and marked the point “kids”. After i went back to Google Earth, i knew i had to turn right where i saw those kids and sure enough there is a decent road there to make the right. It has since been widened as there is a house in about another 500 meters that I have marked “manu housu” (Ok, my glasses were fogged that day and i thought i wrote something else but it stayed in there that way so that is what we now call it)
At “Manu Housu” you will notice one of the finest panoramic views of the whole trail so far. That first time i was here, so was the owner and although he spoke no English, he seemed to understand that i really enjoyed the view and he did too. From his house, you can look east and see Chalong Bay and you can also look west without moving (except your head) and see Karon Beach, the 3 mile long beautiful white sand beach between Kata and Patong.
From the 1st house you come to, continue up to the higher house on top and then there is a barbed wire fence in your way. Follow it to the right and you will eventually come to an opening at the corner of a field or newly planted trees. Stay to the right side of that field for about 50 meters and you will see a small path to the right that is really beaten down grass to a very short bushwhack thru some thick brush to an older rubber tree (working) plantation on the other side. I have seen people working this plantation 3 of the 4 times i have hiked this section. They even posed for a picture on this last time for us.
From here, turn left through the trees to the border of the woods (jungle) and follow it to the right until you can see another freshly planted field to your right (north).
It is now best to use the waypoint marked “4 points” and basically follow this new field on it’s left (west) side downhill until you come to a small decent road. The road get’s better as you go down.
This road turns into one of the 4 points where there is an intersection going down to the right to Choafa West road near Wat Chalong.
Continue straight ahead on the lesser used road that goes up the hill. Follow this road for a few hundred meters and pass a point where you will see good views ahead of the Sip Song Mountain with the “golf ball” looking radar station on top. Then turn right on a smaller track that is a motorcycle track that leads to a hut with a family living that works the rubber trees.
These are friendly
people with a dog and it’s best to announce your arrival so as not to scare anyone. You must walk just to the very left of their house and around the back is a good place to refresh yourself from their water barrel.
The 2nd time I was through here, Ricky our drummer, came along with me and I found out he was afraid of snakes. Although I have yet to see a snake in the jungle, I have seen two on a road that we were walking and both times they were traveling as fast as they possibly could away from me. I have found that people who don’t spend a lot of time in the jungle think there’s snakes all over. Yet, I have been out at least 15 days so far and still haven’t seen one in the jungle.
You only get to walk through this very nice, small path through the woods, or jungle for about 400 meters and you will come to another small road. Turn left on this road for a few hundred more meters and you will come up to a clearing. Turn right after the clearing and continue on a better and better road now descending down to a waypoint I have marked “Water Tank”, passing a few picturesque rubber tree worker’s huts along the way. Great views to the right of Chalong Bay and Cape Panwa can be seen here.
From the water tank which can be seen as a big square metal boxtype container, our trail goes to the left heading west. From this junction, if you go right, you will go down following the road steeply at times to a yellow gate (another waypoint). This is a spot where i often park my motorbike for exploration and from here an excellent blacktop road goes down to the east towards Wat Chalong. They are building a golf course in this beautiful valley and there is another Wat along here where supposedly the head monk is 115 years old! So, this is access for resupply or possibly a hotel nearby along Choafa West road between the two Wats and a major thoroughfare for southern Phuket.
But, our trail heads east at the watertanks and maintains it’s altitude instead of dropping down. Follow this small track as it contours some alluvials along it’s way with beautiful views of the
terraced newer planted rubber trees to the north on the foothills of “Sip Song” mountain. (the one with the golf ball looking radar station on top)
You will eventually (after about 700 meters?) come to a point where we head down steeply through some switchbacks. I must continue some exploring here as i have a hunch that if you go straight, you can eventually meet up with our trail further along. But for now, we will head to the right (north ) and go down these switchbacks. (picture at right)
Continue heading west on the road below. This road was built a few years ago as a connecting bypass between Wat Chalong and Patong. But they seemed to have built it way too steep and made it dangerous. There are no switchbacks at the steep parts and it washes out quickly so it has since been abandoned and I even saw some enduro motorcycle riders getting stuck trying to go up amongst some of the huge gullies that have formed in the roadbed.
But, we don’t have to walk that part and our trail contours at a level elevation here towards Patong on the west with views of the hills of “sip song mtn” to the right.
At one point, the road descends steeply down to a junction. We turn left here although I am working on the next section trying to get around the big mountain, “Sip Song”. The problem here is that this mountain, being the highest point on the whole island of Phuket, is a military base and is restricted area. So, I have already spent 5 days trying to find a route around this big mountain. A friend from the local running club: The Phuket Hash House Harriers, told me that the west side is the best to try as there are steep drop offs on the east side. Well, i have tried and tried and just can’t get through the thick brush and steep ravines. So, the trail will either have to drop in elevation on the west side, or I am going to start looking on the east side for a route that doesn’t drop down too far. I learned a long time ago to try to maintain your elevation rather than dropping way down, just to come back up again. I will try my best to find a good contour and come back and edit this section if i find one.
So, the road we are walking along continues along until it comes to a junction that i have marked “Turn Left”. At this junction, our section ends and will continue to the right and up the hill. By turning left here, you descend down to the town of Patong which is the biggest tourist town on the island of Phuket with it’s 1500+ bars, 100’s of hotels and guesthouses, many discos, dance clubs, Caberet shows, jet ski rentals, literally thousands of restaurants and every thing most people come to Phuket for.
As you can see from the above screen shots from the GPS, this section B is a fairly easy section that only took us 3 hours to walk with a 30 minute break. And is only 9.26 km long
Click HERE to download the .kmz file for this section. Complete with all the waypoints and different routes from my exploring.
Click here for a link to a basic map shown in Google maps: