332 km further South since Matt and I left Troy and Giles in Surat Thani 3 days ago. We've been highway hoofing it here to Hat Yai for most of the way with only 44 km to go to crossing into Malaysia tomorrow . Once being processed through Thai and Malaysia immigration we have another 60 km of riding to do inside Malaysia before our rest day in Alor Setar. Looking forward to that day as always.
Friday today, and it was noticeable that there were heaps of trucks, cars and buses heading South to Hat Yai and the border. The traffic zipped by the TLRH team for the whole way today, but not without incident. As always when traffic is busy; a truck rolls down inside the centre island or off to the side of the highway which I've seen hundreds of times before in Thailand.
A motorcyclist not taking care got hit in front of us just short of Hat Yai, again prompting us to be alert as always, particularly to have eyes like a mad cat when getting close to the end destination and in around populated areas.
We arrived at our accommodation in Hat Yai to find a group of Thai police gathered in front of the hotel, one particular Lieutenant Bird, nickname Nok (Thai word for bird) took a big interest in the TLRH team arriving at their destination. He also took great delight in examining the latest lightweight carbon fiber bikes that we rode and asked if he could take mine for a quick spin???? Hmmmmm!!! I had no reason to deny a member of the Thai constabulary a test ride and let Nok take my trusty Trek for a ride around the hotel car park whilst in his police uniform., which made me feel somewhat comfortable that it was safe it the hands of the law.
Hat Yai is quite a large town and the last big destination city before crossing into Malaysia. Hat Yai is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. Located at 7°1′N 100°28′E, it is 946 km (588 mi) south of Bangkok, and has a population of 158,218 (2012) in the city itself and about 800,000 in the greater Hat Yai area. Hat Yai is the largest city of Songkhla Province, the largest metropolitan area in the south, and the third largest metropolitan area of the country. It is often mistaken for being the provincial capital. In fact, Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture while Hat Yai is the business center.
Originally named Khok Sa-Met Choon, Hat Yai was a small village until the southern railway was built there, making it one of the major rail hubs of the line. The junction which connected the town of Songkhla with the main route was formerly in the Utapao area, but was later moved to Khok Su-Met Choon in 1922 when the Utapao area turned out to be flood-prone. At that time, Khok Su-Met Choon had only four residents, but thanks to the investments of Khun Niphat Chinnakorn, the railway contractor for the railway line from Nakhon Si Thammarat to Pattani, it quickly grew into a small town.
In 1928 Hat Yai was made a community (Chumchon), which was upgraded to a sanitary district (sukhaphiban) on December 11, 1935. It covered an area of 4.4 km², and was administered by the first mayor, Udom Bunlong. In 1938, the municipal administration building was completed. On March 16, 1949 Hat Yai was granted town status (thesaban mueang). On May 10, 1961 the area covered by the municipality was increased to 8 km². As a result of the town's continuing growth, on August 13, 1968, a larger new municipal administration building was opened. On April 24, 1977 the total area of the municipality was enlarged for the second time to 21 km². Finally, in 1995 the town was upgraded to city status (thesaban nakhon).
The name "Hat Yai" is a short version of "mahat yai", meaning big mahat tree, a relative of jackfruits in genus Artocarpus.
An important Buddhist temple is Hat Yai Nai Temple or Wat Hat Yai Nai. It is home to the third largest reclining statue on the planet. People travel from all over Thailand just to pay respect to this statue.
Held on the first night of October, Chak Phra is a Buddhist festival specific to the south of Thailand. It is celebrated with Buddha boat processions or sports events like a run up Khao Tang Kuan hill. In September or October at the Chinese Lunar festival, the Thai and Chinese present their offerings to the moon, "queen of the heavens", in gratitude for past and future fortunes.
Truck and Matt
On the long ride home, Southern Thailand