Saturday, October 6, 2018

Betong, Thailand (Nava K's Weekend Tripping)

Betong? I went like, where the hell is Betong? Is there such a place as Betong in the first place? Honestly guys, I'm not shy to admit I have never ever heard of Betong in my entire life. In fact, when my two friends, the couple, the husband and wife team I travel with every now and then mentioned Betong and also asked me if I want to join them for a road trip to Betong, for a minute or two, I really didn't know what to say. Of course, how could I have possibly said no (Jogjakarta & Kyoto/Osaka)? Me and my love for travelling and trust me, as long as I am able, there will no bracket to me globe tracking (Kuantan) whether in country bound (Pulau Ketam, Penang & Langkawi) or across the sea. Anyway, once I digested the fact that Betong is actually a town in Southern Thailand, near our Malaysian border, which by the way didn't matter to me, nor I cared too hooks where I will be heading (Melaka, Port Dickson & Sungkai), I quickly and loudly said yes without even checking with my other half-half. 

How did this husband of mine react when I later told him? I think he would have expected me to check with him first because he went silent and then unwillingly nodded his head. Did it make a difference to me whether he wholeheartedly agreed? Not really. As far as I know, I don’t need his permission to do the things I love and sometimes I think being away from our husbands for a few days will do a whole lot of good for our marriage. Whereby they have to fan for themselves instead of taking us for granted or we giving up what makes us happy for their sake. All you married women out there? What say you? Especially those of you who have been married for donkey years like me? Any say or you have no say in your marriage? If you are asking me, don't you think our time to ourselves for clean fun is our right, right? Instead of 365 days and 24 hours devoting our undivided attention to our husbands? Wouldn't you agree? Go ahead. Speak your mind. I'm all ears. 

Bags packed for this weekend 3 days trip, leaving on Friday and returning first thing first on Sunday morning. By 9.00am, we hit the road and mind you, we did encounter some hiccups here and there along the way. Nevertheless, nothing major for interrupting our drive and two stops in between. The first, brunch in Restaurant Happy Yummy, Bidor, where the only choice was Yong Tau Foo from the stall solely manned by the lady. Whatever, we didn't have any qualms tucking into the quite favourable praiseworthy meal. Actually I must say deliciousness. Fish paste filled items in curry, in soup and paired alongside dry style noodle, washed down with hot beverages.

Hunger ditched aside, we got moving till the next stop in Restaurant Kuang Xi Zi, Gerik for lunch. Nothing much actually by this late afternoon. Only a few dishes for rice which we didn’t mind, and what caught our attention more than food were the gourds. Gourds dried and painted and some hung on the ceiling, most probably you can buy as well. Wow! Admirable. What a way to go. People in such remote areas and their thinking capacity and and artistic skills. Tell me about it. Tell me about travelling and what we discover and experience?     

On the road again and believe me, the drive via Pengkalan Hulu, Perak and throughout the whole narrow road was truly mind blowing. Huge trees and nature untouched virgin jungle lined on both sides and we admiring this, I would like to say as scenic mind touching view until we reach the border. The border where imigresen is and where you must get down to the necessary paper work. Quite a confusing thing actually, especially if you are going to be a first timer like us. We fumbled too and while at figuring out how to fill up the forms, gosh, we were not left alone by those who couldn't figure out how to do the same. Moreover, I must mention about the groups and groups of Indian men who were not only tickled looking at me, they of course didn't hesitate in giving me the Tamil movie stares and I. I as usual was cool. In fact I spoke to a couple of them and they in return making it a point in telling me which hotel they will be staying and also giving me hints we should meet up in Betong. Hahahaha! Funny! The type of people we bump into while travelling and they judging and reading us? Honestly, I felt quite proud because me, this Indian lady and her 54 years? Shouldn't I be proud? Still in demand? Just kidding guys! Actually, come to think of it, why not? 

