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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: 7.73851, 98.7707
Getting mugged last night was definitely a most difficult experience, but things got even harder today - trying to file a police report without being able to speak a single word of Thai! We hoped that this would be a relatively simple process (for Thailand, at least), and made our way to the Tourist Police office to try and figure out what steps we needed to take. It quickly became apparent to us that, while the officer was definitely concerned about what had happened to us, he simply couldn't do anything for us, and referred us to an actual police office.
Now, earlier at the hotel, the staff had arranged a taxi for us and negotiated a price for a roundtrip fare between the hotel and Tourist Police office, which included waiting time. Our taxi driver didn't speak any English, so the Tourist Police officer gave him some instructions in Thai, we managed to negotiate a little bump in price for the ride, and after a fairly long drive, we were at the regional police station. It was quite obvious to us that the taxi driver had somewhere else to be, but he still seemed willing to help us out.
When traveling, it's always nice to be able to speak the local language solely for the purposes of being able to get around and order food, but today that would have made this entire process SO much easier! We weren't quite sure what to expect when dealing with the Thai police, as our first (and incorrect) assumption was that this would be extremely difficult in a developing nation, that there would be a massive lineup and long wait, and that they likely wouldn't give a damn about tourists losing their money and belongings, since we probably have too much of it anyway.
So while it was nearly impossible to communicate what we wanted to the police because of the language barrier, they seemed to be genuinely concerned about us and really wanted to help, but struggled to do so, as neither of us could really get our point across to the other. There was nobody at the station that spoke English, so one of the officers called up somebody on his cell phone, perhaps another colleague or perhaps a friend, to try and translate for us. Unfortunately, his English skills while better, were still fairly limited, and it really didn't
Our Driver Making a Scooter Getaway ...
... we saw our driver for a third time today as we drove to the ferry port, when he blew past us on his scooter.
get us anywhere.
Fortunately for us, there was a very nice lady who happened to also be at the station, who did speak a fair amount of English, and translated our story for the police. It all made sense for them now, and they were extremely concerned and even shocked that we were robbed at knife point, but there was a problem - we were at the wrong police station! How could this be? We explained to the lady that the Tourist Police had sent us here, even giving our taxi driver detailed directions.
Very diplomatically, we were told "Well ... the Tourist Police don't really know anything. This is the police station for the region, and since this happened in Phuket Town, you need to go to the town's police station." Ugh ... so this ended up being a colossal waste of time, but at least we finally knew where to go. So we repeated the earlier drill, with the lady giving our driver directions, us renegotiating the price, and headed off to what would hopefully be the correct place.
So of course, this wild goose chase had to wind up in the most comic fashion possible, and we pulled
Comfy Kitty ...
... I've never seen a cat sleeping and spread out on his back like this before! Must be knocked out from the food poisoning that a lot of people seem to get here in Ko Phi Phi ...
up to Phuket Town's police station - which was about 50' away from the Tourist Police office, where we started this adventure over an hour before! Sigh ... when things aren't going well, sometimes they get even worse ... no matter, as we were finally here, but we again encountered a language barrier problem but this time, there was no English speaker that could help.
Bear with me for a moment as I pause, and reflect on how much I enjoy playing the board game Cranium - who doesn't love this game? It's got everything - elements of charades, music, Pictionary, puzzles, sculpting, trivia... there's so much to do, and it's an absolute certainty that all will have fun, with tons of laughs along the way. So exactly why am I randomly talking about Cranium? Because I need to set the stage, as we were about to play the most bizarre game of charades ever ...
According to Benita, my re-enactment of the mugging suggested that we were robbed by a swashbuckling pirate, who also happened to enjoy riding jet skis. At this point, I should add that while I love playing Cranium, I'm more of a guesser, and less of
Fancy Breakfast at the On On Hotel ...
... great selection here for breakfast, with a number of western-style breakfasts available, as well as a few Asian ones - this was some soupy rice dish, served with a few sides. While the selection was unique here, the food wasn't overly memorable.
a performer, which might explain her interpretation. So while we can only speculate as to how the officers understood our story, what follows is what I think they understood to have happened:
Mugger Mofo: "Arrr!!! Ahoy, ye bilge rats! Me mateys and I need grog, so hand over yer sack of gold doubloons and maybe I won't harm ye and yer wench!"
Us: "Eeek! Run!!!"
Mugger Mofo: "Arrr ... where ye think yer going? Give me yer treasures or ye will taste the blade of me cutlass! Arrrr!!!"
Us: "Eeek! Take it!"
Mugger Mofo: "Arrr! Thank ye mateys! Arrr!", as he hopped on his first mate's waiting jet ski, and sped off into the sunset over the Andaman Sea, off to buy some grog and get some wenches.
