Fear and Loathing in Bangkok

By Andy, 65. Byron Bay, NSW 

The turning of the new Millennium drew me to South Thailand — Ko Pha-Ngan, to be more precise. Why? The Psy Trance parties of Haad Rin beach and surrounds. What we called in Australia the doof scene.

Back then, it was an older crowd who had washed up from the shores of Goa, etc. Not the young, overdressed, Instagram monster it has become.

We were like an international family that I often met at bizarre tiny parties in the Himalayas or the back hills of Byron Bay…

Anyhow, on one one trip to Thailand I landed in Bangkok at the same time as a major Buddhist festival, which left hardly a room available in my area. Thankfully, I scored a room a few blocks from where I normally stayed. After throwing my pack in my room, I wandered downstairs to see who was around. At the foyer was a young woman literally pleading with the owner for a room — but no dice. She clearly was one of my crew (despite never meeting her before). Long dreadlocks piled on her head like an over stuffed flower pot, simple clothes, and a tight pack. I offered a share of my space and, of course, she gratefully accepted.

As I said, I had never stayed in this area but I had been warned by an expat that the Thai police worked these back alleys, searching the darkened streets for lone travellers. They pull you over where no one is around, pretend to search you, and then “find” drugs. With the terror of being sent to the infamous Bangkok Hilton as a motivator, they would drive you to an ATM and clear your account. Then you were told to leave the country. Now!

My new-found friend and I went out looking for food. We talked and laughed, trading stories of our adventures. Soon, it was quite late so we headed in the general direction of the accommodation. Now, in life, we often face a crossroads. Left is easy but may have negative consequences. Right is harder, may take longer, but is guaranteed to have a better outcome…

We went left.

Actually, it was my decision. We came to a long straight alley that went directly to the road of the guest house. The road which we had used to get to dinner which was well-lit and had people walking was much, much longer. It was only 400 metres or so down the alley. What could go wrong?

Now, in life, we often face a crossroads. Left is easy but may have negative consequences. Right is harder, may take longer, but is guaranteed to have a better outcome …

We were literally halfway down the alley when a set of headlights swung in behind us. The vehicle crawled down the darkness. Yes, Thai cops — in a battered utility painted black and white drove past staring hard at us as we backed onto a wall to let them through.

They went about ten metres in front of us then the red flash of their brake lights charged me like putting a finger in a light socket.

“Run!!!” I said, grabbing her hand. To her absolute credit she did exactly what I demanded in the next few minutes without question.

We ran until I saw a door in the gloom. I tried the handle and yes it was unlocked. It was the back entrance to what was possibly another guest house. A middle-aged Thai woman was busy with book work but across the room about six farangs (foreigners) were sitting a circle of chairs. We grabbed chairs and sat down with them. Immediately I saw the Thai woman’s face drop in horror (out the corner of my eye). The two cops had slammed the door open and rushed in with their pistols drawn! Next to the Thai woman was a set of stairs I would guess going up to the rooms. That was their mistake. They shot up the stairs thinking we had headed for the safety of a locked door. I grabbed her hand again and we bolted out of there and all the way back to our place.

Once we had calmed our racing hearts, she told me that yes, she had been caught by this scam on an earlier trip. It cost her 3,000 Pounds and an early arrival home.

Read more by Andy here

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1 year ago

Hi Andy, I do enjoy reading about your rather scary adventures in Asia. They have me on the edge of my seat. So glad you both escaped the Thai cops. Did you ever see the movie, Bangkok Hilton, with Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving? That had me on tenterhooks too. Looking forward to another of your stories.

11 months ago

Thanks for the feedback. Oh so many weird and wonderful experiences in that part of my life. They continue but like a cat, I tend to watch where I put my paws these days. The experiences are no less powerful but more subtle (sometimes!).