Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Walk on the wild side: Getting out of the bars and into the hills

Walk on the wild side: Getting out of the bars and into the hills

Meet Tony Giles. A Brit, a part-time Phuket expat, a former engineer and, in a very literal sense, some­thing of a trailblazer.

Explore
By Amy Bryant

Saturday 9 March 2019, 10:00AM


Tony calls Phuket home for three months a year and has done for over a decade. Just as England’s cold snap sets in, and snow flurries make Blighty that degree too cold, he and his wife pack up and ship out to their apartment in Bang Tao. A smart move.

During his yearly stints here, he walks and maps the trails in the hills between Cherng Talay, Kamala, Kathu and Bang Neow Dum reservoir. Un­known to many, it’s possible to walk between these locations, through farm­land and jungle, without ever touching a road.

“I love getting up in the hills,” he says. “Phuket is very much coastal. And it’s busy, it’s hectic. But you can go a couple of hundred yards and it’s gone. What most people think of as Phuket completely disappears.”

As a visitor to Phuket since the late seventies, Tony has seen the monu­mental change and development of the island, from a single hotel on the east coast to the bustling hub of tourism it is today. It seems the busier Phuket gets, the more he retreats into the hills for a rambling respite courtesy of Mother Nature.

“There is another side to Phuket. It’s not just the shops, the bars and the beaches. There’s another angle that people might not be aware of,” he adds.

The process of mapping out trails and making sense of the island’s dense vegetation began around six years ago. Tony drove towards the hills in Cherng Talay, stopped where the houses and roads ran out and followed some ex­isting trails which were likely laid by farmers as routes to banana, mango and rubber trees.

With no Ordnance Survey-style map available, he resorted to tracking each walk using the MyTrails app on his phone and transposing it onto a hard copy map (second photo above). The comprehensive, circuitous route pictured is the result of around 400 hours of shorter walks across approximately 220 kilometres over six years. It’s also the result of a great deal of trial and error.

“Typically, trails split. You’ll go left one day, right the next day. Some are dead ends,” Tony explains. “Some trails are very easy to follow as they’ve been concreted over to help the hill farmers travel up and down on their motorbikes. Others are not so good.”

The dotted lines pictured are the not-so-good trails, some of which Tony has forged himself, machete in hand, in order to join up two disparate trails.

Tony has experience of laying trails for the Hash House Harriers – the non-competitive running social club, initially founded by expats in post-war Malaysia and now run worldwide – in Aberdeen as well as the Indonesian cities of Medan and Jakarta. In fact, he helped start up Phuket’s Tinmen Hash.

While these experiences have un­doubtedly proved useful in this process, Tony insists that any relatively fit adult could do what he has done, and he en­courages them to, safely.

QSI International School Phuket

Apart from the occasional friendly farmer who invites him in for coffee, Tony has only ever crossed paths with one foreign couple, who were studying the flora and fauna, and two Thai men.

“I met the Thai guys right in the middle of a really difficult bit. We were walking through this tall elephant grass, about 6ft high. It was a very, very faint trail. I heard this rustling in front of me. I thought it was an animal. Then I heard someone talking Thai but they hadn’t heard me. We were both shocked to see each other!”

On his under-canopy escapades, Tony is much more likely to come into contact with: all number of species of spiders – some larger than a hand and in webs spanning 6ft – cobras, gibbons, lizards, millipedes and butterflies, shrines and spirit houses, streams, waterfalls, mangles and presses for rub­ber, enormous buttress roots and, oddly enough, model dinosaurs that decorate a Patong zip line route.

While it is difficult to provide read­ers with a definitive description of the routes, Tony recommends Bang Neow Dum reservoir as a starting point. Many of the more established trails are visible from this point, winding up into the hills.

Naturally, walkers should take the necessary precautions such as carrying food and water, informa­tion for navigation, satellite devices with spare battery packs, a phone with emergency contacts and informing someone of when and where they will be walking.

Even after six years mapping these trails, Tony can still find himself chal­lenged by the jungle.

“Only last week, as I was walking to the highest point in Phuket with my friend Nick Emerson, a fellow Brit who has helped me plot many trails, we tried to get from one trail to another but it was very steep and the forest was too dense,” he says. “I knew the other trail was right there but we couldn’t get through. You win some, you lose some.”

But, like many things in life, walk­ing the Phuket hills is about the jour­ney, not the destination.


Tony welcomes suggestions for how his walks can be comprehensively mapped and easily shared. He can be contacted at tsgiles01@gmail.com

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket airport van B3k fare ‘just a misunderstanding’, say police

They can only say one word at Karon Police Station and there is "misunderstanding" being u...(Read More)


Bridging Supply: Officials reveal B3.5bn proposal to resolve island’s water shortage woes

"funny' how solutions can be offered when there is access to a Golden Goose fund. One wonde...(Read More)


PM Prayut calls out Phuket van driver for overcharging Aussie tourists

Re: "not many tourist come to Phuket nowdays". Right. Only about 8 million per year.... ...(Read More)


Phuket airport van B3k fare ‘just a misunderstanding’, say police

They will never get it. People save for a trip, travel thousands of miles to relax and have a holida...(Read More)


Brit expat behind bars for attacking Phuket dog

On March 15, my neighbor trespassed onto my property, would not leave, picked up a stick and hit m...(Read More)


Phuket airport van B3k fare ‘just a misunderstanding’, say police

Mr.Kurt seems a little bit confused ! The prices he talks about are for regular taxis.Definitely a v...(Read More)


PM Prayut calls out Phuket van driver for overcharging Aussie tourists

No more water from the tap ? What a bullshit. If u know Phuket, what i doubt, you have to know that ...(Read More)


AoT confirms overcharging Phuket van driver not registered to pick up airport passengers, tout illegally roams terminal

As a matter of courtesy Phuket Airport and The Phuket Government should publicly apologise to the to...(Read More)


Brit expat behind bars for attacking Phuket dog

Not only the crash... many things more underneath the carpet. Just mention the fire in Tiger years a...(Read More)


Search for Filipinos lost in Phuket surf continues

Of course the 2 Filipinos are not alive anymore. It is just a body search what has to be done. And, ...(Read More)