A Travellerspoint blog

Tham Phung Chang Cave - Elephant Cave

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Phung Chang Cave - Elephant Cave is something that there is not a lot written about.
At the front of the cave there is a long road leading to a temple - lovely surroundings.
At the side is a long wooden terrace - not really something to photograph or write home about!

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At this point you are kitted out with with a head light and a torch...
Walking down some steps you come across a number of smaller Wats in front of a big cave entrance.... The stalagmites and stalactites give the most amazing sites as you enter (carefully) in.

It was at this point that I was told that we were not allowed to take a photograph! Why?

"Tham Phung Chang is a cavern on Khao Chang or Chang Hill (Elephant Hill) within Phangnga Municipility. The Cave has two entrances, one on the West and one on the Eat of the hill, inside Wat Tham Pung Chang. The cave houses beautiful stalagmites and stalactites of various shapes, as well as contains sparkling calcite crystals on some parts of it's wall. A stream flows through the cave all year round with deep water in some parts. The distance from one entrance to the other is approximately 1,200 metres.

According to legend, Yomdung, a wanderer, sought refuge at Chongdong's house. The couple moved out of the house to establish their own family, earning living by farming. Towards the end of the harvest season, a herd of wild elephants trampled their crops. Disappointed and infuriated, Yomdung got a spear and pursued the herd. He encountered an elephant that belonged to a man called 'Ngum', mistook it for for the one in the wild herd, speared the animal to death through it's belly, gutted it an cooked the guts for food and lso cut the tusks - unaware of the animal's innocence.

The dead elephant became Chang Hill and the speared belly became 'Tham Phung Chang', the elephant belly's cave. This was written on a board.

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The cave length is about 1,200 metres and you first enter on foot and are swiftly put onto the canoes. Carefully canoeing along you look everywhere and as you are told by your guides the shapes are actually the shapes of animals - I am very lucky having a Thai wife as she was able to translate everything for me!

This made me thing of the oddness - what would the caves look like on film? Despite this we were taken in by the atmosphere and I did not mind in the slightest... Then there was a raft - now this was a little scary to say the least and I was glad that I was not trying to take photographs....

Returning was easier. Leaving the canoes was a relief...

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We then left a different way on foot walking past a Buddha footprint where we left some money - we don't see many of these.

Posted by timinphuket 02:27 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Tham Than Lot National Park - คายัค บ้านบ่อท่อ

An interesting exploration

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We decided to try this Kayak trip which would take us into the caves of Tham Than Lot National Park.

We walked along a wooden walkway where we were taken to a floating raft and prepared for the next step of our journey - now if you are worried about Safety then this may be the time to stop. But as a family we decided to continue - Jemma had her life jacket on and was going into the lead canoe and then we would follow.

We were taken to Tham Lot Cave to begin with - I was under the impression that there used to be one of the world's tallest stalagmite but this as not shown to us. We kayaked quite a way and it was then clear that we could have taken a fishing boat for this bit - but this was more fun - right?

We kayaked past a number of 'homes' which were also set up to 'grow' oysters? It was at this point that we were taken into our first cave - pretty creepy as it was initially very dark... But as we turned the corner the light was seen - great - and where was everybody else? They had missed this cave because they were on the fishing boats!

It was at this point that we stopped to have a walk through the mangrove swamps on a walkway of course. After this it was back on the kayaks.

We then paddled through more mangrove swamps - stopping to look at the creatures populating the water's edge.

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Then we were through the much smelly 'bat cave' - not for everyone!

The next stop seemed to be a little more organized and there were park rangers carefully watching us enter them - this was the Big Headed Ghost Cave (Pee Tua Hoh Cave) where we saw the much talked about cave paintings.

This was fascinating - wow - stories have been written about these paintings being of a certain age BUT then I can find very little about these cave paintings.

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This was a stained sign outside and provided me with the most information.

"The Big-Headed Ghost Cave or the Skull Cave is located in Mo 2, Ban Bo Tho, Krabi Province's Ao-luk District. The villagers here call it Skull Cave because in 2497 skulls were found in the cave."

"It is a limestone cave with stalagmites and stalactites. Cave paintings are found on the roof and the walls of the cave. Compared to other caves in the South of Thailand, this cave is believed to have the largest number of mural paintings. The painted murals in the cave can be divided into three main categories: those in the shape of human beings and animals, nonhuman being and those shaped like a hand and foot. A variety of colours was used in the painting auch as red, black, yellow and brown."

"These cave paintings are of immense archaeological value. They can be regarded as convincing evidence that around 3,000 years ago there was a prehistoric community on the coast of the Andaman Sea who relied on natural resources in this area of food and shelter."

There seemed to be a plethora of all these caves and we investigated all of them!!!!

This was not an easy walk for any of us.

After the caves we returned to the kayaks and paddled carefully back to our stop! (I do here tales that Phu Tara Pool is in the forest near to here - this was the pool which was used in the filming of The Beach).

A full afternoon for us all.

Approximate Price: $$$$$ - 800 Baht to 2,500 Baht
Address: Ao Luek Tai, Ao Luek District, Krabi, Thailand

Posted by timinphuket 00:38 Archived in Thailand Tagged mountains #thailand #archeology Comments (0)

Phuket Cultural Centre

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Phuket Cultural Centre was a find purely because i was asked about it and I knew very little about it - so i visited it the next week.

