This travel safety story – Almost Robbed (in Thailand) – is staged on the island of Koh Lanta, situated in the Krabi province of Thailand. The occasion was my 30th birthday. I was honeymooning with my newly-wedded wife, Cristiane.
It had been a perfect day – the night before we stayed at the Twin Lotus Resort (highly recommended) where we started out our day with a great breakfast, hired a Scoopy (a small scooter), spent the sunny afternoon on a secluded beach, drove through a forest to the national park where we spent a few minutes relaxing by the beach.
On the way back we stopped by at a clifftop sunset view restaurant to sip on a glass of white wine with a serving of fresh Thai fruits on the side, overlooking a breathtaking view of the sea, eventually to return to our hotel by nightfall. The plan was to freshen up and head straight to this cozy looking vegetarian/vegan restaurant that Crissi had spotted along the way.
So we did. Freshened up, dressed up, and off we went to the Kunda Anti-Pop Café. About 20 minutes drive away, it was located in another part of town. We ordered amazing vegan pasta dishes with delicious fruit shakes alongside. It was a great meal, marking a fulfilling end to an overall fulfilling day. We were satisfied when we started back to the hotel.
We started out for dinner late. We finished almost at their closing time (10:00 pm). It was dark, late, and we were tired. So we hopped on our Scoopy and took off.
What was alarming for me was the fact that there was a completely dark and isolated stretch of road that we were headed into. It was at least 2-3 minutes of driving where our only companion of light was the headlamps on our Scoopy and nothing else. There was still some traffic on it about an hour ago when we crossed through there on our way to Kunda. But it was an hour later now, and everything had quietened. Anyway, so I kept going at a constant and pleasant pace on our 125cc scooter. As we entered the dark stretch, for some wild reason, my mind wandered off to thinking about the ‘crime rate’ on Koh Lanta. It was completely random, and kind of freaky. I began to freak out from my own thoughts, and as it occurred, I tried to distract myself to think better and positive. But at that very instance, something weird happened.
I was going somewhere between 40-50 kph, trailing the skimpy headlight extended by that poor little Scoopy. Abruptly, from the corner of my right eye, I noticed another source of light gleaming toward us. I decided to mind my own business and move a little to the side. Thais are big fans of those humongous 4x4s, and they drive fast & furious. Wouldn’t want to be in their way just to end up in the hospital. Besides, who knew how far (or near) medical care was! Anyway, so the gleaming headlamp slowed down as it approached us, and then unexpectedly the Scoopy shook frenetically. It seemed as if I somehow lost balance. I looked over my right shoulder. What I saw was bizarrely scary. There was a skinny villager-guy on a motorbike frantically turning around. By this time I was beginning to feel that something was terribly wrong.
Crissi warned me that the man attempted to snatch her purse. Luckily she had it across her chest this time around. Whereas usually she would just tuck it on her side hanging from her shoulder. The purse’s strap broke, albeit the man was thankfully unsuccessful. All of our money, debit & credit cards, phones, and passports were kept in that purse. I had no pockets on me – I was wearing my swimming costume! Had that thug been successful, we would be in really big trouble.
The incident shook us both. I sped the scooter driving it as fast as I could. Miserably, the max it could go was barely 70 kph. That was no stand compared to the motorbike that thug dude was riding. He could easily go past 100 kph! Knowing that he turned around in just the one unsuccessful attempt was a huge relief. But what if he had accomplices waiting for us on the way ahead? It wasn’t pleasant anymore and we were scared. The hotel was still about 10 minutes away.
Bleak as the streets were, now every man-form on a two-wheeler was a suspect. There was no stopping! Dodging all possible thugs that could have been ahead of us – which in that moment of scare was pretty much everyone on the streets, and not – we kept going, constantly vigilant, looking for safety all along. What we really wanted to do was get to our hotel as quickly as possible, somehow, anyhow!
But as we turned away from the main road into the by-lane, which, like a maize, eventually lead to our hotel, a biker heading our way from the opposite side of that same main road, turned to the same by-lane right after us. At this point both of us were terrified! I went full throttle. But again, the meagrely powered scooter couldn’t stand the not-so-but-still-more powerful motorbike that was chasing us. We were now headed into another small stretch of darkness. I was desperate to get away from this fellow!! There were at least 3 or 4 turns between us and safety – the hotel. But just as we took the first turn since exiting the main road, the speeding biker went on straight. He wasn’t chasing us after all. Unless he, for some reason, changed his mind.
A few more turns, and finally we saw from around the corner of the final turn the smiling face of the security guard at our hotel’s entrance. We had made it back – safe & sound! It was an almost perfect day. Just this one scar of an incident left a bitter aftertaste…
Thailand Travel Safety Tips
Koh Lanta is not the most touristic place. Not so in our experience at least. It is also rather big as compared to some of the other popular islands like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. We definitely learned something from this escapade that we want to share with you. Crissi and I have compiled the following critical travel safety tips for your trip to Thailand:
- Make sure to keep out of alike scenarios – stay out of dark areas and be back to your hotel in good time.
- Spend a couple of hundreds of Baht extra (what is it…like €5?) and rent a some more powerful conveyance. For all one knows, if you ever do find yourself in a similar situation, those few extra CCs will be your most desired friend.
- Solo female travellers should find companions to be out late. If not so for daytime, leastways for the dodgy spots till all hours.
- Solo male travellers might as well use common sense over uncalled for heroism.
- Couples: If possible, find travel buddies, and travel in a group during the late hours. Of course, that wouldn’t quite suit a romantic night out with your lover, but sharing the dinner table with another couple or two conceivably is a much better idea than to deal with thugs by yourselves.
- Ensure that your purse and other valuables are properly concealed.
- And of course this last one goes without saying: Be forever vigilant and listen to your gut feelings.