The most important forest reserve in the southernmost part of Thailand, Hala-Bala is a wildlife sanctuary comprised of two forests. Hala Forest covers an area in Amphoe Betong, Yala Province and Amphoe Chanae in Narathiwat and Bala Forest lies in Amphoe Waeng and Amphoe Sukhirin, both in Narathiwat Province. The whole Hala-Bala reserve covers an area of around 43,000 hectares.
The fertile forests attract travellers who love pristine tropical rain forests unspoiled by human activity. It is a haven for many species of wildlife, especially hornbills, a natural indicator of a healthy forest ecosystem. It is no surprise that Hala-Bala is dubbed “The Amazon of ASEAN”.
In summer (starting in early March in Thailand) the rare plant Bai Mai Si Thong (golden leaf) or ‘Yan da oh’ (Bauhinia aureifolia) makes its appearance among the dense green foliage of the forest that is home to numerous plant species. Yan da oh is a climber in the same family as the Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhinia purpurea L.), it can grow very large as it climbs trees to reach the sunlight and has striking golden, heart-shaped leaves. When bright sunlight glances off the golden-coloured leaves, Yan da oh stands out elegantly from the dark-green foliage and can be seen from far away.
After summer, the plant’s foliage turns green as the rainy season begins, and then silvery in the dry season (starting around November). Another special characteristic is that there is always one leaf of yellowy-bronze colour on each tree. This unusual trait leads many people to believe that the Yan da oh holds mysterious power and they regard it to be an auspicious plant that they want to keep at home. However, the true power of Yan da oh is shown when it thrives in its natural habitat, where it is able to reveal its real beauty when reflecting the sunlight for us to see.
Make It Happen
- Yan da oh is found only in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala Provinces around a clearing along a stream from Pa Joe Waterfall in the tropical rain forest of Budo - Su-Ngai Padi National Park and Hala- Bala Wildlife Sanctuary. The best time to enjoy the charm of the golden leaves is from late March to April.
Thai Smile Airways offers direct flights from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Narathiwat.