Since starting my blog I've had a few people ask me where in Thailand I live, and when I tell them, I live in Hat Yai, in Songkhla province, I get responses like this....
"Why are you in Hat Yai? Isn't that a danger area?"
This is sparked by information such as that given by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), who advise 'all but essential travel to Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.'
Now, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, are much more dangerous than Songkhla, with bombs on a regular basis, so it saddens me that Songkhla sometimes gets tarnished with the same brush. Although the difference seems to have been recognised by the lonely planet guide, who've said that 'Hat Yai and Songkhla, are less affected by the political turmoil plaguing the cities further south'. So that's nice to see.
Still, a lot of people don't believe me when I tell that I actually don’t feel scared living here and I actually really like living here. Which again, saddens me, because, frankly, the people with this negative view of the place, are people who have never lived here, or even visited, they have simply formed opinions by reading newspaper articles which state the fact there have been 'two bombs in the last three years', etc.
Whilst I'm not saying Hat Yai is the safest place in the world, it is true that there have been a number of bombs over the years, the latest one being in 2014. I just wanted people to look past the newspaper reports for a second and see why, a lot of people, including myself, actually really do love the place.
So, with that in mind, I thought I'd give some personal, qualitative data, from those who live here. So I asked my friends on facebook a simple question "Do you think Songkhla province is safe?!" and these were the responses.
Kylie Millar The thought of being a 'danger zone' was quite scary, especially when I found out I was placed there and did a Google search! But in reality, I met the most honest, helpful and genuine people ever in Hat Yai. I always tell people if you want to see 'real' Thailand, head down south. Love Hat Yai!
Lee Loftiss Hatyai is the best! I lived there for 10 years and never once considered living in any other place in Thailand. As for feeling safe; other than driving, I felt pretty safe in HY.
Tum Rocklegs Chai, Safe!
Marlon Hipolito Hatyai rocks! \m/
Igor Stankovic I lived there for 5 years. Yes, it's safe.
Dingo Egret I never felt in danger at all.
Nicholas Acton-Bond Hat Yai dangerous... Yes. If you walk around drunk or abusing people or both. But in the general sense its not dangerous. Regarding the bombs - far more dangerous to live in the capital; or any capital for that matter.
Vanessa Soulsby Despite the bombs and being mugged twice while driving (but over a 4yr period mind!) I still felt like daily life was safe and breezy! So much love for HY and Songkhla
Leojohan Lajos Szemeti Well for me I think it's safe to stay here, only on some special occasions that we much be a little more careful, but at least we always get the warning (as Thai, I don't know about foreigners, or is it because my dad is in the army ?) but anyway I always feel safe here only in the time that I'm not here that I normally get a little worried, about my family yes, but I would say that I feel pretty much safe here
Hayley Morgan Tetley As a woman on her own, I generally felt safe (despite one mugging). As long you're aware and have general common sense about getting home alone late at night and don't make yourself vulnerable in bars (all basic rules for wherever you live) you're good!
Nima Sunny · I used to live there for 2 years and I still dream about the lovely Hatyai.if I wanted to live in Thailand again, I would go back there.
Doug Walls ·I have been living in Hat Yai for over 16 years and have no plans to leave in the near future. I have never felt that I was in danger
I also received a few messages to my inbox.
My friend Nick Said:
Yes, I feel incredibly safe living here. I never feel like I should be watching over my shoulder and feel, from experience that everyone is very trustworthy and willing to help. I feel people like seeing "white" faces around as it's not as common as somewhere like Bangkok or Lanta etc.. I don't ever feel threatened by the idea of terrorism. I wouldn't swap Hat Yai for anywhere. We have a great location to islands, we have a good balance of being traditional bit also having those home comforts at hand (should we need them)....
My friend Sammi said:
I really do feel safe here, but maybe it's because I've been here so long that I'm familiar with everything so less things scare me. or get me worried, Also with knowing the language means that you don't feel so excluded from situations as you might be otherwise, and having solid Thai friends def makes you feel very safe and protected.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this little insight into Hat Yai and Songkhla. Let me know your thoughts in the comments :)
If you haven't already, check out my videos on Youtube :)
Lots of love 'n' stuff :)