Khao San Road - Life Threatening Experience.
Replies: 36 - Last Post: Jul 26, 2013 3:55 AM Last Post By: PleistoceneMega...
Jul 3, 2013 6:26 AM
Khao San Road - Life Threatening Experience.Thailand is amazing and most people have many more positive and negative experiences when they visit this beautiful country. While similar events happen regularly on Khao San Road, I count that girls get attacked in this way very often even on KSR.
This past June I visited Thailand for my third time with several of my brothers and we stayed on KhaoSan Road for several nights. I've always enjoyed the chaotic edginess of the street as a way to start off my trips to Thailand. I will not be returning though, after what I experienced this last visit. And yet...simply avoiding the place doesn't feel like enough.
Having spent the evening at The Club on KhaoSan Road, I walked out onto the street to watch as the revelers pour out at closing. My brothers left the Club earlier so I was lingering out of curiosity. I watched as the jerks and the kind hearted mingled on the street and interacted with the young girls selling flowers and the many female escorts. When I had taken in a few minutes, I walked onto the street myself and saw one of my brothers walking back from our hostel. Spirits were high and it was great to see my brother in a good mood. Then it all began.
I heard a bottle shatter behind me and spun around to see a Thai girl collapsing onto the pavement with blood streaming from her head. I approached as the foreigners and Thai crowd backed away from the scene. I quickly put together from the scene and comments from the crowd that one Thai girl had come up from behind and hit this girl on the head with a beer bottle. Then a Thai girl ran up through the crow and kicked the girl (laying on the street) in the head. No one stopped her, no one said anything but gasps of, "oh my god, she kicked her". Instinctively I stepped in and blocked the attacker from reaching the victim again. The attacker kept yelling, "she stole my money" which I interpreted to probably mean, "she stole a client from me". In any case my attention was focused on simply preventing the attacker from returning. While my back was turned, several people moved the girl to sit on the floor against a wall on the side of the street facing The Club's entrance. I located my brother and we both walked over to the victim. She was alone without anyone on the entire street paying attention. We started to check her for serious injuries, crouching beside her when another bottle crashed against the wall next to her head. The attacker had walked around behind several shop stalls and thrown another beer bottle at the victim. Then, she again rushed at the victim. I stepped between them and blocked her. I grabbed her jean jacket for a moment and quickly released it when my mind recognized the danger it put me in. After I let go of her, my brother grabbed her jacket arm. In a flash, about 20 Thai guys rushed forward from all over the street and started attacking him. My back was turned toward the girl again and by the time I heard the commotion and rushed over, my brother had cuts on his face and arms and was standing off to the side. Another foreigner was knocked out and his friends were picking him up and reviving him to consciousness. The Thais had attacked, and then melted back into the crowd. Me and my brother ran back to the victim and decided that one of us should try to get police or security, while the other stayed and tried to protect the victim. My brother went to the police station, where they just laughed at him. I crouched near the girl with my back to the wall watching and waiting for the next attack. This was about the worst situation I could imagine being in. But what could I do? I kept myself as psyched up as possible and asked many of the people who had watched everything transpire to help me protect her for a few minutes, or at least just hangout nearby for a while. Everyone looked at the girl and walked away. Some motioned "hush", some motioned to friends, "don't look, let's go" and no one stayed or offered to help. After a few minutes a young couple walked by and offered to help. They asked what we could do and the best I could come up with was to carry the victim off KhaoSan road and figure out what to do from there. On one end of KhaoSan Road there is a Public Security Office so I decided to make that our goal. I picked up the victim, and asked the couple to walk behind me and let me know if anyone approached from behind. I carried her bleeding in my arms to the PSO and sat her down on the curb. The whole time the victim kept repeating, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry". I walked into the PSO very calmly and in a friendly manner to explain that a girl had been hit with several bottles and was in need of medical attention. The girl was moved inside the PSO and the couple agreed to stay with her so that I could go out and see what had happened to my brother. I met him on Khaosan Road looking for me, and we returned to the PSO. The police treated the whole situation as a joke. Eventually they put the victim into a taxi cab saying that the taxi would take her to a hospital. We didn't believe it for an instant, and the couple quickly jumped into the taxi cab with the victim and refused to get out. That taxi was full and started to drive away. Me and my brother jumped in the next taxi and tried to catch up but we never did. We got out of the taxi and spent the rest of the early morning hours staying off Khao San Road and waiting. Eventually we decided we had to return to the street to tell our brothers what had transpired, and get out as quickly as possible to avoid any further danger.
If you live in Thailand, I bet this story sounds like the typical naive western traveler sticking his nose into local affairs and then ranting about the consequences so I want to offer a little about myself. I grew up in Africa and moved to the U.S. in grade school. Went to UCLA and then USC for graduate, and now work as a corporate CEO in Asia. I've lived in the third-world including Asia and had to deal with plenty of graft, gangs, prostitution, military, etc. so it's hard to shock me. But this experience did. Not because of the physicality of the events, but because I realized that I have a moral line, or a character line that I am compelled to walk even if it means risking my life and being laughed at in the process. If I am ever in a similar situation again, I know that I will intervene and put myself in danger again. In the future when I consider visiting a location, I am going to have to take that into consideration. Travel alerts and risk assessments are meant to offer valuable guidance to help travelers avoid danger. It's only now that I realize the other half of the coin is to consider how prone a particular traveler is to intervene in a dangerous situation. Obviously for most people that pass through Khao San Road, their "tolerance level" is much higher than my own. It would be great if Lonely Planet and other travel sites could bring this very personal reality to light.
