03 March 2013

A quickie and wet escapade into Hat Yai

Hat Yai is not one of the best cities on the earth but  deceptively a wonderful city to visit occasionally and periodically when my feet are itchy for some not-so-faraway foreign adventures. I'd only been here twice and only for a few days at a time, but this place is always happy to welcome me back and offers me some new experience each time I lay  my feet onto this region. It is fairly an inexpensive place to visit and with an exchange rate of  approximately 10 Thai Bath to 1 MYR you can practically forget Maggie mee or Brahim chicken masalla forever and can safely exclude them in you travel baggage. If you consider walking is  not the best transportation mode in Hat Yai, Tuk-tuk is the best option to get around comfortably and affordably. With only a few Thai Bath, it will get you to almost anywhere around Hat Yai, to places where you can find delectable foods and major tourist attractions. The best thing with tuk-tuk is that you won't get lost  and that is very assuring enough.

The trip started when we traveled up North for another interesting fact-finding mission. A  trip to Kedah and Perlis, the Northern  part of Malaysia had never ceased to persuade my adventurous spirit to hop across the border for an ad-hoc adventure into the foreign land. This time I submitted myself to an urge of  visiting the Klong Hae floating market in hoping to catch a glimpse of Thailand's unique and vibrant marketplace and to capture those brilliant sight through the lens of my camera. 

With that one and only special mission, my entourage obediently followed me into this Sawadee-kap territory for a three days two nights floating market photo-safari short trip. For some of  my entourage members, that was their virgin visit to Thailand and they expect  the new place will be kind to them and the people will be gentle as well. Both assumptions (the place and the people) were spot on except the weather was not on their best mood. The first night after we checked-in into our hotel, the sky opened up and generously poured down the rain heavily - nonstop. Few hours later we received a warning note under our hotel's door that flood was  inevitable and any guest that parked their car at the underground car park had to move their vehicle to a higher ground. Looking trough my hotel's window and how heavy the rain  poured down that night I had to believe that the warning was not a joke or some kind of  hotel new-year's prank. Not to be defeated by the weather, we managed that night to scout the surrounding area and enjoyed some tasty street food for our dinner.

The next morning we received another bad news that  Klong Hae river was over-flooded  and there won't be any floating market in that wet and potentially dangerous condition. So, half-heartedly we packed our bag, panickly check-out from the hotel and jumped into the waiting  van that was supposed to chauffeur us to the Klong Hae river but then to  head back down-South  into the Motherland.  Before we ended our trip and since we had some un-spent Thai Bath in our pocket which was  also another good reason to justify our craving for foreign souvenirs, we waded the heavy rain and stormed into some street stalls to empty our wallet.

I didn't manage to buy anything except a pair of  branded-but imitation boxers for my friends and some colourful fridge magnets to mark my visit to this place. The journey back was smooth as we traveled during the weekdays (try to avoid the weekend as  immigration can be jam-packed with tourist - particularly Malaysian tourists who are looking for some wet experience)

General consensus throughout Malaysia says that Hat Yai is one of the food capitals in the Southern Thailand. I have to agree with that but Hat Yai , with very unpredictable weather and other surprises, is also the flood capital in the region. It is good and I like it.

Travelling into this exciting and unpredicted territory, you were not supposed to be alone. My jubilant entourage checked-in into a love hotel...I meant a lovely hotel.   A barricade of sand-bags was not included in the hotel brochure but somehow they gave some sense of adventure and thrill. An awesome view from the rooftop pool was an added advantage. This hotel situated at a junction of Thanon Prachathipat and Thanon Saneha Nusom and very close to everything.

Hotels and lepak spots are quite plentiful in Hat Yai.  A view from Centara Hotel lobby barricaded with sand bags ready for the flash flood. Barely missed by merely three weeks, the pre-explosion Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel stood beside McD was still intact.

Great street food, plentiful of street vendors and colorful cheap stuffs  were potent enough in their dosage to drain our pocket if we don't watch our budget carefully. Hamid restaurant, a popular halal hangout is just a walking distant from this spot, on the far right cornet of this street. At night, this spot was transformed into another side alley food paradise with prawn the size of our big ego and traditional mango on sticky rice to satisfy our unequal appetite.

The indoor section of Kim Yong market didn't look very appealing at all with load of birds' dropping and other unthinkable residues by any human standard on this indoor rooftop. However below this row of plywood, there were labyrinth of shops that will  make shopaholics salivating and never to think twice when emptying their wallet. 

Hat Yai had been and always be a shopping paradise for her Southerner neighbor.  When a Thai lady says "Mari lah abeeeee...Muroh ja abeeeee..."  you'd better watch your wallet or anything that close to your pocket with some serious precaution.

