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Boom Boom on the border

Tim Newton

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Boom Boom on the border | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The attractions of Thailand’s southern border town usually become apparent after sunset

On one side of the Thai/Malaysian border is Sungai Golok, on the Malaysian side it’s the town of Rantau Panjang. The two towns are separated by the Golok River as well as decades of furious fighting between Muslim separatists who want to reclaim some of the southern areas in Thailand under the Malaysian flag.

The Thai Buddhists on the other side are happy for it to remain part of the Kingdom of Thailand. Enough of the politics…

The real story in Sungai Golok is the thriving little border town that attracts Malaysian men nightly to enjoy the ‘pleasures of the flesh’, loud music, karaoke, copious booze and ‘the ladies’. All the same ‘lifestyle items’ frowned upon just south of the river in Malaysia.

Although the border town’s most infamous days are in the past it still lures plenty of traffic across the river nightly.

Thai merchants, nowadays cross the major border checkpoint in Sungai Kolok to enter Kelantan, the Malaysian border city, to sell food and household goods as the neighbours now have more purchasing power than before.

Poised at the very south of Narithawat Province, Sungai Golok is ground zero for border boozing and debauchery. With a population of around 38,000 it’s hardly a thriving metropolis but when the sun goes down the men from south of the border flock across the river to enjoy entertainment unavailable to them in the strict Muslim province of Kelantan.

Boom Boom on the border | News by The Thaiger

The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip

If it wasn’t for it’s strategic location on the main road heading south from Thailand you would never hear of Sungai Golok. But apart from its rising reputation as the southern red light district it’s also a strategic target for bombings and outrage from people south of the border who see the town as the epitome of everything wrong with ‘Thai and Western decadence’.

The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip conflict – around 7,000 since 2004. But the violence in the Deep South is rarely reported in international media.

Violent attacks happen almost daily in the southern provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala and Narithawat  -with little sign of any drop in attacks from the insurgents.

Back in Sungai Golok it’s just part of the nightlife where the noise from the discos is occasionally interrupted by a bomb. Does it deter the men heading across the border for their nights of revelry or the Thai women working in the bars? Hell no.

Boom Boom on the border | News by The Thaiger

The Golok River is very small and easy to cross without using the main bridge road – Malay Mail

The nightclubs and bars are regular targets for the indiscriminate home-made pipe bombs and car bombs, almost daily, but it does little to dampen the enthusiasm for a good night. In fact the reputation of Sungai Golok as the ‘place to go’ for a good time continues to rise – which just puts it higher up the target list for the insurgents who want to make their point.

The troubles in the town do little to dampen the enthusiasm for the men that visit and most of them will head home after their night of fun to the conservative Malaysian state over the river unhurt. But for the girls that work in Sungai Golok it’s a constant threat to their lives. The stakes are high.

The men are paying good money for the services provided in the town – the girls are eager to part the men from their money and are willing to take the risks of plying their trade in such a dangerous location.

With a single bridge across the Golok river you would think that police and army can control the flow of traffic across the river but many of the visitors slip across the small river by boat and cross the border undetected, usually without passports or any means of identification if the worst happens.

If you’re heading south from Thailand and wanting to cross the river border into Malaysia there’s only one official road, through Sungai Golok. So it seems the little towns future, and reputation, will continue to grow along with it the violence that sees no signs of abating.



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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in South Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now CEO and writer for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He presented for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and provides stories for Feature Story News as the south east Asian correspondent.

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Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran

The Thaiger

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Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Prueg Ubonkerd

Tourists during Songkran have caused extensive damage to coral in the national park area of Trang, south of Thailand.

Matichon Online reports that the damage was caused by the tourist numbers overwhelming the area during the week-long Songkran break.

Many boats have dropped their anchors onto the fragile underwater area or tied ropes around corals as there are not enough buoys for the many boats. Some boats parked near corals beds where they tried to bring their customers closer to view the corals. Some boats have even hit the coral. Officials say that, apart from the Songkran holiday damage, the coral reefs are now started to bleach as well.

The head of Hat Chao Mai National Park says there were not enough staff to handle the influx of tourists during the holiday in the marine park. Stricter regulations would be employed and more mooring buoys are to be set up this week, he said.

Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | News by The Thaiger Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | News by The Thaiger Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | News by The Thaiger Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | News by The Thaiger Coral in Trang extensively damaged after tourist influx over Songkran | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Matichon

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South

SUV catches fire sitting in Trang’s hot sun

The Thaiger

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SUV catches fire sitting in Trang’s hot sun | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Earn Benjakun

A SUV has caught fire while it was parked in the hot southern sun in Trang over the weekend.

Fire fighters in Trang were notified of the burning SUV in Yan Ta Khao District in Trang at 2pm on Sunday.

Fire fighters arrived to find the SUV ablaze. It took about 15 minutes to control the fire.

The SUV owner, 35 years old Tanchanok Sasri, says that she has parked the SUV outside her home for about two hours under the hot midday sun. A neighbour alerted the woman that her SUV had caught fire.

Tanchanok says she also lost 200,000 baht cash which was left inside the SUV.

Investigators are trying to find the cause of the original ignition of the fire that destroyed the black SUV.

SUV catches fire sitting in Trang's hot sun | News by The Thaiger SUV catches fire sitting in Trang's hot sun | News by The Thaiger SUV catches fire sitting in Trang's hot sun | News by The Thaiger

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Pattani smuggler arrested with over 10,000 packets of illegal cigarettes

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Pattani smuggler arrested with over 10,000 packets of illegal cigarettes | The Thaiger

A man has been arrested in Pattani’s Mayo district after trying to smuggle 10,802 packets of foreign cigarettes.

Police and Excise Department chief Itthipol Liabyainak announced the arrest of Yaman Pohleng, the owner of a grocery store in Tambon Sakhor Bon.

Itthipol says the joint operation by Excise officials and border patrol police was carried out following tips-off that Yaman had allegedly opened the grocery store as a front for selling smuggled cigarettes.

He claimed the seized cigarettes were worth about 10 million baht. Itthipol alleges that Yaman also used his grocery store as a storage space for distributing the smuggled cigarettes to other shops in the area.

He said that large quantities of foreign cigarettes were being smuggled through the three southern border provinces and that Excise officials will crack down on all the shops selling these illegal cigarettes.

Pattani smuggler arrested with over 10,000 packets of illegal cigarettes | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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