16 April 2015

2D1N Hatyai, Thailand: Songkran Festival.

with Alvin, Jayne, Jennifer, Tyler and the lover.
on the 11-12 April 2015.

The reason for this trip: Jayne and Jennifer tendered their resignation to pursue their passion. Looks like tourism isn't for everyone. I'm happy for them really but sad because both of them have been great colleagues. 

We have always discussed the idea of us and a few more who couldn't make it for this trip to spend few days elsewhere. The only problem is we can't take more than 1 day annual leave together since Jayne, Alvin and I are all in the same department. The rest also same case. So, the best we could do is over the weekend.

The nearest place we could go to that's not part of Malaysia is Hatyai, Thailand. So land of tomyam it is. It's been quite a while since I've been to Hatyai. Actually not that long also lah. Probably like last year only. Heh.

If not mistaken, Songkran festival in Thailand always happens on 13-15 April, however few days before and after, the locals and tourists will start the water festival already. So, expect to get really wet if you plan to go on a holiday to Thailand anytime near these dates. 


We compared prices of a few hotels and I remembered wanting to book Centara at RM220 per night but when I checked online at Agoda and Expedia, all rooms are fully booked for that date. So now, we are kind back to square one, or maybe it's just me because right now I have no idea where we staying or how we are going. Heh.


We confirmed our hotel booking today with Lee Garden Plaza Hotel today. We've booked two rooms for six people, means we'll have 3 single beds in a room and hopefully we will be able to get connecting rooms lagi syiok. For our transportation, most likely the 6 of us will squeeze into her CRV. 


It didn't feel like work today. All of us in office were feeling the holiday mood already. What work? Hah. I have not packed for the weekend yet so the real feel hasn't really kicked in. Not until when I rushed my packing when I got back home from work. I wanted to change money at Queensbay Mall but was told that the rate in Hatyai is a lot better so in the end, we headed home and rested early.


I woke up at 530am and met with the rest at 630am for a quick breakfast. Then, it was all the way to Hatyai with no rest stop at all. No time to waste since we're only spending a night there. It took us like 1 hour and half. Crazy right? Jayne's a fast driver and her car can take it lah honestly. It didn't feel like she was speeding at all.

We reached Bukit Kayu Hitam and was stuck in a jam for a good 30 minutes before we decided to make a quick left turn into the traffic light junction, park the car there, and started walking. That was within a walking distance from the Malaysian Immigration Point and Duty Free Zone. If we have waited in the car with the traffic, I think it's going to take much longer.

The passing of Malaysian Immigration was quite a fast one. To those passport holders of recently renewed ones, you don't have to queue up so long because now you can go for the Auto-Gate Kiosk. Oh and at this point if you only realize that you forgot to bring your passport, you can just make a u-turn and go back home. Heh.

At the auto-gate kiosk, you just got to place your passport facing up (there's instructions on the system) and wait till they verify your identity and scan your right thumb print and you're good to go. Easy as ABC.


Then, we need to walk some more to the Duty Free Zone, where we all desperately searched for the washroom. Speaking of that, I did a travel test on LOTD Clothing's t-shirt during this trip so the walking gives me the chance to test this t-shirt out. Anyways, from there, we hired a van to take us in from the Thailand Immigration Point to Lee Garden Plaza, Hatyai. 

From a distance, we could see lines and lines of human, waiting to clear through the immigration and boy, all the lines were so long. We chose one line that seemed to be the shortest. Turns out, the officer at the kiosk that we were waiting at was like the slowest and also, many locals just walked to him with like RM20 as bribe to clear immigration for their customers. Haih. 

It took us about 1 hour before our passport gets the stamp and approval to go into the land of tomyam. Oh and we have to pay RM1 to the Immigration Officer. WHAT IS THIS. OBVIOUSLY BRIBE. SAD CASE. I don't do bribe lah but this one I don't know how to say no to him eh. Anyways, the van costs us RM80 (for the 6 of us) which isn't quite bad I guess. Jayne said that she used to got them for about RM70. From Thailand Immigration Point, the van took us direct to Lee Garden Plaza, which took about 45 minutes. 

We checked into Lee Garden Plaza and dropped all our luggages. We didn't even sit on the bed and rested a while because seriously we need all the time we can get. There were so many people there okay. 90% Malaysians because I could understand them and hear them from a distance. Hah. 

Lee Garden Plaza's hotel lobby at Level 10.

Standard room. We added another extra bed.

View from our room at 20th floor.

With 20 Thai Baht per person, our tuk-tuk took us straight to our lunch place called Kan Eng Restaurant. The place is filled with people who seemed Malaysian to me actually. The food was served so quick we couldn't believe it eh. Too fast. Not only that, the food tasted good some more. We wanted to do a food review but we were too hungry so just walloped everything. No time to take individual photos. Heh. Here's the address if you would like to visit this place.

Kan Eng Restaurant : 50/3 Kimpradit Road, Hatyai, 90110 Songkhla, Thailand : 074-246138

You're welcome! :)

Back to this. After lunch, we went to Robinson Mall which isn't quite far from where lunch place. We shopped there a while and got back to the hotel to prepare for our next itinerary. MASSAGE TIME!

This was when we were ambushed by the locals and non-locals with water guns. Apparently, Songkran Festival has already started. We thought they were just setting up. 

Songkran Festival is celebrated by the Thai people as New Year's Day on the 13-15 April. So with that, we thought the water event will only start on Monday itself. Manatau, it's actually few days prior to the New Year. Crazy okay. I didn't pack any extra clothes leh. 

We were walking from our tuk-tuk to the hotel and got cornered with all the water guns. I think most of them were Malaysians. They didn't look Thai at all. Oh such good fun. 

