Road Trip to Southern Thailand: Yala [Part 5] – Yala and the Strong Identity

Previously: Part 4

*****

Some people prefer to use the Bukit Kayu Hitam border crossing while some other travellers like to use the Padang Besar border crossing. Those in Kelantan will prefer Rantau Panjang. However, as my whole family intended to go to my cousin’s wedding in Baling, the best border crossing for this unplanned road trip would be in Betong. So, after 42 kms of driving from Pattani, finally we reached the province of Yala.

Sesetengah orang suka lalu sempadan Bukit Kayu Hitam kalau nak ke Thailand. Ada yang suka ikut Padang Besar. Kalau dari Kelantan pula, mesti suka Rantau Panjang. Tapi, sebab famili aku nak pergi ke kenduri kahwin sepupu aku di Baling, kami pun berroadtrip lah ke Betong. Dari Pattani, kami teruskan perjalanan lagi 42 km sampailah akhirnya kami tiba di wilayah Yala.

Seriously, if you passed by this place, buy some durian chips. The taste is good! There’s my mum on the foreground!

As compared to Pattani, the  road to Yala is in bad condition and it feels rural. The road that we drove on was a single lane on each side of the road. Potholes were everywhere. And it was awkwardly quiet along the road. As we were driving, we saw a durian chip factory and thinking it was something unique, we stopped and checked the place.

Kalau nak dibandingkan dengan Pattani, bagi aku, Pattani lebih maju dan terurus. Jalan menuju Yala sangat teruk dan suasana dia terasa macam kat kawasan desa. Memang tak urban. Jalan yang kami lalu dengan bantuan GPS ialah jalan sehala-sehala dan lubang jangan cakaplah. Banyak giler! Kalah Shah Alam. Sepanjang perjalanan juga, suasana sunyi sangat. Tengah-tengah pandu, kami nampak kilang durian chip dan sebab kami semua rasa durian chip ni macam unik, kami pun berhenti dan usha.

The Yala Durian Chip is a family business. The owner is a Thai Muslim and as we entered into the premises, we were greeted by a man clad in a ‘jubah’. I noticed that apart from wearing shirts and sarongs, a lot of men in the southern provinces of Thailand wear ‘jubah’. While almost all women wear the ‘hijab’. Undeniably, the elements of Malay/Muslim here is stronger than the Malay Muslims in Malaysia, I would say.

Yala Durian Chip ni perniagaan keluarga. Pemilik dia seorang Muslim Thai. Masuk-masuk je kedai ni, kami disambut seorang lelaki berjubah. Aku perasan, ramai lelaki kat wilayah selatan Thailand ni selesa berkain pelikat atau berjubah. Kalau perempuan pula, hampir semua bertudung. Pegangan budaya/agama masyarakat di sini bagi aku lagi kuat dari Melayu Muslim Malaysia.

We bought several packets of durian chips from the factory, prices from as low as THB 150, and continued our journey.

Kami beli beberapa paket durian chip dengan harga serendah THB 150, dan teruskan perjalanan kami.

No sign of urbanization here.

As we were heading towards the town centre on the potholes-infested road, my dad said “No wonder the people here are angry. Just see at the development of the place”. I agreed, dad. If only the Thai government develops the southern provinces as they developed the central provinces, maybe, just maybe, things are going to be better.

Sepanjang perjalanan menuju ke pekan Yala, jalan memang teruk berlubang. Ayah aku siap cakap “Mana orang sini tak mengamuk, tengoklah tempat ni macam mana”. Betul, aku setuju. Aku rasa kalau pembangunan kat sini sama macam kat wilayah tengah Thailand, mungkin, cuma mungkin, keadaan lebih elok dari sekarang.

Driving through the road, there were many army roadblocks being set up by the central government to curb the separatists group. The roadblocks were not like a typical police roadblocks in Malaysia. There were army cars, army officers with full army uniform and firearms. The roadblocks will forced all vehicles to pass in a zig zag way. And any attempt to drive pass the roadblock will be met with spikes being put on the road. Just like in the Need For Speed game, the types of spikes to stop the cars from being driven further. Only that this one is in real life.

