Road Trip to Southern Thailand: Betong [Part 6] – The Road Through Yala

Previously: Part 5

*****

Frankly speaking, there was nothing at Yala town. It is a very small town with rows of shop houses catering to the locals. No sign of any foreign travellers there. The town looked exactly like the towns in Kelantan or Terengganu, with wooden shop houses and local Muslims doing their daily activities. We did not stop at the town because we wanted to reach Betong before night. Plus, we were told that it is dangerous to drive at night due to lack of lighting.

Secara jujurnya, tak ada apa pun kat pekan Yala ni. Memang pekan kecil je penuh dengan rumah kedai untuk rakyat tempatan. Aku tak nampak pun tanda-tanda kewujudan pelawat asing. Tapi, keadaan pekan ni sama macam pekan di Kelantan atau Terengganu. Nampak tradisional je. Kami tak singgah pun pekan ni sebab kalau boleh nak sampai Betong sebelum malam. Orang kata, bahaya bawa kereta malam-malam kat jalan ni. Gelap!

The road heading towards Betong from Yala

From Yala, it was a nice 133.5 kms journey. The scenery from Yala towards Betong was a very nice and green one. Apart from the usual military roadblocks, we were greeted by mountains and lakes throughout the journey. What a shame for people to shun this route due to the bombings that sometimes occurred at these provinces.

Dari Yala ke Betong, perjalanan yang harus kami tempuh ialah sejauh 133.5 km. Tapi, pemandangannya, cantik sangat. Menghijau je. Selain dari sekatan jalan askar, pemandangan gunung ganang dan tasik buatkan sedap mata kami memandang. Sayang siapa-siapa yang tak pernah lalu jalan ni sebab risaukan kejadian bom yang sekali-sekala jadi kat sini.

Greenery everywhere.

If one is into nature, this route is the route to take and try. Imagine the route through Tasik Banding in Malaysia. They are almost the same. The differences are, apart from the roadblocks, the sense of quietness and isolated when passing through this road. Throughout the journey to Betong, we rarely found any people around. Most of the time, it was the nature.

Kalau sesiapa yang suka alam sekitar tu, bolehlah lalu jalan ni. Lebih kurang macam drive kat kawasan Tasik Banding. Lebih kurang je. Bezanya, mungkin sini lebih sunyi. Sepanjang-panjang perjalanan, tak ramai pun orang yang kami jumpa atau kenderaan-kenderaan lain.

One of the lakes on our journey.

Sometimes, we stopped at local petrol stations, to take a short rest, perform our obligation to Him and to refuel the tank. Still, the place is calm and serene.

Kadang-kadang kami berhenti kat stesen minyak, rehat sekejap, solat, isi minyak. Tapi, tenang je rasa.

One of the 20++ roadblocks.

We continued driving up and down the hills when we were overtaken by a pickup full with local Muslim men in white ‘jubah’. They were in front of us and I counted, there were like 10 young men at the rear of the pick up. All eyes were on us like we were aliens. Well, we were aliens in their land after all. But none of them smiled. My dad decided not to overtake them.

Kami teruskan perjalanan naik turun bukit sampailah MPV kami dipotong oleh satu pick up yang mana kat bahagian belakang tu penuh lelaki-lelaki muda berjubah putih. Tak silap aku, adalah dalam lebih kurang 10 orang duduk dalam kawasan open air kat belakang tu. Diorang pandang kami semacam je. Tapi, kami buat rileks je lah. Ayah aku cakap, takpe biar diorang jalan depan, kami tak payah potong.

Not long after, there was a military roadblock in front. Since we left Hat Yai, we have passed through more than 20 roadblocks without being stopped. Sometimes, there were no armies at the roadblocks. But this one looked different. A lot of army with firearms. They stopped the pick up in front of us. The driver of the pick up was asked to park by the roadside. Then, our turn came. Will they stopped us?

Tak lama lepas tu, nampak satu lagi sekatan jalan askar kat depan kami. Sejak kami tinggalkan Hat Yai pagi tadi, tak kurang 20 sekatan jalan kami dah lalu. Tapi, tak pernah lagilah ditahan.Tapi, sekatan yang ni nampak lain macam sikit. Ramai askar, banyak senjata api. Pick up kat depan kami disuruh berhenti. Pemandu pick up tu diarah berhentikan kereta ke depan sikit. Lepas tu, tibalah giliran kami. Kami akan ditahan jugak ke?

*****

To be continued – Part 7

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