Iam not too crazy about cities, but here I would gladly return anytime. Songkhla is a mystery which I find difficult to understand and explain.
This mystery comes from the name of the town. Some sources say Songkhla derives from the two islands neighboring the port — years ago while coming from the South, a few sailors saw them and thought they looked like two lions, hence the name: Song Khla (Two Lions).
Other authors argue it is about lions, not two though, but one personified by one of the beautiful hillocks in the city which looks similar to the king of all animals. That one is also made up by the sailors. Land seen from the sea comprises all the fantasies of he who sees it.
All in all, locals do not care very much about this matter. They look at it from a very pragmatic, Chinese perspective: a mouse, a cat and a dog planned to steal a merchant’s gem. They ran away from the ship but were cursed to turn into stone. That is how the two offshore islands appeared – Koh No (mouse) and Koh Meaw (cat).
I do not know the truth, and I do not intend to put too much effort into finding it. If I do, I would probably spend the next few years in this place. The city does not have a center, but several. One is overlooking the temple, another the neighboring town of Hat Yai. There is also one where you meet the royal dynasties of now and then. Songkhla Lake, the largest natural lake in Thailand, and its eternal tango dance with the sea creates another center. Then you have the old center smelling like centuries of fishing and trade. And the new one where you find a KFC, a shopping mall and the young generation of locals.
There are two things I recommend you to do when you visit Sogkhla. Go for a walk on Samila Beach in the morning to see its silky, endless wilderness. At sunset wander through the old city. There are only three streets along the coast, but they offer so much and they make one feel he is taking a walk through a fairy tale book.