Travel Magazine

The Sinister Tuk Tuk.

By Geraldine Forster @backpackerGerri

Lately with so much publicity with the press, magazines and TV appearances, I have been asked many times what has been my most scary moment traveling solo. I have often answered "that nothing of great importance."

It was only last night that I suddenly remembered one particular incident that occurred several years ago.

I was staying at a small hotel in the center of the town of Phuket in Thailand. One evening the staff suggested I go and visit the big fair that was just on the outskirts of the town.

They kindly arranged for one of their drivers to take to my destination. I was so excited, It didn’t occur to me to ask him to pick me up later that night to return home.

The fair was amazing. Everywhere I looked there were all sorts of delicious morsels that the Thais are so good at preparing. I spent several hours wondering around chatting with the locals and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Before I knew it, it was almost eleven thirty and I decided to make my way back to the hotel. Coming out onto the main road there were many locals also returning home so I found that I had to wait quite a bit before I could see an empty tuk tuk.

Note! for those who haven’t met these crazy vehicles yet! Tuk Tuks, or Auto Rickshaws are the popular form of transport found in several Asian countries. They are literally a more modern form of rickshaw with a motor bike at the front.

Then I spied one coming towards me. Strangely enough it had all these gaudy coloured lights flashing like crazy. Something I had never seen before. Anyway, I hailed the guy down and asked how much he would charge to take me to my hotel. Well Jeepers Creepers! I don’t know if he thought I was related to the Rothschild family but the price was ridiculous. I immediately told him “No Way and sent him on his way” However he didn’t get very far, when he stopped and signalled that he would charge me the correct price. I will add at this point that this guy was NOT Thai.  I wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression.

Now there is one thing that I have always been blessed with, and that is an excellent sense of direction. I am rather like a human “Sat Nav” or “GPS” Take me anywhere and I can always find the way back.

Needless to say, I knew that we had to go straight along the main road to get back to my abode. When the driver suddenly veered off to the right onto a narrow road I was very surprised. Looking around I could see just a smattering of small local shops and ahead a very dark road leading up into the hills. I immediately asked him where we were going. He replied, “I am taking a short cut” My eyes and my instinct told me that it was impossible to be going a quick way back when he was heading towards a lonely desolate hilltop. Without a second thought I jumped off that moving Tuk Tuk while I was still near the little stalls. I ran back to the main road. Found a local Thai driver and he took me safely home.

I have reflected on that evening many times. No, nothing happened to me but I have no doubt in my mind, that it could have been a very different ending to this story.

When I am asked about safety traveling solo. I always advice travellers.

  • Always listen to your gut instinct. It will never let you down. If something doesn’t feel right, get the hell out of it.

  • Don't simply judge someone on face value. At home, you more or less know the people around you. When you travel, you will meet mostly strangers. Some of whom, can very easily reinvent themselves and spin you any tale. Remember that many sickos can be handsome and charming. I say this because back in 2003 when I was living on the Costa del Sol Spain. There was the horrific murder of two teenage girls. Thank goodness the murderer was finally arrested. The unbelievable thing is, that I used to go daily to a small restaurant behind my business to have a quick-lunch. On several occasions I was served by a pleasant looking, and very polite young man. Well folks I later discovered that this nice guy was none other than Tony King the murderer.  Never in a million years would I have imagined that this person could have committed such atrocities 

  • Don’t wander around late at night in desolate places. There is a lot of truth in the expression “safety in numbers”

  • Be very careful in bars and nightclubs as it is not unknown for people to get their drinks spiked 

    Having said these little tips.. Please don't start thinking OMG I can't go anywhere! Just use your common sense and be aware.

The Sinister Tuk Tuk. The Sinister Tuk Tuk.

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