The beginning of a journey in Narathiwat
Deepest gratitude to Moui for tolerating my adrenaline-infused, erratic behaviour and excitement of jump starting a last minute coordination plan. She's a marvellous, patient friend, and this trip would not be possible without her help.
The weather today was glaring, blistering hot, reminded me so much of Malaysia, that annoying sticky humidity. The terrain seems uninviting with the deep jungles, imposing hills, unaccountable rubber and oil-palm plantations. Narathiwat is not a province where a holiday-seeker would go in Thailand.
But the essence of the people makes Narathiwat special. A different breed, if you compare with people living in Bangkok. General misconception that the South Thais are violent and unpredictable is unfair, and such stereotyping by the urban high society is somewhat infectious.
On my first day, I met with friendly people, hard working and candid with their thoughts, though very polite. I get such vibes because they speak "Malay" language, and I can easily communicate with them. The folks working and living in the nearby villages welcomed me, graciously, even though many live in poor conditions. These are people who are trapped in a cesspool of daily violence, politicking and distrust. No community would want to spiral in such misery, much less their children.
My day ended, and as usual, I would take my night strolls. Many parts of the main roads had barricades with soldiers and many small lanes have soldiers keeping a cautious eye on everything that moves. Security is tight, that's for sure. You'll find the many CCTVs, monitoring the roads, disorientating to say the least.
Life is dangerous and life is beautiful, punctuated by moments of sadness and hardship. And I have no regrets coming here, as there's an enigma to uncover. I eagerly wait for sunrise, so that I can continue with my journey.