Showing posts with label Pattani. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pattani. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 August 2018

#Thailand - The peaceful side of #Pattani

Long beset by insurgency, this southern province bordered by Narathiwat, Yala, and Songkhla has plenty to offer the visitor

THE FORMER capital of the ancient Langkasuka Kingdom, Pattani province in Thailand’s far south has traditionally been feted for its multiculturalism, though sadly the ongoing violence has kept it well off the tourist path for more than a decade. 

But not all the residents have given up on drawing visitors to their home. On a recent visit that saw a group of journalists wrap up a tour of all three southernmost provinces, we were taken around China Town by Melayu Living, a club of innovative artists who are hoping to bring tourists back to this thriving trading hub on the bank of the Pattani River and the border of Thailand and Malaysia.

 The group has also collaborated with the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage to create maps and guidebooks to illustrate the city layout and indicate the locations of tourist attractions. 

Along the 1.4-kilometre walking route, visitors can learn about history, enjoy some local delicacies and get a feel for the simple way of Southern life. Contrary to the negative pictures painted by the media, it’s normal to see Muslims sitting alongside Chinese-Buddhists eating roti and drinking coffee or tea and sharing space in an art gallery. 

Sulaiman “Lee” Chemae is our tour guide for the walk and one of my travel companions greets him not with “hello” but a question – “It is safe to roam on foot?”

Lee doesn’t appear put out. “This area is like the yolk of an egg, protected by checkpoints controlled by armed soldiers. So, yes, tourists can feel safe. I admit we can’t guarantee 100-per-cent safety but we can recommend places to which visitors can go as well as those best avoided,” he says. 
China Town is populated by Hokkian Chinese, whose ancestors migrated from Fujian and set up shop on Anoru Road. Lined with old Chinese-style buildings mostly constructed during the reign of King Rama III, it’s home to the Lim Ko Nieo Shrine, worshipped by local residents and seafarers alike to ask for fortune, success, good health and protection. Built in 1634, it was originally called Leng Chu Kiang Shrine. 

Legend has it that Lim Ko Niao crossed the South China Sea from China to Pattani to bring her brother back home to be with their dying mother. The young man, Lim To Kiam, declined her request, preferring to stay in Pattani because he had married a daughter of Phraya Tani and converted to Islam. Lim Ko Niao was frustrated by her brother’s refusal and ended up hanging herself from a cashew nut tree. The villagers later carved a wooden statue to her memory. 

A short distance from the shrine is the former residence of taxman Luang Wichit Sulkakorn. Made from wood and cement, the main structure has been maintained to celebrate its long history. 

When Wichit and his family moved out, the house was turned into a Thai dessert shop by Xuan Lui Kowittaya and became the first grocery on Anoru Road. Today, it’s under the care of the Kamolwittaya family.

“In the past, the Chinese residents traded with sea merchants from Singapore, Malacca and the Malay Peninsula, while the Muslims made their living from fishing. King Rama III recognised the potential for border trade, so he sent a tax collector to Pattani, making our community stronger,” Lee explains.

Next door is the White Building, which was constructed in 1883 by Luang Cheen Kananurak. Anan, the third generation of the Kananurak family, recently had it completely refurbished and gave it a more modern look. 

The building is divided into three zones linked by walkways from the front building to an old wooden house in the middle. There is a kitchen and a lush courtyard at the back, where the air-raid shelter hastily constructed during World War II, has been turned into a fish and lotus pond. 

Commonly known as Baan Kongsee, the bright blue, 150-year-old house was constructed by another tax collector, Luang Samret Kitjakorn Jangwang – an ancestor of the Kanaurak family, during the reign of King Rama III. 

The roof has a perforated design that resembles ancient currency, symbolic of fortune, while the front of house features two windows to protect against inauspicious happenings in line with feng shui beliefs.

The structure is built with glazed bricks coated with white honey-mixed lime and oversize earthenware tiles cover the floor. The living room has a huge stand to accommodate the many statues of Chinese deities.

