Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Kidnapped In Bangkok

Thailand was a good experience overall, but I feel like I have to write this post to make people aware of some of the dangers in Thailand. I'm going to tell you the short story of how I was almost kidnapped by a taxi driver in Bangkok...

So I visited Bangkok twice during my stay in Thailand. I was there for 3 days before my volunteer programme in Chiang Rai, and for another 4 days after my volunteer programme. I had enough time to become accustomed to the taxi system in Bangkok and knew how it worked. The taxi service runs on a meter and should start at 35 baht, along with you being responsible for any toll payments when travelling far.

On the final day, my flight was at 1 am so I had to spend the whole day in Bangkok. After lounging around the hotel lobby for two hours I asked them to call me a taxi to the airport at 8PM. I have never had problems in the past when this hotel called me taxis (Grande Centre Point, Rachadamri) so I was ready to relax for the one hour journey.  However the minute I stepped into the taxi I got a weird feeling. The man spoke excellent English and began conversating with me in a friendly manner. As he pulled out of the hotel entrance I noticed that the meter was off so I pointed to it and asked him to put it on. He ignored me and tried to continue making small talk. I proceeded to ask him to put the meter on around 3 more times, and started to feel irritated at this point. It was clear that he was not going to listen to me as he had already started driving. So I said to him "it's okay if you do not want to use the meter I will find another taxi please let me out". He ignored this and began driving a lot faster so I repeated it a few more times. At this point my instinct was telling me that something was not right about this driver. I had roaming data so I opened google maps and put in the route to the airport, and it did not look like he was heading in that direction. So my self preservation instinct kicked in and I knew that I had to get the hell out of that cab, even if it meant leaving my suitcase. So I put my hand on the door to open it....and guess what happened?

I heard a click which meant that he locked the doors. I tried again to open it with more strength and it still did not open. So at this point I was terrified. I heard another mans voice from the drivers phone talking in Thai. At this point I realised that his phone had been on loudspeaker the whole time since I entered the cab. The driver started going faster and began talking to this man on the phone in Thai. The only English word that I heard was "tourist", but it was enough to convince me that something weird was definitely going on. Given that Bangkok is one of the most dangerous cities in the world and is high on the list for sex trafficking, I started to panic. Maybe the driver was not a criminal but all of the signs were telling me that he definitely wasn't a good person. So I called my boyfriend back in England and told him what was happening. As I was on the phone I started banging my hands on the taxi windows and told my boyfriend to call the police. At this moment the driver heard the word 'police' and turned around to look at me. He finally stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and let me and my suitcase out. I had to drag my 30kg luggage in the opposite direction, along the side of a deserted  road that looked like a dual carriageway. After 20 minutes of walking it became clear that I was nowhere near a city centre. The only choice I had was to try and hail a taxi from the side of the road... So that is exactly what I did. Luckily the next driver was very friendly and I explained to him what happened (in broken English). He told me that many of the taxi drivers in Bangkok are part of an organised crime ring, and that I was lucky to get out of that taxi. 

The reason why I told this story is because I know that there are many other solo females that travel around Southeast Asia. I just want people to be aware that it is not just a rumour when people say that certain cities are dangerous...they really are. Having got a taxi from the hotel, I never would have expected the driver to be dodgy...but he was. Please make sure you are vigilant at all times when travelling, even more when you are a solo female. 

                            Happy Travels  


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