Wed, 14 May 2008 12:21:03 +0000
Hat Yai Index Bangkok: Soggy
Same as yesterday, I didn't have much of an agenda today beyond stretching out my occupation of my hotel room, with its shower and its fan, for as long as possible.
First thing to do was go get some breakfast. For once, I thought I'd be boring and get some western-style breakfast. There was a diner along the street with the bars that I'd noticed earlier, and I thought that'd do. I ordered some scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. Not bad, but a little unsatisfying. More interesting: along the way I noticed a lady selling durian. So now was the time to finally give that a go.
I perched myself on the steps of a department store to work my way through my serving. I certainly understand why people eating durian in the street have that contemplative expression on their faces: it's a tricky business, eating durian. Rather like eating custard with your fingers. I didn't find the legendary smell especially overpowering. It tasted OK, but was a little sickly sweet for my taste. I'll probably try it again. I certainly had the taste of durian in my mouth until lunch. I felt it was prudent to return to the hotel and wash my hands thoroughly before doing anything else.
So I lay around the hotel room watching TV. At quarter to eleven the cleaning lady knocked on my door, which I interpreted as a sign that it was time to check out, so I packed and dropped off my bag at reception. I then wandered around to scout out a place for lunch. Most of the restaurants around here seem designed for Chinese tourists: generally the names of the restaurants are shown in Thai and Chinese. I was looking for somewhere specifically Thai. I eventually found a nicely crappy-looking diner that didn't show a single character of Chinese.
Unfortunately, they didn't have a lot of support for English-speakers either. In fact, as soon as I sat down, the lady said "fried rice, yes?", and didn't seem ready to discuss things any further than that. Fried rice is clearly what the westerners order. So I ended up with yet another nasi goreng. Nasi goreng is nice and all, but I need some variety too.
To fill up the afternoon, I saw the one sight Wikitravel suggests for Hat Yai: Wat Hat Yai Dai, a large local temple with a monumental reclining Buddha. It was just close enough to walk, although with the sun shining and the humidity it wasn't really a pleasant walk. I found it behind a very interesting-looking market. I wish I had had a market like that when I had access to a kitchen. The temple itself was quite a large complex of buildings, but there's no missing the reclining Buddha:
I took a few photos, wandered around (giving as wide a berth as possible to the extremely mangy temple dogs), but there wasn't much to do there, so I went back. I was really very, very hot and sweaty by the time I got back. Thank god for 7/11s. Their huge iced coffee for 18 baht is a life-saver.
And then I was really at a loss for something to do until six, when my train was due to leave. I decided to find a pub, order a beer or two, and relax. It must have been all that exertion, but the cold beer (provided in a stubby holder, no less) was fantastic, and I had two. The house band was also there doing their rehearsals, so I had a listen to them. That still didn't use up much time though, so I went and got a coffee from another place, and then returned for one more beer. You've gotta mix things up.
I was a bit concerned about the train, since I had no idea if it was a sleeper carriage or normal seats. It's a long train journey to Bangkok, overnight, and a seat would be pretty unpleasant. Indeed, when I boarded it looked like it was just seats. But eventually I figured out that the carriage does convert into bunks. They came through to set up the bunks around 9:00, and apparently we were expected to go straight to bed. This time I have a bottom bunk, so it'll be interesting to see if it's a little cooler than last time.
Incidentally, this train could be considered my first journey in a war zone, for a sufficiently loose definition of "war" - there are heavily-armed rebels out there, and areas the army doesn't go. Of course, it's pretty unlikely I'll wind up in a gun battle. For that, I'll have to look further afield...
Hat Yai Index Bangkok: Soggy