Phu Hin Dang is a cliff that has been on my Ubon hiking bucket list for 3 years. I knew it would probably be difficult to get to, I wasn’t sure what the land mine situation was like in this area and there wasn’t a whole lot of information online so I had put it off for awhile. Phu Hin Dang literally means “alkaline rock mountain.” I don’t know anything about geology but I assume that is what these mountains are made of.
On February 28, I took a couple friends to this cliff. We left Ubon at 4:30 am hoping to beat the heat and almost arrived to the entrance by the time the sun was coming up. We chose a horrible day to do it though. It was 104F/40C.
When we arrived at the gate, I expected nobody to be there but a park ranger came over. I was ready to argue for the Thai price as I normally do at parks but ended up having to convince him to even let us pass at all. We weren’t charged anything but he insisted we needed a guide. After a polite discussion he finally agreed to let us go. 5 minutes down the road, he chased us down on his motorbike and said his boss wanted us to wait. It was already 7 and I knew how Thai “bosses” operate. It could be hours before anyone would show up but we had come this far so we agreed to wait back at the park office. After all, what are we gonna do, tell a park ranger with a shotgun on his back no?
While we waited I talked to the 2 rangers on duty and checked out their housing. I found a building pictured below that had no doors or windows. It was solid concrete all the way around. I looked for a way to take a look inside but couldn’t find a ladder or anything big enough to stand on. I think it was for catching water but then I didn’t see any pipes out either. I chose not to ask the rangers just in case they didn’t want me snooping around. I wasn’t about to jeopardize our day any further. I was shocked that by 8:15 we were back on the road. The 2 rangers insisted they go with us and I was later glad they did.
About 5 minutes into the drive we spotted a pretty unique bird. Any birders out there know what kind it is?
We drove a few kilometers until we came to this bridge. Now I have no doubt in my mind that this bridge could have held our truck and all 5 grown men but I wasn’t about to test it with a 20,000 USD truck so we backed up to an open rocky area and continued on foot. There were fresh brush fires around and the rocky open area provided a little more safety. There were 4 or 5 of these bridges we’d eventually cross.
We continued on foot with one guide leading with his shotgun and the other guide behind us. Just a few weeks ago they had caught illegal loggers in the area who were armed which is why they insisted on escorting us. They said not only Laos but also Cambodian loggers and poachers looking for monkeys make it into this area sometimes. The Laos side is also pretty heavily forested but apparently the Thai side has more of the coveted rosewood they are after. As we approached some of the heavier forested area they asked us to be quiet so they could listen for chain saws. Of course right as they asked us to do this there was a loud crash about 50m away. I instinctively ducked for cover and our shotgun leader scrambled into the forest and disappeared. A minute later he came back and said a large branch had fallen.
As you get out of the forest and approach the cliff you need to navigate some rocky areas similar to the Pha Chanadai area. This is where you’ll want a GPS or a guide because the trail disappears and we probably would have gotten lost.
Once you get up there, the view is worth the effort. There’s a couple nice areas that look good for camping so I’m looking forward to coming back when it’s cooler to see the morning mist and sunrise. On the right you can see a white marker that indicates the border.
Where our guides are standing below is about 440m above sea level and the mountain in the distance goes up to almost 500m. The Laos side is around 125m. That mountain has land mines on it and basically marks the beginning of the mined border which stretches the rest of the Laos border to the South and the entire Cambodia border.
On the map below I marked a location where you have to crawl through a small tunnel to get just below the cliff. There you’ll find some pretty amazing natural rock colors in deep red and purple. Keep in mind that this is “technically” Laos territory but it’s part of the national park’s official advertisement and guides regularly take people here.
As I said above it was a ridiculously hot day and we had been delayed waiting for another ranger so we didn’t stay too long. The entire hike was about 14km and it was so brutal in the heat. You can see the exact route we took on the map below.
View Phu Hin Dang ภูหินด่าง in a larger map
Are you looking for furniture in Ubon Ratchathani? Below is a map showing some of the places I’ve shopped at in the past. If you’re desperate for some better, more practical furniture, IKEA does deliver to Ubon from Bangkok for 8,000b+ but most likely you’ll find what you want locally. I would try TSF or Home Pro first.
View Furniture in Ubon in a larger map
Last week I visited TSF (Tang Sung Saeng Furniture) Furniture’s new store at the “Sisaket intersection” as we call it in Ubon. It’s their 3rd branch. It was finished 2 months ago and it’s huge; a nice addition to the already saturated furniture market in Ubon. It was kind of like shopping at a cross between IKEA and Index but there were only 5 people shopping instead of 500. When you first arrive you’re greeted by these bizarre horses with lamps on top.
This picture doesn’t do the entrance justice. It feels massive when you walk in.
The design was certainly influenced by IKEA because they have similar confusing map layouts which is intentional so you spend more time in the store.
They have a separate hopping area for kitchen type stuff just like IKEA.
Notice the manager riding around on a Segway below.
Peppers is everywhere these days. Yum!
I have never understood why stores don’t want you to take pictures. If I owned a big store I’d beg people to post pictures on their blogs and twitter. What am I going to do, take a picture of a dresser and go make a hand carved copy?
No pictures allowed but let’s have a photo contest…
BI (Before IKEA) we bought stuff from this business and were happy with what we purchased.
In the last post I shared some pictures from our drive up Highway 1168 in Nan and on the way back we stopped at Mae Charim National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติแม่จริม. This post is about the national park.
We paid the Thai price to get into the park by speaking Thai. Didn’t even have to pull out the license or copy of my yellow household registration book. If you go up it takes you to a hiking area and some cabins. Down below is the bridge over the river.
View Mae Charim National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติแม่จริมUntitled in a larger map
I was recently visiting a friend in Nan province and wanted to do some exploring so we chose a road he had never driven on and away we went. We chose Hwy 1168.
I didn’t realize how much corn is grown up here. This woman was shucking ears of corn by hand, something my grandfather did about 80 years ago… Basically everything you see is corn fields, most of which has already been harvested.
This heavily edited photo shows the contrast of irrigated valleys with rice and corn and the hills that have already had corn harvested. You see a lot of deforestation in Nan from farming; more than I’ve seen anywhere else in Thailand.
On our way back we visited a national park and I’ll write about that in the following post.
Samrong Kiat is a waterfall in Sisaket. It is not part of any national park or forest reserve so there is no entrance fee. There is at least one small restaurant selling snacks and drinks and some nice hiking around the small river.
View Samrong Kiat Waterfall น้ำตกสำโรงเกียรติ in a larger map
The below video is not mine. Just clarifying.
This waterfall is called Huay Sai Yai and the rapids downstream are called E Khiao. There wasn’t too much water flowing here when I went in September despite it being rainy season. The video at the bottom of this post is filmed at this location.
View Huai Sai Yai Waterfall in a larger map
Tat Ton waterfall is in Kaeng Tana National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติแก่งตะนะ. It’s technically in the SW corner of the park, but there is no fee to get in even though there are staff on duty at the gate. The top of the falls is shallow and easy to walk across but watch out for the many holes. My traveling companion slipped and fell into one of them. Thankfully it only went up to his waist. There are some picnic tables at the parking area and a small store selling food on the other side of the falls if you can walk over the falls.