Friday, July 02, 2010

Eunos Harmony Trail 2010 to Hatyai/Penang/Malacca

8 - 12 June 2010

Day 1

The Eunos Harmony Trail is an annual event organised by Eunos Grassroots Organisations for residents of the constituency. This is the first time the Trail is extended to Thailand. One batch of participants left for Hatyai a day earlier, and the remaining few of us would be joining them at the Hatyai International Airport.

Our flight was slightly delayed, so we spend some time exploring the Budget Terminal.

The flight took about 2 and a half hours. At the Hatyai International Airport, we received a warm (I would actually opt for the word HOT) welcome from our fellow residents of Eunos as well as Thai Parliamentarians. The excitement can be measured in decibels with the loud "Huat la" cheers that resonate through the Airport!

We checked into the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel. I have a vague impression that I could have stayed in one of the hotels in that area when I was there during my Primary School days.

Luckily for me, I had my Uncle to treat me to lunch as I forgot to get some Thai Baht before I leave Singapore. My Father's ex-colleague and his wife were also with us on the trip.

After lunch, I approached a hotel staff to get directions to the nearest money changer. I was caught off guard when he asked me "Women?"

We took the Tut-tut (what's visiting Thailand without sitting on one?) to the Big Market. Apparently, stainless steel is much cheaper there. Uncle went back to the same shop that he visited more than a decade ago to purchase some hardwares.

It was fun interacting with the shopowners in our Hakka dialect. According to the Tour Guide, Hatyai was founded by 3 Hakkas. Hakka pride :D

Night life in Hatyai equals to FOOD HUNT. Once outside the hotel, some of the locals started hawking for Tut-tut rides, "Char Bor" (women), and various shows (Tiger/Aqua).

Loved the taste of this Mi Gao (literally rice cake). It's a similar snack that Singapore Pasar Malam carries but with the addition of corn. The whole thing simply melts in the mouth.

Found a familiar Roti Prata stall... which makes delicious Banana Prata!

I ate the exact bowl of Bird's Nest in this shop more than a decade ago. Still taste refreshing and tasty.

Day 2

While swimming at the pool the day before, I found this perfect view of the city. Forced myself to wake up early to catch the sun rise. Too bad, it's too cloudy...

The first touring destination for the day was the Reclining Buddha Temple.

The temple had arranged for Buddha pendants to be presented to each and every participant of the Trail as a form of blessing.

Most of us looked forward to Tom Yam soup at mealtimes. For lunch, we savoured the tasty Tom Yam soup at a restaurant along the Songkhla beach.

We got to take photos with the Mermaid and the Mouse and Cat island in the background.
"The two islands Ko Nu and Ko Maew (Mouse and Cat island) not far from the beach are also a popular landmark, and a preferred fishing ground. According to the local legend, a cat, mouse and dog were traveling on a Chinese ship, where they tried to steal a crystal from the merchant. Swimming ashore with the crystal, both the cat and the mouse drowned and became the island, while the dog made it to the beach and died there to become the hill Khao Tang Kuan. The crystal turned into the white sandy beach." (Source: Wikipedia)
As our bus drove towards the Great Serpent's Nag, we could see the three parts of the dragon protruding out of the ground at various locations.

Next, we visited the Jade Guan Yin at the Hatyai Municipality Park.

Hatyai Mayor Prai Pattano joined the delegation and lighted the fire crackers together with our MP Zainul. It is believed to ward off bad luck and usher in good fortune.

In the evening, the Mayor of Hatyai hosted the delegation to dinner at the Hatyai Hakka Association building.

The instrumental band entertained us with the music throughout the evening.

Opening remarks by representative of Hatyai Municipality:

Welcome speech by Hatyai Mayor:

Leading the Eunos Song (Ai Pia Jia Eh Yia):

Day 3

We began our journey to the Penang island. Goodbye Thailand...

Hello, Malaysia...

After several hours on the bus, we finally got off for a sumptuous lunch hosted by representatives from a Temple that we would be visiting.

At the temple, everyone was treated to a durian feast. Since I don't take durian, I went around the temple to admire the marvellous architecture. Unlike most temples where the walls are tiled with designs, here designs were carved out, giving a 3D eye galore to visitors.

Some grassroots leaders and MP Zainul then left for the Penang Ferry Terminal where the Jewel of Muscat was berthed at. The Jewel of Muscat is a gift from the Sultanate of Oman to Singapore. A replica of the 9th century Arab sailing ship, the ship was sewn with coconut fibre, without a single nail.

The Jewel of Muscat was sailing along the historic journey to Singapore, and had previously stopped at India before reaching Malaysia.

It was very timely that our delegation's trip coincided with the Jewel of Muscat arrival at Penang.

MP Zainul and fellow Grassroots Leaders were greeted by Jewel of Muscat Captain Salleh and crew. Captain Salleh also presented the official JOM shirt to MP Zainul.

We had the opportunity to board the ship and check out the living conditions for the crew. About 16 of them would have to endure the cramp and warm sleeping quarters as they sail out in the open sea for months!

The Jewel of Muscat is a testament to the strong diplomatic ties that Singapore has with the rest of the world.

In the evening, enjoyed savouring the delicacies of the food of Penang.

Day 4

We continued our journey to Malacca, with occasional stops to shop for local products.

In the evening, we were hosted to dinner by the Chief Minister of Malacca, Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam.

Day 5

In the morning, we found ourselves shopping at Tan Kim Hock, with Dr Tan Kim Hock welcoming the delegation. Herbal drinks and durian were distributed to the delegation.

We also visited the Living Peranakan Museum. Found it intriguing that living museums existed. They are basically museums which are homes to people.

Day 6

Before returning back to Singapore, we learnt how mushrooms are farmed...

Home Sweet Home!

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