DISCOVERING HAT YAI, THAILAND : A TEMPLE, A BEACH & LOTSA SEAFOODS & BREAKFAST GONE BAD!

One of the images of Buddha in Wat Hat Yai Nai

On our second day in Hat Yai, Thailand, my family and I started the day by eating a hearty breakfast (for us but not theoretically & practically for the heart) at the Food Loft of New Seasons Hotel. The morning meals were inclusive of the 3D2N accomodation package we availed.

Guests were provided a set menu that has butter+jam and toasts, coffee or tea,  and a variety of local and continental breakfast to choose from.  My options were artery-clogging bacon strips and slices of ham with sunny side up eggs then, I feared Salmonellosis, I had my eggs scrambled the next morning.

Delightful breakfast gone bad!

Everything was fine until a problem in communication happened.  Tina and I opted to have extra fried rice.  Knowing that the staff (and most Thai, let’s admit it!)  can speak little English,  I took extra effort in explaining to the wait staff our add-on orders.

Several minutes of patient waiting, no fried rice landed on our table. We called the attention of the wait staffs and politely (with a smile), made a follow up on our extra order. After slicing my bacon strips into bits, thankfully, fried rice arrived but the orders were taken and delivered wrongly. They were plateful, complete with fried pork and vinegar and side dishes (as shown on photo above, which my parents ordered for themselves)! I explained with utmost courtesy (you know how food people can do to your plates, so be very extra good in dealing with them), that we only asked for 2 plates of fried rice and nothing more–not a complete set of breakfast meal.

They immediately got the plates and returned to us with just fried rice on it.  I and Tina enjoyed our breakfast (who would not with those bacon strips?–double order please! hehehe!)  But I was again astonished when they made me sign the bill after I told them that Gabby’s meal shall be charged on our room bill. I saw that they charged us 2 extra complete breakfast sets where in fact we only ordered and ate 2 cups of fried rice –meaning without butter+jam and toasts, coffee/tea and viand.. WE ONLY ORDERED AND ATE EXTRA FRIED RICE!  Despite my efforts in explaining the scenario, I thought my view was noted but I was wrong.

THIS SH*T HAPPENS WHEN USE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS A RARITY IN A COUNTRY!  (read : I am not fluent myself, but most people if not all, can speak and understand English from my country, the Philippines! And I am damn proud of it–google translate: Kahit karpintero o tricycle driver marunong ng is-was-were sa Pinas; minsan fluent pa sila!)

On our last day, when I was about to settle the hotel bill, I found out the food people really charged us with 2 entire breakfast sets instead of 2 cups of freaking fried rice! Although, the receptionist at the front desk understands English and the situation completely, I still ended up mildly straining my larynx again in elaborating that it’s not an issue of price or cost (it’s so affordable at only B70 or RM 7 = PhP 78 per set meal and B20 or RM 2 =PhP 28 per cup of rice), but how efficient you are in delivering your service. They did nothing and still asked me to pay what we didn’t eat. I asked the front desk lady to take extra efforts next time in avoiding the same thing to happen again with other guests. Training of staffs would help.

Poor Customer Service is a Pure Insult to Paying Customers!

Sayang lang, gusto ko pa naman ang sign boards ninyo….

Enough… Let us not spoil the memories of our days in Hat Yai.

After that eventful breakfast, we hopped in the same tuktuk we hired the previous day and continued the Hat Yai tour.

Tuktuk or taxi in Hat Yai... hop in!

I guess everyone will agree with me that no trip to any parts of Thailand is complete without Buddhist temple visit. I opted to include in our itinerary the Wat Hat Yai Nai, the shrine of the reclining Buddha which is said to be the 3rd largest in the world (so would that make the one in Penang, the fourth and the one in Kelantan, Malaysia the fifth? Can anyone confirm?).

This frequently visited shrine is located on Phetchakasem Road, near Saphan Khlong U-Taphao, Hat Yai.  The image of the Enlightened One is said to measure 35 metres long, 15 metres tall and 10 meters wide.

