Friday, April 13, 2012

Hatyai - Shopping District

Hatyai - 19 March 2012 (Day 2)

I came to Hatyai thinking I would see the chaotic scene of 1994. It was different from cities and major towns in Malaysia, and I liked it. Little do I know that it has since been tamed and now look and feel like a Malaysian city, making it less interesting.

When I was here in 1994, yellow boxes have not been introduced at traffic junctions. It was interesting to see the disorderly traffic at the junction. On five-foot ways, vendors  roasting cashew nut was  a common sight. Girlie magazine of Thai version in the likes of Playboy were sold openly, though they were covered in plastic sheets. Toy guns that looked like real guns were displayed and sold openly. Then, it could be because my friend brought us to see the wild and old part of the city.

The girlie magazine is now gone. The only roasting I saw was the roasting of water chestnut at a stall. The city has mellowed and become more orderly and less interesting. Maybe, readers can enlighten me whether the wild and old Hatyai can still be seen at other part of Hatyai.

Also in 1994, I did not see so many tudung/ scarved women in Hatyai. At that time, we were surprised at a market while shopping when a girl talked to us in Malay. She saw us the night earlier in a disco where she served us drinks. She was Muslim but not in tudung. Now, you would see female tudung vendors everywhere.

Although the van driver who drove us to Hatyai indicated that it would be difficult communicating with the local people, this does not seem true. Except for the taxi driver who drove us to Samila Beach and Klong Hae, his employer spoke good Mandarin and she was young. So did the van driver who picked us to see the Thai Girl show. He spoke good Mandarin. The receptionist at Diamond Plaza Hotel spoke good English too and at all the food stalls where we ate, they all spoke a mixture of Mandarin and Hockien. At the food stall where we had our dinner before the Thai Girl show, the young female vendor spoke good English. Surprisingly, most of them do not look like ethnic Chinese.

(Click to enlarge)
I was on my way to Kim Yong Market, a popular local destination by 7:45 a.m. local time. Kim Yong Market covers not only the street stalls but also the stalls located inside the building beside the street.

One street has mainly food stalls. One particular stall caught my eyes and I ordered the stir-fried flat noodle  (a cross of Kuih Kak and Char Koay Teow) from him, thinking of having it there. However, he prepared only take-away ... and it was delicious. He speaks Hockien.

After my friends woke up, I took them to Kim Yong Market to a shop where I saw there were more choices of noodle being offered. There, I took my second breakfast of Wantan Noodle and it was good too.

Kim Yong Market opened early. However, I was surprised when I saw a hawker packing up and leaving the market at 10:30 a.m. already.

During my early morning walk, I passed by Lee Gardens Plaza. However, I did not explore the mall. After the second breakfast, we visited Lee Gardens Plaza. It was small, with just a few stores on each floor. On the top level, there was a foodcourt and here, we had our lunch.

Santisuk and Yong Dee markets were another two shopping destinations. However, they were less interesting as they were smaller and most of the stalls sell similar items.

To the west of Hatyai is the railway station. It was just a short walk from Diamond Plaza Hotel. This part of Hatyai did not have high-rise building but old wooden structure. This is an old part of Hatyai.

Stalls are found on every street, selling a variety of products.

During the final hours before departure time at 3:00 p.m. local time, I strolled towards Odean Shopping Mall. I was here in 1994 and I had to visit it before leaving Hatyai. I went in and had a short look before leaving.

Just before Odean was a lane selling the usual hawker fares such as bags, clothes, etc. Here, I found a leather wallet I liked and bought it. If it was not because of time constraint, I could have bought a crocodile leather belt which was quite nice.

On Saturday, 31st March 2012, two weeks after our visit to Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel, a car bomb planted by terrorists at the hotel went off and killed at least eight people, including a Malaysian. Over 300 people were injured. It was on the Malaysian news scene for several days.


  1. Wow! Hatyai! Never been to this place! I believe this place is not quite safe to go at the moment considering the bombing incident last month.

    1. I have actually wanted to revisit Hatyai on my last trip to Penang back in 2008. However, my Kelantan friend advised me not to because bombings were frequent occurrences in Southern Thailand then.

      This time, I thought it was safe as no reports of bombings appeared for some time already. We were lucky we went two weeks earlier. I would have gone back to Malaysia later, and by extension Hatyai, if it was not because of the invitation to a friend's wedding dinner on 10th March.

  2. Another example of the un-informed, misinformed & ill-informed. Sigh!

  3. i like to visit hatyai, food n hotel was cheap and nice, but if every time must worry of bomb, then better stay home, so if want to go travel, must buy travel insurance and stay safe. right