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Continued from the entry Thailand – Laos Tour: Day 2 – Part 3 – Kim Yong Market and Reviews About Park Hotel. For pre-travel, please refer here.
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
After spending a half hour deliberately at Park Hotel, we started carrying our backpack and walked to a restaurant that we saw last night, Salma Restaurant. This place was originally known from reading on the BackpackerBusuk blog. The restaurant is located next to Lee Garden Plaza. Actually, a few weeks before I started this journey, I had a message with Fatt (founder of BackpackerBusuk) and tried to get some information about Thailand. For your information, her blog is among the earliest referral sites for many new or long-running backpackers but have not yet set foot on Thailand (or Indochina). She likes sharing knowledge and welcomes those who are interested in traveling especially since childhood, such as our children, Aqif.
We felt very far when walking to Salma Restaurant with a heavy backpack, but it’s only 450 meters away. Do you want GPS coordinates for Salma Restaurant? Type directly in Google Maps or enter search “7.006241, 100.472509”.
While walking next to Lee Garden Plaza, I looked around and saw Hamid’s Restaurant. We then crossed the road to get there and looked at the menu shown outside the restaurant. Oh my, the price is very expensive. About 2 to 2.5 times more expensive than Salma Restaurant. As always, I then hint at Tatie … “let’s get out of here!” … hehe. But if you still want to eat here, the location is right in front of Lee Garden.
Haa … we’ve finally arrived here. When entering inside the restaurant, as always, the way the customer’s looked at us is quite weird. Not because of our appearance, maybe because of the big backpack that we’re carrying. Luckily the waiter here is friendly and loves to treat Aqif. First of all, I reached the menu list. Prices are very cheap, just like the prices in local Malaysian restaurants. Otherwise, the price for a single plate of fried rice reaches MYR15 in other restaurants in Hat Yai. Don’t expect us to drop into an expensive restaurant like that. There are many more ways to save.
I’m pondering!! There are 10 more cities in Thailand until Laos that we will explore. But deep in my mind, can we achieve that mission? I rest my faith in God. We sit right in front of the counter. This time, I feel a bit tired.
Actually, I want to show the paracord on my wrist. I made it myself. Tatie has made a more beautiful paracord. She made paracord into a wrist band for the watch! Paracord is ideal for rugged activities like backpacking, hiking, jungle trekking and others. For the next trip, we intend to buy a Mi Band 2 watch aiming to track the number of steps, calories and heartbeat during travel.
A little while waiting for food to arrive. I didn’t care how slow the chef to cook our food because there is a balance of 2.5-hour to go before our train arrive. We order regular fried rice for two people. We did not order water, just sip from mineral water bottles that we bought. Aqif can’t wait to eat because he’s hungry.
Before moving on to Hat Yai Railway Station, we ordered an extra two packs of chicken fried rice and another packet of food that I had forgotten. The purpose is to be served as a dinner on the train later. Look at some of the food packages we put on the table. It’s a lot .. including a snack and fruit bought at Kim Yong Market earlier. Then, 10 meters from Salma Restaurant there is a 7E shop. As always, we bought two large bottles of mineral water as a supply. A 1.5-liter bottle is priced at THB13. Eh, uh … cheap is it? If we convert the money, it’s only worth MYR1.50. This is pure mineral water instead of RO water.
Actually, after arriving at Prachuap Khiri Khan, I did throw away the train tickets and supposedly should keep it for our expenses record. So, when I’m writing this blog, I forgot the time we left and arrived. And I have to refer to “Date Taken” in the photo. I estimate the departure time at 4.30pm and arrive at Prachuap Khiri Khan at 4.55am. It’s a 12 hours journey. I’ll tell you more about the train.
Ok …. from the 7E store, we were supposed to walk to Hat Yai Railway Station. Our load at that time is getting heavier, coupled with plastic bags in both hands. Tatie did not hold anything in hand because she needs to standby if Aqif did not want to walk and ask for a hand carry. Just 100 meters away, I felt a heavy burden. So I asked the driver of a tuk-tuk in front of Lee Garden Plaza. The actual price of the fares is THB100, I ask for less and get a price of THB80. Hmmm … we don’t care to pay for it because it is very necessary to ride the tuk-tuk.
Tips for you. Foods such as fruits, rice noodles, snacks and more like Maggi (instant noodles) and biscuits, if possible don’t put them all in the backpack. Find plastic and carry it by hand. Because when you’re tired, the plastic can be placed temporarily at the edge of the road to rest your hands. At least, the shoulder and waist are not painful and the legs are not nauseated because the backpack is a bit lightweight. It was a lesson on the street we got.
Journey to Prachuap Khiri Khan
Just arrived at Hat Yai Railway Station. Behind my back was a Thai couple. Both are handsome and beautiful. The station with white, blue and red building colors is a landmark or trademark for Hat Yai city. Many travelers know this color from a distance. Aish … I’m still gathering this night’s writing mood. Please show up … because my writing sounds so formal.
