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Motormouth From Ipoh

Monday, July 21, 2008

BETONG - Piyamit Tunnel & Betong Hot Spring (Part 4)

First of all, I'd like to express my deepest gratitude to a volunteer, and a flogger himself, who ever so kindly designed a new header for my humble/pitiful/colourless/lifeless blog. Yup, many had teased me for being boring enough to pick black template, and yet had the audacity to torment the readers without a proper header. Guess Crizlai has had enough of the pale and gloomy background, and took things up a notch. Thanks again! =)
Continuation from Part 3 - The Largest Mailbox ....

The convoy to our destination
If any of you remember, in my first post, I mentioned about Aunt Yoong, whose parents hailed from and still residing in Malaysia, who assisted us a lot in our endeavours in Betong. One of the more prominent tourist spot in Betong is supposed to be the must-see Piyamit Tunnel.

Finally ... after a good ~20 minutes drive from town

Driving up north from the clock tower in Betong town, using Sukkayang road, we soon reached the outskirts of town. Our mind wandered whether we were on the right track, as there was no signboards in sight, and the endless forests somehow reminded us of the grim events surrounding Yala province. Fortunately, we pressed on and caught view of road signs indicating we're well on our way to our destination. Phew ....

Entourage of Beetles provided a myriad of colours to the war-torn site

The relieving sight, sound and smell of the crowd ...

Some strange fruits (?)/ vege (?) resembling yams being sold at the entrance

The bridge with replicas of the 12 zodiac animals, according to Chinese belief

The entrance to the tunnel (RM5 per pax)

A brief history of the tunnel

Yup,the tunnel was used as a base for the communists way back in 1977. Somehow, the camarederie offset the grievances, despair, and bleak history of the place. Or, could we be in for a surprise?

The eternal climb to heaven ... NOT!

Bearing in mind the entrance to the tunnel is very near to the ticketing counter, we realised we were wrong, and we still had to climb a distance to the tunnel itself. Huh?! The weather was horrendously hot that particular day, we were sweating buckets, and yet had to jungle-trek?!! Oh well ....

Helpful guy (supposedly ex-communist himself) explaining the history, and architectural features of the place ... in Mandarin. Shucks ...

After a short (ahem, I beg to differ, it was LONG enough to sap 3/4 of my energy) climb, we reached a platform where a very friendly uncle told some grandfather's story, which was interesting, covering the history of the tunnel, and the utilities for war/cooking/storage. However, my command of Mandarin is akin to an Indian speaking French (=P), therefore my mind wandered ... "Hmm, wonder will we bump into any ghosts around this area?" ... "Hey, wouldn't it be fun if he demonstrated how they cooked and what they ate back then?" ...

Trust me, you would NOT want to step into this small cavern .... (hint : look at the ceiling above !!! Yikes!!!)

Those suffering from claustrophobia should be warned

The eerie tunnel measured around 1km, with various exits

The whole tunnel was a maze, with nooks and crannies we did not explore fully. Trust me, walking around while hunching over (the ceiling's pretty low in some areas) somehow takes your breath away, if the view hasn't. And climbing short and high steps continuously reminded me of my breathless/asthmatic experience at the Great Wall of China. Huffing and puffing away, we miraculously survived the ordeal. (Yippee!)

Bye guys! Salutation for being able to survive in such cramped condition!!

Betong's very own Statue of Liberty?!! =P

After exiting the tunnel, we were led to an exhibition room, with another round of explanation by a lady, also formerly an ex-activist herself. However, no snapping of photos is allowed. Which I humbly abided to, of course.

Aaah ... cold and soothing on a scorching afternoon!!!

Soon, it was time to leave. But it was still early to retire back to our room for a rest. Therefore, we aimed for the next destination, which is very near to the tunnel; Betong Hot Spring.

