South Thailand / Landscape

Everyone travelling through Southern Thailand is fascinated by the limestone mountains, which often pop up unexpectedly in the midst of rice paddies and thus appear alien and strange. They are indeed so strange-looking that there is no proper term for them in European languages. The term "mountain" seems inappropriate because they are elevations of only a few hundred metres and you can often take a walk around them - in European terminology a mountain is bigger. But to call them "hills" doesn't seem correct either, because thinking of a "hill" one inadvertently imagines a softer elevation. However, many of those "mountains" or "hills" in Southern Thailand feature steep cliffs as can be found in the Dolomite range of the Alps.

Finally, to call them "rocks" also seems incorrect, because they are too large and covered with vegetation. The fact is, that in European languages no fitting word exists for the Southern Thai "mountains" or "hills", simply because this kind of topographical formation cannot be found in Europe.

Many travellers passing through Southern Thailand by train will find it difficult to properly estimate the height of as well as the distance to these rock mountains. As the rock walls appear to the Western visitor as if they belong to high mountains one usually tends to estimate the height too high and the distance too far, compared to what actually is the case.


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Jan Garanoz
Juhu Tara Road, Juhu,
Mumbai - 400049 India
Last updated: June 23, 2010