Health

After the Chinese New Year bomb blast, despite all the negative response and advice, I decided to go with a long time no see hometown friend Phil, to visit Pattani, the Muslim centre of the South. The night before leaving for Pattani, we were briefed and cautioned by a friend who is a high ranking government official based in Pattani. Having such a lovely moment with his family around the beautiful beach of Songkhla, our two hours of conversation was mostly centered around the situation in Pattani. The description was saddening but interesting and provided us with new insights. It was like listening to the life of someone from another planet! After all the discouraging remarks of our planned trip to Pattani the next day, I decided to take the risk as Phil promised to take care of me should anything happen . ? I was getting excited and a little uneasy as our car was approaching Pattani. We stopped by a road side stall selling sea coconut. Asking about the situation in Pattani, the trader seemed reserved and reluctant to answer our questions. It was the first time I took the fresh sea coconut and the sea coconut juice, right here in Pattani. Equipped with a borrowed bullet proof jacket, I left Phil in the car to have a quick tour and take snapshots of the tourist attractions- The beautiful Pattani Central Mosque, The ruined Kru Se Mosque, the Shrine of Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo. (pic) The Pattani Central Mosque/The ruined and cursed Kru Se Mosque (pic) The Shrine of Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo at the road side/The closed candle shops Pattani is popular for its annual Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo Fair which was to be held from 1-7 March. The annual fair pays homage to the Goddess Cho Mae Lim Ko Nieo with a colourful procession, walking on fire and swimming across the river near Dechanuchit Bridge. According to the traders around here, in the past there would be at least 80 to 100 tour buses each day bringing thousands of worshippers to the fair each year. However, there were hardly any buses now. We also drove around the town to have a feel of the atmosphere. Contrary to what I thought that there would be a lot of Islamic structural buildings, the town seems quite modern and well developed, though a little quiet. It even has more Chinese New Year decorations than in Betong. (pic) The quite Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo and the quite dried seafood stalls (pic) Pattani town/One of the CNY decorations in the town The next day before saying good bye to this town, we were attracted by a bird competition crowded with thousands of people with beautiful cages hanging in the big compound area. As usual, I get excited about new things and couldn t help to join the crowd, asking questions and taking pictures until the driver rang and advised me not to stay too long. Phil told me that I was the only lady among the crowd. Before coming, Phil assured me that it would be an exciting and unforgettable journey. Indeed it was, but no matter how normal it seems and how exciting the journey, we couldn t help the feel of uneasiness and tension in our heart. I d opt not to come again! One of the bird competition sites (Tomorrow: Betong is roaring!)

*4/701/13*

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