Just returned (at 12pm from aunt's house) from a 4-day trip to the south of Thailand, Hat Yai and Songkhla to be exact. I haven't had a proper vacation in 10 years+, and this one was well worth waiting for. I carried a pocket journal with me the whole trip, and I'll pen down everything form paper onto the web page.
Day 1 - December 11th
6AM- Woke up from a 2-3 hours sleep. Dad's un-mutable snoring gave me one heck of a night.
6.42- We leave for breakfast in Ipoh Gardens East. Ah Yee said we'd leave by 7 sharp or she'll pay breakfast for all of us 7 people. :P
7.24- Reach Ipoh. Been some 4-5 years since I last came here, I dont recall any McD's and Tesco here from the last time. Quite some old buildings still stand from the olden days, lots of new ones stand too. One new feature is this sort of camera that takes snap shots of road users who beat the red traffic light. Saw 2-3 fellas caught in the act.
8.00- Ate a small plate of wantan mee. Some financial crisis. We continue our journey up north.
10.57- We reach the tours service that will take us in and around Hat Yai. Met our tour guide, Ah Chai (I'd like to imagine his name being Chaiwarat Parithow).
11.25- Hopped on our van, traveled for about 5 minutes and went through customs and immigrations department, and we cross the border into Thailand!! First things I notice are the many tuktuks along the roadside, and that 99% of motorcyclists here dont wear helmets. Riders here have some Mat Rempit DNA too apparently, they ride fast, but not dangerously. Also, this place (Sadao is where the border is located) is full of 7-11 stores. I wonder why.... Also, roads here are filled with Thai flags and portraits of their king. Hows that for patriotism...
11.30 (Change to Thai local time, +7 GMT) - We cross over a bridge that welcomes us to the city of Hat Yai. First impressions of the place looks similar to Ipoh, with shops filling up the streets here. Speaking of shops,one shop here will occupy 2-3 shop lot spaces. So if in Mas where shop lots are one individual store, here you can see shops like motorbike shops or electronics shops stretch to use up 2-3 shop lot units.
11.48- We check in at the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel. I dont know if its been officially rated a 5-star hotel, but in my book, it sure is. Here's some pics.
This is what we see when we look to the left in front of the hotel
And this is what we see when we look to the right
Yep, Lee Gardens has McD's too. KFC and Pizza Hut as well
Rooftop garden from my cousin's room
Isn't that a pleasant view?
12.00pm- We were given our keycard to room 1421. Not too shabby, has a tv and mini-fridge. The clock is set 2 hours behind Mas time, who knows why. Nice marble walls and floor line the bathroom. Nice bathtub too.
12.30- We head to a local food shop for lunch. Had Thai fried rice mixed with prawn and crab meat, oysters with egg, sotong, and most importantly, tomyam! First sip of pure Thai toyam tickles the tongue with its spices and maybe sweetness when mixed with santan.
1.00- Ride a tuktuk to a local market (there are many throughout Hat Yai, and they are similar to markets here in Mas). Bought clothes and souvenirs. At one of the crammed markets we visited, an old lady was selling shoes. I figured I could buy one to replace my already beaten up pair of black school shoes. Yich, the lady kept grabbing my arm and persuaded me to buy her shoes. Eew.... Couldn't find the right pair anyway, none had my size.
3.15- Return to hotel. Noticed that Lee Gardens has a swimming pool, sky buffet (33rd floor, the very top) and health massage service.
4.40- Tried out my very first bath in a bathtub. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh....... how relaxing.... until I was left soaking inside for almost 45 minutes. *oops*
7.00- Explore the town at night. Nightlife brings out all the roadside stalls, as they pack the front of our hotel and just about everywhere else with food stalls and souvenirs stalls. Noticed that beggars too line up some walkways here. Had Thai style mee + kuey teow in gravy for dinner.
8.00- A tuktuk we took to go to the night bazaar wont start, so we swapped tuktuks. Tuktuk drivers here try very hard to get customers to ride their tuktuks.
8.07- Reached the bazaar. Very jammed and packed compared to our pasar malams. Canvas roofs are just centimetres above my head, the bazaar is filled with funny smells and all sorts of shops, mainly imitation clothes. Saw a shop selling cute puppies, but nobody brought a camera to the bazaar, so.... : (
9.10 - Back at hotel after an hour of walking around. A day of walking and shopping sure takes a toll on your legs. Flipped through the 75 channels on TV, only 4-5 are in English. Astro Wah Lai Toi is here too.
11.00- Tried sleeping, dad's snoring made things hard.
Day 2- 12th December
6AM- A rough night was ended with a nice wake-up call service from the hotel.
7.05- Went to the 10th floor, also the sky-lobby, for our free buffet breakfast. We'll enjoy the same free buffet breakkie for the length of our stay. :D Here's our food and drinks, and some shots of the sky lobby:
Chicken and mushroom soup. Hot milk behind the soup bowl
Steamed mee, tomato, fries, tempura and chicken sausage. (My breakfast)
The fruit stand
From our table
View from sky lobby window
From the entrance at the sky lobby
I like this fountain.... :)
Food counter.... mmmm...... free buffet......... :]
8.00- Did some shopping in front of our hotel. After that we headed to the Goddess of Mercy (or Kuan Yin) Temple for prayers. Lots of firecrackers was set off, there was also a statue of the Laughing Buddha (sorry, no pics on those).