We quickly ran into the hotel and with our clothes wet, we went to the Massage Place at Level 7 in Lee Garden Plaza. This was my first time trying out the body massage in the hotel. Usually, we would go to the by-the-street-vendor but never did I know that for the same price, 300 baht we got better body massage in the hotel. 

It was one of my best massage sessions that I've ever experienced. Everything was more proper and clean. So, this will be the place where I will go to from now on. Level 7, Lee Garden Plaza.

Mine was amazing. She didn't use too much of her energy so that was really a relaxing session.

After massage, we were all pumped up to join in the wet mess downstairs, but then we were feeling quite hungry already. We wanted to eat local Thai food but there is no way that we will go out and to the eating place without getting ourselves soaked in water. So, we decided to eat indoor, at the Shabu Shi, a Japanese Restaurant where we had all-you-can-eat steamboat and sushi style within 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

After that, we got our guns loaded and ready to join the madness outside.

Along the street, there were humans waiting for people like us to walk past so that they could aim and shoot at us. Some even used bucket and splash water on us like ice bucket challenge. Heh. It was crazy okay. 

We played around for a while and walked the street, most of the time focusing on finding those humans with water guns. Hah. They even set up a fighting ring right in the middle of a junction and we witnessed my very first time of Muay Thai experience. 

I was quite scared to watch to be honest. I didn't know what to expect. All that's in my head was gory and brutal images. Even worse when a young boy, prolly aged 15 walks up and waited for his opponent, also about 15 years old. Wahh, how to watch wei.

It's like so pitiful you know. Everyone gathered around the ring and cheered on when either one made a good move, which I don't know how it's judged. There were 5 rounds and we watched till the end. I think the only reason why the boy in blue won was because he managed to 'tricked' the red boy and made him fall on his bum-bum twice. 

This puts a tick on my travel checklist, which I obviously don't really have. Hah. It comes when it comes.

The four of them bought a huge water gun at about RM25 each.

Boys will like this shooting very much. 

Ohh! One more thing that I like about this Songkran Festival is no alcohol is allowed so means no risk of people doing crazy things. People really don't need alcohol to enjoy the moment, seriously. This was proven during this festival. 

I have to say that Airasia did a really wonderful work. They set up a stage by the street and did like a mini-rave party. It was crazy! It was super fun. It was very crowded also but that made it quite fun actually. I don't know how to describe it but it was fabulous!

After all that madness, we went back to the room and changed into a 'real' clothes. We didn't want to call it a night just yet so we sneaked through the back of the hotel to enter the quieter street behind the plaza. We went to a bar place where I thought was one of my best experience yet. The live band music and the company, best. 

It was a great night out and we collapsed on our bed at about 1am (2am in Malaysia!). I remembered going to bed purposely not switching on my alarm clock. I wanted to wake up whatever time I wake up. Heh. 


Turns out I woke up at 7am. That's 8am in Malaysia, which also means my usual waking time for work. I was the first one to wake up and got ready for the rest of the day. 

We had quite a lovely spread of breakfast I must say. 

Today, it's a ll about shopping because we only got few hours left in this land. The Pasar Pagi it is. It was super crowded inside and outside of the market. It seems like all the humans decided to shop that morning too. We were quite focused I have to say.

We went in, searched for the things that we need, and out we go. It's like in and out kind of mission. Ain't nobody gonna stay in there for so long. 

We hunt down stalls that sell roasted coconut and boy, the joy on our faces when we found one. It was a needed drink after all that shopping. Then, we took the tuk-tuk back to the hotel. 

The thing was we knew that if our tuk-tuk pass by or stop at the 'shooting zone', we're all going to be so wet. Tuk-tuk all no wall okay so we sure kena left right center. 

We tried looking out for possible routes but no point also lah. Every street that leads to Lee Garden Plaza for sure got an army or two ready to shoot. We passed one street and we saw them right in front so that's the worse because we knew there's no escaping and WE WERE ALL ALREADY IN OUR LAST SET OF CLOTHES! Okay, not for the rest lah but for me it was. No more change seriously.

Then, it comes. The water from the guns, straight to our body, face and legs. It wasn't that bad until Koay started shouting, "THIS ONE GOT COLOR! COLORED WATER WEIII!"

We were all still covering our faces and shouting, "Ahhhhh! STOP!!" 

And our smart tuk-tuk driver even stopped, don't know for them to shoot more water on us or really got traffic in front. After not very far ahead, the tuk-tuk finally stopped and then we realized that the colored water got to all of us and the worse was on Koay. His whole left side of the face was stained with pink water. The crazier thing was that the color won't come off after washing with soap. 

We got back to the hotel and changed. I obviously have nothing left to wear so I blew dry my undergarments and wore my pajamas. Heh. Talk about spontaneous trip. This has got to be the winner.

We took shelter in the mall while waiting for our van. Even when we were in the van, they still try their best to 'make us get wet'. I don't know what they were thinking. They prolly think that their water power could break the van's windows or something. Hah. Free car wash for the van!

We left Hatyai at the Immigration Border at about 430pm and got home at 630pm. 

Then, I collapsed on my bed because I have got no voice left. 

Great weekend escape with this people. This is just temporary goodbye, Jayne and Jennifer. Both has decided to pursue their dreams elsewhere. I'm gonna miss you both! :)


Pergi kerja lah what else.

For 2 days and 1 night at Hatyai, Thailand

PENANG-HATYAI-PENANG via van : Sponsored by Jayne

Compulsory 'payment' bribe to the Thai Immigration Officer (for two ways) : RM2
Hotel with buffet breakfast : RM84
Tuk-tuk ride everywhere : RM11
2 hours of full body massage: RM42
Thailand Baht used for shopping & others : RM314

[Note: RM10 = 87.6 Thai Baht (as of 11th April 2015)]