12th December 2008, Friday
The day started early with a scrumptious breakfast in some anonymous restaurant. Our guide is a solemn faced elderly gentleman. He spoke very little Hokkien. I didn’t talk to him because someone else is doing the arrangement this time. I just go with whatever that has been planned. And yes.. he drives like mad man too.
The first stop was a small temple that houses a dead monk whose body did not rot even after a few years. A quick check on google couldn’t really show the name of the place… I don’t know. I guess it’s a small temple with not many visitors and only locals would know this place. I prayed for safety and health for my family and friends.
Then, we adjourned to another temple at the top of the hill – the four faced Buddha. We had to climb to this temple as only cars which carry elderly people are allowed to drive to the top. So, we had to huff and puff to climb the steep road towards the top. It wasn’t much of a climb, really. Just that the lazy me just don’t hike! At this time, I was already feeling the toll of the long bus and van ride and felt somewhat lazy.
The third temple is probably the most intriguing with a gigantic statue of Buddha is erected. A quick check on the internet came up with this description.
“Phra Bhudda Mongkol Maharaj is a gigantic Buddha Image with the height of 19.9 meters high. It is located in Hat Yai, Songkla, the Southern part of Thailand. Hat Yai Municipality intended to build this Buddha Image to commemorate and celebrate the King Bhumibol’s 72th birthday in 1999 and also to be a peaceful place for people in HatYai and tourists. The Buddha is standing in a giving blessing gesture with the right hand up and the left hand lying beside the body. The Buddha Image made of brass and named ‘Phra Bhudda Mongkol Maharaj’ by the King. “
By the third temple, I was already bored shitless. To my dismay, we went to another temple by the hill – the Kuan Yin temple with a huge dragon’s mouth. I didn’t really find it inspiring so, I sought refuge from the immense heat by sitting under the tree at the many marble benches donated by deities and ate ice cream. It was quite cooling.
I was somewhat disappointed that we were not brought to the huge reclining Buddha. That would be much worth a visit! I guess I have to do this another time.
After a quick lunch near Samila Beach, we went to snap some pics of the golden mermaid. I tell you… tourists can be really, really annoying. You get the whole bunch of idiots who want to take solo pictures with the mermaid.. Imagine a tour bus of 40 people. Probably, they would take 40 shots before they could leave the poor mermaid alone! I don’t know why they have to climb on the mermaid and did all kinds of stunts to get a picture. It simply befuddles me. So this image is almost impossible to take – just the mermaid alone with no idiots in sight.
It was a Friday and I am surprised that there were so many people on the beach. The last time I came, there were only a handful of people and street peddlers. Now, you could see kites everywhere, peddlers mushrooming alongside of the beach, almost carnival like. Imagine coming here on a weekend. Gosh!
Then, we made a brief stop at this Tenaga port where a statue of naga is erected. It was believed that this sacred statute is to safeguard fisherman to return safely home to their dear ones after a day catch.
The highlight of this trip is probably the new floating market in Khlong Hae. Situated about 10 minutes from Hat Yai town, the place is lined up with huts selling mainly food, clothes and wares. There were also peddlers on small sampans “parked” along the river bed. It was quite an indigenous way to attract visitors. This place is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
We walked about snapping pictures of the ever friendly peddlers and bought some food from them. If you are worry about the hygiene, do not fret. It was pretty decent as none of us suffer diarrhea after that. LOL!
Be careful when walking near the banks to the sampans though. The soil is quite soft and your feet might sink in it. So, walk on the planks provided. I got my feet stuck in the mud and had to use tissue to remove the mud sticking on my shoes!
The range of food was incredible. You can even get sushi here! And Ramly burger! We tried as much as we could to satisfy our ever curious palate.
Then we went back to the hotel to take our baths and prepare ourselves for Aqua show.
To be continued…