Long Walk to Saphan Hin, Phuket

The 13th of October is a public holiday in Thailand marking the death anniversary of the late His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty, Thailand. My previous visit to the Saphan Hin area of Phuket was probably during the preparations for his funeral towards the end of 2017 (yes, we had more than a year’s worth of mourning between his death and his cremation).

I woke up early on my first day off in a week and set out on a LONG walk from my apartment just north of the Old Town all the way to the tip of the peninsula to see what had changed in the five years since I had visited the area.

Saphan Hin is a recreational area for fitness-minded people with plenty of sporting facilities and areas to jog. There’s even a trail leading into the mangroves. A number of fishermen try their luck in the waters of Chalong Bay that Saphan Hin juts into. A number of fishing boats moor at the southern reaches of a large canal that leads into Phuket Town while the adjacent picnic grounds have been overrun by bocce ball enthusiasts.

Clock tower at Surin Circle

Spirit house at SOD! Bar & Restaurant, Phuket Road
Phuket Immigration Office

Tin-mining dredge at the entrance to the Saphin Hin area of Phuket Town

I had forgotten about the museum dedicated to Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartivongse, Prince of Chumphon, 28th son of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and the “Father of the Royal Thai Navy“. The one at Saphan Hin is one of 217 shrines and memorials built to honor him around Thailand.

RTNS Saphan Hin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon…

Once at Saphan Hin, a peninsula jutting into the eastern reaches of Chalong Bay at the southern end of Phuket Island, there is a new(ish?) trail leading through the mangroves on its way to the eastern shoreline. I saw a number of interesting birds along the way, heard something large splashing in the water and kept an eye out for the millions of mosquitoes that I figured were ready to feast on my arms and legs. Amazingly enough, I only got bitten once.

The view from Saphan Hin eastward to Panwa Cape, the southeastern tip of Phuket. On the other side of the hills is Makham Bay, a major shipping port visited by all manner of vessels including large cruise ships. Visiting U.S. aircraft carriers will use the offshore anchorage at Makham Bay as well. You can just make out two patrol vessels of the Royal Thai Navy tied up to the pier at the Third Naval District Command HQ; I taught a course there once upon a time.

At the southernmost end of Saphan Hin is the Kiu Tien Kiong Shrine which is where all the various temples’ processions end up during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival so that the idols can return to the sea. It’s a great spot to watch A LOT of fireworks as everything is blown up on the adjacent beach. Just to the west of this shrine is the entrance to Kra Canal which heads back north towards the heart of Phuket Town. A number of fishing boats moor in the southern reaches of this khlong and the shady area is a popular picnic spot. It has also been taken over by bocce ball sportsmen (and women) and the courts crisscross the entire section of parkland. I had to constantly be on the lookout for balls being hit my way!

Before beginning the long trek northward towards my home, I tried to take a look inside the memorial for the Father of the Royal Thai Navy. However, the yellow-shirt guys were busy scrubbing down the sidewalks and other areas so I made a quick retreat. In fact, I saw plenty of caretaking throughout Saphan Hin. I am very happy to see that they are maintaining the area. Hopefully, more visitors will discover the charms of the park. I, for one, will return another day.

Memorial to Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartivongse, Father of the Royal Thai Navy, one of 217 such shrines scattered around Thailand.

Scrubbing and cleaning day

So ends my trip to Saphan Hin. I will save the other photos for this week’s Sunday Summary as I came across a newly-painted mural for a kindergarten, the remains of Phuket’s first bowling alley, and found that the post office was indeed open on a public holiday making it possible to finally mail a parcel I’d been trying to send to Canada for several MONTHS now. I also got caught by the rain — inevitable at this time of year. Thankfully, it wasn’t very heavy nor did it last long.

I did compile a bit over a half-hour’s worth of video clips I shot into a video. Other than deleting another 25 minutes of clips, I did no real editing. It’s there, warts and all. But it gives a fairly complete overview of all there is to see and do in the Saphan Hin area. It’s now up on YouTube. Set aside a half hour, pour yourself a glass or two of your favorite beverage, and have a look.

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