I never cross the land border before. It is my first time. I left Nibong; take a bus to Padang Besar, then walking about a kilometer to the border. It is easy leaving Malaysia Immigration, but not easy entering Thailand’s. But when the officer read my destination, he asks me, “For how long?”
“Ten days,” I answer surely. The truth is I expect a month, but the visiting visa is only for two weeks.
I feel like a stranger when entering Thailand. There is no English sign everywhere. The letters are changed, in Thai style. It’s similar with ‘ho no co ro ko’ style. Even in the bus through Hatyai, I am still disoriented. Am I really entering Thailand? In bus station, I look around and read ‘Songkhla’ on destination’s plank. Suddenly I want to go there, veer from my first plan. But this journey has its own desire.
In Songkhla, I am just walking around the city. Understanding my disorientation, try to make familiar with it. It’s hard to find people who can understand and speak English. Everything I do, I do in Tarzan language. Ordering food, buying a children book, asking the hotel address, and entering the internet cafe indeed. Soon, I am use to it.
The next morning I am going around the city, trying to find ‘lamad’. Temples are everywhere, but mosque is only one. I can not find a mosque; instead I stop by in an interesting temple. It has a wide yard, with a big tree on the centre. Five people are shaded under the tree, sitting and chatting. Two of them are lottery seller. I am asking a seller about the lottery’s price. Oh.. One hundreds and ten baths! How expensive they are. I laugh, he does. Then I take his picture. He smiles.
Smiling. Everybody here likes to smile. They are smiling widely. It makes me comfortable. I am not a stranger anymore. No farang. Even I can’t understand their language; I feel their kindness and honesty. I like them. They are talking in a soft sound. The seller never cheats on me. I buy a glass of cola ice for 5 baths. I want a bowl of noodle’s soup and a glass of ice coffee in a small restaurant, and she charges me 32 baths. All I have bought in local price. In my country, if the hawker food sellers know you are not local, so usually they raise the price. It does not happen here.
When I leave Songkhla for Bangkok by train in the afternoon, I already have a new sense about this new city. A warm, welcome, and smiling place I never forget. Here are Songkhla’s pictures which come in my mind.