…Day 3: Not As Planned.
An early start. I couldn’t be bothered to wait while the hotel cooked my breakfast, so after a quick in-room coffee and croissant, I was checked-out and on the road by 7:30.
It was clear the weather was deteriorating as I approached Songkhla province. Less sun. Some hazy cloud. But not bad.
I went across the province and headed to Hat Yai. If you remember from Day 1, I’d failed to get aerial photos of the large golden Buddha statue atop the Hat Yai Park mountain. I’d spent quite some time studying Google Maps and figured I’d found an alternate route, which involved a short drive the wrong way up a one-way road. What the heck. The park wasn’t going to be busy at 9am, aside from which, this is Thailand. Rules like that are just advisory. And if that didn’t work I’d head back to the Guan Yin statue and fly up from there.
I thought I’d found a way to reach the park on four-lane roads. Ms. Chuckles had other ideas. If there’s one place I hate to drive, it’s Hat Yai. If you happen to be a traffic light salesperson go to Hat Yai. They love them. And they’re green for twenty seconds then red for two minutes. Repeat. Go 200 meters. Red for two minutes. Etc.
When I was close to the park I thought, that’s strange, I can’t see anything. No statue, no mountain, no park. The whole place was covered in a thick smokey haze. Well, that’s b*ggered that idea! I’ll head back to Songkhla town. Red for two minutes… grrrr. Close to two hours down the tubes.
I wanted photos of the beach area. The beach area was off limits. Hundreds of construction-persons were erecting the largest canopies I’ve ever seen, and more of them than I’d ever seen. Clearly something epic was going to happen on the weekend. And I wasn’t going to get any beach photos. Grrrr 2.0!
So I tootled around the corner to the car ferry – just north of old the old town. I found a fairly quiet place to park, and managed to get some photos…
And then, to my great surprise, I was able to drive onto the ferry. Normally there’s at least a thirty minute wait with a line of vehicles stretching for a block and half. I figure someone must have sent a broadcast SMS saying “Warning: the farang in the red Ford Ranger is as mad as hell that he didn’t get his quota of aerial photos. Keep clear!” So, I made a U-turn into the ferry terminal, paid my twenty baht and was immediately on the boat. That saved me 30kms and 30 minutes.
It only takes a few minutes to get across the river, but I always worry. The vehicles are packed in so tightly, you have to fold-in door mirrors, that in any kind of emergency it would be impossible for anyone to get out of their vehicles. I was on the right side (yes, yes, I know, starboard side) and could possibly have crawled through the side window and dropped into the sea. As I say, it’s a very brief trip, but one day…
By the way, do you know why seat headrests can be completely removed? If you grab the squishy bit, you can use the two metal posts to smash a window. Say “thank you.”
Anyhoo, it was plain sailing from there and thanks to the fog and haze in Hat Yai I was home in time for a late lunch. Not the perfect day, but overall the trip was pleasant and successful.