Monday, April 9, 2012

Hatyai - Samila Beach and Klong Hae Floating Market

Hatyai - 18 March 2012 (Day 1)

While on transit at LCCT to Penang on 17th March, I got in touch with a travel agent for a van to Hatyai through the recommendation of Chong. At that point, the intention was to inquire from the agent about transportation into Alor Setar from Hatyai, because we had originally planned to travel to Gunung Keriang near Alor Setar to buy some crystal which my friends were interested. However, the travel agent did not offer this service and special arrangement would come with a fee.

We accepted the offer from the agent for the return trip of Penang/ Hatyai/ Penang with accommodation thrown in for a price of MYR130. According to Chong, a weekday price would be between MYR70 - 100 but 18th March being Sunday, the price would be more expensive. The money would be paid to the van driver.

We left Oriental Hotel in Penang at about 5:35 a.m. to another destination to pick up four Indonesians who would be going to Hatyai too. The Indonesians were late. We finally left for Hatyai at about 6:00 a.m.

At about 7:30 a.m., we arrived at Naluri Aman Sdn. Bhd. at Bukit Kayu Hitam. There were two food stalls there but we did not take our breakfast there. Here, we exchanged our Malaysian Ringgit to Thai Baht. The rate here was very much better compared to the rate offered at Hong Leong Bank at LCCT.  For MYR200, I obtained THB1,770 (MYR1: THB8.85) at Hong Leong Bank. Here, for MYR300, I obtained THB2,979 (MYR1: THB9.93). That was a difference of THB1.08 for MYR1. For MYR200, I lost THB216 to Hong Leong Bank! So readers, don't exchange your money at the airport at LCCT Terminal.

While at Naluri Aman, we passed our passports, MYR2 .00 for each passport and the departure cards which the driver asked us to sign to him for immigration paperwork. The MYR2.00 is kopi-o money, and if I were to call a spade a spade, it is bribe money to get the passports stamped with the Thai Immigration.

Forty minutes later, we were on our way again and we reached the Malaysian immigration check-point at about 8:15 a.m. We were early and there was no queue.

 Four minutes away by van was the Thai Immigration check-point.
Dannok town was just behind the Immigration check-point. It has grown into a large town and unrecognizable from the town I first visited. The first time I visited Dannok about twenty-years ago, there was no proper check-point, just a small office and someone collecting RM1 from each visitor. By 1994, a modern check-point had already been built but I remembered the town was still the same as it was on my first visit four or five years earlier, with most Malaysian visitors going shopping at the hawker stalls. There were also a number of small wooden shops offering massages with girls sitting outside them. Besides that, there was a row or two of brick shop houses and there were no three or four storey building. The road was not fully sealed yet, with side-lanes being dirt street.

This time, we did not have the opportunity to look around Dannok or to shop there. We left at about 8:30 a.m. and were soon on our way to Hatyai.

About 45 minutes later, we turned off from the highway and entered into a town road on the left. Five minutes later, we reached the periphery of Hatyai and reached our hotel at 9:30 a.m. or 8:30 Thai time.

We were soon on our way for breakfast, led by our van driver who recommended this shop for "Zhu Chap" (mixture of pork and innards soup with rice).

The arrangement with the van driver for a local tour fell through when he asked us to pay upfront for tickets to see the Thai Girl show. We just could not trust him enough with the money since he would be returning to Penang at 3:00 p.m local time that afternoon. We were on our own. Earlier, he said it would be difficult to communicate with the hotel receptionists, drivers and traders as they did not speak English. It was time for me to take over and my first task was to talk to the hotel receptionist to help to arrange a trip to Samila Beach in Songkhla and to visit Klong Hae Floating Market. The receptionist had no problem speaking English. She helped to arrange the return taxi trip for THB1,200, much cheaper and comfortable than the tuk tuk arrangement by the van driver for the same itinerary. The driver would wait for us at each destination until we return to the hotel.
The taxi arrived before 11:45 a.m. local time. It was not actually a taxi but a private car but nevertheless, that was not a problem for us. We were on our way to Songkhla town to Samila Beach and reached there before 12:30 p.m.

While waiting for my turn to have a photo taken with the Mermaid, a reporter with Dailynews, a TV station wanted to interview my friend. Thinking that something was not right, I was referred to the reporter who said he wanted to conduct an interview for TV. He asked me a few questions in English, mainly on the Mermaid, including one on whether the Mermaid could be improved further. What was I to say, except to answer the best I could. Unfortunately, my friends failed to take photographs of me being interviewed. What a shame!

The scenery around the beach was nice, and visitors seemed to be mostly locals. There was one lone westerner on the beach. If I were to rate the beach, I would rate it slightly below Batu Feringgi Beach in Penang, Malaysia because rubbish brought in by the tide was not cleared.

At 3:30 p.m. local time, we left Samila Beach for Songkhla Aquarium but nobody was interested in the fish. We left after visiting the washroom for another spot for a few shots of a Thai dragon spouting water before going to Klong Hae Floating Market.

The street leading to Klong Hae Floating Market lies on a neighbouring lane to Wat Klong Hae (temple). The entrance was lined with hawker stalls and when we arrived at about 4:30 p.m. local time, some of the hawkers were just starting their businesses. About 50 metres away was a bridge and the Floating Market was on the opposite side of the river bank.

Almost all the female traders at the floating market wore tudung, indicating that they were Muslim. On land, it was the opposite with most not wearing tudung but there were certainly Muslim assistants.

At about 6:15 p.m., we left Klong Hae Floating Market to pay and collect the tickets to the Thai Girl show at the office of the driver's employer. We also left our room numbers with the office. It was THB45 per person, again cheaper than from the van driver who brought us from Penang to Hatyai. His price was THB50. Photography was not allowed at the show but patrons would be served a complimentary glass of beer or soft drink.

After a dinner of Thai economy rice at about 7:10 p.m., I went back to my room. The driver was very punctual and called me before 7:30 p.m. The show would start at 8:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. Printed on the ticket, the show was called another name which I could not remember.

On reaching the destination, the driver brought us to the 3rd floor of the shop where the show would be held. The usher brought us to the first row, which was just a metre away from the stage. We were then served drinks.

Compared to the first time when I attended a similar show in 1994, this show had more varieties and the performers were not "shy".  For those watching the show, especially those at the first row, NEVER accept the garland which a lady would offer to you to put on the performers. You will have to pay for it later. It is a trap and we were lucky to be warned about this by the van driver from Penang. The young men on the same  first row were caught in this situation.

After returning from the show, we went to look for Lee Gardens Plaza and to take a stroll around the neighbourhood. The receptionist at the hotel had earlier told me that we only need to walk left of the hotel entrance and at the first road junction, to turn left again and we would be able to see McDonald. Lee Gardens is beside it.

The shops and stalls which were still opened were closing and after spending a short time around the area, it was back to the hotel to sleep while my friends went for massage.


  1. Eh tell me more about the thai girl show :P
    I'm here in Hat yai, 1st day.. wanna go see -see!

  2. You should try to Koh-Yor Home Stay.
    It is an interesting and fresh seafood.

  3. Hi there,
    Thanks for your sharing.
    Nice trip =)
    I'm going there soon..

  4. i going hatyai.but sleep at hatyai place hotel....

  5. i going to eating seafood at samila beach,songklan..very deliasous...girl very beautful and nice girl..