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Continued from the entry Thailand – Laos Travel: Day 1 – Getting Started, ETS Train and Malaysia-Thailand Border. For pre-travel, please refer here.
Location: Padang Besar (Perlis) and Hat Yai (Thailand)
That’s the blue-covered bus stand. The front there is a cottage or a barricade of soldiers, perhaps the purpose is for guarding the borders. But I did not take the picture, worried if they thought something bad about me. In fact, when we arrived here, we were wondering and still confused about how to get a public bus. We wait for almost 10 minutes but still no sign of a bus. There are also ‘tuktuk’ drivers who stop and ask if we want to go to Hat Yai, but because I’m worried if accidentally involved with a border scam, I just treat them well but did not ride his ‘tuktuk’. There is also a Thai-Malay man who supposedly wanted to send us for free to Hat Yai but I did not believe him. Apparently, he told us to ride with a taxi driver. Of course, we have to pay, right? From the deal, he will be able to earn a commission. Be careful. Who knows, right after the free taxi ride, he suddenly charges us RM300, that is terribly wrong, right? Free taxi? Too good to be true.
Our latest position and travel map view.
START FROM HERE … we changed the clock time from 2.16 pm to 1.16 pm. Do not forget that Thailand is one hour late from Malaysia. You might miss the bus schedule, train and so on in the next hour.
Need information for the bus stand location? I’ll share the GPS coordinates which is “6.664971, 100.328523” in the map above. Sharing is caring, right? The location is right next to Padang Besar Police Station. Then suddenly I just realized something. Padang Besar’s name is located in two different locations and is used by two countries namely Malaysia and Thailand. So, there is Padang Besar in Perlis (Malaysia) and also Padang Besar in Thailand.
Suddenly there was a ‘tuktuk’ stop near us and the driver said that he could take us to the minibus station in Sadao Town. We were excited to ride ‘tuktuk’ for the first time in Thailand and accept the offer without a long thought. As soon as ‘tuktuk’ moves for a distance of 2-3km, there is an aunt in the ‘tuktuk’ that shows us a public bus that goes straight to Hat Yai and is 300 meters behind us. When the ‘tuktuk’ driver stops at the side of the road for another passenger pickup, we knock on the middle window that separates us from the driver and asked him to wait for a moment as we would like to get off from the ‘tuktuk’. We’re lucky enough to pay only THB40. Children are free, only adults are charged THB20/person.
This is the first time I pay using Thai money. And while paying with the Baht currency, I had to show a hand signal to the public bus driver behind us so he could wait for a while as I paid THB40 to the ‘tuktuk’ driver. Meanwhile, the bus driver asked Tatie and Aqif to board the bus first.
The bus driver is an old man and he was very friendly. Always smiling when looking at us through the back mirror. After we ride the bus, we saw a lot of empty seats and we sat on the front to watch the scenery. After a 10km trip, I was wondering … hmmm where is the bus conductor? Apparently, he was busy in the back, packing and sorting some box and other items. Then, he came to us and punch the ticket like the old bus ticketing method before the year 2000 in Malaysia. The bus fares are THB50/person while for children, it’s free. Perhaps in our country, some rural areas might still be using this old ticketing system. His ticket box is very attractive in the shape of an iron cylinder. I did not even have the opportunity to take pictures because I was busy watching the scenery. The weather was very hot. We even lowered the bus window down to the bottom.
The journey has approached a distance of 56km and started to make my eyes sleepy. Aqif just started to close his eyes. At this time, I look at the GPS and it says the distance we’ve traveled has reached 40km, but wrong as the distance already 56km when I update the phone GPS near the windows. My backpack is on the front seat while Tatie is still carrying the backpack behind her and the situation in her seat becomes uncomfortable. I asked her to remove the backpack but she did not want to, maybe because of worry if the backpack got snatch and stolen by someone. I put the backpack in the front seat, which is in the seat behind the driver because he told me to put it there. There was also a local man who was about to get out of the bus, he got up and sat in the seat next to my backpack. I started feeling insecure. In my head, I started to think negatively, “what if he snatches my backpack strap and jumps out of the bus, then how?”. Ahh, I tried to forget the negative thoughts but remained in a state of preparedness. Perhaps my negative thoughts appear as this is the first time I set my foot on Thailand soil and have not been able to read the behavior and temperament of the locals.