One of my colleagues who hails from Yangon, Myanmar told me that the images of Buddha depicted in reclining or somewhat in near-sleeping position show his peace prior to his death. How many of us can face death peacefully? *pass muna ako dyan, di ba ako ready sa death, bata pa anak ko, hehe!*
Few photo ops in Wat Hat Yai Nai, a scoop of dirty ice cream for Gabby and several kilometers from the Hat Yai City Center (it took us an hour to get to our next stop, passing through highway without traffic jam at all!), following the itinerary that I made, our friendly Thai tuktuk driver (who also barely speaks English), brought us to another frequently visited spot in Southern Thailand —Samila Beach in the province of Songkhla that covers the city of Hat Yai.
Samila Beach is a famous place for weekend getaway particularly for families who like to unwind and enjoy the sea breeze and the sun, both local and tourist alike.
Forgive me for being too lazy to know the significance of the statue of the Golden Mermaid in Samila Beach to Buddhist people of Songkhla.
The family behind Beyond Toxicity in Copenhagen, Denmark --toinks! *wishful thinking!*
Samila Beach is a welcoming respite when you get tired of shopping from Hat Yai City Center.  I regret the fact that I did not allow Gabby to try flying a kite there because the heat from the sun was unforgiving but nonetheless, there’s wind.
There will be a next time, son and other places to fly kite.
A couple of weeks back when I was googling details about Hat Yai, I was surprised to know that some Thai people also believe in legends and myths. Proof to this is the solid brass monument of the Golden Mermaid and few meters away from her statue, also along the shoreline of Samila Beach is the brass monument for the Cat and the Mouse.
There are islands across Samila called, Mouse Island, Cat and Dog Island.  The myth has it that someone decided to bring pets at home as he sailed across the sea. When he heard something about a magical crystal, among the 3 pets he had, he chose the mouse to secure the magical crystal for him; this explains the brass monument of the Cat and the Mouse. If you’re wondering what happened to the dog and it was not in the tableaux, according to the legend, the dog died. End of story (lame excuse for lack of research, hehe!).
LUNCH TIME! What can be more appropriate to eat by the beach on a sunny afternoon but seafoods!
Here’s our feast!
Thai Seafood Mango Salad : Spicy? you bet!
I liked this starter. With generous serving of Thai Mango Salad fused with variety of fried sweet and sour seafoods topped with mildly roasted cashew nuts; a bit spicy for our palates. What else do you expect, welcome to Thailand!
Prawn Soup : It could have been more acceptable to my taste buds if they did not add roots (looked like ginseng!) and spices that I am unfamiliar with.
Sweet and Sour Tiger Prawn : OK, lah!
The winner dishes for me were the fried sea bass and steamed crabs. *pass the vinegar, please!*  yum! 🙂
The tuktuk driver (with his son) offered to buy a local appetizer that appeared to me as a pasty and spicy one; my family refused of tasting. I have dunked my fork to it twice out of courtesy and gratitude to his friendly gesture. It was indeed, spicy! My tongue easily surrendered.
We left Samila Beach satiated and smiling…
It was past 2PM when we left the dampa-like restaurant (seafood resto by the beach) in Samila Beach. I didn’t say no when the tuktuk driver suggested for us to go to Tang Kuan Hilltop. Without a clue of what’s in store for us (remember, he speaks little English only), we got off his tuktuk and walked towards the Lift Station.
We paid a minimal entrance fee for the lift that took us uphill. After riding an elevator for about 3 minutes to that steep hill, the view offered us a 360 degree-appreciation of the entire Songkhla province.
It’s breathtaking!
My captures don’t give justice to its actual beauty.
Imagine enjoying gloriouy Thai sunset at this Hilltop…
The view's the best, but the sun was at its best too! 😦
The Hilltop is also a site of veneration to Buddha…

What do you call these bells for prayers?

Now this quote on the Hilltop is too difficult to observe, agree?

It was almost 4 in the afternoon when we went down from the Hilltop, and since I asked the tuktuk driver (forgive me, I forgot to note his name!) to drop us off at a money changer to exchange few more ringgit to baht, I decided not to bring my family to Hat Yai Municipal Park. Honestly, by doing so, I regret now not having even a single photograph alongside the Laughing Buddha in the Municipality Park of Hat Yai 😦

After going to the money changer, we were brought back to the hotel; spent an hour refreshing up then we went out for an early light dinner.

