I have been an expat for many years and called Bangkok home while TEFL teaching; I went on nights out and had no care in the world. I found Bangkok safe, contrary to the news that displayed horror stories of tourists getting in trouble with taxi drivers, robbed or even murdered; I walked around daily life feeling at home.
I was confident in my surroundings, laughed and joked with locals, and partied and had fun. It wasn't until one fateful night many years later that my perception of Bangkok changed radically.
A Thai mugged me.
Now I know I'm not the only one; in hindsight, I'm fortunate as I enjoyed years of safety in Thailand. Nonetheless, the feeling of powerlessness, defencelessness and shock was all I felt.
I had been out at a nightclub and was drunk, but I had done this a million times before; I wandered to the nearest 7/11 to grab snacks and water. As I left the store, the motorcycle taxi Thai man mounted the pavement and snatched my over-the-shoulder bag!
I spun around, dropped all my belongings, and fell on the pavement. The Thai guy was gone. My keys, phone, passport and bank cards were all gone. I was bewildered, lost and scared. I managed to get home to the apartment I was staying in and alerted security, but it did not make much sense. I was frightened even of the security guards; at that moment, I saw the darker side of Thailand. The vulnerability, the magnitude of what could happen in this monster of a city, dawned on me, and if I continued on this lonely path, something far worse would surely occur.
I realised how lucky I had been all these years but knew it was time to leave.
I had to go.
My safety was jeopardised, and my love for Thailand was tainted forever.
I had to wait for my emergency money to come through to buy a cheap phone and started the process of getting new bank cards, new passports etc. It was a nightmare.
As a fellow expat, here are my words of wisdom to ensure your safety abroad.
1: Stay with your friends.
If you are out clubbing or partying with people, try and stay with them and go home with them. Don't drink so much alcohol that you forget where you are.
2: Don't go anywhere alone in the 'wee small hours'
If you need something, like food - try ordering it online via a delivery app. or go with someone to the store, not alone.
3: Make sure to keep emergency cash (in your currency) hidden in your suitcase or back pocket or even your bra as you will need it! Always have emergency cash or traveller's cheques somewhere safe.
4: Don't take your passport with you if you can avoid it. Take a photocopy with you or another form of ID.
5: Buy a cheap phone
Leave your Apple iPhone or Samsung at home and use a local sim and cheap phone at all times.