Watch Out, Watch Out, there are Robbers About
The scenery between Surat Thani and Phuket was incredible. The six hour journey took us through Kao Sok National Park –with its glorious limestone karts and thick jungle – and then through Kao Lak, a beach resort town hit mercilessly hard by the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. Kao Lak looked like a newly built town – and, in truth, for the most part it probably was.
Now almost 24 hours since leaving Bangkok, we finally rolled into Phuket Town. Despite the island being regarded as package holiday hell on a stick, at that particular moment I couldn’t have cared less. I was happy just to have stopped moving. What’s more, had the ground not had an impressive covering of diesel, cigarette butts and general filth, I’d have gotten down on all fours and given it a little pope-esque kiss.
During the usual post-bus bottle-of-pop-and-cigarette ritual, I noticed a western couple sitting at a nearby table. I went over and said hello. Soon after, we got chatting. They were Canadian, they were waiting for a bus out of Phuket and, until I arrived, they were happily playing cards. These 2 roaming Canucks had also arrived from Surat Thani, but several days earlier and via one of the V.I.P. tour buses. They had very few positive things to say about it, not least of all because they’d been robbed on the way down. Not at the hands of gun-toting bandits, as I had dramatically envisaged, but (and this is by their own admission) by their tour company. Bags had dipped and rucksacks rifled, and each relieved of electrical goodies, cash, cards and, in this particular girl’s case, jewellery. They were certain it was and ‘inside job’, so to speak, and clearly felt let down by their operator. Sadly, they were also unable to prove a thing either way. You know this kind of thing goes on from time to time, but seldom do you hear about it firsthand. They just had to take it on the chin and hope their travel insurance covered it.
I’m sure the lion’s share of these tourist buses run without a glitch and that all baggage turns up intact – and I’m also sure that this could happen on any bus on a given day, be it tourist or government flavour. Events such as these can happen to any of us at any given time, we just hope above all hopes that they don’t.
But there are, I feel, some measures we can take to further reduce these already slight risks. Here and here are just two examples that I’ve had time to write about. In addition, splitting your valuables and/or travelling with more than one bag may help reduce losses, too.
If you have any other ones that you swear by, do please take the time to put them in the comments section below. If it allows even just one person to avoid this potentially avoidable scenario then you’ve not wasted you time. Thanks.