Mcdonald's Samurai PORK burger : Have you tasted one? Do you like it? I don't.

My excitement to try Mcdonald’s Samurai PORK burger went downhill when I found out that there’s nothing special about its taste after taking the first bite. The sauce inside the bun was far something that I will like. It was not that I am partial with beef burger (sure I am!) but this pork burger that probably is present only in Hat Yai (is it?) didn’t meet my expectations.

I remember I was also disappointed in Mcdonald’s Hat Yai because their Coca cola cups aren’t refillable unlike in Penang. Yes, here in Penang, it’s drink all you want Coke in all Mcdo branches, isn’t that great? *Imagine kung sa Starbucks drink all you want din?* LOL! 🙂

After Mcdo, we decided to watch Captain America in one of the malls in Hat Yai that’s walking distance from our hotel. Unfortunately, Captain America in Hat Yai also doesn’t speak English! Oh Well!


Out of disappointment that the movie we wanted to see was dubbed in Thai (FYI, in Penang –English movies are shown in English with only Malay and Chinese subtitles which for me is far better), instead of spending B120 (RM12) for a movie we won’t understand, we settled and just drowned ourselves to a better option–Thai local sweet delicacies, we so liked it!

These Thai delicacies are so similar to our local kutsinta, cassava cake, and other rice cakes! yummy!

Then few steps more just before getting to our hotel, we bought fresh fruits from this street stall…

That ended our tour in Hat Yai.  We decided the next morning to just stay in the hotel and be early at the pick up point of our van back to Butterworth, Penang.
All in all, I found Hat Yai as an overlooked spot by most tourists and travelers who only consider the mostly visited Thai destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket,and Chang Mai over this city at the Southern part of Thailand. There are really more to explore even in less popular places such as Hat Yai. It has the same feel and ambiance of Bangkok but less traffic congestion. Now, I understand why it’s one of the favorite weekend getaway places of most Chinese-Malaysians and some Singaporeans not only because of its proximity to the borders of the two countries (Thailand-Malaysia) but there are really a lot of reasons to visit, go back and enjoy Hat Yai. The possibilities are just endless.
Advertisements

26 thoughts on “DISCOVERING HAT YAI, THAILAND : A TEMPLE, A BEACH & LOTSA SEAFOODS & BREAKFAST GONE BAD!

  1. among the countries I visited, it’s also Thailand where I wanted to go back. (alam ko Gabby was made in Thailand, hihi) aside from their superb food, the fact they are the land of the free. wapakels sa western culture etc.

    regarding the little english.. well, when in rome do what the romans do. hehe charot! they must have instant photos nalang where guests can point to in case the conversation gets lost. ^_^

    1. we haven’t explored the rest of thailand –make that –the rest of bangkok and other key cities and must visits. hopefully, there would be chance in the future to visit back, even hat yai, i’d like to go back.

      i agree with your suggestion. there’s nothing wrong with little knowledge on english language, problem arises when you never do a thing to compensate deficiency. tama ka, pictograph na lang, sign boards, pen ang paper, the works! ang sistema ba turista pa ang magpoprovide noon? *nagtatanong lang po*

      thanks, chyng! 🙂

  2. the fried sea bass and the steamed crab made me salivate. i’ll definitely buy some crabs to steam this weekend! inggitera haha.. forget muna my diet.

    1. medyo payat pa nga iyong crabs sa photos e. we ate better crabs in penang few weeks ago.

      go ahead, indulge with seafoods! sarap! we just had dinner of garlic buttered prawns–uber peborit ko iyon! what’s lenin’s ?

  3. the best part in travelling is exploring those cities not commonly visited by many. mas madami pang stories duon na malalaman ka. that’s what i learned from the book that i’m currently reading 🙂 nagutom na naman ako sa food shots mo hehehe

  4. grabe sa thailand, one of the countries na ang hirap talaga ng communication; harder than in europe! talagang lost in translation. but like chyng, i also want to go back to thailand.

    alamo yung nakahigang buddha docgelo? meron nyan sa bangkok diba, and it’s my favorite. 🙂

    1. sa tokyo din, when i was there last year, totoong lost in translation.
      there was one time i had to call the attention of a police who understands english, to help me translate how to buy ticket for the train. hirap, kung pwede lang lagi mag charade e!

      europe, iba ka talaga, grace! may someday sa amin iyang europe na ‘yan, hahaha! *wishful thinking*

      thanks for dropping; enjoy the rest of the week!

      ps : gabby’s still recuperating, pls pray for him. thanks!

