Friday Photos #5: Walking Up (and Down) Rang Hill

SAM_5139Phuket Town is surrounded by hills and water.  The two main hills to the north of downtown are Khao To Sae with the television towers (also nicknamed “Monkey Hill”) and Khao Rang (khao meaning “hill”) with its restaurants and viewpoint.  This is the view of Rang Hill from my apartment’s balcony.  I hadn’t been to the top in quite some time and decided that I would walk there on a recent day off. 

Rang Hill was originally known as Khao Lang.  Lang means “back” in the Thai language and this was considered the rear of Phuket Town; the “front” was a place known as “Stone Bridge”, I haven’t yet found its location but assume it was in the area of Suphan Hin.  Rang was renovated as a public fitness park in the 1980’s and features a statue of Phraya Ratsadanupradit, the former governor of Phuket known for his roadworks and promotion of the Thai rubber industry.  The statue was actually my main reason for wanting to reach the summit.

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There are at least three roads leading to the top of Khao Rang, approaching from the north, the east and the south.  My home, rather close to the provincial prison at the base of To Sae Hill, is about a mile from my preferred route extending from the intersection of Mae Luan Road and Patiphat Road.  It’s not far west of the Amphur (District Office) for Phuket and a bit east of Kiatsin Stationery – a must for any English teacher in the area to visit for supplies.  North of the intersection, the road becomes Khaw Sin Bee Road and twists its way upwards.

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The first photo-op is this small temple on the right side of the road.  I couldn’t read the name but it seems to be populated mostly by white-robed nuns.  I didn’t linger which is unusual as I love photographing Buddhist wats and Chinese shrines.  Luckily for me, there was an even grander temple not far away.

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At the edge of the tree-cover, I spotted this cute windmill coffee shop and have plans to return soon with a friend.

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A few more turns of the road and I came upon Wat Khao Rang.  It’s just a short distance above Vachira Hospital on Yaoworat Road and looks to be a much shorter walk than the one I chose.  I spent a good forty-five minutes exploring the grounds of this well-maintained temple, definitely the cleanest one I’ve visited in Phuket.  While the platform containing the large seated Buddha statue was quite warm for my bare feet, I had a great time taking photos in and around the main hall.  It was worth climbing the steep stairway.

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Whoa!  Check out the skull necklace and skirt on the scary statue.  I’ve never seen something like this at a Thai temple.  This is the God of Death (“Holy Hades” according to a placard nearby), known by several names including Pah Yah Yom Mah Rach.  I was impressed by the number of informative signs in well-written English at Wat Khao Rang, something else I’ve never encountered at Thai temples.  (Even the “please take off your shoes” signs were written correctly.  Take that, Wat Chalong!)

There are many more photos in the photo gallery below, including more statuary and remarkable interior frescoes.

Climbing all those stairs at the temple exhausted me and I really should have bought a bottle of water at that point but I plunged onward and upward.  The road became steeper but the jungle thicker.  I really enjoyed the coolness the shade of the trees provided.  I don’t recall the last time I’d seen a forest fire danger sign; probably in New Mexico a decade ago.

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A few more turns of the road and I passed the Phuket View Restaurant and soon came upon the steps leading up to the fitness park.  The summit is just a bit farther up…

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Suddenly, I was confronted by the visage of Ko Simbee himself, that most famous of Phuketian governors (well, he was actually from Trang).  This was the purpose of my long trek as I’m planning a future “Friday Photos” that will cover the statues and monuments of Phuket Town.  I was happy that I’d ascended by way of the Fitness Park pathways as I was almost mowed-down by crazy mini-van drivers during the last crossing to the statue.  Even in a park full of pedestrians, these guys show a total disregard for everyone but themselves…

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I really wanted something to drink at this point but everything was closed-down during the time of day I visited (mid-afternoon).  There was one vendor selling over-priced bottles of water and coconut juice but I was loathe to pay Patong prices in the environs of Phuket Town.  I suppose that’s because too many Chinese and Western tour groups come here now when before it was almost exclusively Thai people who would visit. SAM_5249

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SAM_5275 To cater to the tourists, the Phuket Town Municipality (Or-Bor-Jor) has recently constructed a giant gazebo leading out to a viewing platform.  There used to be trails and occasional benches rimming the summit which I preferred to this new “pier” (it looks like it was designed by the same guy who designed the pier at Chalong Bay).  At first I thought this was a viewing tower but, alas, there is no second floor to climb to.  The Phuket City sign is yet another addition to the Or-Bor-Jor’s mission of creating as many “selfie” spots as possible around town.

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Yes, I had to make my own feeble “selfie” attempts, reaffirming the fact that I’m truly awful at it.  Here are some more out on the pier/platform:

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This is the look of somebody who is not exactly in the best of shape who decides to walk for miles up a hill during the hottest part of the hottest day of the year so far!  I was actually much happier than I look in these photos.

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How about those views?  It was worth the walk, although I doubt I’ll do it again anytime soon.

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Going down was, of course, much easier than going up.  It wasn’t until I’d almost reached the base of Rang Hill that I (almost) spotted my home.  It’s obscured by the tall white building in the foreground, just to the left of the condominiums (Supalai Park @Phuket City) in the right background.

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is my motto.  I walk almost everywhere – at least a mile-and-a-half every single day and sometimes much more.  Love this sign!  (It advertises Johnny Walker whiskey.)

NOTE:  I took these photos on Thursday and wrote this article Friday afternoon, but I will be unable to publish it until Saturday morning due to lack of Internet at my home.  I know it’s still Friday in some parts of the world but still…


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