After entering the station building, as usual, it is necessary to scan the backpack through the X-Ray machine and all kinds of bags that are being carried. Then we all went to the toilet. Well, we need to be in front of the runway half an hour before the train comes up.
Eh … the train has arrived! Just kidding. Not yet. It is a 3rd class shuttle train from Padang Besar (Perlis). The train system in Thailand is the first time for me. So, many things are a bit confused about what platforms, which runway and the number of trains to look for. There is information printed on the ticket, but on the platform side, there is no signboard.
I asked a question almost twice to the guards there to satisfy my extreme anxiety. Try to see the picture above, there are three rails, right? That’s why I’m diligent to ask which one. Imagine, in the middle, there is a train from the other direction stop there and the real rail that we have to wait is at the far right one. The train has arrived and you are standing in the middle. The train carriages in the middle are very long, how do you want to cross to the right? LOL. Actually, you can cross to the right … just climb the train on the central rail and jump to the other side.
We sat briefly next to Thai couple. There are lots of items brought by the local people. Just look behind Tatie and Aqif. As I said, there are two rails that can make you confused. An advice for you, check exactly where you should wait.
Suddenly, I just remembered. Oops! I have not yet filled the mineral water in our water bottle. Soon I filled it up, hoping that “the train should not yet arrive”. Being a father, I should be prepared for any circumstances that come from the front, back, left and right. Need to look at my child. Need to look for our backpack and much more that we need to be aware of.
Looks like how heavy my backpack is. We’re still in Hat Yai and not yet finish traveling to 10 more cities. I guess, when we arrived at the 11th cities, the backpack might look like a ‘belacan’ (something like a baby puree). I just bought this backpack specially for this trip. I believe in the brand of Deuter because I used to wear it during travel to London in 2009. Be sure to buy the original Deuter brand!
Waiting again …………… where is our train located now? As such, I treat boredom by pretending to be a professional photographer. There is also a time in which I observe the activities and behaviors of the Thai people here.
Seen from a distance there is a train approaching. Is that a train that we are going to ride? Closer, closer and closer. That’s right! It seems that all the passengers have begun to lift their bags. The seller who sold the food in a train was also preparing to board.
Once inside the train, our sleeper berth located in the third row from the entrance. We put our backpack and other items. For those who read my previous post, we booked a side-by-side bed. Fortunately, no one was sitting in front of us, either me or Tatie. Shortly between 6.30pm and 7.00pm, train assistant will come to transform the seat into a bed.
Off course! I didn’t want to miss taking photos here. This is my first time boarding a train with a sleeper berth.
Aqif is excited to be able to ride the train!
See how many bags are arranged on the edges of the bed? If anyone stumbles the bag, they can fall down. So, if you board into this type of train, be careful when stepping. No need to walk fast or running inside the train unless if you’re in a hurry to throw your poop in the toilet. There is nothing to be pursued and your time inside the train is a very long journey. Another thing, the bag arrangement here is quite cluttered. There are some people who intentionally place their bags even though the shelves to put the bags are not located next to their beds. Let it be, as long as they are happy. And you don’t have to worry about it as you’re on holiday and just enjoy yourself. If you’re trying to fight for such a simple thing, it’ll be hard and your mood will be spoilt.
Here’s some tip: Actually, you can just put the backpack on the bed and it’s safer. The nearest point is near to your foot. At first, I did not know about this. When we boarded the train from Ayutthaya to Nong Khai, then we knew it.
Look at the electrical socket in the picture above. Only two sockets are available to be shared with 4 other beds. So, bring your own powerbank (power pack). While inside the train, it is not necessary to switch your phone “mobile data” to always “on” as not all areas have coverage. Set to 2G mode to save battery and only use 3G/4G when needed.
The train started to glide. From slow to moderate speed. The speed is not as fast as ETS train in Malaysia but just nice because we can enjoy the outdoor scenery. I started to pretend to be a professional photographer by taking a picture of this child who was in a dilemma to close eyes and sleep or staying awake.
His mother sat opposite of him. They are Thai Moslems. I guess, their destination is heading to Bangkok. At first, the boy slept for 1-2 hours. Then, when Aqif started to play with him, the environment started to become noisy.
At first, I just took pictures from the side of the train. The scenery of paddy fields has begun to mature and will turn into rice soon.
Then, I started a walking session from carriage to carriage. I passed all my valuable items to Tatie to be guarded because Aqif suddenly fell asleep.
This is the picture where I’m standing near to the door of the carriage and this is the view of the situation and the atmosphere inside it. If I’m not mistaken, this time is just an hour on the train at 5.38pm.
This is a problem when using a DSLR to take a selfie picture, the background behind me looks blurry.
I looked at the pantry side. For those who want to wash their hands and face, yes you can. But don’t use it to wash the baby’s urine and poop here. Bad habits when viewed by people.