  5. Inspite of the little glitches, I’m sure you and your family had a wonderful trip in another foreign soil. Keep on traveling. Don’t get tired sharing your food pics with us – I enjoy looking at them as much as you enjoy eating them.

  6. agree ako sayo doc, ang hirap mag explain kapag d marunong makaintindi ng english, ganyan din ang na experience ko nun nasa Japan kami….kakainis lang talaga yun di na nga sila nakaintindi pinagbayad ka pa rin hayyyy sarap tirisin! wag ka na bumalik sa hotel na yan hehehe….sana pala kinuha mo na rin yun buong meal at binitbit mo na lang pauwi hahaha

    ganda naman ng buddhist temple nila….kaya lang nakakatakot yun buddha super laki hahaha, how I wish I could visit Thailand soon….sarap ng food nila e…by the way yun mermaid nila meron din akong kuha niyan but it was taken in Canada same sila 😉 pero mas maganda kuha mo, mine was taken while driving e ;-P

  7. i have my own stories of (mis)adventures in thailand also in communicating. but i quickly adapted by using barok english, sign language and just pointing to pictures/actual objects…great food indeed in thailand. hope to explore northern thailand next time

  8. no vacation is smoooth sailing, or perfect, in my opinion.

    kudos to your driver, he seems to know the best spots int eh city ot take newcomers. are you going to teturn to this place in the future?

  9. if only they do it the way the Japanese do with all those realistic looking “styrofoam” displays. i bet you remember those. i can’t agree more with you complaining about it, it’s not just the price – it’s the principle, you knew all along you were right.

  10. It really sucks when communication blunders spoil the day while you’re on vacation. I’m all for the Thai people being proud of their culture and all, but with tourism playing a major role in their economy, you’d think they could at least brush up on fundamental English! (Sayang, ang sarap pa naman ng pagkain nila!)

    As for the Buddha, to have such peace and serenity in the face of death is most admirable.

  11. they say captain america is a good film, we shoud see it for ourselves. nuod na lang kayo pag balik nyo sa Penang. we find treasures in places it is least expected, cyempre every place has its own story to tell kahit di ganon ka popular. sarap ng gala.

  12. Hi, I’m planning to visit Hat Yai this August. I would like to ask how much do you rent the tuktuk for a day? You mentioned that you took a van back to Penang right? How much does it cost? Does it count per person (I’m travelling with 5 other peoples)? Thanks a lot for your information.

    1. hi christine, thank you for visiting my blog.
      this post about hat yai was from our 2011 trip. we rented tuktuk from around 5pm, i guess to 9pm from hat yai downtown to klonghae floating market, cost around 500baht or 50 ringgit per tuktuk not per pax. then the next day, we rented the same tuktuk (actually, the driver’s brother drove his tuktuk for us) from downtown hat yai to samila beach which is a few kilometers; whole day was around 2,500baht (RM250) that is if my memory serves me right, hehe.

      penang bus/van to and from hat yai and butterworth (or you can leave/have as drop off point-lebuh chulia in george town) for RM35 more or less.

  13. Doc Gelo, I will be travelling to Hat Yai end of July for a teaching job in one of the University. I wonder if there’s a lot of filipino residing there. Though, I have been to middle east for almost 20 years (not as a teacher) but i have this fear of being discriminated in thailand. I am wondering how I can survive in that place knowing that very few of them speaks english. Would that be the same scenario in the university? I got the job when I applied direct to the university. I will be teaching math and management subjects.

    1. Congratulations, Sir Jun on your teaching job in Hat Yai! I also thought in Manila and in Penang, Malaysia for almost a decade prior transferring to Dubai to work in an International Medical Insurance company last year.

      Regarding your query, it’s relatively safe in Hat Yai, a lot of people know how to speak English and I know you’ll get by. Have fun!

Thank you for your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s