The seat of the bus is quite comfortable even though there is a section of the chair that is torn here and there. Only temperatures are quite hot but are helped by strong winds from the outside of the windows. What’s unique is that the bus is still using a coin fan that can rotate like the old days in Malaysia. Aqif was actually the first time in his life to ride the bus and his face was a little worried but excited. Luckily Aqif can sit quietly alone. I was worried if he suddenly began to whine and more. If that happens, my wife will find it difficult to carry him. Normally, children prefer their mother to carry them.
I’m sleepy, but I just keep the eyes from falling asleep. When the bus arrives at a traffic light, Tatie asks me to take a picture of a shop located to the right of the bus. Looks beautiful because there is a row of different kinds of local rice in a sack of a different kind of colors.
The bus arrived at Sadao Town (I just knew that it was called Danok town by Malaysian). Here lies the junction to Phattalung, Hat Yai and Pattani. The town must be passed by anyone who wants to go to Hat Yai. And supposedly, here is where we will stop if we ride the ‘tuktuk’ earlier just now and switch with a minibus if we want to go to Hat Yai. Sorry, I do not know how much the fares are if riding with a minibus to Hat Yai.
I shared with you a video that was recorded on the public bus. It is very interesting because the bus is still using a twisting coin fan.
Our travel map from the Malaysia-Thailand border to Hat Yai via Sadao town. Sadao’s town is not big, much like the Tapah town in Perak or Rengit town in Johor.
The picture of the hill view I took from the town of Sadao. For your knowledge, the shuttle train will not go through here except for ‘manual cross-border’.
When we entered Hat Yai city, the bus conductor asked where we wanted to stop. It’s interesting to be a tourist, they will really help. I do not know how to pronounce the word in Thai because I have not bought a SIM card yet and can’t use Google Translate app. The female conductor can’t speak English. So our conversation is like chicken and duck because both languages are different. I asked the bus conductor to stop at Hat Yai Railway Station because I used a sign language using a hand and show her a moving train with a ‘tuttt tuttt’ sound … too funny. Luckily the bus conductor understands and informs the driver.
Upon reaching the center of the city, the bus stops in front of a store, possibly an office for their bus company. Then the journey went on and we stopped for a long time, about 15 minutes on Phet Kasem Road. The conductor is loading the items in the box behind the bus. It turned out that at the beginning we boarded the bus, she was busy at the back of the bus to arrange the boxes. I guess their employers may not know. They use company’s bus facilities to transport stocks of good or perhaps one of their company’s businesses. Hopefully, there are no strange things, you may understand what I mean. Just take note that the bus is from the border. Indeed, we can not afford to wait a long time because the heat is starting to get into the bus, including heat from the bus engine. I do not know how many zillion times I open HERE maps to check the remaining distance. But finally, the bus sent us to the end of a roundabout at Phet Kasem Road because the actual bus route did not head to Hat Yai Railway Station.
We stopped here. Upon reaching here, suddenly my mind became clogged. Do we have to walk 1.2km to the Railway Station? We sat at the side of the road. The purpose of getting to the railway station was to purchase early tickets to Prachuap Khiri Khan. For a sleeper berth ticket, it must be purchased earlier. Worry that the ticket will be sold out.
Because our stomach is empty, I intend to ask a worker at an electrical store that can speak English. Fortunately, he knows where the Moslem stalls are located. So he showed us his direction. Fuhhh, our fate is good because the stalls are very close at only 300m by foot. While walking, I asked for Tatie to look for any store that sells a SIM card, but nothing. When we arrived at the Muslim stall, then there was a row of other halal stalls. I initially thought that only one stall was there but there’s a lot, around 4-5 stalls.
Oh yes …. when it comes to Thailand, from the very beginning we had planned to eat Tomyam first (a Siamese local spicy soup). It was funny when we started to order food. We thought the stall worker here knew at least a Kelantan language, apparently, she didn’t know. It takes us almost 5 minutes to figure out the menu that we want to order here. The reason is that we are excited to chat with her as a Thai-Malay stall worker and forget that they already translated the name of the food into Malay in the menu.
This is the menu. It’s easy, right? The excitement causes the delay to order food …. hahahaha.
Stall worker. The place here is not under a stall category but similar to a food court. Only her stall is open at this hour.
On the outside, there is a celur-celur stall (also called as Yong Tau Foo in Malaysia).
Well, I share here with you guys the location of these Moslem stalls. GPS “7.015298, 100.471071”. Although the location is not a tourist destination, it can act as a backup if you lost here. For your information, here is also the location for a minibus or public bus ride to Samila Beach. Oh yes, the Tomyam we ate was only worth THB115 including a Tomyam soup and 3 white rice dishes.