I wish there was a way for me to find, and express my thanks to the brave couple that did stop to help her. I feel terrible that I wasn't able to be with them and see this through to the end. I worry about them and I hate the thought that they might think I abandoned them and the victim.
On a final note, I want to say that I love so much about Thailand and it's people. I've met great Thai people on each trip I've taken, and intend to continue to visit Thailand in the future. Khao San is not what Thailand is about. If you haven't been to Thailand, I highly recommend you go...depending on who you are though, you might way to skip Khao San Road. :)
Jul 3, 2013 6:54 AM
1Odd. You have seen plenty of gangs, prostitution etc and it is hard to shock you yet this experience was so shocking that you will not return?
But sure enough a good heads up for other foreigners: don't get involved in fights between local prostitutes, there's drugs, bad boys and bad news all around.
Stay away from it, let it handle the local cops, as elsewhere in the world.
Jul 3, 2013 8:02 AM
2my brother grabbed her jacket arm. In a flash, about 20 Thai guys rushed forward from all over the street and started attacking him
Yep, par for the course, and precisely why others didn't get involved.
I bet this story sounds like the typical naive western traveler sticking his nose into local affairs and then ranting about the consequences
You're right, it does.
Jul 3, 2013 8:31 AM
Jul 3, 2013 8:57 AM
Jul 3, 2013 11:24 AM
Jul 3, 2013 2:04 PM
6I leaned this lesson a long time ago. Stay out of Thai conflicts. It is a basic part of Thai culture and it is also a basic part of farang culture to intervene, BUT you are in Thailand so let the Thais sort it out. I have seen full out broken beer bottle fights between two bar girls in Soi Cowboy, I have seen 20 Thai boys pummel an Italian guy who shoplifted a watch on Patpong Rd., I have seen some Thai gangsters stab a Philipino to death because he was drunk and stupid. There is a calm superficiality but beneath the surface there is great potential for violence in Thai culture. My own girlfriend always preaches to me don't be a hero and keep your mouth shut and don't go drinking with strangers in Thailand. Very good advice.
Jul 3, 2013 5:55 PM
7I understand the story....it happens often...maybe more so in Patong, Pattaya, and Khao San Road....doesn't make it right.....
BUT ....what I don't understand is why is a corporate CEO staying in Khao San Road....and why not treat you brothers to a little more upscale Thailand and visit Khao San Road for your backpacker experience.
Jul 3, 2013 11:18 PM
8A potentially suicidal intervention, but it sounds like you have enough brothers to form a small army, if things had really gotten out of hand.
Failing that, a bit of your "corporate CEO" cash would have gone a long way in smoothing things over.
Good for you for trying to help, you did what was morally right, but I'm not sure I'd want to try it in Thailand.
Jul 4, 2013 12:07 AM
Jul 4, 2013 12:46 AM
Well I for one would have done the same as the OP, thumbs up. To all the knockers ok you have your opinions but I for one could not stand by and see someone killed or half killed - even if I was running the same risk by interfering. The attackers that darted from the crowd and then melted back were cowardly and so were the many many who stood and watched or ignored what went on.
Complete innocents also get attacked through no fault of their own, maybe because the attackers know that people just do not care. I hope that if you, through no fault of your own, get similarly attacked someone helps out is some way.
Jul 4, 2013 1:53 AM
11Morally right is helping someone who is in need of help, without passing judgement on whether they deserve help or not. I'm sure the girl wasn't as pure as the driven snow but she needed help there and then, and the OP tried to give it to her.
But like I and others on this thread have said, morally right or not, one would have to have suicidal tendencies to get involved in any situation like that in Thailand.
Jul 4, 2013 5:18 AM
12What is this the Thai Visa brigade?
Terrible story and I've heard similar things before but at the end of the day we as foreigners generally should not try and intervene when such scenarios arise. Essentially I think our moral compass and the Thai's moral compass are set to face different ways. It may seem heartless to walk away and ignore what's happening in front of you but as the OP found it this can sometimes escalate the situation into something much worse.
I hope the girl received some medical attention. OP you did the right thing from a Westerner POV but as a tourist in another country it wasn't a clever move. In fact you can probably count yourself lucky they didn't pile in on you.
Jul 4, 2013 7:11 AM
- Morally right is helping someone who...
In your view. I'm pretty sure the girl that did do the beating thought she was morally right as money was stolen from her.
And that those who intervened were morally wrong as they helped someone who was stealing from her...
In any case to me this isn't specific for Thailand - if criminals and gangs fight it out forget your morals and don't get involved, never mind if in Bangkok, Moscow, Berlin, Rio or in your home town.
Jul 4, 2013 7:23 AM
14Cases like these not only happened in Thailand or SEA but everywhere and here in Melbourne a few times during the last few years as well.
What the OP has done should really be commended for anyone with a moral conscience should have done the same in such a situation, BUT (please anyone) before stepping in you should really consider whether it is better to be a live chicken or a dead hero. So if you are not ready to risk life and limb, then MYOB is best for what to do.
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