Doesn't this remind you of California? Palm trees and all? ;)

The Betong Hot Spring

No entrance fees required. The Betong Hot Spring is a natural lake situated somewhere near the tunnel. You'll pass by this area on your way back to town. However, soaking our feets in the boiling hot water on a steaming hot day somehow sounded ridiculous.

Boil your eggs here. Or your clams (as proven possible by a mother and child combination)

After walking around aimlessly, trying to find a shed (yup, probably most of us were waxed princes/princesses in our previous lives), we decided to scram, and the thought of standing under a cold shower, and then relaxing on our fluffy beds in a fully air-conditioned room was never too appealing.

The Wai Sek Kai (Food Street) of Betong, a few roads away from Central Market

The tong sui (Sweet soup) auntie is operating on this street itself. (Refer old post for reference). To appease the hunger pangs, we went for a stroll around town. Of course, food's never too far when the Motormouth's tagging along. =P

Bearded Uncle : Show me the MONAY!!!!

Everyone went for another round of tong sui, then we came to this stall selling fried porky goodness.

Deep fried lean pork meat with sesame

Random fish roe, deep-fried to perfection

The pork strips were rather tough, but being lean meat, that's understandable. He sells half lean-half fatty cuts as well, deep fried til golden brown. He broke a piece of the fish roe for us to try, and the taste is somewhat an acquired one. Salty, and briny, I found them savoury, perfect as complements to a cold jug of beer.

Til the next instalment .... (FCOE, this is gonna conclude soon, no worries ... =P)


SuwEi said...

No doubt people going to Piyamit tunnel should have a good stamina, walking up the steps.

Anonymous said...

wei.. nice header wo.. someone did for u... no wonder la.. i dun think it's ur work to design it.. =P haha..

Anonymous said...

You can do a Hong Kong movie man, sequel No.4 now, tho no sad or happy love story....just food food food and your travellings. Really nice pics and until today I cannot believe you take these pics with your Nokia..pls correct me. It cannot be this good or I abandon my Sony for this.

Anonymous said...

j2, these are bamboo shoots not some strange food but wonder how you eat them. Did you try or are they nice?

Little Inbox said...

I believe I'm not ready to go in the tunnel yet. Must build up my stamina first.

Ciki said...

i said this before.. betong is damn cool.. very indiana jones and the temple of doom:D were there any flyin poison darts?! lol

Min said...

I didn't expect the path to the Piyamit Tunnel to be that tough, hehe, wondering how those uncles and aunties managed to get through it :)

minchow said...

Don't you think the Thais do deep fried best? They make an art out of dunking anything in boiling oil cauldrons!

Anonymous said...

That entourage of Beetles has got to be the coolest thing EVER! A rainbow parade! :D

HairyBerry said...

pitiful/colourless/lifeless blog???? harlow, this is one of the liveliest foodblogs, man! nice header :)

somehow, the tunnel reminds me gua tempurung...

J2Kfm said...

suwei & min : yup, that's true. I still rmbr how Min made those "aiyak .. aiyak" sound. =P

kca : sai mm sai so sarcastic ah? hehe! maybe he also cannot tahan see the bland header.

jencooks : erm, yeah. all using my Nokia. only for Betong pics, some are from my friend's camera (ie : the bats in cave shot, the staircase in tunnel shot, and the fried pork shots) ... btw, I didnt try them, as they looked intimidating enough. haha

little inbox : nolah ... not THAT stressful. it's very windy inside the tunnel though. a bit eerie, infact ...

cumi & ciki : nope, no flying darts. though mosquitoes were everywhere. oh, and no GIANT ants, but some creepy crawlies do exist.

550ml jar of faith : agreed! even the deep fried crawlies taste good!

kenny mah : yup, the colourful rows of Volkswagen sure attracted a lot of clicking.

nic : gee,thanks. now I owe you one. :)

Anonymous said...

The tunnel reminds me of Vietnam Cu Chi tunnels when Vietnamese fight and escapes from the Americans.

Your Nokia serves you well with the well taken pics. Is this a holiday trip or work trip? So fun and adventurous.