Pootle - to travel or go in a relaxed or leisurely manner (The Free Dictionary)
Hat Yai is a city worth spending a bit more time and we had planned another day here. Many Malaysians come here specifically for the weekend as it boasts of excellent food, shopping and night life. Though the cycling was over for all of us, Christoph decided to continue on solo towards Phattulang on Highway 4 today, some 100km north. His efficient wife had already booked a hotel for him. The next day, he would turn left on Highway 4 and cycle 70km towards Trang where he would fly off to Bangkok to meet his family. But before he went, we had to celebrate with a Dim Sum breakfast together at the best place, but getting there was an unpleasant adventure.
It poured cats and dogs and we decided to take the hotel mini Song Thew to ChokDee Dim Sum. It was only 1.5km away but our driver seemed to take forever to get there. Upon reaching there, it was closed. So he suggested another Dim Sum restaurant and it too was closed. One more recommendation from him we ended up at a Dim Sum place just outside our hotel.
It suddenly dawn on me that this driver was really out to scam us as he gets paid per trip. As someone who takes tourists around to all the restaurants etc for years on end, he would have known when these famous restaurants are open/closed. He charged us 480B for these 1-2km sojourns and we were truly not impressed! It is very unfortunate when people make money their god and seek to earn it dishonestly, under the guise of being helpful.
As the saying goes. you can only con a person once and later in the day when we wanted to go somewhere, that driver came up to us again and offered his us services. Unbelievable! Thankfully in Thailand, this is more the exception than the rule.
Do not take this Taxi in Hat Yai!
We put that behind us and enjoyed a lovely Dim Sum nevertheless. The Dim Sum taste is quite different from what I am used to but it was still very good. We all felt a bit guilty about indulging in such a yummy breakkie except for Christoph, who needed the energy.
It was soon time to bid farewell to Christoph and we all gathered to send him off in style at the hotel lobby with a prayer and good wishes.
It was sad to see Christoph riding off alone in the rain but he among all of us, is just blessed with outstanding fitness being a triathlete and all. The BMW M3 was finally unleashed and he could go as fast as he wanted on the Thai Autobahn, and he did.
Meanwhile, we had plans to cycle to the lovely beach side coastal town of Songkhla. It is a mere 30km away and I have never been there before. But the rains were still heavy and we had to postpone this visit for another trip.
This being a Tuesday, the famous Tyro Bike shop was also closed so what better way to mull away the time than to take a walk in the city and explore the many interesting sights and shops by foot. We also went to buy our coach tickets back to Singapore and decided on Grassland after 3 enquiries. The others were 850B but Grassland was 900B and offered better seats and non-stop travel straight to Singapore. We got prime seating and it was to leave at 1230pm, arriving at Woodlands causeway at 4am, which was perfect as it avoided the peak hour jam.
YC told us about a mountain bike shop that was opened and we went to take a look. Unfortunately, it was catered more for MTBs and roadies, and although they had some foldies, there was nothing much for us foldies in terms of accessories. YC needed a new 20" tire but all they had was some local brand that would be out of place on his hi end ultra light Dahon MU SL. Tyro was our last hope!
We were passing by some shops when an elderly lady invited us to sample her Popiah (some sort of vegetable roll). She was truly a very persuasive and warm lady and we obliged. Turned out that her Popiah was seriously good with crab meat and sausage on top! This was a great prelude to lunch!
Just beside her shop was a restaurant that sold amazing roast meats. Looking at the crowds instantly told us that this was a "die die must try" eatery! Nan Yuan Restaurant did not disappoint as my Char Siew/Roast Pork Rice was absolutely succulent. Crispy, soft, sweet and just marvelously done.
We also had some crab meat rolls which is like our Spore Ngoh Hiang, except stuffed with crab meat. This is truly how I prefer to eat my crabs!!!
There is a blog post about Nan Yuen worth reading written by a local and if ever you are in Hatyai, this should be in your list of must eat! You can also check their Facebook page here.
We needed a wheelchair after such a satisfying meal to move ourselves out of Nan Yuen and as we walked back to the hotel, we came across a most fascinating coffee retail shop. The rich aroma of freshly grounded coffee really drew us in and with the sight of fancy coffee machines and all sorts of fresh coffee beans from all over the world, we knew this was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Do check out Coffee at Home if you seek coffee perfection!
Though we sat there longer than most customers, the staff didn't mind one bit and continued to pour out fresh cold water for us and were warm, welcoming and friendly. Best 40B or S$1.60 ever for a Latte, Cappuccino etc.
We all felt a bit guilty after eating/drinking so much while not exercising at all this whole day. And I feel a bit embarrassed that this post is beginning to sound like a food blog rather than a cycling blog but since we are on the roll, indulge me on reporting about our excellent dinner once again at Kan Eng Restaurant.
YC had 2 friends, a lovely couple Willy and his wife who rode up from Singapore. Not on bicycles but on their BMW F series motorcycles and they were on their way up to Chiang Mai. We had dinner there with them as there was still so many other dishes we have not tried.
This was what we ordered and the dishes did not disappoint! Another wonderful dinner at Kan Eng and it was so interesting to hear stories of journeys on motorised two wheels.
Our day of pootling in Hatyai was really fun and we were glad to have spend some time here to see and experience the culinary pleasures the city offered.
Hat Yai is certainly worth 2 or even 3 nights visit and although we could not visit Songkla, that only gives us another reason to plan another trip here in the near future!