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+ Chiang Mai
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'On the edge of the canals, especially near the coast, luscious tropical vegetation reigns. The overhanging bamboo clumps and high-rise palms offer beautiful landscapes enlivened by the occasional houses…'
KARL DOHRING, (on Southern Thailand) The Country and People of Siam (1923)
Southern, peninsular Thailand is a narrow strip of land, likened to an elephant's trunk, which joins the bulk of mainland Southeast Asia to the Malay Peninsula via the Isthmus of Kra. It is a beautiful region of coconut palms and rubber plantations, azure lagoons and sharp karst outcrops. Some Thais believe southerners are more fiery in disposition than their fellow citizens. There is little to indicate this to the visitor except perhaps the spicier food and the speed at which the local dialect of Thai is spoken.In this part of Thailand, Buddhist culture persists as far south as Nakhon Si Thammarat, then Islam begins to appear. By the time you reach Phuket, the blend of traditions is obvious. Chinese settlers, too, have left a major mark on this region. Finally, in the four 'deep south' provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun, Islam becomes predominant and Malay is the main local language. Here Thai and Malay worlds meet and merge in an unusual and successful synthesis of cultures.