after two-day an ever-so-brief overview of coastal Trang of the Thailand, we pushed even further South to Satun. Although the border between neighbouring provinces is not marked, I noticed a marked difference as we entered the heart of predominantly Muslim Satun. Temples have been replaced by mosques, women were wrapped in colourful scarves and simple exterior signs Hole promised restaurants Halal food would be indoors.
newspapers shows like the “Deep South,” fearing the ethnic and religious insurgency raging in the region for years and many travellers to the Thailand of the region known in tourist guides. Yet Satun is generally regarded as a peaceful province and violence in the South of the country has reached an all-time low. So far have not taken the crowds.
there has never been better time to visit.
well, there is a certainly a better time to visit than the moment where I did. I had heard expat friends rave about the beauty of the islands of Pearl hidden in the region for years and could hardly wait to see them with my own eyes. Except that I couldn’t work. As guide our boat from Satun marine park tour, emphasized what would have been an island on the gray horizon, I nodded noncommittally. “I’ll take your Word for it.”
my visit coincided with the absolute worst of the 2015 Southeast Asian haze, a crisis caused by illegal forest burning in Indonesia. This goes much more far from tourists is disappointing holiday snaps – it is ecological, economic and disaster health of the region.
while the famous Arch of Pierre de Khai KB looks exactly like Google had promised in the moment, I enjoyed nevertheless hear the local story of couples good luck that will be able to enjoy walking through the curved stone and watch the excitement of our Thai guests that they were walking by themselves.
back on the boat, we went through several of the Islands that make up fifty-one Ko Tarutao Marine National Park, and I promised to return to more clearly see one day.
another notable stop was the islands of Ko Hin Ngam, covered not in sand but beautiful stone black-and-white-swirled. Enough as the stones were, dare us not take one as a souvenir, as local legend suggested we would lose all the luck that we won on Ko Khai – and then some – if we dared.
I was skeptical when we stopped for diving, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the visibility was better under the top surface. The diving trip to Koh Lipe that has long lingered on my bucket list quickly moved up a few notches in emergency.
return to Earth, we set off to explore a part of Satun paid even less attention than its beautiful islands, the Mainland. In 2008, a small local cave drew national attention when the 1.8 million years old fossil jaw of a Stegodon was found inside by a local fisherman. It is not difficult to imagine the prehistoric giant elephant – like roaming through this lush Jurassic Park-like setting even today.
to my great regret overly eager paddle automatic is not allowed, although I appreciate that guidant provides a rewarding for the local Thungwa community employment opportunity.
the 2.5 miles journey follows the curves of the water more salty long cave in Thailand. And the possibility of finding fossils isn’t the only withdrawal – distinctive rock formations inspired creative interpretations, stalactites and stalagmites glow in the dark and cave spits in an idyllic mangrove forest.
at some point, we have turned off our torches and marveled at the total darkness that surrounded us.
Satun is not a mere province to visit. The nearest airports are hours, in neighbouring provinces, and connection times can make the trip to other destinations a day mission complete. While islands like Koh Lipe are poorly kept secret, there are many tasks barely visited sand where you can replay your own version of the beach and to many parts of the continent where you can well and truly congratulate yourself for getting off the beaten.
I can’t wait to go back, hopefully before the crowd do.