Hat Yai Trip 2013 *Photos Intensive*

Hat Yai

Last month, I boarded Tiger Airways with my parents heading for Hat Yai, Southern Thailand. We touched down at Hat Yai International Airport after a 75 minutes flight from Singapore Changi Airport.

Compared to taking a coach ride setting off from Golden Mile Complex to Southern Thailand via Malaysia, we saved more than twenty hours and alot of backache.

Those who know me might wonder why does my family visit Hat Yai year after year? Isn't it boring?

Hat Yai is not as picturesque as Phuket nor as glamorous as Bangkok. What it have is a very slow pace of life and aged buildings.

However, these are the exact factors which drew my parents to this place as they find the way of life suits them perfectly.

Furthermore, the cost of living is relatively cheaper here and communication is not much of a problem as the Thai Chinese here speaks a little Teochew, Cantonese and Hakka.

Back to the story, after we cleared immigration, the Thai driver sent by the travel agency to pick us up is already waiting at the arrival hall.

Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel

We checked into Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel just like we did the previous year.

To know more regarding this hotel, click here.

After washing up, we cannot wait to have our lunch at SHABUSHI located on the first floor of the hotel as it is way past three in the afternoon already. We had our breakfast at around seven in the morning and we did not have had anything to eat since then.

As we stepped out from our room, we realized that staying on the same level is an old couple who had taken the same flight (seated in the same row no less!) as us.

We exchanged greetings and went on our way.


We had our first dining experience at SHABUSHI last year.

At that time, I felt that the Sushi tastes better than the Shabu Shabu. The twin pot of milk soup base and chicken soup base failed to arouse my appetite. This time, however, I have a complete different perspective!

This year, we chose the chicken soup base as well as the tom yum soup base. The chicken soup base was more flavorful this time while the tom yum soup base, on the other hand, tasted like it was made with concentrated cubes instead of from scratch.

The salmon from the sushi does not seem too fresh as the color has turned dark. I am rather peeved that I did not get to have a single piece of salmon.

As we had a very late lunch, we decided to skip dinner. That night, we strolled around our hotel and went for our massage.

One of our aims for coming to Hat Yai is due to its cheap massage.

We have previously tried the traditional massage but I felt uncomfortable with the masseuse climbing on top of me while lying on a matress inside a dimly-lit room.

During another session, Dad realized that his female masseuse has not moved a muscle (she was sitting on his back) and when he turned around to take a look, he saw that she has fallen asleep!

We also engaged the services of the masseuse to come to our room but they had their eyes fixed on the drama playing on TV and taking turns to go to the bathroom, stinking up the whole room in the process.

We have tried the services of many but none have been satisfactory.

Exterior of the massage centre

Fortunately, we managed to find one that pleases us and we have been returning to this massage centre for the last few years.

This massage centre is also a hair salon. The masseuse here are quite dedicated as the lady boss is there in the shop to supervise them.

The massaging is done while seated on a chair at the shopfront without anyone crawling over me on a mattress in a dimly-lit room!

But most importantly, the masseuse here are all males who exerts more strength. Even though our bodies will be in pain for a few days after, it was all worth it.

This massage centre is located two doors away from Diamond Plaza Hotel with a large portrait of the lady boss hanging on the wall behind the counter.

She also owned the white standard Poodle in the shop who is contented just lying by the door. It is very well-behaved and will not harass the customers.

However, the dog is not there when we visited this year.

Out of curiousity, Dad asked the lady boss, "Gao kia leh?" (Where's the dog?)
To which she replied, "Gao kia si liao!" (The dog has died!)
This photo was taken last year when we last saw the dog.

After our massage, we had some dessert near our hotel before retiring for the night.

Day Two!

We ran into the old couple during breakfast at the hotel lobby.

From work to kids to life lessons, my parents and them seemed like long lost friends who had lots to talk about.

The old couple told us that they came to give thanks to a temple for fulfilling a wish of theirs and they invited us to visit the temple. As we did not have any program, we agreed to tag along since they had already booked a van.

Wat Thanawee

Upon arrival, I found out that the temple is called Wat Thanawee. According to the old couple, the monk from this temple is very precise at divination.

He could tell everything about you without you telling him anything.

A man accompanied by a woman is here to have his divination told. The monk revealed that the man is involved in illegal dealings and that the woman by his side is not his wife as his wife is currently at home.

*The man did not deny*

When it was the parents' turn, the monk was able to describe their job nature and the name of their company. This was what they relate to me after coming out from the temple as I did not go in with them.

