Category Archives: malaysia

Sungai Kolok a Cowboy Town

Just after the Bridge, Immigration couter is in the building on the right. You can just walk straight without entering the building.

Sungai Kolok ( สุไหงโก-ลก) used to be famous with tourists from neighbouring country, Malaysia. However since the rise of the seperatist groups in Southern Thailand where there were shootings, bombings etc few years ago, the town slowly turns to be a very quiet town.

On the way into the town from the border.

Normally on weekends, it might be very difficult to find a hotel room in this border town. However now, it is very easy and you might be given discount for weekends. The border security in Sungai Kolok is not that tight. The Sungai Kolok – Rantau Panjang Bridge connects Thailand and Malaysia.

Entering the town.

Vendors from both countries use the bridge a lot. However, the checkpoint in Malaysia is very strict. You need to pass the immigration counter so that your passport or border pass will be stamped. However, after walking across the bridge, you can just walk straight without ignoring the Thai Immigration counter which is situated on the right hand side.

Quite empty.

There are plenty of motorcycle taxis around that area. They charge around 20 Baht from the border into the town which is about 1km. Holding 2 nationalities is very comfortable for me to walk in and out between these two countries.

Very quiet even on the day time.

Sungai Kolok is like other Thai border towns. There are Thai, Thai Chinese and Thai Muslim all over. There are also army in almost every parts of the town. For me, without those bombings or shootings, Sungai Kolok is a very perfect town. Not so big or small. Just nice. In Sungai Kolok, the locals speak Yawi, one of the dialect in Malay Language. Thai is being use in the town as well. Some of the Chinese families in the town speak perfect Chinese language.

Downtown

Main street in Sungai Kolok

On the Malaysian side. The immigration counter is in the building which everyone has to go through. It is a little strict than the Thai.

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Malaysia to repatriate illegal Thai workers

About 500 illegal Thai immigrants in Malaysia, mostly trafficked women, will return home on Tuesday in a first wave of repatriation of illegal Thai workers.

Deputy Interior Minister Thavorn Senniam said yesterday he had instructed the Songkhla governor to facilitate the repatriation of the workers. Some of these Thai citizens entered Malaysia without work permits, others were victims of human trafficking rings and sold into prostitution. Some of these Thai citizens have been held captive by human trafficking rings.

In terms of income, human trafficking ranked at No 3 behind illegal arms sales and drugs at the global level.The minister said these Thai workers and victims had suffered immensely and that anyone who has any leads about human traffickers can call hotline No 1880 to report at anytime.He said the government wants to solve the problem in cooperation with Malaysia and added that Malaysia is one of the destination for illegal migrant workers and trafficked women from Thailand and other countries in the region.Thavorn added that the Interior Ministry will work closely with the local administrative bodies and the Thai Foreign Ministry to find a lasting solution to the problem. 

The Nation

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Southern violence greets Abhisit and Najib

A fury of bomb attacks in the southern region greet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, who jointly opened and renamed a bridge in Narathiwat.

The two leaders arrived by a helicopter in Waeng district to commemorate the Thai-Malay Friendship Bridge over the Kolok River, a natural boundary that cuts through a Malay-speaking region where many people on both sides are relatives. The visit was billed as a model of how the two neighbouring countries, in spite of security challenge along their common border, can cooperate.

The trip was part of Najib’s three-day official visit to the country, his first as Malaysia’s prime minister. Thousands of security forces and bomb squads were dispatched to provide security for the delegations but militants on the ground took, as well as other disturbances, greeted the visit with bomb attacks in other parts of this violence-wracked region.

In the latest violence, four bombs went off in Yala’s provincial town Wednesday morning. One of them was a twin bomb blast that killed a forensic police officer and three security officials wounded in twin bomb blasts by a riverbank in Yala’s provincial town on Wednesday morning.