Again, we can only guess at how the officers interpreted our situation, as we don't have a hope in hell of being able to read our police report, which is written in Thai. So hopefully that works for the insurance company, because our whole purpose for visiting the station today was to be able to get some kind of compensation for our ordeal!
It still wasn't easy at the police station, as we sensed that
Dim Sum ...
... the Chinese influence on the cuisine in this region was again on display today, with a dim sum breakfast also served up by the hotel. There were some unique spins on traditional Chinese dim sum, especially with the siu mai - one wrapped in nori, another in noodles, and one stuffed with a little piece of ... hot dog??!!?! All in all, a bit forgettable once again, even though the steamed bun was excellent, filled with the smoothest, creamiest, and richest custard imaginable - better than any I've had in North America before.
perhaps they didn't quite believe our version of the story, as they mentioned that they have CCTV cameras all over the city. It took quite some time, but we pulled out our map and showed them exactly where the attack happened, and we were brought upstairs to a control room, where they managed to pinpoint the street we walked on - but of course, no cameras covered exactly where the attack happened, and even if it did, we would've been covered by the awnings anyway.
We pored over the footage, but didn't see ourselves - things weren't looking good ... but then another officer who was also reviewing last night's video got our attention, and pointed at the screen. We still don't know how he caught it, since we had fast forwarded through the video, but he pointed to us on the screen, a quick blip as we briefly stepped into view and then disappeared under an awning - it was pretty surreal seeing ourselves like that, probably just a minute or two before we got jacked.
They couldn't find any additional footage of the attack, of us, or of the mofos making their getaway, but at least it was proof that
we were in fact exactly where we said we were, at the time that we claimed. With the help of a few other officers translating a few words here and there, they managed to finally produce a police report. While everybody we talked to was shocked at the prospect of armed robbery in Phuket, it became painfully obvious to us at how common purse snatchings are, usually a perpetrator on a scooter or motorbike grabbing it from an unsuspecting tourist walking along the street.
We actually were seated next to an Aussie couple who were also filing a report, who brazenly had a bag snatched from them - while they were riding along on their scooter, trying to find their accommodation! The guy didn't even realize what had happened until his girlfriend saw the scooter speeding away with their things! Somehow they managed to catch up and surprise the mofo, as he nearly managed to snatch back his own bag, but in the process, they nearly crashed their scooter, and the mofo got away, leaving the the Aussie guy with a badly scratched up arm.
This couple was rather unlucky, as it's all been downhill for them since arriving
... while not bad, dinner tonight at Papaya was a bit disappointing. Recommended by an expat working at the dive shop we visited, we hoped that it meant two things - first, that it wouldn't make us sick, and second, that it would be good. The yellow noodles were in some type of weird ketchup sauce, and it should've been beef, but we were told that they went ahead and substituted it with chicken instead because the beef was too tough (so they say ...). The garlic shrimps tasted pretty good, but were unpleasantly mushy. The only thing we considered to be good was the green papaya salad, which has led us to conclude that it's impossible to get a bad green papaya salad in Thailand.
in Thailand - they did the opposite of us, starting in Ko Phi Phi, before coming to Phuket. Upon arrival in Ko Phi Phi, they found that a computer glitch had caused their resort to overbook by hundreds of people, and had to find and settle for a dump of a place to stay at. Even worse, the guy ended up getting food poisoning and was stuck in bed for several days - at least we didn't have to worry about food poisoning, at least, not yet ...
While realizing that all these incidents are all-too-common in Southern Thailand, it's important to note how kind and helpful locals can still be. The Aussie couple had showed up with a translator, and we couldn't quite tell if he was a worker or owner of where they were staying, or some random local who had been helping them out. We also felt for our driver, even though we were going to compensate him quite well for his time, as he had been with us for three hours longer than he had planned, and probably kept wondering if he would ever actually get paid, since his clients had just been robbed the night before!
By the time we made it back to the hotel over four hours later, we had missed our shuttle to the port for our ferry to Ko Phi Phi - it was the last of the day, and had already been pre-paid for, without any chance of a refund. It was just yet another inconvenience, on top of today's wild goose chase, and having to worry about canceling credit cards and a cell phone late into last night. Things did look up, however, as we found out that there was another ferry available with a different company, so we would still be able to get to Ko Phi Phi today.
So we patiently waited in the hotel lobby for our ride to the ferry port, when lo and behold, guess who should show up to pick us up? The same taxi driver who took us on our wild goose chase! We chuckled as we hopped into the taxi, but he didn't end up driving us to the port - for some reason, he swapped out with a younger guy, and we were on our way, happy to be going anywhere but Phuket Town.
While being stuck here another day would not have been the end of the World, it wasn't something we really wanted to do - things had finally looked up for us, finally able to get the hell out of here, and forget all about the bad stuff that happened here in Phuket Town ...
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