The centre is on the grounds of the Rajabhat University and there was one sign to it as we drove the road.

The Phuket Cultural Centre is described by Rajabhat as - 'A presentation of arts, culture and artefacts from the area of the Andaman Coast'.

The actual building is not one that one who have thought housed such a treasure of artefacts.The building is unassuming and looks in need of a degree of care BUT it is there and this is what matters.

On entering the building it was a little disarming because there was nobody there and there was no indication or directions that we could go in but we did. I was taken there by Thai person and this did help as they knocked on a door and the staff came to assist us (reminding me of a visit to the Thavorn Museum where they put the lights on).

When they did I was immediately taken with the plethora of items that there were on display in and out of the cabinets.

The actual building was divided into areas with a different focus.

- Ron Thai Phuket Room: showing us the life in Phuket

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a beautiful Chinese Calligraphy box (i also have one)

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a seeming well used or old Mahjong set - is it Ivory?

- Cultural Information Room: collection of information in a variety of formats

- Cultural Heritage Room: ornaments, implements and more locally made
- Buddhism Room: sandalwood carving, Thalang history and details of the Heroines actions

Email: cul@pkru.ac.th
Phone Number: 076 240 474 (ext. 148)
Approximate Price: Free
Address: Phuket Rajabhat University, Thepkrassatri Rd
Hours: 8:30 - 16:30 (closed weekends)

Posted by timinphuket 02:47 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Eat some Bugs!

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Come to a different country and Eat some Local Food.
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As part of my job working in Phuket I try to explain many things to visitors to this wonderful place with such a myriad of things to discuss.

But I cannot talk about the reality of eating bugs!

A question that I am always asked by the visitors and I have to admit that I have tried twice.

Once (about 10 years ago) at the Cape Panwa promenade when there was a temporary infestation of the Giant Water Bugs and the second time when I visited Sapan Hin market with a food critic from the United Kingdom.

After visiting a number of sites (http://migrationology.com/2012/12/how-to-eat-scary-insects-worms-and-bugs-in-thailand / AND http://www.phuket101.net/2011/06/insects-in-phuket.html)

I have decided to take a fresher look at this type of dining – and the fact that the UN recently produced a report that Bugs may be our next diet.
(http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e00.htm)

Willy has the best site to outline all the different tastes that these special animals have so I would have to say that he is my mentor with this - all hail to Willy. Have a look at his post for a description of all them.

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Giant Water Bugs (Mang Da Na)
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Silk Worms (Nhon Mhai)
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Grasshoppers (Takatan)
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Mini Crickets (Jing Reed Khai)
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Bamboo Worms (Rod Duan)

Posted by timinphuket 06:46 Tagged #food #thailand #culture Comments (0)

A street procession for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

As part of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival people are possessed, pierced and more and walk between temples

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The street procession on the penultimate day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is certainly a must for me to visit, this was 2013. Arriving early (5:30am) is something I like to do simply to embrace to atmosphere of the Shrine and be prepared. On arrival it was quite peaceful, but as I relaxed the noises erupted from the Shrine and the possessions began. On entering the Shrine I recognised the person from a previous visit who was one of the first put into a trance.
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The man with the incredible tattoos over his upper torso. The pins seemed to be small fish hooks this year and each hook had a bell! The smoke was lit inside the Shrine and more people were brought in to be put under a possession.

Meanwhile the number of bells put on the tattooed man increased. Met Jamie outside and we wondered whether we would notice anything different this year - I indicated that I was going to steer clear of possessions and piercing because I had focused on these previously. There was I do not know how many Tai Pan waiting and how many people there were. People began to arrive and many of them walked in and waved their hand over the wood burning in front of the shrine - a common action.

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The procession began with the Head of the Shrine beginning the procession - he came to the front, took the rice from his 'team' and threw it over the onlookers. He then took his sword and pulled it along the ground - once this was done he returned to the Shrine.

At this point he approached the first Tai Pan and gave out pieces of orange fabric which was attached to the wrists of the people carrying the sedan. People carrying flags and some possessed / pierced Ma Song left.

The most surprising possessed Ma Song was someone which crawled on the floor and at this time it looked very painful because his hands seemed to be pulled tightly together. Then suddenly he leapt onto a vehicle carrying another possessed Ma Song - a powerful act which I was not able to get a photograph of.

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At this time the fire crackers started and the Tai Pan were lifted and the teams began to leave.

Then the streets erupted - people with firecrackers wrapped around sticks ran to the Tai Pand and held the crackers over the Tai Pan and the effigy and then there was NOISE!!!!

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The street was quickly covered in the fire cracker wrapping.

What I found most fascinating was the possessed walking through the chaos and how many accidents they did not have. It was at this point that I tried to have a conversation with Jamie and then got drawn into the chaos around me.

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As the procession continued I realised that it was still early and the sun was coming up - lovely. We continued all the way to Central Festival and it was at this time that I noticed that the female Ma Song were not wearing shoes! I walked a little quicker for some peace and found it at the front of the procession - water was drunk at a rate which was too fast but I felt better...

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Phuket Old Town (I feel) is the best place to take photographs - wonderful background.

Posted by timinphuket 00:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged #phuketvegetarianfestival Comments (0)

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