Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Reflection in Thailand's Deep South

One thing about camping in a Thai Buddhist temple is that you are woken each morning at 4:30am. But instead of being woken by monks chanting, each morning we wake to the calm singing voice of the Muslim call to prayer. Surprisingly in Thailand’s South, these two religious building are often situated within walking distance of one another, and in the areas that we visited the two religions seem to live in relative harmony.

Having lived in Thailand for over two years, I thought I had a general awareness of Thai people and the culture of the country. But over the past week riding in Southern Thailand, I have learned a great deal about the people of the south, and been surprised at the rich Muslim culture that exists in what I thought was a primarily Buddhist country.

We have eaten different foods (by now, you should know that it is all about the food!), greeted people with ‘Salaam Malakum’ instead of ‘Sawadee Kha’ and been humbled by the beauty of the landscape and kindness of the people.

I have spent the last two nights camping on Koh Yao Yay Island, as large, rugged piece of land in Phang Nga Bay between Krabi and Phuket, which is almost entirely inhabited by Muslims. The notable difference I found when visiting this island is that there were very few resorts, bungalows, beach bars, not to mention little tourists. This made for a beautiful, well preserved piece of nature which was easily explored by bicycle.

After 6 days riding, at an average of 70-90km per day, it was time for a rest. Gemma and I found the quietest beach on the island and set up camp amongst a mangrove forest, away from the roads, cars and people. It was so lovely to have some time alone with nature. In the past, I have really enjoyed going to the more popular islands to get away from the big city, and have a break, but this experience really reminded me what ‘peace and quiet’ was really like.

1 comment:

  1. Another relaxing stop? Didn't you just rejuvenate your muscles in a fancy house in Phuket? This is sounding more and more like a holiday then a gruelling bike round Han! Loving it.


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