After eating, we swirled around the food court, intentionally looking at other Moslem stall workers. Then we recall the quest to find a store selling SIM cards and move northward past the high school area. There, we ask school students if there a store that sells SIM cards. They said the SIM card was available at 7-Eleven located across the street. We cross and head over there. Upon reaching 7-Eleven, the cashier said that they only sell top-ups. Then, we decided to go back to the road we came first.
When we were halfway, I suddenly felt weak. Feeling like a person with a low blood pressure. I suppose maybe not enough sleep and rest and empty stomachs, suddenly a food is inserted into the stomach. We even put a backpack and sit right down the street. There are also people who are looking at us but we do not care about it. After a short break, I decided to call a ‘tuktuk’ and ask the driver to take us to any cheap hotel around Lee Garden Plaza.
It was worthless to pay THB100 because the destination was close enough within 1.5km. I do not know what to do, my body is weak, my anxiety disorder is increasing, lazy to take risks with this health problem. Before taking the ‘tuktuk’, I told the English-speaking driver to look for a cheap hotel, and he said ‘ok’. But, it is also worthwhile to ride his ‘tuktuk’ because the hotel he proposed for us was very cheap, equipped with an aircon and deluxe bed. Rooms are on the 5th floor but there are elevators and fast wifi and are very close to Lee Garden Plaza and Hat Yai Railway Station and facing Santisuk Market. The hotel’s name is Park Hotel and only THB350/night.
After he dropped us in front of Park Hotel, we continued to walk in and ask for the room rate. Of course, the ‘tuktuk’ driver did not take any commission with the hotel because he did not go inside and talk to the hotel counter staff.
We checked in at around 5.30 pm. After putting stuff, I went downstairs to buy a SIM card. I feel unsure to buy the DTAC SIM card because in the official website already stated that there is a cheaper topup, especially for data usage. However, the shopkeeper suggested me to buy the Tourist SIM Card type. I started to confuse, walk away and plan to buy it later. After all, the hotel has free WiFi. I headed back to the hotel room and fell asleep. At night, we plan to take a walk around Lee Garden Plaza. Ops … the picture above is only allowed in this angle. The left corner is a restricted area, hehehe. Actually, it’s not a deluxe bed. Similar like what usually done by a parent, by combining two single beds into one.
At 7.00 pm we got up. Almost at 8.00pm, then we go out for a walk. We are supposed to go to Khlong Hae Floating Market. Then we asked a shop selling SIM card located in front of our hotel. He said the floating market was only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Furthermore, our current day in Hat Yai is Wednesday. Then we canceled our intention to go there. Maybe next time. After all, Hat Yai is very close to Malaysia. As I asked the shopkeeper, I would be happy to buy the SIM card from him. (Note: Our neighbors have been to Hat Yai a month later. She said the floating market was only closed on Monday, meaning we were subject to ‘information scam’ by the shopkeeper at Santisuk Market).
About SIM card: We have purchased two Happy Tourist DTAC SIM cards for each person at THB49. Then I topup THB200 for my SIM card for the purpose of purchasing a 1GB bandwidth quota for 7 days worth THB199. For Tatie, we make a hotspot sharing on my phone and save us money for the internet on Tatie’s phone. While writing for this post, I check once again the DTAC website. Now no more 1GB for 7 days. There is only 2.5GB for 10 days worth THB229 (as of November 17, 2018, data quota increases to 3Gb for 8 days worth THB299). Ok, there’s plenty of quota for data even though it’s a bit expensive. The shopkeeper calculates all our purchase for THB496. I ask, why so expensive? He said that he accidentally summed up all by including topup data for Tatie’s SIM card. It should be THB297 only. Okay, our fate is good because he has tolerated. Completed mission.
After purchasing the SIM card, we head to Hat Yai Railway Station to buy a train ticket to Prachuap Khiri Khan for the next day. When arriving in front of the station, the interior was dark. Tatie said, maybe the station is closed and only open during the day. There is also a nearby shop selling bus tickets. The shopkeeper tried to persuade me to buy a ticket. Price between THB800-1000, expensive, and more expensive than a train ticket for lower sleeper berth (THB835). Then, I asked him whether the ticket counter at the station was still open or not. He said the counter closed and thought I might get his bus ticket, just to deceive me. For your information, all train station counters in Thailand are open 24 hours for ‘Advanced Booking’ except for the Third Class (Ordinary Train) which are cheaper and need to be purchased starting at 6.00am every day. We were influenced by the fact that the counter was closed and I wanted to quickly avoid him, and we headed back to the front of our hotel again. “Tomorrow morning we’ll come again”, I told Tatie. So we are forced to make the same style as the BackpackerBusuk blogger, surrendering to our destiny as long as we can.
