Daily Archives: October 5, 2005

Army in Betong-Yindee!

Due to the unrest situation in Southern Thailand,the Southern Border Provinces Peace-Building Command (SBPPC) was set up in October 2004 and the Fourth Army sent out security forces combating the insurgency and safeguard the security of the region. The army units were dispersed throughout various provincial districts of Southern Thailand.

The army, stationed in Southern Thailand, is from the oldest and largest of the military services, the Royal Thai Army, with its headquarters in Bangkok. The army operated through four regional army commands. The First Army, headquartered in Bangkok, is responsible for the country’s western and central provinces and the capital city. The northeastern quadrant is the territorial home of the Second Army, and its regional headquarter is in Nakhon Ratchasima. The Third Army, with headquarter in Phitsanulok, is responsible for the northern and northwestern parts of the kingdom and the Fourth Army, with its headquarter in Nakhon Si Thammarat, is responsible for southern Thailand region.

Although the army’s primary mission was to defend the country against aggression by foreign ground forces, for many years invasion was considered an unlikely possibility by Thai civilian and military leaders and it is believed that such threats, if any, probably could be circumvented politically without need for a military response. Consequently, from the 1960s field action by army units concentrated mostly on dispelling insurgency and providing internal security.

Since the unrest situation in Thailand, the Forth army’s job has not been easy. Many army units were sent to the South to carry out their duties. One of their visible duties is checking or scrutinizing the passing vehicles and people. We can find many checkpoints along the main highways connecting the various towns, for example highway from Betong town to Yala. There are also soldiers stationed in various parts of the different towns in Southern Thailand and Betong is no exception.

Checkpoint before entering Betong Town from Yala Road

Soldiers carry out their duties

Roadside surveillance security system/Soldiers on guard

As Betong is relatively safe as compared to other areas of Southern Thailand, we can often find soldiers wandering around in the town in a more relaxed manner. They are mixing around quite well with the local people here and their coming certainly bring some “liveliness” to the small business operators in Betong. Just imagine, there are more than 700 soldiers coming to station around this little town and the suburb areas. Each day their foods and daily consumables create income for the local people here. Every afternoon, we can see army cars parking in front of the market to buy foods.

For some of the tourists who enter Betong and the business operators who need to travel in and out, the soldiers may cause a little inconvenience to them. However, for the hawkers in town and food sellers in the market, the soldiers are very much “Yindeetonrup!” (welcome).

Buying lunch from the market

Sticky Rice Slices

Doesn’t that look delicious? I could almost eat the picture! Yesterday afternoon, I got into the lift at school at the same time as one of the Thai teachers. She had obviously just got back from a trip to Paknam market. I didn’t even have to ask her what she had bought. She opened it up and showed me a delicious looking dessert. She then gave it to me. She must have seen the saliva dripping from the corner of my mouth. I tried to say no but she was being typically Thai and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Though I must admit I didn’t put up much of a fight of refusing it. The dessert looked so delicious. I asked her what the name was and she said “khao nieow dtut” ( ข้าวเหนียวตัด ) which means sticky rice slices.

Arriving in the computer room one of my teachers there asked what I had. I showed her and she said “oh, it is khao nieow naa nuan” (ข้าวเหนียวหน้านวล )! I said no, it is “khao nieow dtut”. She insisted it wasn’t. I then asked five different Thai people and ended up with them splitting into two different camps. It would now seem that this dessert is known by two different names though “khao nieow dtut” seems to be more popular!

Anyway, you may recognize the topping as being similar to khanom thuay which I talked about before. The white topping is made from rice flour, salt and coconut cream. In this case, as you can see, the layer is much thicker. The second layer here is also different. It is sticky rice. Overall, a very good dessert. And it only costs 5 baht per slice! In the picture you can see two slices.