This post was written by Connor Balough

Millions of tourists visit Thailand each year to flood the beaches, historical centers or party cities of the country. Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya are all top tourist destinations, but Thailand’s southern three provinces are void completely of travelers both tourist and native Thai a like. “Don’t go to the south. Too dangerous.” Is the response you’ll get from thais if asked about it. Even Thai living in neighboring Songkhla province will not go there.

ethnolinguistic_groups_of_thailand_1974

Thailand's southern three provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat are embroiled in a violent nationalist insurgency.
Thailand’s southern three provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat are embroiled in a violent nationalist insurgency.

 

Violence is constantly broadcasted on the television or radio for thais across the country coming out of the region. Recently, the insurgency has decided to bring the violence to the heart of thailand’s tourist industry, detonating 11 bombs in August, 2016 across tourist towns in Thailand.

I met my friend from Narathiwat on the train from Bangkok to Hat Yai, Songkhla. He invited me to come visit. All of my thai friends warned against it, but how could I refuse?

Was originally planning to ride a bike from Hat Yai to his house. But we decided that this would be far too dangerous for me to do alone.
Was originally planning to ride a bike from Hat Yai to his house. But we decided that this would be far too dangerous for me to do alone.

 

Instead hired a van for 100 baht to go from Hat Yai to Yala City. His family would pick me up there.
Instead hired a van for 100 baht to go from Hat Yai to Yala City. His family would pick me up there.

 

My friend Yusrun and his father picked me up in Yala at the bus station and we went to lunch at a local cuisined restaurant.
My friend Yusrun and his father picked me up in Yala at the bus station and we went to lunch at a local cuisine restaurant.

 

15726812_1826118860974815_5710771150536836948_n

 

My friend's father. He grew up in Yala and lives now in Narathiwat.
My friend’s father. He grew up in Yala and lives now in Narathiwat.

 

Had this at the restaurant in Yala for 50 baht, which my friend's father paid for generously. The price is very good for Thailand standards.
Had this at the restaurant in Yala for 50 baht, which my friend’s father paid for generously. The price is very good for Thailand standards.

 

School children stopped and starred at what was probably the first white person they've seen before. Tourists do not ever go to these provinces
School children stopped and starred at what was probably the first white person they’ve seen before. Tourists do not ever go to these provinces
After lunch we got to the town of Amphoe Ruso in Narathiwat. My friend took me by motorbike to the rubber tree farm his family has.
After lunch we got to the town of Amphoe Ruso in Narathiwat. My friend took me by motorbike to the rubber tree farm his family has.
These men tend to the rubber trees which is a big business in Narathiwat.
These men tend to the rubber trees which is a big business in Narathiwat.

 

Me posing with rubber trees
Me posing with rubber trees

 

Afterwards, we went back to his village and had coffee with his father's friend.
Afterwards, we went back to his village and had coffee with his father’s friend.

img_3189

Coffee and cookies prepared for me by my host's father's friend.
Coffee and cookies prepared for me by my host’s father’s friend.

 

With my friend and his family in Narathiwat.
With my friend and his family in Narathiwat.

 

Narathiwat, Thailand.
Narathiwat, Thailand.

 

My friend’s family took me to dinner in Narathiwat city first. There15672636_1826193150967386_4523922303990209899_n

Catfish in Narathiwat city.
Catfish in Narathiwat city.
Crab somtum
Crab somtum

 

After we ate, we drove home to where his neighbors and relatives all had made MORE DINNER to eat with me. Was so much good food.

 

 

Dinner Thai Malay style
Dinner Thai Malay style
Eating with your right hand is the culture here.
Eating with your right hand is the culture here in Yala and Narathiwat.

 

img_3239

15697278_1826253477628020_116462298234468696_n

The next day we went out to explore the area.

With locals in a village in Narathiwat.
With locals in a village in Narathiwat.
Amphoe Ruso, Narathiwat, Thailand.
Amphoe Ruso, Narathiwat, Thailand.

 

 

Got to meet Asmah from the area. She works for Pattani Institute promoting human rights in the Narathiwat and southern Thai regions.
Got to meet Asmah from the area. She works for Pattani Institute promoting human rights in the Narathiwat and southern Thai regions.

 

More school children
More school children
Narathiwat, Thailand.
Narathiwat, Thailand.

 

img_3287

 

Locals celebrating the birthday of Mohammed.
The green mosque in Ruso City, Narathiwat, Thailand.
The green mosque in Ruso City, Narathiwat, Thailand.

 

Overall it was a great trip to the area and there was never any violence that I witnessed once. There are army garrisons, check points, and patrols everywhere though so it’s hard to imagine how an insurgency could operate freely with so much security. However with the events of the past six months across Thailand it’s apparent that the army alone can’t stop attacks 100%. I would still however advise against doing this trip on your own, or by motorbike. You need some kind of locals to host you.

 

TG Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply