Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Holiday Visit To Hat Yai & Songkhla Province Thailand

We landed at Hat Ya International Airport on time. Again there was a long queue at the immigration but this time no problem like what happen in manila.

As we walk out approach the first counter to ask where to purchase the taxi coupon. Now this was my first mistake. They are tour agent so for sure will charge me more. The tour agent changes me 350bath from airport to hotel. If you walk a little further close to the domestic terminal, you will find the taxi counter which will cost 320bath only. This i only learn on the day of our departure which is blessing because if i had known earlier then it would have spoiled my 1st day in Thailand for sure.
On the way to our hotel our drive cum tour guide wanted to sell us his taxi services but this time I was wiser. I already know how much it is to travel in Hat Yai from my research in Google. The price he quoted us was just too expensive at 2000 Bath for one day tour.

Check in at Asian hotel was a breeze. They didn't even ask for any room deposit. Again i ask the reception if they know how much to hire a tuk tuk to go to the few places in my itinerary. The receptionist told me that its better to travel in a taxi than a tuk tuk. She gave us a price that was higher than the tour guide at 2500 Bath for two days tour.
The bell boy took us to our room on the 7th floor. Hubby asked him if he knew any taxi that can take us around at cheaper rates. He told us his uncle is a taxi drive. After a phone call, he told us that his uncle can do all our tour for 2200 Bath including transfer back to airport for our departure.

The room was large and able to fit am extra bed comfortably. The room also comes with a bath tub but it looks so old that you won dare to soak yourself in it. Overall the room looks old and tired but clean. They only provide us one pillow each. When I ask for extra pillows, they said cannot and that it’s provided. The strange part was that the next day they did provide us the extra pillows. I guess the house keeper must have pitied us when they saw our make shift bolster.
The view outside our window and the five foot way in front of the Hotel.
 I went down with my family for a quick lunch at Lee plaza which was just around the corner. We chose a Japanese restaurant specilized in Ramen Noodles. The noodles were delicious and super cheap. Only 350 Bath for all. On the way back to the hotel, we grab a cup of Thailand ABC.

Our first stop that same afternoon was the Kuan Im temple. We bought two birds to be released for good luck. You can also ring the bells found all around the temple luck. The statue looks small in the picture but in reality its actually huge.

Next we walk through a golden Dragon mouth to another section with a huge statue of the Happy Buddha and 12 Chinese zodiac animals.
Further away on the hill you can see the Standing Buddha. You can climb the long staircase by the way thru the Dragon mouth or ask the taxi driver to take you there. This I did because it’s a very high climb to the top.
Before leaving the Kuan Im Temple, the staff showed us some photograph taken of us. It was already enclosed in a photo frame. We wanted to purchase the photos without the frame but it was not allowed. However they did not force us buy. Later we found out that every tourist stop including in Songkhla had this photo selling gimmick.

We got into our taxi cab and rode it to the Standing Buddha Complex. This Buddha is not only huge but humongous.
On top of this hill is a breathtaking view of Hat Yai. It was very serene up here. Good for praying and reflection.
Next to the Standing Buddha is Hat Yai Cable Car. You can take the Cable to the other hill which stands the 4 face Buddha. We did not take the cable car because our taxi fare includes driving up to the 4 face Buddha.
I do not know why they call this the 4 face Buddha. To me it’s should be called 3 head elephant. Everything here is about praying to the elephant deity. Definitely the elephant is impressive.
The roads in Hat Yai is lined with pictures and statues of the royal families.
Next stop is Chang Puak Camp where they allow you to ride the elephant for 500 Bath per person inclusive of water and fruits. They also provide dirt bike rides for the same price. Another 100 Bath was spend to buy a basket of bananas to feed the elephant at the end of our ride.
Our elephant trainer is TOM and on his hat is written tip for 100 Bath and above. He was kind enough to take a few photographs of us with the elephant so we did give him a tip.
It was scary when I first got on the elephant. The ground looks so far and it was swaying from left to right. It felt like as if I was going to be thrown off the elephant. Almost wanted to tell them to cancel the ride. 

