Betong is a small town located in a valley surrounded by forests and rubber plantations. From September onwards, the weather gets rainy and cool during night time.
Betong is also known as “ town of swallows” . In the evening from September to end of the year, visitors will be amazed with flocks of swallows flying around the clock tower, which is the city landmark and the city center. It has become one of the remarkable symbols of Betong.
Like other birds, the swallows migrate to the warmer South during winter. Hundreds of thousands of swallows from Siberia migrate here every year to perch on the city’s rooftops and weigh down the electricity cables. Years ago, Japanese bird specialists were stationed here for several consecutive years to do research on the swallows. They confirmed that the swallows were coming from as far away as Siberia.
I didn’t quite like the migratory birds initially in Betong because I had had a few “shit” experiences. Later as I found out from the books about the birds, I started to admire and tolerate with them.
According to a study, some of the Europe’s swallows head for southern Africa to escape the harsh winters of the northern hemisphere, covering about 11,000 km. The journey is particularly dangerous because they have to cross the vast Sahara Desert to reach their destination. The chances of both the members of a pair getting there and coming back safely are only about 20 per cent. By desert crossing these birds become so highly exhausted that they do not even try to fly away when anybody picks them up.
The swallows in Betong too have gone through a lot of hardship to arrive here. Just like myself, who crossed over the ocean and national boundary to pursue my life ambitions here too… :)!
Every morning, there will be lots of shits on the ground around the tower roundabout, and those parking spaces under the electricity cables, which are in fact very unhygienic. However, thanks to the municipality for washing the roads every day!
For the Malaysian tourists who come here to enjoy night life and women, the next morning when they go to get their cars parked under the electricity cables, it is not surprising to hear “oh shits” here and “oh shits” there! :)!
Swallows perching on the electricity cables.
The swallow nests.