I refused to go in not because I am being skeptical. On the contrary, I was feeling insecure to have someone being able to read my mind so I chose to wait outside instead.

Interior of the temple

I was getting bored waiting outside the temple when I discovered that the temple had its own wifi. It is the first time I know that a temple had its very own wifi!

There is a banner hanging outside the temple with its Facebook so I made use of the temple's wifi to send a friend request. Surprisingly, my request was accepted almost immediately after clicking send!

If you wish to visit Wat Thanawee, I do not encourage you to come by Tuk Tuk as the journey is about 50 minutes from Lee Gardens. If you have the budget and sufficient people, I would suggest to rent a van instead as it is more comfortable.

Kwan Yin Shan

Leaving Wat Nathawee, we continued our way to Kwan Yin Shan.

We have been there to set off firecrackers before.

You may take a look at this link if you are interested.

Restaurant 59

After Kwan Yin Shan, the driver brought us here for lunch.

The very hospitable old couple played host and treated us to a sumptuous meal. I have long heard raving reviews about this restaurant from netizens but I was unable to find the exact address hence the idea to dine here was dropped.

I did not expect that we are able to dine here afterall thanks to the blessings of the old couple!

After a long day, we got back to the hotel and returned to our respective rooms to rest.

That night, we settled our dinner at this noodle stall below our hotel. Mum had the Wanton Noodles while Dad and I had the Duck Noodles. The taste was decent enough but the portion is really pathetic.

Duck Noodles 50Baht (SGD1.99)

Banana Pancake with Egg (Roti Gluay) 40Baht (SGD1.59)

There is a pancake stall beside the noodle stall so we ordered a banana flavored pancake to share. It is quite similar to our prata except a beaten egg and a sliced banana is wrapped within the dough then pan fried and drizzled with condensed milk when its done.

Dad who do not have a sweet tooth have nothing but praises for it.

From the morning, vendors selling clothing, watches, toys and souvenirs would set up their stalls along the perimeter of our hotel but all these stalls would pack up in the afternoon while a group of hawkers selling street food would take over their spot.

This stall opposite Grand Plaza (diagonally opposite Lee Gardens) sells fried prawns, fried chicken drumsticks, fried quails, mango/durian sticky rice, etc.

All the fried stuff are fried from the same wok of oil.

We have tried this stall a couple of years back but we find the food quite stale. We highly suspected the food to be leftovers from the previous day.

Furthermore, we saw that the oil in the wok has turned almost black which led me to wonder how often they change their oil?

Look at the color of the oil!

Who would have thought that after so many years, the oil in their wok is still so black!

For those who still wants to go ahead and try, you have been warned! 

Cuttlefish 100Baht (SGD3.98)

The cuttlefish is first toasted over a charcoal fire then flattened vigorously by a machine.

I find it chewy but tasteless.

If not for the chili sauce that comes with it, I could barely keep it down.

Kim Yong Market

Day Three!

Whenever we visit Hat Yai, a visit to Kim Yong Market is a must.

This is where the locals do their marketing for the freshest produce like chicken, duck, fish and vegetables.

We like to have our breakfast here as there is Pig's Blood Cube Porridge which is banned in Singapore!

Pig's Blood Cube Porridge

We had our breakfast here in this coffeeshop

We had a stroll at Kim Yong Market after our breakfast and we ran into the old couple again. They are taking the afternoon flight back to Singapore.

Hopefully we will have a chance to meet up back in Singapore.

Goodbye, Uncle Chan and Auntie Sylvia!

Actually, one of my favorite place to shop in Hat Yai would be their 7-11...

What? What is there to shop in a convenience store?

If you do not already know, the 7-11 in Hat Yai is really different from Singapore's!

The size of their store is almost like a mini mart!

Not only do they carry a myriad of goods, their prices are cheaper and many of the items cannot be found in Singapore!

Digestive drink 40Baht (SGD1.59)

Have you ever seen such a big bottle of digestive drink?

It is called BETAGEN here.

It tastes a little tangy and not as sweet as the ones in Singapore.

Absolutely delicious!

I would always buy two bottles to chill in the fridge to have a sip every morning.

What led me to the discovery of this drink is that last year, I was craving for milk so I just grabbed one off the shelf (I cannot read the Thai words written all over the bottle).

I only discover my mistake when I had a sip back at the hotel.

If not for this mistake, I would not have discovered such a delicious drink!

Instant Burger/Rice Burger 22 - 24Baht (SGD0.87 - 0.95)

These chilled burgers are individually packed and available in pork, chicken and prawn patties.