Earlier Wednesday, two Thai marines were wounded in a bomb and gun attack in Narathiwat as they tried to collect banners criticising Abhisit’s policies on the south. One series of banner, posted through out the three provinces in both Jawi and Rumi, reads “Patani Sebahagian daripada Malaysia”, which translated as “Patani is part of Malaysia”. “It could be anybody with an intention to irritate the delegations,” said Senator Worawit Baru, when asked who he think were behind such statement.

Worawit pointed out that the militants on the ground often spray paint the word “Patani Merdeka”, which mean “Free Patani” on the roads and streets. Another roadside bomb wounded two troops and a policeman assigned to a security details for teachers in Yala. On Tuesday a bomb killed a soldier and wounded another in a Narathiwat road where Abhisit and Najib were scheduled to pass through.

The second soldier died in the hospital. On Monday, two people were killed by a powerful motorcycle bomb in Narathiwat provincial town while two other civilians were shot dead earlier this week.

The two-lane bridge that was renamed yesterday open in December 2007 by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Surayud Chulanont, the then-prime ministers of Malaysia and Thailand, in a bid to boost the border region’s economy. Badawi did not visit any other parts of southern Thailand at the time.

 Future plans include linking the economy of the southernmost provinces to Malaysia’s northern states. The two leaders were later Wednesday due to visit one public school and one Islamic school, a handicraft village and a “widow village” that shelters some 140 families affected by the unrest.

The Nation

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Skybridge – Petronas Twin Towers

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Noon and I went to the Skybridge of Petronas Twin Towers on Noon’s birthday. We woke up as early as 5am to get ourselves ready to queue up for the free ticket. If I am not mistaken, there are only 1000+ tickets to be issued everyday. It is on first come first serve basis. We walked to the LRT (Light Rail Transit) Station and took the LRT to the station of KLCC, where the station is under the tower itself. We then walked towards Suria KLCC shopping mall which is also situated in between the towers. The ticket booth is located at the Concourse Level and is open at 8:30am.

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I thought we might be the earliest creatures to be there. There were already quite a number of tourists in line. So we went to queue as early as 6:15am. At about 7:30am, the crowds were getting bigger and the line was getting longer. I didn’t really bother as we were in the front position. The Twin Towers is open from Tuesday to Sunday (9am to 5pm). Once the ticket booth opened slightly 5 minutes after 8:30am, one of the staffs called the first person in the line to collect the ticket. Only 10-15 people are allowed to go up to the bridge at once. Noon and I took the 9am ticket and were told to wait in the waiting area. At the waiting area, there are demonstration on how the towers were built. There are also comparison of towers around the globe and few science games.

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The Skybridge is located on the 41st floor. The bridge is actually a 2 storey bridge and on the upper level (42nd flor) of the bridge is only open for the tenants of the towers. We were brought into a room where a staff explained all about the tower to us. After the demonstration, we took our passes and walked through the security checkpoint and then we straight to the lift. After all people in the group were all in the lift, a staff and a policeman came along with us and then explained more about the towers.

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Tourists are allow to take photos on the bridge for only 10 minutes. It was amazing there we can see the Kuala Lumpur city view from that high. Everybody seems like enjoying their time on the bridge and the 10 minutes seems to be too short. Go as early as possible because you might not want to wait the whole day just for the ticket and ended up being told by the staff over there that the allotment is full. A visit to the Skybridge should not be missed if you are visiting Kuala Lumpur.

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Travelling by train back to Thailand

JungleTrain2Malaysian Locomotive

From Malaysia, travelling by train is more comfortable than express buses.  I used to travel by train back to Thailand few times. It took almost 13-14 hours depending on how long the train stops at each station. Normally, the Malaysian train (KTMB) operating from the main hub in Kuala Lumpur Sentral until their last station on the Malaysian side of Padang Besar. For travellers who travel to Hatyai, they might need to wait for the Thai locomotive to bring the coaches and continue until Hatyai. From Hatyai, travellers will need to change train if they continue their journey to Bangkok.

