Growing up in Narathiwat (Southern Thailand)

Chanapha from Expique tells us what it was like and how it has changed.

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Updated: April 17, 2019

Have you heard of a province named Narathiwat?

It is a province in Deep South of Thailand and borders Malaysia. Narathiwat means a place that is full of generous people.  It also has another name in Malayu called Menara. Narathiwat is a small and serene place filled with nature like forests; especially peat swamp forest and sea. In downtown Narathiwat, it is where people can see mixed Thai Buddhist – Thai Muslim cultures all together. People have been living with diversity for almost two hundred years.  We share differences of languages, cultures, and religions.

mixed diversity

I grew up in this province where actually the majority of people here are Muslims, but I am a Buddhist. When I was little, I did not get that much about the ideas of religions. I just knew that we had different beliefs which were not wrong but needed to be understood. In school, there were religious classes where Muslim students went to Muslim class and Buddhist students went to Buddhist class separately. This did not make kids like us feel that we were different from each other; on the other hand, we talked about what we learned, we taught each other how to give a respect people in our religious ways, and we shared what we believed in the ideas of our religions.

I also was raised in a military family and we lived in a military camp for more than ten years. The camp was nearby beaches and yeah beaches! How cool is that? Almost every day in summers, my neighborhood friends, my little brother and I went to the beach. The water was so clear. We could see the white sand waves under the sea. We could walk all the way down to the middle of that expansive sea or almost to Malaysia (That’s what we thought when we were little). We built lots of huge sand castles with the tall and thick walls at the front to protect our castles from the big waves. We tried to catch ghost crabs and played a game like who could catch them more won and at the end we let them go. The most exciting and scariest part was we got to see black and white sea snakes too.

naratiwat

However, I bet nobody thinks that one day a precious place like your hometown will turn into one of the most dangerous places in your country due to ongoing conflicts between the security forces and non-state armed groups. Narathiwat, where I was born and raised has been changed. It is not only in my home province but also Yala, Pattani and some parts of Satun and Songkhla. Nowadays, violence has taken over almost all of these places. People are literally killed at least 1 – 2 people every day. It is not only soldiers who get killed but also innocent villagers. This situation started when I was 14 years old. At that age, I thought everything was going to be alright soon but no! It has been more than ten years and does not seem like the violent situation will be stopped. Some say it’s because of politics. Some say it’s because of religions. Other say it’s because of terrorists outside the country. Maybe it is something we are not supposed to know. Sometimes local people feel too scared to go out and work because they don’t feel like it’s safe for them. Lots of people move out of their hometown to find a safer place for their life. I don’t know what is really going on. I don’t know when this is going to stop. I don’t know who else can help us out. One important thing I know is we as local people from Deep South of Thailand do need ‘peace’ as well.

I am now outside my hometown, Narathiwat and having a life as other people like working, earning money, trying to find myself and making my dreams come true. However, my family is still there. I always go back home and stay there some times when I need a rest. I can still find peace in an unpeaceful place. Home is always the most wonderful place for me.  Every time I am home, it also reminds me of many things I did with old friends when I was little. It was full of peace, freedom and fun. Who doesn’t miss that kind of life? When we were little, we wanted to be adults so bad. We thought it would be fun to work, earn money, get what we want and be able to take care of ourselves. It seems like we cannot always get what we want all the times. Now we know why Peter Pan doesn’t want to grow up. I did not mean being a grown up is bad. It is sometimes not easy but that is how life works, right?


This post was written by Chanapha who is our customers services superstar at Expique. If you drop us an enquiry it is likely she will respond.  

For more information check out Narathiwat Tourism:

Photo credits to AK Rockefeller , Jay Along and Yosomono 

Categories: Thailand

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