Thursday, 31 March 2011

When Paradise turns into Hell....Part 1

Travelling is probably the best thing for most of us. You barely have been away for a few days and already the best time of your life has rolled in and Facebook is flooded with pictures of you on a beautiful beach looking tan and healthy. But what happen when things go wrong. We all try to take care of ourselves while away, however sometimes you let your guard down for a minute and everything goes wrong.

In this miniseries of articles, I will tell the stories of several backpackers that had more than what they bargained for, whether it is caused by one too many buckets or whether they have simply been unlucky.

Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand - February 2011
Home of the famous Full Moon Party, Koh Pha Ngan is THE backpacker party destination. More than 30 000 people flock to the beach of Haad Rin for cheap buckets, jumping through ring of fires and mushroom shakes.

Pamela Wu, from Cerritas, California, was also looking forward to some serious partying on the famous beach. Although recently arrived in South East Asia, she wasn’t a rookie traveler after months spent backpacking in Australia. But the beach, bucket and banter combo did not quite go according to plan when she was victim of an attempt of rape.
“ I was with my Danish friend who is a boxer. And we went out with some of the Thai boxers that are locals,” she recalls.
Everything was fine and after a few drinks they headed back to their bungalows.
She says: “I said I needed to pee so the Thai guy said that he would show me where the toilet was. And since my Danish friend didn't need to pee, he just waited for me outside.”
But once she came out, her friend was nowhere to be seen and the Thai man was waiting for her.
“ ‘So are you going home to sleep?’ he asked and I said ‘Yes I am’ and he said, ‘ come sleep in my room.’ And I said ‘No..I'm going to go home and sleep in my room.’"
Before she had the time to do anything the man grabbed her and pulled her into his room.
“He picked me up and started to drag me to his room and I struggled to pull away from him. And then he tried to just pull me towards the room by my arms and I was pulling back. And then when I got loose, I ran for the door, but then he came behind me and tried to pick me up again. So I struggled with him for longer.”
“ I was thinking: I just need to get out.

“I managed to free myself and just ran out the door and looked back to make sure he wasn't following me. And then ran to my friend and buried my face in his shoulders and started to cry. He wanted to go fight the other boxer, but it just wasn't worth it.
“When I talked to some locals about it, they told 'He wanted boom boom with you, it's just boom boom'.Warn the other girls,” she concludes.

Pamela’s case is far from being isolated. It could be anyone so just look after yourself, you might be in paradise but the excess of travelling can have consequences and yes it could have happen anywhere but after all you are miles away from home.

In Koh PhiPhi I got spiked with what I believe was roofies or something and to be honest, it was probably my fault, I did not watch my bucket and was running around the beach. I was lucky as my best friend carried me home and looked after me while I was lying in the bed, where it was impossible for me to move a muscle. But anyone could have done anything I would have been just laying on the beach.
Thailand is trying to improve the safety of their visitors, with volunteer patrols on Haad Rin, and the government is trying to crack down on drugs and violence issues and the islands. However with a astonishing rise of the number of travelers visiting Thailand (from 4 million to 14 millions in the last decade) the police finds itself stretched to the limits. So remember, safety first.

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