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In the 12th century, Indian traders established a port at a channel between the ocean, a vast lake and two peninsulas, dubbing it Singora after a pair of islets resembling lions. Later dominated by Chinese merchants, Malay Muslims and Siamese Buddhists, who preferred the name Songkhla, the port also attracted traders from across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The area retained a measure of autonomy until the early 20th century, when Songkhla became a Thai province. Locals still harbour a strong sense of regional identity and pride.
From this deep history came graceful Sino-European houses along with temples, mosques and a magnificent Chinese-style palace that’s now part of Songkhla National Museum. In 2015 the city made architectural preservation “an urgent task,” transforming former wealthy homes into museums as street artists added ghostly murals and entrepreneurs opened cafes, galleries and boutique hotels. While the old town attracts growing numbers of Thai and Malaysian tourists, few Westerners have caught up to Songkhla ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)
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