All necessary forms sorted out and also our passport stamped, into Betong we went until we realise we have over-shot and we were not even sure which direction we should be heading. Asking of course was the best option, oh-glad we made it and next came the question where we will be spending two nights because we didn’t prior book any hotel. Checking out a few, finally, we agreed on Betong Merlin Hotel. Into my room, just a basic one, nothing much to shout about, two bottles of mineral water and I couldn't help asking myself if bed sheets and  pillow covers are clean. Having said that, overall a spacious and acceptable room, and thank god bathroom was, to a certain extent, spic and span. Bags aside and we later walking down the slope from the hotel and towards the main road.

Betong! What should you expect? Like a cowboy town and as though you are in Hat Yai and notably a favourite haunt for Malaysians. Of course some scatter of tourists from other parts of the world, but mostly Chinese. 

What did we do next? Into ATM's Cafe for tea break. Cozy and admirable ambiance but quite cramped, we tucked into fried popiah, garlic toast, sandwiches and me sipping into Green tea Cappuccino Green Tea whereas my friends had hot tea. My say on this meal? Nothing to shout about, neither must I complain.   

Thereafter? Walking as far as we could and till where Betong Mongkollit Tunnel is. Supposedly one of the attractions in Betong. Really? I am not sure why. Maybe tunnel and coming with it some sort of significance, or just a tunnel people get hyped up for no apparent reason and of course we joining the rest in starting at Betong Mongkollit Tunnel.
Subsequently, to the close by and like within a five minutes walking distance Wat Kuan Im Buddist Temple. Impressive. Nice. Must be regarded as a pride of Betong. Furthermore, god, religion and religionism regardless in tandem with giving respect, getting blessings and being grateful you actually get to travel compared to others who can't albeit they badly yearn for? Of course. 
Half an hour, more or less in Wat Kuan Im Buddhist Temple, we then made a turn for walking along the row and row shops, and that’s when it knocked sense into me that Betong is a popularity for men. Including maybe for those groups and groups of Indian men I bumped into at the border who wouldn't stop smiling and grinning? Betong and men? Apparently and notably, Betong is a sex paradise and sexual prowess for the young and oldest. As old as they are, and for the single and most probably married men too. Basically sexual trill, frill and letting go of their bottled up and down juices, and could be because they can’t get enough satisfaction from Malaysian women? You should have seen them. Grabbing and holding tight the mostly young sexily dressed Thai chicks. Just wondering if Betong offers sexual excitement for women as well? No, no, don't get me wrong. I am not saying I am deprived of sex, me and sex long gone anyway but no harm in finding out for introducing to women I personally know who may be interested.   

An hour plus of walking and later, we agreeing to foot massage. Lotsa choices. In fact, all the massage centers side by side and we randomly opting for Health Care. How did it go? Not my money worthy, or perhaps massage did do a fair bit of justice for resting and relaxing my feet.

An hour of massage and then, hunger bells ringing for indicating an early dinner and instead of opting for the two crowded unassuming eateries at the junction, we opted for the corner lot one across. Kontai Restaurant. White Tom Yam, Salted Egg Kerabu/Salad, Pucuk Paku/Shoots Spikes and Steamed Lemon Chili Fish tucked alongside rice I must say did put a smile. Not bad but when bill came calling, we were shocked. Seriously, we didn't expect bill will total up to RM130.00. What? God! For this meal in this coffee shop style? Did we keep quiet? Of course not. The logic and reasoning to the amount we were told? Our fallen Malaysian ringgit, or we were taken for a joy ride, or a gimmick or us and our skin color? Ripping tourists? And whoever who have been saying Betong food is cheap should be socked. People can over-exaggerate. Especially those thousands of Malaysian men who cross the border as an escape route out of their houses and in the name of supposedly going away for business.  

Anyway, we paid and as we headed to the hotel, we continued surveying Betong town and at the lobby, we inquired about transport from the staff for our next day's sightseeing. This guy immediately, like within split seconds made the arrangement for tuk-tuk to pick us up by 10am and we agreeing on the said cost. Done. Oh, did I sleep? Mmmmmm!! I really can't tell you what and what not about the rendezvous during the wee hours in hotel. Obviously, hotel was abuzz. Banging and slamming doors, people speaking on top of their voices and walking up and down noisily and those loud crazy giggles I think must be the after effects of night life boozing and tipsiness.  

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