“Before the violence, this area was really colourful. It was lined with restaurants and always packed with foreign labourers and local fishermen. Because of its proximity to the huge fish market and pier, some Bt100 million changed hands every night,” Lee says. 

“We want to promote other tourist routes that take in artisan villages and encourage people to take a cruise to a swamp forest in Yaring district so that visitors can experience our culture.” 

Just a 15-minute drive away from downtown Pattani next to Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Garden is the recently opened Pattani Adventure Park, which is billing itself as the best vantage point for admiring Tachee Cape and azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand. 

The 400-metre skywalk stands as high as a three-storey building and can hold up to 400 kilogram per square metre, thus ensuring safety for all visitors. It’s also connected to a long nature trail on the ground, home to a lush massive swamp forest. 

A mere 35 kilometres from town is 
 Sai Khao, which won the Most Outstanding Community-based Tourism Award back in 2007 for its eco-cultural tours and homestay services. Local residents have modified their vintage Jeep trucks to transport visitors to the Namtok Sai Khao National Park, where a golden statue of the Buddha looks down at visitors from the top of the mountain. 

“The province invested Bt32 million to construct the Buddha statue and it took 41 years to complete. It is a great viewpoint to look out over the verdant landscapes of Sai Khao district,” says Uncle Chanin Siannin, the head of Baan Sai Khao community.

The mountain is also home to a sacred pond, which the monk Luang Pu Tuad discovered during a pilgrimage in the jungle, a huge snake-like rock attached to the steep cliff and the Sai Khao waterfall, which is a popular picnic spot for local families. 

Our day out ends with a visit to the massive rubber plantations and orchards, where we’re allowed to pick durian, bananas and rambutan straight from the tree and stock up on such snacks as preserved garcinia and miang kham made from banana to remind us of our visit.

Source - TheNation

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

16 Myanmar workers rescued from Malaysian fishing boat

Sixteen Myanmar migrant workers, including three minors under 18 years old, who were allegedly ‘sold’ to a Malaysia fishing boat in southern Thailand were rescued by Thai officials on July 13, according to a Thai-based migrant rights groups.
 “We were asked to rescue migrants on July 8, and we spent about four days collecting information about the victims and their location. After that we asked Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation to help rescue the victims,” said U Kyaw Thaung, director of the Myanmar Association in Thailand (MAT), on Monday.

He said that initially 13 Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand were sold by a broker to the Malaysian fishing boat that had docked with fake documents at Naya Thiwa Port, Pattani province, in Thailand.

U Kyaw Thaung said each worker had paid 17,000 baht to the broker to find jobs in Indonesia, but the broker sold them to the fishing boat instead.

“When we asked the DSI to help save our workers, it asked for a recommendation letter from the Myanmar Embassy. They rescued our migrants on July 13 when we provided the recommendation letter,” Ko Shwe Tun Aye, chair of Migrant Workers’ Network in Phuket, said Monday.

He said the workers were rescued with the help of the Thai army.

According to MAT, they also rescued other Myanmar migrants, one aged 14 and two aged 17, who had been sold by another broker to the fishing boat on the day the rescue team reached them.

According to U Kyaw Thaung, the 16 Myanmar workers were to be sent to a fishing vessel in Indonesia. Fifteen of the victims are from Rakhine State and one is from Bago Region.
All the rescued victims are being held at a detention center, and Thai officials are planning to arrest the brokers for human trafficking.

Source - mmtimes

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

#Thailand - Dozens injured in Pattani double bomb blasts.

Many children among casualties; ‘mass killing’ cited as motive
ABOUT 50 people were injured by a huge car bomb outside a department store in Pattani in the deep South yesterday afternoon that also caused widespread damage.
The bombers used a common tactic in the insurgency – triggering a small initial explosive inside the Big C department store, which sent shoppers running outside in panic, before the second bomb concealed in a pickup parked at an entrance door was detonated. The first bomb also seemed intended to distract authorities ahead of the second much bigger blast.
The attack took place at the store in Muang district at about 2.30pm, a time when the store was crowded with parents and children looking for school items including uniforms in preparation for the new semester.

