motorcycle taxi

It was late. Late even by Thai standards. I had one last night in Pattaya and I wasn’t going to leave without experiencing the crazy night life. I was hopping around from bar to bar, chatting with “working ladies”, a few lady boys who fooled me and acting like a tourist for once. Sometimes it’s good to be a tourist. Just have fun and keep your clothes on.

I had been chatting with a beautiful girl, who confessed that she was a guy and I realized that I should really get back to my hotel before somebody slipped something in my drink and made me wake up without a liver the next day. Not that anyone would really want my liver, but you never know. Everything is for sale in Thailand. There was no metered taxi in sight so I decided to take a private motorcycle taxi.

The driver was clueless about where my hotel was. I showed him the map on my phone. Normally the drivers would take a quick look, mumble something in Thai and get me somewhere within spitting distance of my room. Not this guy. He slipped my phone in his pocket. That should have been my first indication that something was afoul. I asked for my phone back and he insisted that he needed to hang onto it so he could find the hotel

I got on the back of the bike and we started driving. We drove all around and I noticed that we actually made a complete circle. What should have been 5 minutes turned into half an hour. I asked for my phone so I could show him how to get there. He just kept saying…”no problem, no problem”. Pretty soon we weren’t even in the city at all. We were going down some dark, deserted road. My spidey sense should have been tingling, but I just thought the driver might be inept about directions. He pulled alongside another motorcycle and the 2 men started chatting in Thai. Why were we chatting with someone on a dark road? Directions? Maybe something more sinister.

The driver motioned for me to get off the bike and as soon as I did, he took off. Actually, he tried to take off. Realizing that I was about to get deserted in the middle of nowhere without my phone, I lunged forward and grabbed the back loop of the bike and threw it to the right knocking him off. I was on him in seconds and got both of our phones out of his pocket. A new IPhone in Thailand fetches a high price and that had been his plan all along. With my phone in hand and imminent violence about to happen, I picked the bike up and got on it.

He knew where this was going and he tried to grab the key. I hit his hand and pushed him backward and hit the throttle. He was chasing after me and I just gassed it. As soon as I rounded the corner, it occurred to me what had just happened. I had foiled a robbery attempt and now I had possession of the getaway vehicle. My adrenaline was off the charts. I had to make sure that he didn’t get on the other bike with the man he’s been plotting with and catch up with me. I was in the middle of nowhere and it would be days before anyone even knew I was missing. Who knows if they had guns or knives or ninja skills. I wasn’t going to take a chance.

I zig-zagged around a few corners and took some side streets and parked the bike quickly around a dark corner. Sure as the world, here came the two men down the street looking for me. They hadn’t seen me pull in the lot or it might have been game over. They thought I was way ahead and they raced down what they thought was the path I had taken. As soon as they got out of my line of sight, I headed back the direction I had come, took a bunch of random turns that would have even confused Rubik, and then I stopped to take in the situation.

I had a bike that didn’t belong to me, but I had a damn good excuse and I thought maybe finding a policeman might be the best option. I didn’t need a rap sheet in Thailand for Grand Theft Motorcycle. I started driving fast down the road hoping to see a police car and suddenly there it was. I parked the bike, walked over and there was no one in the car. I looked in the store next to the bike, down the road and there was no police anywhere. Maybe the best option was to just go to my hotel and call the police.

When I finally pulled out my map I realized that the man had taken me at least 20 minutes away from my hotel. I wondered if he remembered the name of it. I started driving fast and furious. My blood was pumping. I was alive! It was an action movie and I was the star! I thought maybe I might just keep it and drive to Bangkok the following day but decided against it. Best course of action would be to stick with the hotel plan.

I pulled up to my hotel, parked the bike and started to explain what had happened, but they just weren’t hearing it. Yes, they had seen me on a bike earlier. Did I want to rent one? No, I had almost been robbed. I had the keys to a motorcycle that didn’t belong to me. There was an angry man who might be coming to the hotel to get his bike. Could they please call the cops? Then he walked in the door.

He started talking in Thai and I could tell he’d come up with a back story that made him look like the victim. Too late for him. I’d gotten there first. Hotel people don’t like conflict and just wanted it to go away. I wanted to go outside and set the guy’s motorcycle on fire and beat someone up. I didn’t want revenge just for me, but for every other person he’d ripped off. It wasn’t like he hadn’t done this before. The man obviously had conceived a plan. I asked them again to call the police. They stared at me like a pig looking at a watch. I realized that it was after 4 am and there wasn’t much getting done at that time. Besides, the night crew was probably the B team after all. You don’t put your smart workers on the front desk in the middle of the night.

I started to go to my room and then decided I just wanted this to be over. I took a picture of him, caught him pacing around on video and decided to file a report. I threw the keys at him, told him what I was going to do to him and he started to run away. He was afraid of me. No one probably had ever turned the tables on him and he didn’t know what to do. After a few more moments of gloating and empty threats, I went back to my room and slept like Chuck Norris.