I’m always on alert for strange sounds in the Deep South, a back fire, or an exploded electric pole — that happened at my hotel in Sugnaikalok, the closest I ever got to an explosion. I’m on my computer, writing about a lovely day I had in the mountains exploring the caves that were inhabited by Malaysian communists. This was around 4 pm. Then a loud noise. The hotel felt it was under seige and years old bump fluffs floated around the room. The building vibrated. I run outside with a towel around me. Really not a nice sight for anyone to see. I was in two minds, get dressed and fuck off out of the hotel, or just run outside with a skimpy towel on.
This happened around 4 pm. A few Malaysian tourists, with their family, poke their heads out the window. We don’t know what’s happened. There’s talk that a power line had exploded. The explosion was too loud for that. There was talk of a motor bike bomb, it just didn’t articulate in words. I grabbed a little point and shoot camera and went out to explore. Plumes of smoke rose from a building the next street down. Everyone was standing still and pointing at it and speculating. Everyone has been drilled when one bomb goes off, another one will follow.
I walked down a side alley to the street where something went off Still no one knew what it was. Fire engines were at the scene, and a raging fire was being doused. That was the 7-11 which burnt down, I’d later find out. Solderiers were ordering bystanders like myself to get back, “Another bomb might explode.” There was an urgency in his plea. “Get back, there could be a bomb in the bins. “ There were four large green bins on the road. A shop owner checked each bin, satisfied there wasn’t a bomb inside them. A soldier is running, carrying a man who has been injured. Sixty meters down the road, carnage. Flames, burning, debris, water, solders running back and forth and emergency workers, all working together to save who they could. I went back to hotel, and the owner wanted to know what was going on. Even he wasn’t stupid enough to walk about side. He said was I happy. I said I wasn’t that happy. He was dealing with the shocked look ion my face. I was running on pure adrenaline.
I showed him the photos, one of the bonnet of the car that was laying in a side street. An hour later, I went back. The place was cordoned off. I followed a back street, and got within ten meters of where the bomb went off. A skeleton of a car was all that remained. At Happy Foot massage, I saw tiny children’s flippers. I couldn’t see the 7-11 but I was told it was burnt down. How can you bomb a Happy Foot massage?
On the way back, I chatted to some locals.They had pellets in their hands, from the explosion of the car bomb. Another guy had a piece of shrapnel. My hotel is a block away, and the lady in the shop next door said that pellets rained down on her roof.
It’s a tragedy, and only three days before the end of Ramadan. The streets are empty. Only a few brave street stalls remain open. All the 7-11’s are closed. I was at one today. They are lovely people to chat too. And they are always the victims . Behind the Holiday View Hotel is another big hotel. They are in the karaoke precinct. It was a Friday. The weekends are busy with Malaysian tourists. It seemed very well timed. A hotel opposite me is still open for bussiness, and punters are still lining up for a drink and a song. The main street where the bomb went off is cordoned off. Military, border police and police are every where. A group of Malaysian tourists take a photo of the soldier. Another group walk down the road that’s blocked off, towards their hotel. I was told a few Malaysians were drinking a beer where the bomb went off. The insurgents don’t like beer bars, or Malaysian tourists who frequent these joints. Only three days to the end of Ramadan, the week of Hari Raya has been blighted here in this most southern Thai town.