This is another part of the train carriage. To walk from one carriage to another, it’s a little bit ‘horror’. With the sound of a loud roar due to the friction of carriage wheels on the iron rails, Aqif is afraid to ‘cross’ the carriage. This does not matter if the train type is ETS because of it’s modern and silent sounds.
Now, I can start the ‘real’ photography without any windows as a barrier. Coincidentally the door of the carriage on the outside is open. From Google Maps, I find that the hills are located in the Phattalung area. It is a province or district (but from the map, it looks like a state rather than a district) located between Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Speaking of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s, we were supposedly going to stop and spent the night there. But since it is located far from the train station area and it takes an hour to get there by minibus plus the news says there is a bad flood (monsoon season during the month of December), we have to cancel and continue our journey to Prachuap Khiri Khan. What is interesting in Nakhon Si Thammarat is that it is the site of the old kingdom of Ligor (part of the Old Kingdom of Kedah). So many historical sites are built based on Malay architecture.
The blue dots markers are probably where our train was right now. Look at the big lake beside the blue dots. Do you know how big the lake is? I’ve tried to measure the length and it’s about 55km, the length is almost half of the famous Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia! If I have more time, I want to explore the lake to see what’s around it.
Ok, start from the post below, I have some scenic pictures of hills in Phattalung. Let the picture speak for itself.
Looks like a cave. Or maybe the trails were torn down so the vehicle could pass through it.
The neighbors behind my sleeper berth are a young Thai woman. She also helped us on how to convert from seat to sleeper berth. She said that we need to request it from the train assistant and he will come up and assist us. The reason is, not all passengers were willing to lie in bed while the clock is still early at 7.00pm. Some may start sleeping at 10.00pm and during that time, it is suitable to convert the seat. I have the video taken. You can see for yourself of how the seat turns into a sleeper berth. The train assistant took only 3 minutes to prepare a bed.
The night began to appear. Looking at the scenery out there, there is nothing to look at. Oh, Aqif woke up already. Perhaps awake when the train assistant came to transform the seat into a bed. Time for dinner.
After eating, Aqif was showered by Tatie. I’m purposely lurking at Aqif from outside the toilet. It’s funny because he’s afraid of the toilet hole. You can see the ground and the stone on the rail through the hole.
I just want to show you how I chain the backpack to the poles. Everything is done for our backpack safety. I don’t care if anyone criticized my way. This type of train is not as modern as the ETS train that has a complete CCTV camera on the front and rear. I use a wire type of chain commonly used on bicycles that use a combination number. Cheap and less than MYR10 if you buy from Mr. DIY store (a retail chain that sells DIY items in Malaysia). Very light and weight less than 100gm. In fact, thieves can simply cut our backpack strap and escape with a bag. But at least this method can delay their work until they get caught red handed.
While on the train, I got acquainted with three Pakistani and their style looks like coming from an urban area in Pakistan. They boarded the train from Surat Thani and told me that they had just attended a full moon party in Koh Samui. Among the three, only one can speak English. He likes to joke with Aqif until 1.00am until our son sleeps. They also can’t sleep because feeling too hungry, maybe in a rush to catch the train and not have enough time to buy the packed food. So I took out biscuits and snacks including dates and gave them. One of his friends also borrowed my powerbank because the electric socket was full. That’s all I can do to help.
We treat each other well. I also talked about Pakistani leaders like Pervez Musharraf and Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq who were very intimate with Tun Mahathir to help Mujahiddin fighters during the war with Russia. He said, because President Zia was killed in an air crash (believed to be sabotaged or bombarded by ground to air missiles), only his fingers were found and planted in graves. Unfortunately, I forgot to portray them as memories. Till we meet again my Pakistani friends!
Finally, I can feel the sleeper berth experience. In Malaysia, sleeper berth type train is no longer available and replaced by ETS. Except for Ekspress Pantai Timur (East Coast Express) which is the route from Gemas (Negeri Sembilan) to Tumpat (Kelantan). It’s quite funny to see Aqif’s behavior. At first, he slept on Tatie’s bed, then later he climbed into my bed. As long as you’re happy my son.
Tips: As the head of the household and the head of travel, as usual, it will be difficult to sleep in the train because of the worry of missing the station that we’re supposed to stop. I share a bit of info especially for those who have children under 4 years of age. Why under 4 years old is ideal for this tip? Because a kid at this age has a small body size. For those ages 5-6, it is also possible as long as their body look small.
So, if you buy a sleeper berth ticket, you don’t have to buy for three people, for example, a husband, wife, and a child. Just buy tickets for husband and wife only. So, you can save money there. Make sure the child sleeps at the edge of the window just as in this picture; me and Aqif.
And MUST take lower berth and not upper berth. Because the train is rocking and a child can suddenly fall from above. There is no railing that acts as a buffer on the upper bed and that’s very dangerous.
Okay .. continued my writing in Thailand – Laos: Day 3 – Part 1 – Good Morning Prachuap Khiri Khan.