Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thailand 2011 (Betong)

" Should you encounter a problem along your way, change your direction but not your destination "

" No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending " 

" Different parts of our body ages at different times. Make hay while the sun shines " 

" My 3 days visit to Betong (8-10/4/2011) with my buddies from Petaling Jaya - a relaxing trip to a Southern Thailand town, popularly known as a town in a mist with beautiful flowers near the Malaysian-Thai border "

Total Expenses incurred (3 days) : Rm297 

Hotels(2 nights): Garden View (RM109 for a 3-bed room)+Winter Garden Resort (RM69 for a chalet of 3)
Petrol & Toll: RM200+RM50 (cost sharing)
Food & sundries: RM165
Traditional Thai & foot massage:RM100 (RM25 per hour).

I had visited Betong twice with my families and relatives prior to my retiremnt in 2006. Given the short travelling time (approx 6hr from KL), good food & abundance fresh air and together with 2 neigbouring friends (Mr Teh & Mr Leong), we took a leisure drive from KL to Betong in Southern Thailand. All of us had a wonderful time and visited some interesting places in Betong, ie hotspring, Friendship villages, Piyamit tunnel, Communist museum, Winter Flower garden savouring some local food & fruit eg fish maw soup, century egg porridge, Tom Yam soup, steamed fish and chicken, roasted pork knuckles, wanton noodles, mangoes, honey pineapples ......really tasty and juicy !

Our group put up a night each at the Garden View Hotel (Rm109 for a triple bed room) and Winter Flower Garden (Rm65 for a chalet for 3) in Betong; both hotels were pleasant to stay ! We also treated ourselves to 2 sessions of Thai body and foot massages (Rm25 per hr) to give a boost to our tiring and ailing bodies !!!

No hassle for us when our vehicle passed through both the Malaysia and Thai Immigration check points. But get ready to pay Rm 2 on Thai side for filling up a simple entry form and another Rm2 for stamping your passport at the counter; Rm3 for vehicle insurance.

Total Expenses incurred (3 days) : Rm386

Hotels(2 nights): Garden View (RM109 for a 3-bed room) + Winter Garden Resort (RM69 for a chalet of 3)
Petrol & Toll: RM200+RM50 (Rm62 per pax cost sharing)
Food & sundries: RM165
Traditional Thai & foot massage:RM100 (RM25 per hour).

Hotels in Betong - clean, affordable & value for money (room price for 2 approx Rm80); up to you to choose to suite your budget and convenience (Garden View, Modern Thai Hotel, Merlin, Winter Flower Garden chalets etc )

1) Malaysia Thailand Border (Betong)

2) Betong Town Centre

3) Hot Spring

4) Piyamit Tunnel, Friendship Village No 1

5) Winter Flower Garden, Friendship Village No 2

When I was in Betong, I thought of Teresa Teng popular song - The Story of a Small Town goes the story of a small town called Betong, a hub of communist activities during the insurgent years, Chin Peng, CPM (Communist Party of Malaya), Baling pact, completion of Piyamit Tunnel complex in 1977, ending of communist hostilities in 1987, Friendship Village 1 & 2, Friendship Arch greeting you .....I am impressed, what a peaceful place for tourists to enjoy a short vacation here "

D1 Friday 8/4/2011 - Betong, Thailand 2011

After a 6 hr drive from KL, we arrived at Betong around 12.30pm ( Malaysian time 13.30).

After our hotel check in (Garden View) , we had our lunch at a coffee shop in front of a large mail box, near the iconic Clock Tower in the town center.

The rest of the day was devoted to casual shopping, buying local seafood snacks, shoes, medical oilments etc and visiting some places of interest around Betong. As Betong is a small cowboy town, we could easily visit many of the places of interest around town. But finding a parking space is a major issue in the city center

In the evening, we invited Mr Leong's friend ( Mr & Mrs Lee now are Thai citizens ) who run a retail business and tour agency (New Friend Tour Tel 073-245291 or mobile 089-8767076) for a 5 course dinner (Rm130 for a table of 6) at a local restaurant in Betong. Mr Lee's family is a major shareholder of Winter Flower garden resort and we ended up staying a night in this resort (we realised later we were given a free stay for a night at the chalet !)

Betong Town Centre

Mongkollit Tunnel &Betong Wet Market

D2 Saturday 9/4/2011 - Betong, Thailand 2011

For day 2, we focused our visits at the Betong wet market, hot spring, Piyamit tunnel & Winter Garden resort where we put up for a night.

Piyamit tunnel is about 2 km from the hot spring and the main road is better tarred now compared when I visited this place 8-9 years ago.

Betong hot spring - 5km from Betong town, we spent 2 hrs here; savoring fresh coconut water, dipping our Hong Kong legs into the hot spring pool and chatting with a food stall owner (a former Malaysian) about the life in Betong and her chequered past !

Friendship Village No 1, Piyamit Tunnel & Communist museum

D3 Sunday 10/4/2011 - Betong, Thailand 2011

From the Piyamid tunnel, we drove north to the Winter Flower Garden Resort, and the journey took about 30 mins after passing a winding & hilly road (about 15km from Piyamid tunnel). This stretch of hilly road is partially completed at this stage, so take your time and drive carefully. 

We arrived at the resort in the evening and checked into a chalet which we had earlier booked via our Betong friend, Mrs Lee. The resort was quiet and there were not many holiday makers at the time of our visit. We were told that all the chalets have been fully booked covering all the weekends for the coming durian season which falls on July & August !

Not to waste time, we took a slow and evening stroll at the garden resort to admire the greeneries & the surrounding natural environment. The air was serence and fresh ! Standing from a higher point of the resort, the oveall view was stounding !
We could only have our dinner (Rm41) at the resort as there were no other restaurants operating in this remote area.

After nightfall, there were not much activites in the resort so we chose to retire early. Though the chalet is non-aircond but the cool air at the surrounding environment gave us a good night sleep.

1)Winter Flower Garden, Friendship Village No 2, Betong 

2) Food glorious food - some of the Betong delicacies we tasted (fish maw soup, chicken rice, century egg porridge, wanton noodle, roasted pork....)

3)Fresh &tasty fruit in Betong - Thai Water Lily mangoes (Rm5-6 per kilo), big honey pineapple (Rm3 per kilo) & coconuts (Rm2.50 per piece) 

" A cosy drive. The road map to Betong : KL > North South Highway > Kuala Kangsar > Pengkalen Hulu > Betong (900km return) .

The secrets of Life: Richness is not earning more, spending more or saving more. Richness is when you need no more"