I was only just walking down to see the sights of Khao San Road in Bangkok. I was only looking around with a pleased expression on my face. I only wanted to smell the wonderful aromas from the many food stalls that appealed to me. I was only just on my second day on my round the world trip. And I only just had my first mugging…
Waking my parents up in the middle of the night there back home, all they could hear was my angry sobs that I wanted to fly back home. Bewildered, they asked what happened and start from the very beginning…
Rising up early in the morning in the heart of Bangkok, I eagerly took a tuk-tuk to the temples of Wat Arun and explored the many sculptures and icons inside. After a bite to eat, I wandered down Khao San Road to find out if there were any events happening in the evening. I was still a little jet lagged from the flight over two nights before from London. All I wanted was to chill out and take in the activity of the evening. But Khao San Road was too busy for my liking and I constantly had to dodge around people to get to the other end where my hostel awaited me.
I should have seen it coming really. But I was just too busy looking around. The people around me pressed in too close for my liking and I became to feel a little flustered, probably sparking off a fear of having crowds of people close to me.
I was hit on the back of my head with such brute force, my cochlear implant hearing aid went flying forwards, lost into the swirling crowd. This sparked an emergency manoeuvre within me as I leapt forward to try and retrieve my cochlear implant back. I couldn’t quite see it at first due to many people walking in front, but suddenly there it was before me, untouched and laid on the cold stone ground. My gripping hands reached out for it, uncaring if I was in any danger from what had just happened to me.
The next few seconds of what happened next felt like an eternity and possibly the worst time in my life. It was paralysing, locked in a time loop seeing what happened next over and over again. As my hands nearly reached for it, a small foot suddenly came down onto my cochlear implant, with the crunch of the shattered plastic and electronics audible to everyone; I screamed out horrifyingly and the foot was jerked away, recoiled in horror. People kinda stopped and looked in my direction, wondering where the noise was. The foot shook a little. It belonged to a timid old Thai man, dressed in business suit with a sickening expression on face when he realised he had accidentally stepped and destroyed my most priceless possession.
Picking up the pieces, the compartment of my cochlear implant split into two and the wires dangling out, I was agog with hopeless frustration as I tried to piece them together again. The clear sounds of the street I could hear minutes before the event were now muffled with only my other hearing aid, overworked and battling against the humidity of Bangkok. The old Thai man said something to me but I simply couldn’t hear him properly and he beat a hasty exit after several attempts.
I couldn’t believe this had happened and I really wanted to get back to the safety of my hostel immediately so I could calm down and decide where to go from there. But there was one question that needed asking. Why did I get hit on the back of my head? I was mystified as I looked behind me, not seeing who would have done this to me. Why was I picked out? Was the result for smacking me on the head and chucking my cochlear implant off? It suddenly dawned on me. My pocket felt loose.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a frayed end of a tethered rope to my belt. What was on that end of that tethered rope was my wallet, containing my credit card, 1000 thai baht (£20 worth) and a currency card.
I had been mugged.
Whoever it was who made off with my wallet, targeted my cochlear implant to distract me while he cut off my rope and dug into my pocket while I was bending down for my cochlear implant.
It was only my second day travelling and already I was mugged.
An hour later, after arriving at my hostel, I explained the situation to the receptionist of NapPark Hostel who really looked after me in my upset state and arranged for a call to my parents.
I claimed to them that I was going to book tickets to fly back home. My thoughts ran through my mind as everyone would realise I couldn’t possibly travel on my own as some had cattingly said I couldn;t travel with my disability before. Luckily for me, my parents calmed me down and to give it a few more days. I had more cards that I had the sense to spread around my bag so it wasn’t like I didn’t have any money. I simply cancelled my credit cards (annoyingly I had to cancel the 2 credit cards at once even though I had one in my bag but that’s banks for you.), shifted some money around and bought myself a metal chain so it couldn’t be cut again. Also, I took it a chance to buy myself a manly purse to connect it to.
But what about my cochlear implant?