However a few meters away I got used to the elephant gait and started to enjoy the ride.
All in all it was a 30 mins ride. Starting with crossing a swallow pond. Can you spot the two big round balls of poo?
Then TOM allows his elephant to eat some sugar cane as a treat.
Next it was allowed to drink water and TOM told it to blow some water into the air.

TOM pointed out to the male elephant which was kept out of the main camp and another sick elephant tied to a tree. The male elephant is the one with the long tusk.
We cross the village that he lives in. He also showed us the baby elephant. The latest addition to their family.
To me this does not look like a conservation camp. It feels more like a place where the animal is used to make a living for the humans. Anyway we hope our investment somehow gets to feed those elephants.
We got back to the hotel in the evening, we decided to eat at the restaurant in the hotel called Lucky. It was delicious and a good end to our first day in Hat Yai.
The next day we head down to Songkhla to visit the royal pavilion built during the reign of King Rama V. To get here we had to take a rail based cabin tram up Tang Kuan hill. On the hilltop is a Dvaravati chedi housing the Buddha’s relics that was built during the Nakhon Si Thammarat Empire.  




There is another breathtaking 360 degree view of Songkhla.
To get to the royal pavilion or Khao Tang Kuan, we had to walk down the long stairs case to the bottom. At first I was against going down because I did like the thought of climbing back up but Hubby insisted that we go since we already came all the way here.

There is a group of local monkeys near the base station of this hilltrain and of course vendor selling the famous coconut ice cream. So yummy. Definitely a must for all tourists.
Next stop to see the dragon.
After the dragon, our driver took us to see the famous mermaid at Samila Beach. There are some stalls selling souvenirs and food along the beach as well as horse riding activity.
By now, we were getting hungry. Our driver suggested eating at the restaurant in Songkla Zoo. The restaurant also had a good view.

Songkla Zoo is fun because you can drive your car inside the park itself. It cost 250 Bath for one car. Easy for the legs. No need to walk. But you need plenty of water. It gets kind of hot after awhile. The zoo looks as if it is way overdue for a refurbishment. Other wise, it was fun to be so close to the animals that you can actually touch them.

I thought this was a live croc!




After the zoo, we went to visit Klonghae Floating Market. The market only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting from 3pm. We got there a little early and the shops were not all fully opened yet but at least it was less crowded. Our driver dropped us on the opposite side of the river. We had to cross the bridge to get to the market.
The market is all about food. We came with our belly not so empty so we can eat only so much. They sell many variety of local foods and its Halal.



The best part about this market is how you can buy a drink that comes in a pot of clay which you can bring back with you as a souvenir.

In our last night at Hat Yai, we had our dinner at Sizzlers. The last time I had dinner at Sizzlers was in Australia. Here the cost for the whole meal was only 1140 Bath.

The next morning after breakfast, we took a walk and visited Kim Yong Market. Come here to buy the famous Hat Yai cashew nuts, ikan bilis and chessnuts. Instead of buying from the stalls that lined the whole street of the town. The snacks are sold cheaper in the market.

Although already filled up with breakfast, we could not help but eat some more at the airport while waiting for our flight back to KL. Dairy cream yum. Only 29 Bath special for Air Asia passengers. Their departure lounge is better than ours. Ewww.

These are stash of grubs and souvenirs that we bought from Hat Yai including Pork Noodle too. Its right at the back covered by the squid. 
Overall enjoyed our trip to Hat Yai. Not enough time. One more day would have been better. We did not have time to visit their malls so not many cloths to show off.

Here are more sights in Hat Yai.


 A tiny bird sleeping found on the pathway along the streets of Hat Yai



2 comments:

  1. Hi Madam, I like your blog.I was reading up on a destination for a roadtrip and came across your blog. I like the way you described the journey and places of interests. Thanks for sharing .

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Madam, I like your blog.I was reading up on a destination for a roadtrip and came across your blog. I like the way you described the journey and places of interests. Thanks for sharing .

    ReplyDelete

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