Here is an anecdote from my recent trip away.
Whilst in southern Thailand, I ventured out one night to have my first western meal at Pizza Hut. So, I grabbed the public bus, called a songthaew (two lines), and headed down the beach road. The bus I boarded was packed, but I managed to grab a seat. As it trundled along, a girl opposite me began speaking to me in Thai. That was fine, but I did notice that a ladyboy was sitting beside me and one next to the woman speaking to me. We chatted in Thai until I arrived at Pizza Hut where I paid the driver the 10 Baht and entered the restaurant.
I enjoyed my meal and poked my hand into a pocket of my shorts to pay the bill. Alas! No money! I instantly knew that I’d been had – pick-pocketed by the ladyboy next to me, whilst his cohort blabbed to me in Thai to distract me.
I approached the manager and explained the situation in Thai. She frowned, wondering what to do. I took charge of the situation and offered my new watch as security. I then said I’d return to my hotel kilometres away to obtain more money from my security box. But, I had no money to pay for a motorcycle taxi driver. What did she do? She gave me 100 Baht of her own money and took my watch reluctantly.
I grabbed a taxi driver and headed back to the hotel, only to find that access to security boxes closed at 8pm! You would have heard me swearing back in Australia. What did I do? I told the taxi driver to come back the next day and I’d pay him 300 Baht. I then went to bed, feeling frustrated.
The following day I went to Pizz Hut, paid my bill of 400 Baht and gave the 100 Baht back to the manager. I then gave her another 100 Baht for her trust. That afternoon the taxi driver arrived at my hotel and I paid him 300 Baht. Both the taxi driver and the restaurant manager bowed to me respectfully.
This was the first time I’d ever been robbed in SE Asia. Why, because I wore shorts I’d never worn, and placed my money in the loose and open pockets. Normally, I keep my money in a top pocket of my shirt which has two gore-tex clips. Also, I always carry enough money that I’m prepared to lose.
I later learned that a similar scam is happening every day on the local busses, and I got caught. However, I did return to Pizza Hut for one more meal and I was treated like a king.
Is it any wonder I love being in Thailand?
Clancy's comment: Mm ... You may wonder why the manager and the taxi driver trusted me to pay the money owed to them. Maybe it was because I was well-dressed, and spoke Thai? Who knows? Whatever the reason, this experience is another reason to love and respect Thai people. I recently rang Pizza Hut in Bangkok to praise the young manager. They were delighted.