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Exploring the Deep South (Phatthalung and Yala Provinces)

Phatthalung: The small province in the east peninsular coast is about 850 km. from Bangkok. The town lies at the foot of rugged limestone cliffs, 9 km. to the west of the shore of Thale Luang Lake, an inland sea of brackish water. Phatthalung has some interesting cave temples and in the surrounding countryside are several natural attractions, which makes it a worthwhile overnight stop on the route southwards. Of special interest to bird watchers is the waterfowl sanctuary of Thale Noi (Uthayan Nok Nam Thale Noi), a freshwater lake and marsh to the northeast of Phatthalung. This is an important nesting site, with more than 180 recorded species. It is best visited at dawn, when the birds are at their most active and temperature is still cool. This shallow freshwater lake and marsh (30 sq.km., depth 1-1.5 m.) which attracts water birds such as cormorants, herons, egrets, storks and ducks, and also supports an abundant aquatic life. There is a rich variety of reeds and water lilies. Thale Noi is a glorious sight around February to May when the entire lake turns pink from the lotus blossoms. This   birdwatcher’s paradise is part of a non-hunting area which covers about 45 sq.km. Near the park is a village where the craft of reed weaving is kept alive. Colorful bags and mats are on sale locally. East of the town a large freshwater lake separated from the Gulf of Thailand by a strip of land is a distinctive natural feature. Visitors will enjoy wonderful views of the picturesque limestone peaks and a large freshwater lake.

Yala and Betong: Yala is Thailand’s southernmost province with Betong as the southernmost town, bordering on Malaysia. The provincial capital Yala is a large, graceful, well-laid out city with broad roads and grand government offices in its center. The town is home of a very large size Srivijaya style Reclining Buddha, regarded one of the three major Buddhist monuments of the south. The town lies about 1080 km. from Bangkok. Yala province is made up mainly of forest and mountain having very little plain and basin area. The province occupies an area of about 4521 square kilometers administratively divided into six districts and experiences rain for nine months of the year. There are several waterways, the most important being the Pattani River which has its origin in the mountainous jungle of Yala. Betong district is an interesting border area located about 130 km. from Yala town. Houses constructed in Betong are large, and development here is the equal of the province itself and better than many other provinces in Thailand. The border town of Betong can be quite damp and chilly in the morning. The scenic road from Yala to Betong runs south through the fertile plain of the Mae Nam Pattani, dense rain forest and undulating hills. The splendid scenery is very rewarding. The beauty and peace of the Betong countryside are in stark contrast to the turbulent atmosphere which prevailed until some years ago. Thai and Malaysian armies hunted guerrillas in the jungle where trails were mined. The rebels laid down their arms in 1990. At the end of the war the Thai government gave Thai nationality and land to the guerrillas. The Sakai still enjoy a traditional life in primitive huts in the jungle. Some adjust to the modern world, some work as tappers on rubber plantation. In Ban Piyamit, 9 km. from Betong, there is a network of tunnels built by Malaysian communist guerrillas in the 1970s and used by them as a camp. The camp was one of several close to the Thai-Malaysian border from which the Communist Party of Malaya launched hit-and-run attacks into Malaysia and Thailand. Some stretches of tunnels have been preserved and artefacts from the camp are on display.

Under the leadership of Khun Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, President of The Siam Society, The Siam Society is arranging a special trip exploring the deep South of Thailand, in Phatthalung and Yala provinces. The group will depart from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport on Friday, 18 March at 07:50, and return to Bangkok on Monday, 21 March 2022 at 21:10.

When

Friday, 18 to Monday, 21 March 2022

Leader

Khun Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, President of The Siam Society

Booking

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Friday, 18 March: Bangkok Don Mueang Airport – Trang – Phatthalung

Check in at Air Asia Counter, Bangkok Don Mueang Airport.

07:50

Depart Don Mueang Airport for Trang province by Air Asia, flight FD3241

09:25

Arrive at Trang Airport and proceed to Phatthalung province by bus (60 km)

Arrive at Phatthalung, the town was established in the 19th century during the reign of King Rama II. Today’s modern town is set out in a grid and is surrounded by limestone hills to the north and the fertile Thale Luang lake to the east. One of the few rice growing area in Southern Thailand.

Visit two restored Governor’s Palaces occupies a peaceful site near Lam Pam village and visit Wat Wang, Phatthalung’s oldest temple built on the edge of the Thale Luang Lake.

Noon:

Lunch at a local restaurant near Thale Luang Lake.

After lunch:

Proceed to Sripakpra Boutique Resort Phatthalung. Check in at the resort.

15:30

Proceed to Thale Noi Waterfowl Park. The largest Wetland bird reserve in Thailand, This park serves as a nesting and feeding ground for thousands of exotic migratory birds flying to Sumatra and Australia to escape winter in Siberia and China. Around 160 families live along the shores of Thale Noi, mostly in raised wooden houses. They make a living from fishing and by weaving bulrush reeds into mats.

Evening:

Dinner at a local restaurant located near the Thale Noi Waterfowl Park or at the resort.

