Tuesday, October 25, 2011



I've always got lots of stuff to write about when I switch locations. Unfortunately, I've rather a bit more to write about this time.

I got burgled.

When I say burgled, I'm talking about proper burglary. Nothing like "oh, I left out some stuff and the cleaning staff took it" - nothing like that. Imagine my surprise when I went home and discovered my laptop was missing. I must confess that my first thought was 'Who the hell borrowed my laptop?' I guess that speaks volumes to me about just how trusting I have become. Pity.

I did my own version of the CSI thing and pieced together what happened. I won't bore you with all of the conversations and such I had with various people but instead merely give you what I believe to be the facts.

A fairly scruffy individual of an undetermined European ethnic group checked into the guest house. The Thai lady asked him for his passport as is common and he said that he would retrieve it from his baggage and get it to her later. Although out of kindness the proprietors of various hostels and guesthouses allow the person to come back later with the required identification, it turned out to be a mistake that cost me - and only me - about $1500 of my paltry funds.

Obviously, this guy never saw the lady again. But, I would like to point out she was sure to get the money for his single night of stay. She did not suffer any loss in this case.

According to other witnesses the person was joined by a confederate (meaning accomplice, not some guy in a gray uniform who claimed the south would rise again) and they entered the building. They were spotted both going in and coming out with backpacks on and seen to ride away. People witnessing it had no idea they had looted all of the rooms in which people were not there. It was only me that was out taking as is my habit my 'daily constitutional' - a couple hours of fairly strenuous walking. Well, it's strenuous for me anyway. [Yes, if it had been a NERO event, I could have called 'targeting' but I really have no idea what happened here.]

The physical evidence left was at first somewhat confusing but in the fine tradition of the Heroic Cthulhu group I strung it together. The thieves had left their room door open with all of the lights on. The room key - as well as a long screwdriver - was left on the bed.

All of the other rooms were either unrented or had their occupants within the room. Hence, they made their way to my room. I'm not sure how they bypassed the lock. Having read or seen too many spy novels those with me looked in earnest at the lock for the tell tale scratches at the keyhole. As I've read books on lockpicking - and even picked a few myself (though I claim no expertise at this) I know that more scratches are left on the outer surface of the lock by those using the key rather than by those who are picking the lock. The lock may have even been forced open by the screwdriver as it is of cheap construction like much in Thailand.

Within, my laptop was easily accessible as I had become too trusting in having my own room as well as judiciously keeping the door stoutly locked, and even chained when I was within. Stealing the laptop off of the small table I had borrowed was no more difficult than picking it up.

There was then the matter of the wardrobe. Sadly, mine did not lead to Narnia (I did check) but within it was a safe within which I kept my passport, credit cards, money and so on. The bike lock I had looped several times around the handles of the wardrobe to deter entry presented little problem to the thieves as they simply popped one of the handles off.

The safe presented more difficulty but I'm afraid not much. It was inconceivable to the owners (and even some drunken tosspot I'd met at a bar) that anyone could break into the wall safe but I figured out how they did it.

It was all due to discovering a small washer lying on top of the refrigerator.

I don't have a lot of things and so it is very easy to keep fairly organized. When I first went into the room, the washer caught my eye and raised questions. I added to my list of questions why someone should choose to take the shelving I had removed from inside the refrigerator and place it within the wardrobe.

It was because they wanted to move the wardrobe.

To get into the safe, they simply shifted the flimsy wardrobe so that they could access the bolts in the back which secured the safe to the back wall of the wardrobe - rather than to anything solid as I had hoped. After unscrewing the safe, they took it from the wardrobe and inserted something like the long bladed screwdriver into the hole to use it to reset the code by depressing the 'reset the code' button located within the safe. They then opened the safe and took what they wanted.

Here it gets a bit odd.

They did not steal my passport nor even my two credit (well, debit) cards which would have put me into a very hard way indeed. They didn't even bother with my medicine which is nice not to have to shell out money to replace. Unfortunately, they did get the 'data cable' for my MP3 player which told me that would need replacing as soon as the battery wore down. They did also miss my Kindel. I was happy about this. Although the thieves took two cartons of cigarettes, they left me one. I am not really sure why but I'm guessing their 'loot bag' was full.

Instead, they took my emergency money (two hundred euros and two hundred dollars) as well as my money I had recently withdrawn to live on for a couple of weeks (five hundred dollars in baht).

