I think they read the magnetic strip on the back of the ticket, and the journey is timed from the point the card is read.
It may depend on the city. In Łódź the tickets don't have any magnetic strips, in Warsaw, from what I know, they do. No idea how it's in the Silesian metropoly.
Wawel is a good chocolate, Goplana as well. Don't buy Wedel, it's probably the most known, but it used to be good in the past, until it was bought by one of the western corportations.
I didn't see any Polish vodka in your link!
Yes, Żubrówka is most known.
You will be able to find some Wawel chocolate without going to one of their specific shops, but you won't find the whole range in a supermarket for example.
In a huge supermarket, like Auchan, a big Carrefour or a big Tesco, it shouldn't be so difficult. But the whole range can be found in their factory shops.
3. Play vs T-Mobile, which is best for coverage in Chorzow and with lots of data at a good rate?
I would recommend Play, but someone else will probably recommend T-Mobile...
Play usually has the best prices.
From Chorzów/Katowice to Kraków it's better to take a bus. The train route is being renovated and it takes more time to go by train because of that. You must buy a separate ticket for the train or bus from Chorzów/Katowice to Kraków, and if you want to use the city public transport in Kraków, you also need separate public transport tickets there (although if you want to see just the old town and Wawel, the old Polish kings' castle, you will not need to use the city public transport).
You will probably have take the train or bus to Kraków from Katowice, there is no direct trains from Chorzów. There is a direct bus, but it's in the afternoon from Chorzów to Kraków, so it will not work for you as well.
A good and usually very cheap bus company is polskibus.com - for them you have to book the ticket online. You don't have to print it, the "ticket" is just a long code consisting of numbers and letters, which you can write down.
Remember that the bus station in Katowice is in a bit different place than the train station (although not far away, at 500 m distance). From Chorzów to Katowice you can take a tram, a bus or a train (especially if you will live close to a train station), the website gop.jakdojade.pl can find all the connections - but remember that the city public transport tickets aren't valid on the train, you must buy a train ticket for the train. It seems that a train ticket from Chorzów to Katowice costs around 5 zł. If you board the train at the Chorzów Batory station (or back from Katowice), you have to buy the ticket at the counter, otherwise - from the train staff (buy the ticket immediately once you board the train).
For the other bus companies you can usually either buy the ticket directly from the driver (although it seems it may not work on this route), or at the office at the station, some of them offer also online tickets on their websites.
You can find all the bus connections at e-podroznik.pl
The biggest bus companies on this route seem to be, apart for the PolskiBus, also Neobus, Inter and Uni-Bus. There are also some buses making longer routes and going through Katowice and Kraków. As a result, the bus connection is very frequent, every 15 minutes or even more frequently, so it seems you can go to the bus station in Katowice whenever you want, look at the timetable, buy the ticket for the next bus (unless it's PolskiBus) and take it.