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Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

Malaysia

Fishing village by day, sex hub by night

The Star/ANN | Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

TANJUNG BALAI - In the harsh glare of sunlight Tanjung Balai is nothing more than a bustling fishing village, but under the cloak of darkness, it comes alive, thanks to a flourishing sex trade.

Its close proximity to Port Klang across the narrow Malacca Straits draws visitors by the hundreds every day.

Located on the western bank of the Asahan River, Tanjung Balai is easily accessible by boat, making it a favourite hub for those looking to travel to and from Malaysia.

While some take the five-hour ferry ride to Port Klang, most choose a cheaper and less legal method of travel like catching a ride on a tongkang, a small wooden vessel which is usually used for fishing.

It is a favourite transit point for people from all over Sumatra to travel to and from Malaysia, especially those without valid travel documents.

Ardith, 34, said the lack of enforcement made Tanjung Balai an ideal destination for those looking to perform illegal activities.

"Here, money talks. You can get anything you want - girls, boys or drugs, as long as you can afford it."

By day, the town's dusty streets are crowded with motorcycles and rickshaws while locals sell the catch of the day by the roadside.

Large warehouses which have their own private piers right up to the river are also common, which make smuggling of people and goods easy and rampant.

"Police can do very little," said Ardith.

By night, the town comes alive with young men prowling the streets and cheap bars looking for customers.

Another local, Indera, 38, said most of the tourists in Tanjung Balai were from Malaysia and Singapore looking for cheap sex.

"For them, everything is cheap here so they come here to get treated like kings," he said.

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