Previously, I knew it as Sadao, the border town you have to pass through on the way to Haadyai. So, it was ignored.
Recently I heard many stories about it. So I decided to visit the town, with friends who had frequented the place before. It was also a chance for me to check our the Black Forest Golf Course - whose unique claim to fame is that it lies right on the border of Malaysia and Thailand. What do I mean by saying it's right on the border? Well, you can only access it after you pass the Malaysia border immigration point but before you reach the Thailand border crossing plaza. It is right behind the Bukit Kayu Hitam Duty Free Complex.
Anyway, a slow drive from Kuala Lumpur to Danok, with stops, takes about 6 hours (about 440km). Unless you want to drive your car into Thailand, you can actually leave your car at the Duty Free Complex. From there you can either walk (about 500 meters) into Danok, or take a taxi or a motorbike taxi.
Don't forget to take your passport. If you drive, bring along your registration card.
Now, the Danok of today is vastly different from the sleepy Sadao I used to glance at whilst passing it by many years ago.
Me and friends in the lobby of the RM65 nett per night per room Hollywood Palace.My friends had booked rooms for all eight of us in a hotel called the Hollywood Palace - grand named hotel situated in the center of town. It charges RM65.00 per room per night. Yes, the town trades everything in Ringgit. No problem if you don't have bahts. 1000 baht coverts to RM100.
Off hand, I have to tell you that this is not a town for families or even the prudish. For example, our hotel room has a mirrored ceiling and two TV channels that offer you free porn 24-7. Hehehe.
Right in front of my hotel was a row of karaoke joints and bars.
The soi (lane) right in front of my hotel. Flanked on both sides by karaoke joints.Noisy and colorful with dozens of potentials 'darlings' (the tag used there for girls of leisure) waiting for customers.
These darlings won't win any beauty contests, okay. They were loud, wearing out-of-date 60s fashion (mini skirts, platform feels, hot pants etc) and rather irritating with their high pitched voices. Their pimps don't make life any easier, ambushing you from all sides: "Abang mau girlfriend? Abang mau perempuan? Mari ikut saya Bang!"
After gathering one's senses and focusing on the matter at hand, you begin to gaze in awe at the sight and realise that you are only minutes away from the rather prudish country called Malaysia.
And this was just 4p.m. ok? Wonder what will happen at night!
Whatever it is, the stomach usually rules above anything else. So the guys told me there was this great 'halal' restaurant near the hotel called Nurlaila. It was about a ten minute walk through an arch with a Moorish motif to signify that you are entering the Muslim side of town - talk about glaring irony.
The entrance to the Muslim quarter of Danok where Nurlaila's restaurant is located. Notice the quaint Moorish influenced arch.Nurlaila is a clean and rather pleasing restaurant. And it serves great authentic Thai food. The seafood and ulam are fresh but their signature dish is the asam pedas Danok style. It was excellent. It was so good that I forgot I had reflux.
You should also try the stir fried cow's tongue.
The famous Nurlaila Restaurant that serves a Danok-style asam pedas to die for.After filling my (already) big tummy, we decide to check out the mssage parlours. I asked them where the most 'reliable' massage joint was and they said the one at Oscar's was the most respectable. So we went. The place was huge and the masseuses sat waiting for customers in this brightly lit lounge. I think there was at least forty of them in their blue uniforms (like factory workers). The age ranges from young girls around their early 20's to battle-tested 40-plus ladies. Some were just chit chatting whilst the older ones were either knitting or reading.
I asked the boss of the place to chose one who could really give a good ancient massage and he called number 114. A pleasant looking stubby Thai lady in her late 30s stood up smiling.
It was a good choice. For two hours, she gave me a thorough massage and actually commented that I am not that healthy with many 'angin' in my knees, my shoulders and my stomach (yeah, tell me something new). She tried to press the 'angin' out but said that she cannot do it within the two hours slot. I just told her to do her best and told her to concentrate on my problematic knees. It hurts like hell, but after the massage, my knee felt better. For RM50, it was money well spent.
It was night when we left the massage joint. We returned to the hotel and I managed to get an hour's nap.
My friend's woke me up and told me they were going to Bangkok. I was stunned. But they assured me it was just their favourite dance club and it was just about 70 meters away from the hotel. Heck, everything was just a few meters from the hotel.
So, I went. Now, if you haven't been to a Thai dance club, you should prepare your senses for an experience that defies logic. The sound, the lights and the activities that goes on inside are caricatures of what we usually assume a dance club should be.
Nevertheless, the Bangkok club is one of the more respectable joints in Danok. It is also huge and can easily fit 500 guests easily. So, if there's 500 Malaysians in the club, plus the 200 or so staff members and 'girl friends' you have a club that is noisy and quite happening.
In the middle of the club was a stage for the 'dance shows' and a stage where the live band performs the best of Thai pop. Surprisingly, they sang one popular Hindi song (most probably for the sake of the Melayus from Malaysia).
The odd-thing is that, 80 percent of the patrons are Malaysians, and yet the show and the announcements, and the bantering done by the performers and singers, were in Thai.
But who cares? Nearly everyone was already sloshed by the time I got there. On tables were numerous empty Heineken bottles - the drink of choice in that place.
The disco lights were flashing, the music blaring and everyone was yelling and dancing and bobbing their heads to the techno music.
Now, the dancing girls on stage were not naked but were dressed rather sexily. They were also eye candy. For those who are uninitiated in Thai clubbing, do not smile or acknowledge any of these girls on the stage or on the floor unless you know what to expect. First timers will get their pockets burnt by these beauties. The tradition is that you buy them a lei, which is held by management executives in suits. These leis costs between RM10 and RM50 each. Be careful. You may get carried away. Before you know it, you may have agreed to RM100 worth of leis for the dancing girl. For what? For her to come down to you and be friendly. You think that's good? Before you know it, she'd have ordered three tequila shots, four blueish colored liquers, a pack of bubblegum and sushi. All these take you back around another RM100 bucks. And before you know it, she disappears. If you look further, you'd see her doing the same thing to another guy who had also purchased some leis for her. So be very aware of these tactics. These beauties are professionals. They come on to you not because you are good looking. They do it because they know they can fleece at least RM100 from you within 15 minutes. And if you think these beauties will end up in bed with you, forget it. They won't. Not for any money in the world. You might want to try your luck with the waitress. You'd stand a better chance. Hahaha.
By 1 a.m., nicely high on drinks, I told the guys we should leave as we had to tee-off the next day. So we left Bangkok. When I reached the hotel, I realised most of them had disappeared. Another friend of mine told me they had gone to another joint called Paragon. I really couldn't give a hoot where they went, I just needed my sleep. The long drive had already taken its toll on my person. The bed waiting for me in the room was nice and firm. Within minutes, I was in lala land.
(To be continued....)