Among the dozens of people injured in the blasts were store staff, at least one of whom was seriously hurt, as well as many children.
Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman of the regional Internal Security Operations Command, said the bombers seemed intent on “mass killing”. 
 “The bombers parked the pickup in front of the entrance of the store, clearly showing their intention of mass killing. However, the suspicious vehicle was spotted and people were evacuated from the area in time before the second explosion,” Pramote said.
Source - TheNation + More Photos 

Friday, 23 October 2015

South Thailand worst haze

Health of locals threatened as particulate matter far exceeds safe level; Flight to Trang and Krabi hit ; Indonesia apologetic.

 THE WORST haze crisis in 17 years hit Songkhla’s Hat Yai district hard yesterday, with the amount of PM10 particles far exceeding the safe level.

As of yesterday, the amount of particulate matter (PM) of up to 10 microns in size (PM10) reached 369.0 micrograms per cubic metre of air in Hat Yai, the economic hub of Thailand's South.

People are considered safe only when the PM10 does not rise above 120 micrograms.

In 1998, the PM10 in Songkhla skyrocketed to 459.5 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Locals had hoped that such a seriously hazy situation would never recur.

But yesterday, although the PM10 did not yet beat the previous record, air pollutants were clearly visible in Hat Yai, even to the naked eye. The problem is widely blamed on Indonesia's forest fires.

Officials in Songkhla province were busy handing out facial masks to help locals cope with the health impacts.

Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha had already instructed family-medicine teams to visit affected people.

"People need to get proper healthcare," he said, "They also need to get advice. For example, they should avoid staying outdoors with the haze raging on. If they develop tightness in the chest or have difficulty breathing, they should immediately seek medical help".

According to Sansern, the prime minister is very concerned about the haze, which has blanketed Thailand's South. All relevant authorities are now ordered to closely monitor the situation and extend help to people.

"Local administrative bodies, on their part, can help ease the pollution by spraying water in the air," the government spokesman said.

Sansern said the government has already contacted Indonesia about the haze, and Indonesia said it was sorry about the pollution caused.

Yesterday, haze was also a major problem in at least five other southern provinces: Satun struggled with a PM10 of 276 micrograms; Pattani with PM10 211 micrograms; Surat Thani with PM10 of 187 micrograms; Yala with PM10 of 172 micrograms; and Narathiwat with PM10 of 123 micrograms.

As haze significantly reduced visibility, flight services to and from Thailand's South have been affected.

Executives of schools in Songkhla are now allowed to decide whether temporary closure is necessary should the PM10 rise above 350 micrograms.

So far, Songkhla has not been declared a disaster-hit zone as authorities are worried that such a declaration may affect local tourism.

Halem J Marigan, director of the Regional Environmental Office 16 (Songkhla), yesterday evening said there were signs of improvement.

"The average PM10 amount during the past 24 hours has finally reduced. It dropped from 369 to 365 micrograms per cubic metre of air if we concluded the measurement at 4pm Thursday," he said.

He believed stronger winds had benefited Thailand, as the haze was pushed away faster.

In Surat Thani, several flights to Samui Airport were delayed yesterday because of the haze.

"Many flights could not land in the morning. They had to wait until the afternoon," said Surat Thani Governor Wongsiri Promchana.

He said he had also advised locals to turn on the headlights of their vehicles when driving in hazy areas.

Wongsiri said all tourist attractions were still open as normal as of now.

Flight services in the southern provinces of Trang and Krabi are also affected.

In Trang, locals yesterday urged relevant authorities to help tackle the haze problem that had recurred every now and then.

"It has affected us adversely. I feel uncomfortable because the haze has made it hard for me to breathe," Areerat Boonprasert, 52, said. 

Source: The Nation