It’s been a while but since completing the 5 1/2 year project of routing a trail through the high points of the island of Phuket, I hadn’t been up in the jungles for a while. And I missed it. Here is the blog post that describes the final year or two of finishing that project. Or the Phuket News story about that endeavor.
So, with some time on my hands again, I went back to Google earth and started exploring a whole new area.
There is a point above Kathu waterfall where the mountain ranges split.
My previously explored route took the one heading northeast, towards the Heroine’s monument because that mountain range starts up again on the other side and heads north towards that goal of a trail that goes from one end to the other, while chaining together the high points along the way.
So, now, Google earth shows me that there is another vast (by Phuket standards anyway) wilderness area between this point and westward, towards the town and beaches of Kamala and extending northwest to Chaeng Talay and the Laguna complex of resorts.
I discovered the island’s 3rd highest point, which I’ve named (on my GPS), “high point Kam), and that is a short-time goal right now.
So, yesterday I went in from the Chaeng Talay side and, I must say, it got wild quickly.
I saw a road on Google earth and attempted to follow it up, as high as I could.
Well, like many roads here in Phuket, it was poorly planned and they just (apparently) sent a bulldozer straight up, with no thoughts of drainage. That creates ruts eventually up to 4 meters deep!
But I found a good trail that even had concrete in spots, built by people who live up there apparently.
About halfway up, a man on a motorbike passed me. It was quite steep so I figured he must have knobby tires and a geared down bike. But no, he had an old junky looking bike. He stopped and asked me what I was doing and where I was going.
As usual, I said “exercise” as Thai people seem to understand what that means. He told me he showed some German trekkers the way up one time and I could follow him.
He waited for me a few times and eventually, the trail got too muddy and rocky for him to continue on the bike so, we were both hiking up.
He said he was gathering different things from the jungle to live off of and sell in town as Durian fruit was in season now and just all over the place up there. So, he was basically looking for Durian but, also mushrooms, and mangosteens, oranges and anything to eat.
He told me he keeps a herd of wild boars up at his shack near the top.
We’d stop a lot to gather his wares and he was most interesting.
He kept handing me food, but, I wouldn’t eat it in front of him as he told me he was Muslim and Ramadam was one more day, then he could go back to eating in the daytime.
Finally, at his shack, which was at 400 meters above sea level, there was a beautiful spring and view and he said he had 40 rai there. I rested while he gathered more durian and cut one open for me. Normally I don’t like the taste but, this time, I was hungry, so, I ate it, and after the initial taste, it got better and filled me up quite quickly actually.
On the way down he was carrying a heavy load and balanced it into two bags hooked on his walking stick.
Again, we found mangosteens and he was just an amazing source of knowledge about the jungle there and so unlike the normal rubber tree farmers I meet up there normally.
I told him I’d be back sometime shortly.