A pretty good haul for a couple of 'scruffy guys' - but I must give props to their skills at getting in to the wardrobe.

I immediately told both Dave (the rentor) and Treavor (the building owner) of the theft. Important note for travelers - if you get robbed anywhere, the most you will get from the person you are renting from is sympathy. Maybe a free beer but that's it. I've talked to a lot of people who believe the building owners should have to take more responsibility for thefts which occur at their premises but I have yet to encounter any that have figured out a way to do that and not lose their own shirts.

Several Americans I spoke with immediately suggested suing the owner. It is interesting how this is our snap answer to problems in America. My thought is 'What country do you think you are in? I have doubts it would work in America and here? Good luck, buddy." No, I don't think that the fault lies with anyone but myself. I should have checked out things more closely. I thought that the defenses were good enough there but clearly, I was mistaken.

Unfortunately, I did listen to people when they said I should file a police report. Honestly, unless you have insurance or something that will pay you back should you file a police report you are only wasting your time on a vague hope. I have doubts that the police here could solve a murder crime, much less be bothered with a simple theft. Also, what is their motivation to solve it? After spending a few hours of my time waiting in different lines and talking to Thais whose grasp of English bordered on the dangerously negligent, I eventually got shown to a man who spoke fairly good English. After again summarizing for him what happened I said "So, we have a screwdriver that probably has several sets of clean prints on it, numerous witnesses and there is probably also some video of the thieves. It's pretty much an open and shut case." The cop looked at me with bored eyes and said "You go window two now."

I am not even kidding.

I spoke to one of the foreigners given the volunteer work of 'Tourist Police'. The official line is that these guys help make a smooth interface between the normal police and tourists. Personally, I think it is because the cops English is horrible and they don't seem motivated to improve it. But I digress. I was speaking to one of the Tourist Police and I said hey, the cops have my initial statement. I don't think anything will come of continuing to sit in various lines and such. Can I just leave it with them and if they want additional information they can contact me? I was told "This is your way of thinking - not the Thai way. Time means nothing here." Well, no, I was thinking of the expedient professional way but I can see there is a difference.

There were some characters in the police station as well. A banged up Russian couple who had gotten t-boned on their moped by a drunk guy on a motorcycle who was going way too fast, a French guy and his Thai wife/girlfriend/etc who had absolutely no control over their daughter who was running around with no pants on and only a short shirt because she wanted to go pee, etc. There were also foreigners attempting to explain the concept of a middle name to uncomprehending police officers (I am not kidding).

Keep in mind that it is pretty disorderly in the police station. While you are waiting to make your statement to one cop, other cops will come in and want to talk to him, sometimes bringing along people who (surprise) will que jump in front of you.

Avoid the police stations. The words 'glacial' and 'inept' both come to mind.

I spoke to a couple Thais about the police and they agreed that you have to go down to the police station to file the report because the cops don't bother to show up if you just call them.

Again, unless you need a crime report to show your insurance company, don't bother.

That is my tale about how - for the second time in a mere seven months - I got robbed. For my first forty six years on the planet, nothing (other than friends stealing books but that is not unexpected) and then boom, boom!

It reminds me of the book "Coping With Loss" I saw on an episode of the Simpsons.

For good news - the last airport I went through my bag only weighed 17.3 KG. Joy.

Up next - 'Flight to Chaing Mai'!


Try to wrench any safe off of the wall. If the owner of the place objects - or if you think you can do it - don't trust the safe!

Always back up your data onto flash (aka thumb) drives which you can easily carry with you. Or hide in your room. Anticipate your computer getting stolen.


From the movie 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind': Chuck Barris: "When you are young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein. You might be DiMaggio. Then you get to an age where what you might be gives way to what you have been. You weren't Einstein. You weren't anything. That's a bad moment."

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie was fucking boring. I made it only up to fifteen minutes into it. It's a pity because I do like Sam Rockwell as an actor.

Because I didn't make it through this movie, it gets the standard 3/10.


People who say money can't buy you happiness obviously didn't know what to buy.


  1. On the one hand, it's terrible you were robbed again...
    On the other, if you did this to us in HC, you would piss yourself laughing... (although, given how you roll, we'd be more likely to find the theives having killed themselves fumbling to open the safe...)
    So, you know, ambivalent feelings...

  2. Oh, that's harsh. In the game though, yes it would be funny.

  3. Logan, if you need anything. Money, computer, medicine, whatever. Just let me know what you need and where to send it.



{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

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{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
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{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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