Narathiwat and Pattani…

…Day 2: Busy, Busier & Busiest.

I’d planned to do Pattani Province first but at the last moment I thought that’s silly. What if I don’t get to Narathiwat until the afternoon and then don’t finish? I’ll have to trek down there again on Day 3. So, somewhere around 8am after a half-decent coffee and breakfast at the hotel, I was heading down Highway 42 which links the two cities.

The early morning sun was spectacular and had a kind of Mediterranean feel to it. So, the drive was pleasant and easy, except for…

The constant military and police checkpoints which littered the highway every few kilometers. One small village had a checkpoint at the start, the end and one in the middle. After counting to twenty I gave up.

Ran out of fingers and toes eh? –ed.

There must have been fifty of the things. Many are not manned, but you still have to slow to a crawl to negotiate the chicane-style barriers, and be prepared in case they are manned. (For obvious reasons I don’t have photographs.) At one checkpoint a machine gun carrying army guy raised my blood pressure when he leapt out in front of me … but to my surprise kept walking. I guess even machine gun carrying army people need to pee.

If you’re wondering what all this is about, well, how shall I say, there’s considerable unrest in the deep south, and from time to time things and people get blown up. So, in reality, they were all there for my protection. That’s what I kept telling myself!

Do you get used to having a machine pointing at you? Kinda. It depends on their body language. Most seem bored to tears, but one guy looked menacing when I forgot to lower the window to allow him to see I wasn’t particularly threatening. My way was briefly blocked by one machine gun pointing at the windshield and another pointing through the driver’s side window. All for my protection.

“Ah farang.” Smile, wave, get the hell out of there! Okay, ‘nuf of that.

First stop was Wat Khao Kong…

travel, thailand, wat khao kong

Yes. There’s a golden Buddha on a hill. How unusual. 🙂

travel, thailand, wat khao kong

travel, thailand, wat khao kong

…and nice surroundings…

travel, thailand, wat khao kong

Then it was time for a spot of sea and sunshine at Ao Manao Beach…

travel, thailand, narathiwat, ao manao beach

travel, thailand, narathiwat, ao manao beach

And even more sand nearby at Narathat Beach…

travel, thailand, narathiwat, ao manao beach

This one is at the estuary of the Bang Nara river…

travel, thailand, narathiwat, bang nara

travel, thailand, narathiwat, bang nara

Then it was just a short hop across that river to the Narathiwat Central Mosque…

travel, thailand, pattani central mosque

travel, thailand, pattani central mosque

travel, thailand, pattani central mosque

I didn’t venture inside as it was prayer time, and to be honest it looked a bit plain.

After which I started to head back to Pattani, with a stop at the Wadil Husen Mosque in Bacho District, a little less than thirty kilometers from Narathiwat city center. This one I visited about three years ago. The story is here. It’s a more than three hundred year-old wooden mosque, built without nails…

travel, thailand, wadil husen mosque

Also on the way back, but closer to Pattani, I visited the Old Palace at Yaring. (Old story here.) Now, as Google Maps advises, the place is “Permanently Closed.” Shame.

It was the Governor’s residence and is a mixture of Thai, Muslim, Chinese, and European architecture. I haven’t seen inside, but I believe it has appropriate antique furniture and glassware. So, it’s aerial shots only…

travel, thailand, old palace yaring

travel, thailand, old palace yaring

Next it was Masjid Kerisik, also known as the Krue Se Mosque. Another old story here. As I wrote then “The origins of the mosque are a bit vague, but much of it is believed to be at least 400 years old, with parts rebuilt in the 18th century. Its history seems to involve disagreements within the Province’s royal family, a wealthy Chinese pirate, and more recently a massacre involving the Thai military and insurgents holed up in the mosque. There are reports of its construction that date back to at least 1603CE, and construction was believed to have been started somewhere around 1583CE. Its also believed to be the first brick built mosque in SE Asia.

travel, thailand, masjid kerisik

travel, thailand, masjid kerisik

Before heading back into Pattani city, I set off in search of something called The Pattani Skywalk. You’d think that something sticking up into the air would be easy to find. Ms. Chuckles decided it wasn’t. I couldn’t see it either. But of course, eventually, there it was, hiding in plain sight…

travel, thailand, pattani skywalk

travel, thailand, pattani skywalk

travel, thailand, pattani skywalk

It’s probably a lot of fun if you like that sort of thing, and frankly there’s little else to do in Pattani, but I felt I’d gotten as close as I needed to.

So, finally, late afternoon, it was back to the city and the Pattani Central Mosque. And only now, as I’m writing this, do I realize I screwed up! I couldn’t park anywhere close enough to take off safely, so I ended-up a couple of blocks away and flew back. If you look at this…

travel, thailand, pattani central mosque

…you think, Hmmm, not too special. Whereas, it’s actually quite attractive. If you look at the right of the picture you’ll see a pool. That’s the front of the building, and is attractive with the reflections in the pool. I really hadn’t realized I was off to one side. Slap on wrist. Write out one hundred lines … etc.

Will I go back? Maybe, if I’m in Songkhla. It’s not too far from there. It looks like late afternoon the front of the mosque is in the shade anyways, so I probably need to be there early morning to get the best shots. And I did skip one or two places that were on my list, as it was late in the day.

Which brings us to Wat Rai Noppawonsaram, better known my the much easier name of Wat Mai…

travel, thailand, wat mai, pattani

travel, thailand, wat mai, pattani

…which I managed to catch before sunset. Talking of which, I mentioned somewhere it was HOT. Standing in the setting sun getting these shots, I realized the sun was burning the back of my neck. Not something you expect about thirty minutes before sunset!

wwiSo, I wonder what’s in store for Day 3.

Paul

...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

He is currently General Manager of CMY Media in Thailand specializing in drone training plus aerial videos and photography.


You can find CMY Media on Instagram. And you can follow Paul on Facebook.

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