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Published: Tuesday December 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday December 24, 2013 MYT 8:22:35 AM

We will not be cowed, say Danok folk

DANOK: Barely 24 hours after two blasts rocked this border town, life bounced back to some semblance of normalcy for the locals although most, if not all, the tourists have left.

It may take months before the town returns to its bustling self, but the locals are determined not to be cowed by the bomb attacks.

Traders, hawkers and others in the town between Malaysia and southern Thailand remained unperturbed as they went about their business.

Rojak seller Nur Hidayah Abdullah, 51, was busy slicing fruits at her stall directly opposite the blast scene.

“Business is a bit slow but we will not back down.

“Most of us have only one source of income. And if hawkers like us decide to shut down our business temporarily, what are the people here going to eat?” she said.

Over at Paradise Spa, a stone’s throw from the scene, a masseuse, who wished to be known only as Ann, voiced the same sentiment.

“Usually we have up to 35 customers or more daily, but sadly today, we had only eight.

“I am sure the situation here will improve soon,” the Thai national added.

Danok mayor Kecha Benjakarn assured tourists that the town was safe, saying everything was now under control.

“We have beefed up our security and we will be conducting checks on all suspicious vehicles.

“All those injured were Thai nationals comprising mostly traders.”

Six people were treated at the Sadao Hospital, 17 at the Padang Besar Hospital, and four at the Songkhlanakharind Hospital.

Two who were seriously injured were later transferred to the Haadyai Hospital, he told a press conference yesterday.

Kecha added that the affected areas – Tanrattanakorn 1, Tanrattanakorn 2 and the vicinity of Oliver Hotel, where the blast occurred – would be reopened to the public within a week, after police completed their investigations. The hotel is closed for now.

Meanwhile, Malaysian deputy consul-general to Songkhla Mohd Rozaimi Harun advised Malaysians to avoid visiting the border towns until the situation was secure.

He said Malaysians should not visit the three affected border towns and also Betong, Tak Bai and Sungai Golok.

Abdul Karim Mahmud, 50, a spokesman from the Songkhla Governor’s office, believed it would be at least two months before the tourists came back to Danok.

“December, especially Christmas, has always been a peak period for Danok traders. Although it is unlikely that such a thing will happen again soon, tourists are afraid for their safety,” he said, adding that security had been tightened with military and police personnel on standby round-the-clock.

A check by The Star showed the immigration checkpoints on both sides to be fairly empty with only a few tour buses and vans making their way to Haadyai, about 50km north of Danok.

The Thai border towns of Danok, Padang Besar and Sadao were rocked by pre-Christmas bombings on Sunday, leaving a horrifying trail of mangled metal, burning vehicles and bloodied limbs and bodies.

Danok is especially popular among Malaysians and is dubbed the best entertainment town in Thailand.

From food courts to discotheques and massage parlours, Danok has it all.

The town is a favourite spot for men for its cheap alcoholic beverages while Malaysian women love the town for its wide array of cheap apparel and lingerie.

A good spa and massage that could cost hundreds of ringgit back home can be obtained for a fraction of the price.

Danok is usually crowded from Thursday to Sunday, with Kedahans thronging the town during their Friday-Saturday weekend while those from Perak and Penang come in during the Saturday-Sunday weekend.

Universiti Utara Malaysia students, too, often go to Danok as their campus in Sintok is just a 15-minute drive away.

Related stories:

'No threat of Thai violence spillover in Malaysia'

Oliver Hotel hit hard by the blasts, says owner

Tags / Keywords: Courts & Crime, danok, bomb blasts

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