Ah Yong and Yi Jeong setting up the crackers
That tall tall tower is where we hang the crackers. Pay RM100+ if you want yours to go right to the top.
The Kuan Yin
Walk up the stairs to see the laughing Buddha
9.40- More praying at the Four-Faced Buddha Temple. Also released birds after making wishes.
Ah Yong KK's birds
Fly birds, fly!!!
10.00- Family group photo at the Golden Buddha Temple. A very nice view of the whole Hat Yai city can be seen from here.
10.50- Visited a local snacks sort of warehouse/shop. Saw a cockle farm along the way. Bought a good load of tidbits. An old lady making dodoi didnt give me a response when I asked for a photo of her. Oh well....
11.15- Van goes on a ferry across a river that takes us to Songkhla.
11.45- Arrive at a seaside, seafood shop for lunch. Tomyam, fish, sotong, soft-shell crab, cockles, mmmmm.........
Erm, what's this called in English? Cantonese its called la-la
12.40PM- Visited the golden mermaid statue.
2.00- Went sight seeing after riding a hill lift to the top of Tang Kuan Hill near the Songkhla seaside. Visited the Golden Pagoda of Songkhla, we rested while a noisy, loud-chatting family and their hyperactive children ran around ringing the bells that circle the pagoda site.
Hey, look here.
Little girl ringing the one of bells
2.30ish- Went back down, and found photos of our faces taken and pasted on nice ceramic plates, I dont think I'll be eating off "my" face.... :P
3.45- Back at hotel.
8.00- Dinner of Hat Yai porridge with some normal stuffs, fish, chicken, etc. Walked around, I didnt find any nice things to buy tonight.
10.50- Had birds nest and Thai cendol for supper.
Day 3 - 13th December
6.05AM- woke up to a flooded room entrance and bathroom. Later investigations showed that the occupants in the room next to us left the tap running overnight, causing water to spill out and seep to other rooms.
7.50- Same breakkie as yesterday, only that the mee is replaced with fried rice. Met with the lady from Ling Optical who did up my glasses. Small small world... :)
1.00pm- Had Hatyai chicken rice for lunch. Didnt pick up much difference compared to our chicken rice.
The whole day was spent just walking around and some more shopping, until
6.15- We arrive at Hansa Palace for dinner + a cabaret show. I had no idea what that was, and the advertisement flyer on our dinner showed some women, scantily dressed. And later dad tells me they are transvestites. Eeewww......... I lost my appetite at this moment.
7.45- The show starts with traditional dancing in traditional clothing. Doesnt look too bad, in fact, the, ahem, men, look very much like, erm, women, and you cant really tell them apart. Then there was this, man/woman dressed with just undergarments, parodying the song "I Will Survive", and did some funny mouth and tongue gestures, and also digging his/her armpit. Some parts were I felt, things I should watch in 3-4 years time. It wasnt enjoyable, but I wont say it was terrible either. The traditional dances were the only parts I liked.
Dig that armpit!!!
9.00ish- Final group photo in front of the hotel ground lobby.
Final Day - 14th December
8.30AM- We say goodbye to Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel, and to Hat Yai.
9.40- Cross over back to Malaysia.
6.10PM- Back at aunts house in Tapah after a massive jam due to ke por chi Malaysians slowing down to see an accident at the side of the road. Wira hits taxi, taxi hits another car. Since it's so late, we decide to go home tomorrow (or, as I type this, today).
Well, there you have it. A good 3 days worth of vacation with memories that I'm sure will last decades. Pics taken courtesy of my Ah Yee, Yi Jeong, our tour guide Ah Chai, cousin Yoke Yee and her boyfriend Ah Yong, some bell boy whom I didn't see his name, and yours truly. Not sure when our next vacation will be, but these memories will sure be good stuff to tell the family and friends.
Giant longans from Thailand
This cowboy dude was selling some little toy...
Not sure what the strings do though....
Thai police car
Daredevil shot outside the tuktuk... xP
Looking out the back of the tuktuk
Here's what it's like to get into a tuktuk
A side view of a tuktuk
Insane shoes shop
More and more shoeys....
McDonalds in Thai!
Looking up at the underground mall below the hotel
Just entering the underground mall
Nice, well kept BMW 318i
Kuala Lumper? Nope, never been there.
Grrr... Horseshoe crab
Before they meet the fire, and become lunch.
Damn those prawns are HUGE!
Yeah, mug pug shot....
Special only in Thailand, and at RM4, quite a pinch on the wallet. Notice how many baths you need to take to eat one.
Did I say Sprite? Erm, I meant the Coke, yeah, I ordered the Coke, yeah, yup.
Grrrr... King crab
"I'm telling you, the prawns are THIS big!!"
Yoke Yee, meet Mr Krabs and his grandchildren
The bell boy said "So many bags from 3 rooms, cool....."
On the way home, the capital of Kedah crashed into the capital of Perlis