Going Down South
This month I joined my old friend Frans for an inspection trip down South. We flew separately to Hat Yai, met at the airport, rented a car and drove to Songkhla, a new adventure was about to start.
After 2 great days there we continued to Pattani, Sungai Kolok, Tak Bai, Narathiwat, Yala and back to Songkhla, wonderful trip, plenty to see and do, and the number of western tourists we could count on 1 hand!
On the other hand (lame, I know) there were plenty of Malay tourists (extended families!) sightseeing/shopping and they didn’t seem particularly worried either.
We walked in and around the old town, crumbling city walls, ruined fortresses, renovated shophouses, various kinds of temples and mosques, busy harbors, colorful fishing boats, deserted beaches, enjoyed checking out wall paintings and eating great food, etc., in brief we had a ball!
That Songkhla is ignored by most western tourists seems completely absurd as it is a perfectly safe place and well on its way to become a great destination for visitors as it has so much to offer.
Especially if you’re interested in history Songkhla (& the whole region in fact) has a fascinating mix of Thai, Chinese, Malay and foreign (Portuguese, Dutch VOC, British) influences over a few centuries.
Two museums are chockfull with remnants of this melting pot’s past.
Old shophouses can be found not only in Songkhla, but in most towns in the South.
Songkhla’s location is unique, it’s a seaside town but also bordering on a large inland lake which offers excellent opportunities for boat trips as we discovered.
As the South is predominantly muslim there are lots of mosques, some of them quite old.
Despite that there are also some intriguing Buddhist places worth checking out.
The area’s fishing fleet is having a hard time due to more law enforcement and competition among others.
For now you can still see the colorful 'kohlae' traditional fishing boats in Pattani province!
Despite the various countries’ advises against all but essential travel due to its 'turbulent history', we traveled for 7 days through the deep south of Thailand without a scratch...
Quick fact check; indeed in the past there have been attacks and explosions, but nowadays it’s a different story (*), especially in the main towns.
Of course there were army check points at lots of places but we never felt unsafe at any time (**).
In brief, the South is a great destination for the more adventurous traveler, go for it!
(*) Sadly enough a few days after our Pattani trip there was a report in the papers about a bomb exploding at an evening market in Pattani's Nong Chik district resulting in 2 people killed and 14 others wounded…
(**) Not entirely true, during breakfast at a small vegetarian restaurant the owner suddenly decided to join us for a discussion on the various religions…, wrong time & wrong place!
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