Betong is back to life
Nightlife in Betong town, which borders Malaysia, is once again bustling with activity following the lifting of a state of emergency.
Thai and Malaysian tourists can be seen thronging its streets in great numbers.
At dusk, the town, situated in a valley and often covered by mist, is aglow with lights from street lamps and the neon lights of entertainment venues.
The town’s nightlife has been dull since the emergency was declared in 2005.
Now, Betong is known for its communal harmony. Both Muslims and Buddhists follow different cultures and religions but they have been co-existing with mutual respect. As a result, there are rarely any violent incidents in the town. This situation prompted the government to lift the emergency.
Army troops have been withdrawn and they have been replaced with locally recruited rangers who have close ties with local people, thus reducing tension between the state and local Muslims.
The town has once again become a peaceful tourist destination. Buddhist monks are back on their alms-collecting rounds, without fear of violence. The reassuring presence of police and rangers can be seen on the streets, but they mostly just smile at tourists and sometimes act as photographers.
With the peaceful atmosphere and a revival in tourism, the beautiful border area has become a model town with a sustainable economy.