The staff will help you to reheat the burger in the microwave. Not only is the burger cheap and good tasting, what's awesome is that they have free flow of cucumber, tomato, onion and lettuce for you to add to your burger.

They are much more generous than McDonald's in this aspect!

The mayonnaise, mustard and chili sauce are also free to add to your heart's content.

When will Singapore's 7-11 launch such affordable burgers with unlimited veggies? I guess that day will never come.

Sandwiches 25Baht (SGD0.99)

These sandwiches are also chilled.

The staff will help you to unwrap and reheat with a sandwich maker before putting it into a box for you. I had the one with ham and cheese.

Other flavors include seafood pizza, cream, sausage with cheese, etc.

It is best eaten piping hot!

Thai Royal Milk Tablets 10Baht (SGD0.40)
(Picture source: http://www.whope.org/blog/3477650)

I heard these affordable milk tablets were put into production by the order of the Thai King because he empathized with the poor who could not afford expensive milk powder. This way, everyone could benefit from the calcium supplement. It is no wonder why the Thai King is so revered by his people!

Such a move from the Thai King really impressed me! Despite the cheap price, the taste is pretty good. I guess kids would love to receive this as gifts!

To tell the truth, I do not patronize the 7-11 in Singapore because of the CFC released into the ozone layer by their air-conditioner which runs non-stop for 24 hours everyday.

What is worst is that some outlets like the one near my house have no doors (not even automatic doors) thus the cold air would just keep escaping into the environment.

Because of this reason, I chose not to step into any 7-11 as a form of silent protest against the damage that they are causing to the environment. Luckily, the 7-11 in Hat Yai do have automatic doors to keep the cold air in so I could still keep one eye close...

McDonald's is known as McThai in Thailand and that is where we are having our lunch. Needless to say, we are here primarily for the Pork Samurai Burger which is not available in Singapore nor Malaysia.

The initial plan was to have lunch here during Day 2 but the unexpected acquaintance with the old couple and following them to Wat Nathawee has caused a change in plans and put off till now.

No wonder there is this saying "No amount of planning can forsee any last minute changes" which is quite true.

Pork Samurai Burger

There are quite a significant number of Muslims in Singapore.

In order to cater to this particular group, most F&B businesses in Singapore have been Halal-certified and this includes the fast food chains. This means that the food businesses with this certificate is not allowed to sell pork.

Perhaps this is reason why the first thing that most non-Muslims visitors did the moment they landed in Thailand is to visit McThai! Although there are also the presence of Thai Muslims in Hat Yai, pork can still be found in McThai.

Most people have thought that Pork Samurai Burger is the only pork burger being sold at McThai but as matter of fact, they do have Pork Big Mac and Pork Hamburger as well!

You should give it a try if you have the chance to!

The Pork Samurai Burger patty is very tender and the sauce is lip-smacking good but the only letdown is the portion of lettuce in it.

Spinach Pie 29Baht (SGD1.15), Pineapple Pie 25Baht (SGD1), Corn Pie 25Baht (SGD1)

Apart from the pork burgers, McThai also serve some other flavored pies. Singapore only have Apple Pie but McThai have Pineapple Pie, Corn Pie, Spinach Pie, Broccoli Pie and even Chicken Ham Pie!

Spinach Pie and Broccoli Pie may sound yucky to some but they taste really good!

Very soon, it was time for dinner.

We were walking around looking for new things to eat when we reached this eatery bustling with customers.

We took a look and realized that they sell Hor Fun.

Hor Fun

The Hor Fun permeates the fragrance of wok-hei and is very delicious! There are many tender pork slices but no prawns or fish slices otherwise, it would be even better!

This eatery is located at Sanehanusorn Road near Kimpradit Road (diagonally opposite Be My Guest).

Finishing our dinner, we head back towards the hotel and saw this tentage set up on the road outside ODEON.

It turns out to be Hat Yai's Halloween Festival and they are having a street party.

Meet the zombies and Jason


Day Four!

Spotted a rainbow early in the morning while having breakfast at the hotel!

On our way to Kim Yong Market, we saw devotees giving alms to the monks so we did the same.

Walking back to the hotel, I saw this "Jacky Chan Noodles."

I did not see wrongly. This is their Facebook.

Jacky Chan Noodles

Did you see the boat?

That should be the famous Thai Boat Noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) where hawkers sell their noodles on their boats at the Floating Market.

They must have shifted their business inland.

As we already had our breakfast, we did not get to try this Boat Noodles.

I hope to have this next year!

The different fragrances of Prickly Heat

There are even Prickly Heat in liquid form and Shower Gel!

Lunch time and we are out prowling for food again.

