Thursday, April 24, 2014

ToST III - Part 6

Songkhla-bound..

We've been on the road for five days.
From Pak Khlong, we have clocked-in at least 190km.
That's another 56km to go when we hit Songkhla, a port town East of Hat Yai.
Michelle and I had enough rest from the previous night and we made arrangements to leave Sathing Phra at 05:30am.
Trying to take advantage of the cooler weather at the break of dawn.
With the lights mounted, we rode off to route 408 and slowly made our way to the Ban Ngam Muang intersection.
There is a PTT petrol station here with a 7Eleven convenience store. The toilets here too are pretty clean.
I told Roger about this, but he was unsure. 
We did the ride on the reverse route last year and took a break near Ngam Muang before heading off to Sathing Phra and Ranot.
The only difference that I notice was a new Tesco Lotus Express convenience store and the 7Eleven on route 408.


Leaving with pleasant memories at Sathing Pura resort..
Sin, riding his Dahon Speed P8
Nasi kerabu surprise!

After asking around, we learned that there are makan stalls at the Ngam Muang beach area.
So, we rode in and discovered a row of makan places owned by Thai Muslims.
One of them, a man in his mid-50s spoke to me in Malay. 
I responded and he uttered a few words in Broken Malay. Later, he said he had worked in Johor and Singapore.
We watched the activity at the stall and noticed that a lady was serving the Thai version of the nasi kerabu.
So, I wasted no time in ordering a plate and so did Michelle.
The fare was very decent and after a good fill, we proceeded back on the 408 towards Songkhla.

Nasi kerabu

The breakfast crowd

At Ban Ngam Muang
The ferry crossing

We weren't too far from the Songkhla bay ferry crossing from the Ban Ngam Muang intersection.
Slowly, we gained speed and rolled down towards the Tinsulanond bridge junction. It's actually further to travel down the bridge rather than taking the ferry crossing. We save at least 20km as the crossing leads straight into Songkhla town.
So, the group that was ahead waited at the junction and as soon as we regrouped, we rode to the ferry crossing.
This takes place every 15-minutes as commuters with their vehicles make their way across the sea.
For bicycles, there is no charge for using the ferry.
We boarded the ferry and enjoyed the brief ride across the Songkhla bay.
My mission was to locate a place to stay for the night and we are running at a small budget of 450 baht per night.

Entering the Songkhla Bay

On the ferry enroute to Songkhla town
Thumbs up: Nearing the last leg of the tour
Hunt for a cheap stay...

I remember riding past a cheap motel along the road to Queen's Hotel during ToST 1.
But I can't put the place together on my head as it was just pieces of recalled memories.
We made our way towards the edge of Songkhla town and could not locate the place, so, I signaled for U-turn back towards town.
Some 200-meters down the road, there was Thai signboard with the tell-tale 24-hours signage indicating that its a motel with vacancy. We checked it out and it has a large room with working air-conditioning.
Further down the road, we checked out two other places and settled for the first one called TJ resort. It has WiFi connection, air-conditioning but no hot shower. Price for a night is 450 baht.
But before we settled-in, Roger led us to his favourite Siew Yuk rice shop across the Green Hotel.
This place serves a decent roasted pork dish as well as Thailand's famous Khao Kha Moo.

Songkhla's finest: The Siew Yuk rice stall

A hearty treat!
Out and about in Songkhla...

Again, some of the guys wanted Thai Massage. 
And they get it.
We set to meet at 03:30pm to take a ride around Songkhla and the deal was to get to Samila beach.
But there was a Beach Volley Ball tournament, so, no tourists were allowed into the area.
I suggested a ride to the Naga monument near the Songkhla Bay area.
We took a ride downtown and followed the lakeside and this led to a security area and a dead end.
An Army sentry stood guard in the sandbag and just when we were making our exit, one of the guys took out his camera.
I told him not to take any shots as photography in Military installations are prohibited. Maybe he had mixed around too much with a bunch of hippies on bikes who doesn't believe in head protection...
Anyway, we rode back onto the path leading to Samila beach and took an offroad course to the Songkhla Bay. It passes by the Aquarium and there is a proper bicycle lane leading to the area.
When we got there, there was a worship area for the legendary Luang Pu Thuad, a figurehead and a monk from the South.
Some of the guys paid their respects and we took snapshots of the Naga head.


At the TJ resort in Songkhla

At the bike lane in Songkhla

The Naga monument
At Samila Beach
Fried rice dinner

Chilling out with some cool ale..
Calling it a night.. 

We rode back to the downtown area after hanging out at the Songkhla Bay.
Light was fading fast as we switched on our lights and rode towards the town area.
We found a stall serving Pad Thai and Pad Khao (fried rice) and settled for a meal there.
After a good fill, we rode back to the motel and bought some beers to celebrate the fifth night of the tour.
Hat Yai is next and we were looking forward to get there..
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