Image00003IMAGE024_2KTMB Coaches

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Ticket can be purchased at the Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station. To Hatyai, it costs around 570++Baht for lower sleeping booth which has more space and is more comfortable. The price for the upper booth is just 50 or 60Baht cheaper. The sitting coach ticket is cheaper.

DSCN3240Padang Besar Station(including Malaysian Immigration and Thai Immigration as well)

At the Padang Besar Station, all passengers need to get down with their luggages as KTMB will only let the Thai locomotive which is operate by (SRT) to bring 1 sitting coach and 1 sleeping coach. Malaysian border police will get on the train to make sure that all passengers get down. For those who will continue their journey to Hatyai, they need to go through the Malaysian Immigration checkpoint and then walk to the other side for the Thai Immigration Checkpoint. Both located in the same building. The border towns too share the same name. Padang Besar.

DSC02278Hatyai Junction

While waiting for the train to come back, I normally go to the toilet to brush my teeth and wash my face. After about 30 minutes, all passengers are allow to get back on the train. This time, Thai railway police will be joining from Padang Besar to Hatyai. There are some touts who will go along and ask travellers with backpack if they need a taxi or van to Krabi or Phuket. Each time I travel by train, I will come across the same Muslim lady which I assume to be a Thai who works for KTMB as a cleaner on the train. She has a side job which is an illegal money changer. She gives better rate than license money changer.

959484-tuk-tuk-0Tuk Tuk in Hatyai

Once the train reaches Hatyai Junction, there are more touts coming over and ask if you need a tuk tuk truck. They are cheap and just bargain with them if they offer you more than 100Baht to your destination as the price should not be more than that. The train station is in the city itself and just few blocks away from Lee Garden which is the city center. I sometimes walk there. I only take the tuk tuk truck if I am going to the bus terminal as it is quite far by foot.

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The All American Rejects was in Kuala Lumpur!!

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On October 31st, I made a very last minute decision to go to The All American Rejects (AAR) concert. It was held beside Bukit Jalil Stadium. My friend, Raffi has 4 free tickets from our manager. He gave 1 each to Khalid and Mr Zul. So I rang him up at 4pm to ask if the ticket is still available. He said he will pass it to me when we meet at the concert ground.

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So I arrived at the concert ground at 5:30pm and waited for them. They arrived at 6pm sharp and we knew that the concert wouldn’t start on time as the band was having a press conference at the hotel we work and also meeting fans session at the Pavillion. There were huge crowd and we waited until about 7pm.

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We finally managed to get in and the local bands such as Pop Shuvit, Disagree and One Buck Shot made the opening for the concert. I was there just to see AAR as I like few of their popular songs. At about 9:40pm, finally AAR took over the stage. Some was shouting the band members’ name and jumping. I was still cool. The rain started to pour but it doesn’t stop us all. Well, I got to rush to work and I left the concert after they presented 7 songs. 

Noon likes their hit song, I WANNA. I called Noon and on the loud speaker when they played that song. Well, I know that AAR is in house. At around 11:30pm, they came arrived at the hotel where they stayed and Mike the guitarist walked towards me. I was wondering what he wants. He asked if I could ask the housekeeping to send him a shaving kit. I did not bring any camera or mobile phone at the moment so I just managed to ask for Mike’s autograph.

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Tyson went out for some drinks with the Pop Shuvit’s members and he came back at around 4am. Tyson then came down again at 5:30am with few of his crews to have an early breakfast. He walked to me and asked if I can make him an additional key as he left his key card in the room. Right after I made him the additional key, I asked for his autograph. He was so cool and asked for my name before he gave me his autograph.

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I did not manage to take photo with any of the members but Khalid did took a photo with Tyson right before he left the hotel the next day. Mr Zul did took the photo of the band while they were having press conference in one of the hotel’s conference room.

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