Sunday, November 3, 2013

ToST II - Part 9

Let's celebrate!

We've made plans for dinner and found an awesome makan place nearby.
It's a traditional Thai hotpot restaurant and the customers there are mainly locals.
Our plan was to stay as far away as possible from tourist traps.
We didn't have any issues getting our fill with the Thai hotpot and drowned the night with a lot of beers! 
Everyone was happy with the fact that the ToST II was successful.
Since we bought our train tickets, there was nothing to worry because we are going to wake up a bit late the next day to ride around Hat Yai.
So far, the cyclometer has clocked-in about 300km.


Working jumbos pays a visit

Ohhh.. Yeah!

The locals enjoying their food
Shopping spree

I can see on the faces of the guys that was lit up. It was a sense of achievement. 
We ate and drank all night long before calling it a day.
The next morning, we took the bikes down and headed downtown for breakfast.
Our first stop was a roast pork shop.
There, we sampled some Siew Yuk, possibly one of the best in Hat Yai and went over to a coffee shop near Lee Garden Hotel for some porridge.
Later, I realized that a piece of screw was missing from my luggage rack.
We found a bicycle shop not too far from the scene.
I asked the owner, Khun Somchai if he had replacement screws for sale which he gladly gave me free of charge.
And the gang ended up spending thousands of Thai bahts shopping there.
We decided to go bicycle shop hopping from one end to another around Hat Yai.
This led us to a high-end bike cafe in the fringe of the city.
Since we were too early, we waited for it to open. 
Michelle was beginning to get annoyed with the wait.
Having seen the no-show, we rode back to the city to check out another shop.
By the time we got back to the bike boutique, it was already open for business.
Sin splurged by spending thousands of bahts purchasing bicycle bells and a handlebar bag.
The only thing I bought from this outlet, was a Cateye light. 
Why? "Made in Japan".
While the guys were busy browsing the aisles, two of the bike shop guys were assembling a Surly Troll.
This is a nice looking bike and its also pretty affordable.
They were building it and a complete bike would cost no more than RM3K.
Our Thai hosts were also amazed with Roger's touring stories and if we ever head back to Hat Yai in the future, this shop will be a pit stop.

Getting ready for the city ride
Cycling around Hat Yai

Siew Yuk for the soul..

Khun Somchai's bike shop

Shopping time!

 A selection of folding bikes at Khun Somchai's store
I found that there were some really cool stuff at the bike boutique, but there weren't any stuff that catches my fancy.
Michelle bought a jersey for herself and Sin was the big spender.
After spending a good time there, we rode back to the hotel to pack up and head for lunch at our usual Kuey Teow Lueah shop.

The Surly Troll, nice bike to have for adventure rides

A view of the bike boutique..
Saddle-up, let's roll!

We left the hotel shortly after 12:30pm local time.
From the uptown area, we rode towards Tune Hotel to have our Kuey Teow lunch.
Later, we rode towards the train station to prepare ourselves for the long journey back to Kuala Lumpur.
And as usual, I took the initiative to pack dinner.
We went to Robinson's department store and packed four packets of rice and bought some snacks including drinking water as dinner onboard the KTM coach is only available after the train arrives in Alor Setar, Kedah.
Its also quite a chore to load up the gear onto the train as we had to cross the platforms.
By the time we settled-in nicely, its a matter of waiting.

At Hat Yai Junction train station

Getting comfy

One for the road..
The trouble with seating arrangements..

IF you are purchasing a train ticket from Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur, take note that rows 15 - 14 and 1 - 3 are not sold there.
These are available across the border with passengers boarding in Padang Besar and beyond.
We had this problem before and had to "sweet talk" other passengers to swap seats.
For bikes, the best rows are 15 A-D where there's ample legroom and space to place your foldies.
In the coach, an old Malay couple boarded with no seat number.
We offered our seats to them and later learned that our seats were sold to a Thai Malay couple in Padang Besar.
The guy who purchased the seat was edgy. But I talked him into swapping with me and Michelle while Sin and Roger had stayed put.
In handling matters as such, one has to be really patient. Knowing the lingo and how to approach irate passengers is a skill one must acquire.
I had to persuade two other passengers along the way to swap their seats. It wasn't pleasant, but someone has to do the job.
So, if you intend to bring your bike, just get rows 13 A-D and place your bikes at the front row. Just be nice if you see people with fart faces and those who give you attitude.
Somehow or rather, I think we can improve the odds in future journey to Thailand, especially with our bikes.

It was a good journey no matter what..

We endured 14 hours of train ride to arrive in KL Sentral and parted ways.
Michelle and I boarded the LRT bound for Paramount Garden where her father was waiting to pick us up.
Roger and Sin went their own way.
I am grateful for Roger's scheduling and planning and Sin's patient in putting up with our idiosyncrasies throughout the journey...
The ToST experience is definitely a learning curve for me and in the months and years to come, I can certainly look forward to more of such adventures on our folding bikes!

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