Memandu di wilayah selatan Thailand ni, kami memang disambut mesra oleh sekatan jalan yang dibuat tentera. Sekatan jalan kat sini bukan macam sekatan jalan polis yang biasa kita tengok kat Malaysia tu tau! Kat sini, dengan kenderaan askarnya, askarnya lagi, senapang dia. Kalau nak lepas sekatan jalan kat sini, kereta kena lalu dalam keadaan zig-zag. Kalau jalan terus dan langgar sekatan dia, haa sama ada tayar kereta kena spike macam Need For Speed tu, atau kena tembak dengan askar.

People of Yala people eat the banana fritters with sweetened creamer. Unique indeed.

Then, I saw an auntie selling banana fritters and asked my dad to stop. We stopped and I bought some. I even went into a mini market there. A religious talk [ceramah agama] was being played in the radio and the speaker was speaking in the Malay language. At that point of time, I knew for sure that the lady manning the shop could speak in the Malay language. So, I asked about the price in the Malay language, but she replied in Thai. Twice.

Lepas tu, aku nampak pula makcik jual goreng pisang. “Abah, berhenti jom”. Kami berhenti dan beli sikit. Aku siap masuk satu kedai runcit yang terletak berdekatan. Ada satu ceramah agama kat radio, ustaz dia cakap bahasa Melayu. Aku yakin, mestilah makcik cashier tu pandai cakap Melayu kan. Aku pun tanya harga dalam bahasa Melayu, 2 kali. Tapi dia jawab dalam bahasa Thailand.

So, I just paid and whilst walking towards the shop entrance, my mum paid for a drink and she spoke in the Malay language with my mum. Weird?

Aku pun bayar jelah tunggu dia bagi baki tengok berapa. Masa tengah nak jalan keluar, mak aku pulak nak bayar dan dia cakap dalam bahasa Melayu dengan mak aku. Pelik kan?

Well, when I went back into the car, I kept thinking about it and after a while, I realised, it must have been something to do with my clothing. See, my mum wore a hijab, so of course she knew my mum is a Malay. But I was wearing a short. And it just struck my mind that maybe she thought I am a local non-Malay Thai since all Malay Thais/Thai Muslims wear syariah-compliance clothing.

Fikir-fikir balik, aku rasa mesti dia ingat aku ni orang Thai-Thai, bukan Melayu Thai. Sebabnya pakaian aku tak syariah-compliance. Bayangkanlah kebanyakan lelaki kat sini berseluar panjang, berjubah, berkain pelikat, aku pakai seluar pendek. Segan weyh! Mak aku siap cakap, “Haa pakai seluar pendek lagi, padan muka”. *Facepalm*

Anyway, after that, we continued our journey towards the Yala town…

Apapun, lepas tu, kami teruskan lagi perjalanan ke pekan Yala…

*****

To be continued – Part 6

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15 thoughts on “Road Trip to Southern Thailand: Yala [Part 5] – Yala and the Strong Identity

    1. Pada aku, secara relatifnya selamat nak lalu sini. Tapi, jangan drive malam2 lah, takut gelap sangat. Dan pastikan ramai. Kalau sorang, cuak jugak. hehehe

      Haha. No prob bro. ;D

  1. Interesting post.

    I’ve been to Thailand several times (but never made it so far down south) and sometimes blog about Thailand too, and I’m always looking to connect with other bloggers who share similar interests. Please drop by Sweet Pickles and Corn if you have a minute. My most recent post is a tongue-in-cheek look at the things that I don’t like about Thailand (because I wasnt able to be there this winter and am stuck at home reading about my friends’ trips on facebook). Cheers, and enjoy your time in Thailand!

    1. Thanks for dropping by mate!

      Oh what a shame you can’t join your friends in Thailand. Yeah, Thailand is nice! I have been to Bangkok up to Nong Khai up north as well as the southernmost provinces. And glad that I am able to share the stories here. :)

      Sure, I will drop by and read your posts. Do read mine too if you have time :)

      Cheers and nice knowing you!

    1. yang putih tu mcm krimer yang orang taruk kat ABC tu. kalau tak silap lah. haha.

      seluar bawah lutut sebab 3 suku. tapi saya tak 3 suku. saya okay. hahaha

  2. Hehe muka you ada ala2 Thai kot sebab tu dia reply bahasa Thai. Hehe..
    Why the gov don’t want to develop the place is because they are Muslim majority.
    Sedih juga how they’re treated there. Sangat different then the more developed area.

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