It was one of those spontaneous things – I got invited to join a group of line dancing ladies from Han Chiang for a weekend in Hatyai in January (yes this is a very late post but better late than never ya!). Nic was visiting Kuching for the week and I had nothing planned so I thought, what a great idea.
I was amazed I could wake up that early for our bus ride into Thailand. I hadn’t been to Hatyai in years – not since the last time my uncle and aunt drove us there. I know Hatyai may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I know it’s a fun, kitschy place. It’s all things weird and funky. And did it get funkier as the day went!
Once we reached the border, it was quite a chaotic jam. As it was a Saturday, lots of cars and tour buses were making their way into Thailand too. Our bus took more than an hour to inch its way toward the border which separates Malaysia from Thailand. Technically, it was just a long gate. Once we passed the gate, everyone got down to clear immigration. We had to get our passports stamped.
Now I don’t know if you know this but apparently, our tour leader had to “visit” the Thai immigration office while we patiently lined up. He was “doing the necessary”. If he did not do the necessary, then the immigration officers might give us hell and slowly take their time. Can anyone confirm this? Apparently it’s an open secret. People just pay and move on. After all, they just want a weekend in Hatyai – so a few ringgit here and there won’t kill anyone.
Our first stop was for lunch (a very early one for Hatyai standards) just a few kilometres after we cleared the Thai immigration. Everyone who visits Thailand has 2 things in mind – food and shopping. Presumably, there’s nothing more delicious than real tongue-searing tomyam soup in Thailand.
Thai people are also big on “muu” or pork dishes so besides the ubiquitous tomyam, we had to order the braised pork leg with its gelatinous skin. The tomyam worked well in creating an appetite and a contrast to the richness of the simmered pork leg, tender in each mouthful.
Once our lunch was done, we trooped into a traditional style biscuit shop a few doors away.
Apparently these travelling companions of mine were old hands at this.
They knew which shop to buy from, which restaurant to eat at.
I marvelled at the way these ladies descended upon the biscuit shop. (It’s a wonderful change for me. Usually I am the holiday planner when Nic and I go travelling. This trip really allowed me to sit back and let others make decisions for a change.)
It wasn’t asking about the biscuits – boy, these ladies knew what they were after.
It was just a matter of deciding how much to order!
This shop sold kuih kapit with floss filling besides “thnee kuih” and all types of Thai biscuits and delicacies with a crunch.
In the end the ladies ordered tins of kuih kapit. Luckily, our bus was only half full so they could really shop to their hearts’ desire.
And this was only the first 2 hours outside Hatyai – we hadn’t even reached our hotel yet.
To be continued…. (where I get to the pseudo-floating market and eat a bunch of bugs, much to my friends’ disgust!)