Panic In Thailand

I was 22 and it was my third visit to Thailand. Previously, I had stayed in a Buddhist monastery in the north west and been to Phuket, which was a touristy island in the south.

This time round, I was stopping over in Thailand for a couple of weeks on my way to Indonesia, where I was planning to teach English. I decided to go to Koh Samet, which was a popular weekend destination for Thais living in Bangkok. The island was just a 3-4 hour drive from the capital followed by a short ferry ride.

It was September and the rain was pouring down. In the end, the wet and quiet beaches really got to me. There was hardly anything to do; the place was depressing. So, I decided to go to Pattaya which was a happening city about an hour away.

Heading For Pattaya

When the ferry landed at the port in Rayong, I immediately made my way to the bus station. There I learned that the next air-conditioned bus to Pattaya was leaving quite late. Since I didn't want to arrive after sunset I ended up taking a cheap fan bus, for the first time.

Anyhow, I was the only foreigner on the old bus and waited in the very back for a good hour or so, before it rolled out of the station. They wouldn't leave until it was filled to the brim with passengers and cardboard boxes in the aisle.

Despite the delay, I was hoping to arrive before it got dark. The truth is that I've never liked the idea of arriving at night, it's much safer to reach your destination during daylight.

After an hour of so on the highway, I saw a sign that said "Pattaya City." I waited for a few minutes but the good-old bus didn't turn off the motorway. I had taken for granted that it would call at Pattaya bus station, but I was wrong.

By now it was dark outside and since there were hardly any lights in the bus, it was tricky to climb over the cardboard boxes in the aisle. Once I had made it to the front of the coach, it probably took me another minute to explain to the driver that I wanted to get off. He didn't look too happy about stopping in the middle of nowhere.

The Thai Highway Experience

There I stood on the highway shoulder, probably 10-15 kilometers from Pattaya. It was pitch black and the cars were just zooming by. I carefully made my way to the other side of the highway. After some time, I managed to wave down a taxi.

The driver rolled down the window. He didn't understand much English, but luckily I had learned the Thai numbers so we agreed on a price to Pattaya. I got in and sat down next to the him. All I could see as we cruised down the motorway were headlights and the silhouettes of trees.

All of a sudden the cab driver hit the breaks and crossed over to the shoulder. Then, he turned off the highway into a narrow dirt road that was lined with trees. We were literally flying down that dirt track, straight into the forest.

I got really scared and started to look for the door handle in the dark, in case I had to escape. What was he up to? Was he going to rob me?

The situation got even worse when he switched off the headlights. Now, I knew I was in serious trouble. The driver was speeding down the bumpy track with just the dashboard lights on.

Then, he jammed the breaks until the car came to a complete stop. By now, I had started to panic and was reaching for the door handle with my left hand. The driver leaned forward and got something from under the floor mat. That's when I saw the reflections of the revolver.

He dashed out of the car and ran towards a bamboo hut. I was in a state of shock, I couldn't move. I stayed in my seat till the driver got back...

He was only away for about a minute, turned the car around, switched on the headlights and backtracked to the highway. Just before we entered Pattaya, the driver uttered with a smile on his face, "CIA."

The guy was a police officer and wanted to drop off his gun, without waking up his family.

That night, I felt lucky to be alive.

Best of luck!

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