The front of the hotel is actually the famous Santisuk Market in Hat Yai. It is among the many markets selling a variety of cheap items here. There’s another Kim Yong Market, later I’ll tell you in another post. So, these two markets are famous here. For your information, the markets here are mostly closed when the clock reaches 7.00 pm and above. If missed, just walk to Lee Garden Plaza or Khlong Hae Floating Market by taking a ‘tuktuk’.
This is Lee Garden Plaza, a popular destination in Hat Yai, which I’ve always read in blogs. Finally, we arrived here too.
Here, we keep going towards a store that sells pulut mangga (mango with a sticky rice). Indeed we have been planning early because pulut mangga is very popular here. Apparently, there are two Moslem stalls selling them here.
If you are in Lee Garden Plaza, look for the left side if you want to taste the popular pulut mangga. And the stall on the right of Lee Garden is also delicious, not bad and there are varieties of colorful sticky rice. In terms of taste? Both taste very similar.
In front of Mcdonalds, there are traditional Thai dance performances by a kid. The purpose is to collect donations for their school funding. Our original plan here is to photograph Mcdonalds statue behind it. Do you see what’s unique about the statue? His hands are placed in the center of the chest like ‘sawadikap’. To me, this is a rare thing. That kind of hand formations are not available in Malaysia, right? Not even in other countries. But because there was a show there, I canceled the plan to take a closer picture of Ronald Mcdonalds and intend to look for another Mcdonalds. It can be said that all Mcdonalds in Thailand have such hand formations.
Traditional dance video that Tatie had recorded.
The surrounding night market in front of Lee Garden Plaza. It only opens at 5.00 pm and above. If you came before that time, there was nothing here, the pulut mangga stall had not yet opened. Although this place is fun, I’m also cautious. You know the incidents that took place in 2012 here (please Google it). But from my observation, the present situation is not the same as before. Various types of police and military vehicles and electronic equipment are used to record suspicious movements of the public here. So, the security here is guaranteed. Just come here, do not worry. While walking through the night market, we spend hundreds of THB because Tatie is very interested in Korean clothes.
We also ordered some kebabs for a take-away as a ‘backup’ for dining at our hotel. The price is THB50, the package wraps are rather large and lots of content inside it.
That’s it! What is that? Items that are rarely seen should be taken a photo. As a country with a Muslim majority, only a few people or stalls are selling openly in Malaysia. Pig burger, hehe. Do you want to order? Single, Double or Sets? Just kidding…
When I saw this stall, I began to think it was worthless to buy the kebab because I thought maybe there was no stall selling halal food in other parts of the market tonight. Before this I’ve also read in the backpacker’s blog, the stalls in the picture above are well-known because they are cheap and there are various types of fried foods, seafood and others. Without a long thought, we also ordered but only a packet of omelets fried with mussels. It is delicious for me even when we’re in other areas in Thailand, I’m still looking for this food.
Back then, we stopped at 7-Eleven around there. We also saw some other halal restaurants like Salma Restaurant and Hamid Restaurant and still open even at 9.00 pm. In 7-Eleven, I came across a Malaysian Chinese in the late ’40s because he was wearing a Malaysian club shirt. I asked, “you are from Malaysia?” He replied, “yes, from KL”. “Oh, we are the same”, I replied back. We even chat for a moment. He thought I was a big bike rider because he saw the headcover that I used to wear. When we broke up, we both said “take care” because he knew that I will be going to another 10 cities up until Laos with my wife and child. At 7-Eleven, I bought two bottles of mineral water. Hmm .. cheap, cheaper than Malaysia. The price for a bottle of 1.5 liters is THB13.
Along the 7-Eleven corridor, there are many massage centers. But for Malaysians, the term ‘masat’ is more popular. While walking in the corridor, many salesgirls are promoting “masat… masat … masat” endlessly. I feel that, if I walk alone, maybe ‘masat’ from the salesgirl will be a special case, maybe you understand …… For a good ‘masat’ type, there is a manicure, pedicure, head massage, shoulder, spine and foot reflexology. Prices vary from THB200 to THB500 per hour. For a ‘non-halal’ type of ‘masat’, please don’t ask me!! Hehe …
After finishing exploring Lee Garden Plaza, we returned to the hotel. We are so tired! Will continue on the next entry …. Thailand – Laos: Day 2 – Part 1 – Around the city of Hat Yai and Wat Hat Yai.