Ah Jiao Pig Trotters Rice

Pig Trotters Rice in Thailand are quite popular among netizens.

The last couple of years, we have walked past Ah Jiao Pig Trotters Rice numerous times but we have never thought of having it. This time, we decided to order a three person portion to try.

If memory does not fail me, the cost for this meal is 275Baht (SGD10.93).

This store is across the intersection from ODEON's Starbucks.

I know there are two other pig's trotters rice at the foodcourt of ODEON and Lee Gardens but I have not tried them yet so I do not know how they taste.

Voodoo Minions sold in the streets

Traces of Minions everywhere

My first rendezvous with the coconut ice cream can be traced back to two years ago, at Songkhla Beach where the mermaid is. I was smitten the very first time I tried it.

I had thought that such a unique coconut ice cream can only be found at Songkhla Beach which gave birth to the legend of the mermaid however, I found out that the ice cream can also be found in the vicinity of Lee Gardens!

Thus, the following year's trip (which is last year), I have been searching for it around the hotel to no avail until this year... I finally found (((((her)))))! *echo*

Her coconut ice cream is heavenly!

The coconut ice cream she sold is different from the one I had at Songkhla Beach. There is no squares of bread nor glutinous rice but it is a full cup of yummilicious coconut ice cream!

Roadside coconut ice cream 20Baht (SGD0.80)

She is really generous with the peanuts, unlike the ice cream vendors in Singapore...

Such simple pleasures!


To be honest, I rarely go to SWENSON'S in Singapore. In my memory, I have only gone there twice. The first visit was sharing the Fries & Dips and The Earthquake with my classmates. The other visit was a catch-up meal with the same friends.

That must have been more than 10 years ago.

This SWENSON'S at Hat Yai is located on the first floor of Lee Gardens near McThai. Every time we put up at this hotel, I would have the urge to go order myself an ice cream but because the parents do not like sweet stuff, I have no choice but to give up that thought.

Crispy Cocktail 125Baht (SGD4.98)

The Earthquake 340Baht (SGD13.54)

What's surprising this time is that it is the parents who brought up the idea to have ice cream! Therefore, I obeyed orders and brought them there to satisfy their craving.

Dad had a Crispy Cocktail while Mum and I shared The Earthquake.

(Two persons challenging The Earthquake is an arduous task!) 

Horrifying electrical wires!

Today is the last day of our 5 days 4 nights vacation. I am a little caught in-between having our last dinner at Kan Eng Restaurant or SIZZLER on the second floor of our hotel.

There is Mango Kerabu and Petai (Mum's favorite) at Kan Eng Restaurant but there is Pork Chop (PORK CHOP!) at SIZZLER with the all-you-can-eat salad/pasta/soup bar (also Mum's favorite)…

How do I make a choice between the two?

In the end...

Kan Eng Restaurant

Kan Eng Restaurant was a gem uncovered during the previous year's trip.

We have been hankering for their pig's trotters and tom yum soup after returning to Singapore therefore, we are back to patronize them again this year.

The above are what we had this year. As we already had pig's trotter for lunch, we did not order it for dinner.

The total cost for this meal is 880Baht (SGD35).

Isn't it cheap?

If you would like to know more about Kan Eng Restaurant, click here.

Tuk Tuk

The Tuk Tuk is the most accessible form of public transport for tourists. As long as the distance is not too far, the fare is only 20Baht (SGD0.80).

Of course, confirm the fare with the Tuk Tuk driver first before boarding!

Have you noticed the differences between the Tuk Tuks in Hat Yai and Bangkok?

The Tuk Tuks in Hat Yai are four-wheelers and had two rows of seats whereas Bangkok Tuk Tuks are three-wheelers and one row of seat.

In Singapore, you might not be able to hire a cab even if you have cash but it is a different story in Hat Yai.

The moment you step out from your hotel, you would be approached by Tuk Tuk drivers all offering you their services!

"Big Market"

Day Five!

How time flies and it is the last day of our Hat Yai trip!

Since we still had a bit of time in the morning, we took a Tuk Tuk to the "Big Market" to purchase some dried foodstuff and clothing for the kids.

After getting what we wanted, we return to the hotel for last minute packing and prepared to check out.

We did not plan any itinerary for this trip.

Other than shopping and having our meals, the remaining time is spent catching up on much-deprived sleep in the room.

5 days and 4 nights have just gone by in a flash.

Oh, my annual Hat Yai vacation!

See you next year!

Hat Yai International Airport

Awaiting boarding

Goodbye, Hat Yai! I will be back!

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