Overnight at the resort at Baan Pakpra on the edge of Thale Luang Lake, Phatthalung province.

Day 2: Saturday, 19 March: Phatthalung – Songkhla – Pattani – Yala – Betong

Early morning:

Revisit Thale Noi Waterfowl Park (optional)

Breakfast at the resort.

08:00

Depart the resort for Songkhla and Pattani (230 km.)

(The bus will pass Hat Yai, a modern commercial centre situated on the main trade route between Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore, and an important road and rail junction)

Noon:

Arrive in Pattani province. Lunch at CS Pattani Hotel in Pattani.

There is archaeological evidence of an ancient city at Yarung district known as Langkasuka which was probably abandoned when the river changed its course. In the 8th century this area was a trading centre, and in the 15th century it became a Muslim principality which was part of the Srivijaya empire. It later came under the overlordship of Ayutthaya and Bangkok rulers. Trade with Europe and China flourished in the 16th century, and Dutch and Portuguese trading posts were established. In the late 19th century under an agreement between Bangkok and the British in Malaya, the present border was drawn, and Pattani and the neighbouring territory (Narathiwat, Yala, Satun) became part of Thailand.

After lunch:

Proceed to Yala and Betong (Pattani – Yala = 60 km. Yala – Betong 140 km.)

18:00

Arrive in Betong district of Yala province.

Check in at Hotel Grand Mandarin Betong. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: Sunday, 20 March: All day in Betong district

04:30

Proceed for 40 km. outside the town by bus and local transportation and walk for 500m. to visit the hill area called Aiyerweng, a stunning mountain scenery and watch the sunrise. This area is very mountainous, and the weather is always a bit cooler than the plains below. The air is often misty with fog and the mountain is cloud-capped.

Breakfast at the hotel or in the town centre.

Morning:

Visit the former underground guerrilla camp, Piya Mit, which has now been converted into a museum. Around 180 Communist lived here undetected in 1 km. of tunnels, 10 m. below the surface. The end came peacefully in 1989 when “an honourable settlement” was reached with the Malaysia and Thai government. Most of the former revolutionaries settled in the area and some now guide visitor through the network of dark tunnels and explain the camp’s facilities.

Visit Wat Phuttha Tiwat, The local Mosque and old houses in the town.

Visit Sakai Village and the forest park, which cover 1.6 sq.km. and extends across the border into Malaysia, is the last remnant of the rain forest with rare fauna and flora. There are several waterfalls including a nine-tiered one, trails, hides and a lake.

Lunch at a local restaurant in Betong.

Evening:

Dinner and overnight at Hotel Grand Mandarin in Betong.

Day 4: Monday, 21 March: Betong – Yala – Hat Yai – Bangkok

Morning:

Breakfast at the hotel.

08:00

Depart Betong for Yala (160 km.)

Arrive in Yala. Yala, often known as the cleanest town in Thailand, is laid out in an orderly fashion with a grid-pattern of streets and tree-lined boulevards. Yala’s mosque is the largest in Thailand. Wat Khuha Phimuk called Wat Na Tham locally is located 8 km. outside the town. It is one of the most sacred and

important archaeological sites in the South. A cave next to the temple contains a 25 m. long reclining Buddha, dates from the 8th century. Among the priceless icon from that era found here are votive stupas from Northeast India and the 9th century bronze standing Buddha images in the style of South India. The small museum hall displays a range of Srivijaya artefacts found in the area.

Visit the cave and Wat Khuha Phimuk in Yala

Lunch at a local restaurant in Yala

After lunch:

Proceed to Hat Yai district of Songkhla province.

Enroute:

Visit Wat Chang Hai: The modern temple comprises a tall chedi crowned by a gilded finial and an ornate vihara. Near the temple entrance is the mausoleum of the venerated Luang Pho Thuat.

Simple dinner at a local restaurant, then proceed to Hat Yai Airport.

19:40

Depart Hat Yai for Bangkok by Air Asia, flight FD3111

21:10

Arrive at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport.

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary

Booking

Important note:

The Society requires all study trip participants to be fully vaccinated. We kindly ask that you attach appropriate proof(s) of vaccination indicating at least 2 (TWO) doses of Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson, or any other vaccine(s) approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) along with your registration. 

– To comply with the measures set forth by the government in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and in order to protect yourself and others around you, the Society kindly asks our participants to follow the appropriate safety and precautionary measures as stipulated by the government and health organisations.

The contribution of THB 25,000 (THB 26,000 for non-members), single room surcharge THB 2,800 will cover airfares, transportation, accommodation for 3 nights (two persons per room), meals as mentioned in the programme, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. In addition, basic travel insurance is included. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Alternatively, you can transfer the money to The Siam Society travel account at TMB Bank, Asoke Branch, saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert at Tel. 02-661-6470-3 ext. 504 or Khun Supanut Tel. 02-661-6470-3 ext. 506, Fax 02-258-3491 or email: supanut@thesiamsociety.org. The Society office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

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