A mobile food hawker for a quick  afternoon snack is a normal sight in the street of Hat Yai. I supposed this mode of business was very convenience indeed as  you can just grab the food virtually anywhere even right from a moving tuk-tuk.

Restoran Kelantan, off the Thumnoonvitithi and Thanon Sangchan didn't look any much difference from any food stalls in Rantau Panjang. We strolled to  this restaurant  for a famous, fantastic nasi kerabou Hat Yai-style. A local delicacies of unknown and unconfirmed origin exploded with wonderful color and taste. 

My entourage, fresh and motivated to continue the journey up North. A plate of nasi kerabu managed to boost some spirit. That was  before the heavy downfall and the bad news which prematurely ended our wet dream.

A transit station near  Bkt Kayu Hitam, a rendezvous place to plan for an exciting trip across the border. We parked our cars, rented a transport, hired a  travel guide, got some Thai Bath and booked hotel at the same counter and not to forget to empty our stomach here. A one stop center before starting an exciting journey.

It is good to have friends particularly when you travel to a distance place and your Thai Bath, for example is dangerously running low  from over-spending on cheap stuffs along the street of Hat Yai. They smiled because the heavy rain and unexpected flood had saved them load of Bath from impulse buying and one-of a lifetime shopping spree.

An hour journey back to the border of our Motherland and 62 km away from Hat Yai, we reached the gateway of  Thailand/Malaysia. We  promised to go through this gate one more time for another floating mission in Hat Yai. After all the set-backs I am hoping  my entourage is still up for another uncompromising adventure in the land of Sawadee-kap.


Nizam.Ariff said...

"marilah abeeee..."

Maka aku pun cair... hahaha

Naddy said...

hope to read more on the floating amrket. bangkok one was too crowded and the water dirty.

Mulan said...

great trip..!!

DrSam said...

Nizam Ariff,
cair dan ketaq kepala lutut :)

I missed the on in Bangkok too. The prospect of going there in the wee hour of the morning had never failed to really put off my travel companions.

Great companions make great travel experience.

Faisal Admar said...


You should try Kaitod (I'm not sure the spelling) a Thai restaurant and halal.

I stopped there yesterday. Just came back from Phuket by van :)

DrSam said...

Thanks for the tip. Will try next time I visit the place.

Syed said...

You bought boxers for friends? How odd and slightly twisted.. hahaha. Sorry.. hehe. I had to have a go at that :)

That's the way to do it doc. To enjoy and to always see the silver lining in any situation. Baru best gi jalan2. Jgn le susah sikit mula la complain.

Better luck next time with the floating market tu :)

DrSam said...

Ha...ha...ha...it did sound twisted. But some people has some peculiar hobbies collecting weird items. Imagine a special album full of boxers in a living room. Freaking scary too...

Faisal Admar said...

We might go to Hadyai again since it is so close to Penang :)

zafi said...

Love Hotel Dr?
hahahahaha I've been there a very long time ago!

DrSam said...

Yes, from your place it is very convenience indeed.

I've read, I've heard but yet I have not seen people looking for cheap love there. Nice place for a good family getaway.

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Phil said...

This was a very nicely written account of your trip. Flooding can be a big problem during the last three months of the year. All of Hat Yai's major floods have occurred in November. However, January to September is generally flood-free.

The Hat Yai floating market is very small and something of a tourist trap. The famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak is also very touristy. The best one I have been to is Ampawa in Samut Songkhram province, about 90 minutes from Bangkok.

Abd Razak said...

السلم عليكم ورحمة الله

Moga sahabat sihat hendaknya di sana dengan izin~Nya...aamiin

Masa di Kelantan last December, plan memang nak ke sana tapi dah rasa seronok di Rantau Panjang & Pangkalan Kubor maka hasrat pun terkubur...:)

DrSam said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and your 'insider' information on Hat Yai. I went there for the sole purpose of visiting the floating market and it had never materialized. I take note on your caution of the place for being very commercialized but as an avid photographer I need to capture it with my own eyes and compare it with other places (Damnoek for example). Ampawa will be my next stop for sure.

DrSam said...

Abd Razak,
Waalaikumussalam sahabat. Terima kasih di atas doa tersebut semoga saudara jua di bawah payung dan limpahan kasih sayangNya yang tidak terbatas.

Berada di pekan-pekan berhampiran dengan sempadan Siam pun dah dapat rasa juga tempias suasana di seberang sana. Bercerita pasal Pengkalan Kubur dan Rantau Panjang buat saya senyum sebab teringat pengalaman sesat di sana :)

W. Hidney,
An overnight train journey to Hat yai from KL Sentral is another exciting experience on its own. Went there using this mode of transportation in 2002 and I would highly recommend you to try it.

ASH said...

Ha ha ha..
I reserve my commebt, doc!

Anonymous said...

You stopped at that transit station somewhere near bkt kayu hitam . Where is the exact location of this station ?

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