~I’m reposting this story after it lost in a short story competition. It’s one of the scariest things that happened to me while I was travelling… and it also shows how stupid I was when I was younger. Let this be an important lesson… that unfortunately I had to learn the hard way:
when you’re a solo female traveller you can’t be overly trusting towards kind strangers or you may just get yourself into trouble… like I did. I certainly learned my lesson in the end.
An Unexpected Turn
By: Tanya Brooks
It was the night before my 24th birthday, and there I was on Koh Samet Island, Thailand. The waves of the ocean were fierce and the palm trees surrounded the soft, sandy beach as the tourists started to fill the bars. I closed my eyes and imagined a banner that read: “Happy Birthday Tanya!” as I stood outside my tiny wooden bungalow, awaiting the stroke of midnight.
I took a deep breath and adjusted my dress which was soaked in sweat. The moonlight made the sand sparkle that evening, and the air was thick and humid. I tucked my brown hair into a little bun under a stylish black cap while silver earrings dangled from my ears. It was so hot I don’t know why I even bothered to put make up on my face because it just rubbed off right away. My fair skin had definitely been sun-kissed during the day.
I was utterly disappointed after arguing with my friend Tyson about his distant nature during our trip. Rather than celebrating with me, he decided to ditch me and go to bed. I guess travelling wasn’t his cup of tea. I was forced to spend the beginning of my special day alone. The fire dancers lit up the beach that night.
I slowly dragged myself to the nearest bar down some big cement stairs. All I wanted was someone to celebrate with. As I ordered a large bucket of red bull and vodka I slumped onto the sticky countertop and stared blankly into nothing. While I took the first sip of my drink a handsome young man walked up and asked my name in broken English.
“Tanya,” I replied shyly to the local lad. “What’s your name?”
“Kap, why you here all by yourself?” he said warmly with a confused smirk on his face.
“Well it’s my birthday, so I’m drinking!” I told him as I slurped my extremely alcoholic drink.
“All alone?” asked Kap, aghast that anyone would leave me to drink by my lonesome.
I said “Yup, pretty much.” and continued to stare blankly at the television behind the bar.
Kap sat down beside me and we started to have a conversation despite our language barrier. He was very charming and I was captivated by his gentle nature. He had dark black hair and smooth brown skin which was quite appealing to me. I quickly felt the booze kicking in and knew that I’d soon be drunk if I didn’t eat some food. Kap took me by the hand as we walked over to a restaurant on the beach to enjoy some noodles and continue our night.
When the clock struck midnight we ran back to the bar to have a dance. I was so happy to have found a friend to celebrate with. People were patting me on the back, dancing to the music as we took photos and ordered more buckets of booze. I became incredibly intoxicated.
My dress was a sweaty mess and I felt my face burning red. At about 3 o’clock Kap invited me over to his place to wind down and being the naïve, overly trusting person that I am, I accepted and we began to walk far away from the beach. Before long we were walking down a dark, deserted street 20 minutes away.
I started to feel slightly uncomfortable and slowed my pace. I was a bit concerned at this point so I asked Kap how much further we had to go.
“It’s not far.” He replied, very sure of himself.
We walked for another 15 minutes until finally we came to a large garage door.
“This is my home,” said Kap, placing his finger to his lips. “Be very quiet please.”
Regretting my decision, I didn’t really know what to do. Even though I had a great night with this man, I felt unsure of wandering so far away from where I was staying. Many questions arose as we entered the strange house. How was I going to get back? Should I really trust this person to bring me to his home?
Suddenly a wave of fear washed over me as I sauntered up the rickety stairs. Garbage and clothes were scattered everywhere. Boxes and bins were overflowing with heaps of stuff.
Confused and appalled by the disarray of the place, I sheepishly asked Kap, “Do you live here by yourself?” He turned and put his finger to his lips once again and guided me in.
I was now completely afraid and did not want to be there. Kap pulled me into the living room which was covered with clothes and other dirty items. He brushed off the couch and cleared a place for me to sit as he put his hand on my shoulder. I couldn’t help but close my heavy eyes and start to doze off from the extreme dizziness I was feeling. Then, without warning, I felt Kap shaking me awake. I hadn’t even realised that I had passed out. He hurried me out of the room towards the stairs and I was too stunned to speak as we bolted out onto the street.
Kap whispered, “Wait here.” and closed the door.
After about 2 minutes, he came around the corner with a scooter.
“Get on!” said Kap furiously as he helped me onto the seat.
He drove even farther away from my vacation home and dropped me off in front of a nearby 7/11. He told me to get off the scooter and stay put. He drove away leaving me alone once again and I immediately felt panic. I looked around to see a bunch of creepy faces staring at me while I waited. I knew I had to get the hell out of there. I began to walk at a brisk pace in the direction of my bungalow, my heart racing and almost pounding out of my chest. I was so scared I could hardly breathe.
Within minutes I noticed a few stray dogs starting to follow me so I sped up. Then another dog joined the pack, then another, and another. Before I could even fathom what was going on, I was surrounded by a pack of smelly, tattered dogs. I couldn’t tell if they were going to attack or if they were somehow protecting me from unknown dangers. They formed a perfect circle around me.
As my feet pounded the pavement they started to burn and the pain shot up my legs. I realised I was still so far away from my bungalow when, at that very moment, I heard the sound of a scooter. Kap! I thought as I turned my head and stopped right in my tracks. As the dogs halted along with me, a tawny young man on a small motor bike inched up beside me and I saw that it was not Kap at all.
The man looked at me as if I was stupid for walking around by myself at night.
“Do you need a ride?” he asked, without a doubt in his mind that I clearly needed help. I decided it was either take this man’s offer or face the dangers that may lie ahead.
“Yes, thank you,” I sobbed, still in shock at what had just happened as tears filled my eyes. As we drove away the dogs seemed to stand still, watching us vanish into the darkness.
The kind man dropped me off in front of the stairs which led up to my bungalow. I let out a sigh of relief. I was safe. I watched him dart off as a hint of sun began to arise. I stood up and turned to walk up the stairs when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kap!
My eyes widened as I ran to him, hitting his chest and shouting “Why did you leave me? How could you do that to me?”
Kap hung his head in shame as he took a step back from me. “I’m sorry Tanya…” he said with deep regret.
“My uncle… he would…” he inhaled and looked into my eyes.
“My uncle would beat me if he found out we were friends and I brought you to our house.”
I paused and let his words sink in. I didn’t really know what to say to him. There was only silence between us. I glared at Kap even though I felt sorry for him. Why would he invite me over if I wasn’t welcome? I reached towards him and my fingers brushed his shoulder. He began to walk away from me so I pulled back and looked down at the ground.
“Wait.” I cried.
Kap turned to me and with sorrow in his eyes he gingerly shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m sorry.” he muttered as he sulked into the distance.
In the end my birthday hadn’t turned out the way that I’d wanted at all. With sadness in my heart I left that morning. I never saw Kap again.