Well, it was utterly broken. Absolutely no way could I repair it and quite simply, I needed a new one. So I contacted the cochlear implant programme and after several emails back and forth, the Cochlear brand very kindly agreed to fed-ex out a completely brand new one with my settings out to me to the hostel in Bangkok. It meant I had to stay in the city a few days longer than I wanted as I already made plans to head to Phuket then. But for me, getting my cochlear implant was of prime importance.
So until then, I began to enjoy travelling more over the next few days as I checked out the Grand Palace, the River Cruise and the Skybar.
Finally, one lunchtime, a parcel arrived and therein contained my new Cochlear Implant. I’ve always treasured it and you’ll be glad to know that three years later, I still have it. It survived two round the world trips, many adrenaline activities, many water based experiences and many drops to the floor without any ominous walking feet around it!
So what did I learn from the experience?
1) It really steeled me for any unexpected obstacles during my travels, which I was able to handle with no stress. E.g. The fateful broken sink.
2) I began to see the bright and funny side of life to things. I mean, it was a good job the incident happened in a major city, not in the middle of nowhere.
3) From that experience, I really learnt a lot about myself that I could cope in future and look after myself.
4) I appreciated my implant a lot more and gave a lot of care and attention to it and also where I was. If for any reason I felt my cochlear implant was unsafe, I was quickly remove it and pocket it.
However, it wouldn’t be the last time I would get in a sticky situation in Thailand. Have you read when I was held up at knifepoint in the country?
Have you been a victim of crime on your travels? I would love to hear about it…
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Oh dear!! So sorry to read about this but some lessons came out of it. A mugging can be unnerving to happen at anytime in a trip but in the first few days must’ve been tough. Glad that the cochlear guys were able to get one out to you so soon.
I know, I was so pleased that I managed to get a replacement really quickly.
It’s so brave of you to write this post – it can’t have been easy to revisit those memories. It’s so well-written and made me emotional reading it. It’s shocking to hear that people would behave like that. Life is all about facing the challenges and I’ve always liked the motto: ‘there are never problems, just solutions’. It’s clear that this experience has made you a stronger man, so good on you 🙂 x
It was certainly an experience to learn from. It was also a good job that it happened in a major city. Imagine if i was in the middle of nowhere?
Yup. I was also pick pocketed in Bangkok during Songkran. And I had my carry on luggage pilfered during a flight from FL to NYC a couple years ago. The flight robbery was the worst one because I didn’t realize it happened until the next morning… lost about $700 in cash, gift-cards, and vouchers. What sucked most was being in NYC without ID and not being able to buy a damn martini,,, or 5.
In Bangkok I only lost some credit cards and about $10… plus I’m so used to losing things, etc… that I didn’t even blink… .just called the banks and ordered new cards…. Kept a spare debit card in my flat… so I got cash out of the atm that night.
But honestly I’m my own worst enemy because I just simply lose and forget way more things than are stolen from me. I just kind of expect a crisis everyday, and pretty much nothing gets me upset. I just shrug my shoulders, and say OK… how do I move forward and replace lost items…
23/oct/2014. I never got mugged because I escaped with my life. But I was drugged by 2 crazy people at 2 am. Woke up to being INJECTED with I dont know????? I had to travel back to UK for blood tests. Ko San Road VERY dangerous on side streets at late night. NEVER WALK ALONE!!!
That sounds awful! Glad to hear you’re okay now. Did you find out in the end what you were injected with?
Wow! How scary – it’s amazing the outlook you’ve taken from it.
I stayed in Chiang Mai for 3 months and never felt unsafe at anytime. We would often walk home in the early hours of the morning (from either a co-working space or street food stall) and I never really worried about safety. It shows that it can be the wrong place at the wrong time (appreciate this doesn’t make it any better for you!)
Looking forward to reading more!
Thank you Chantelle!
I absolutely adored Chiang Mai and like you, I never felt unsafe at all. But what’s more important is how you deal with it afterwards. (Also having precautions too!)
Such a great post <3 Hope that one day I could have a chance to visit Thailand. I love this country because of its various culture and delicious street food. I also have some Thai friends, they are very nice and friendly. I`m sure that my experience there will be one of the most memorable moments in my life. Thank you