Rudd On The Road
By Steve Rudd
Part 26: Signing My Life Away
I could just about deal with the fallout of the theft. The thing I struggled with most was the betrayal of trust. I have always trusted everybody, regardless of whether they are a close friend or a complete stranger. I don't judge. To do so is unnatural.
Even though I'd had my backpack stolen, I doggedly refused to let such a fact affect the way I acted towards people during the course of the morning following the theft.
It had been no easy task to persuade the proprietor of the guesthouse to speak with a policeman down at the station in regards to the minutiae of the theft (the lady was evidently reluctant to have cops snooping around the premises in case they uncovered something else 'untoward' which might be detrimental to the kind of business she was trying to run), yet I remained courteous in her presence as I checked out.
I even thanked her for her help, in spite of the fact that her so-called 'help' had been more of a hindrance in reality.
It was nine a.m., and I had an appointment at the police station in order to make a statement about what had occurred the previous evening. I arrived hoping to be able to make my statement with an English-speaking member of staff.
When I'd swung by the station in the immediate wake of the theft, I'd been told to return in the morning when English-speaking personnel would be in attendance. Well, the morning had arrived, and so had I, but the same staff members were still on duty.
The man I'd spoken with some twelve hours earlier didn't even recognise me. His long shift had clearly got the better of him as he wiped away the sleep from his eyes with a dramatic flourish, as though to excuse himself.
'Sorry, but man who speaks English sick today,' he explained as best he could. He then offered me a seat and proffered a scrap piece of paper.
'You write down everything that stolen,' he instructed.
On the face of things, it honestly looked like I was primed to make the most unofficial statement ever committed to police records. But what could I do? I had no choice but to play by their game, knowing full well that the likelihood of anything positive stemming from my statement was minimal.
To add insult to injury, the pen I'd been passed refused to co-operate, as if it feared being held as an accomplice against its will.
Other than my passport, my bankcard and my camera, my trusted pen was the only item that hadn't been stolen. Not for the first time, I forced it to help me out in the direst of circumstances, to back me up, urging the ballpoint to detail exactly what had been in my backpack.
Once everything had been written down, I handed the scrap piece of paper back to the policeman. He proceeded to copy what I'd written onto an 'official' piece of paper, producing a carbon copy as he wrote. I was subsequently asked to sign on the dotted line after he'd scrawled a seemingly abstract paragraph of Thai script below my list. Wary of what I was signing, I asked the man to explain what he'd written in Thai.
'Not important,' he unreassuringly reassured. 'You sign now.'
Sweat was beginning to mass on my brow, ready to surge into my eyes with blinding stealth.
To trust, or not to trust? That was the question.
I'd heard so many awful stories involving the Thai authorities and foreign travellers in which the foreigners had unsuspectingly wound up quite literally signing their lives away. I was innocent. I had done nothing wrong. I was reporting a crime that had been perpetrated against me. I was in no way involved with drugs. And yet, for all I knew, I was on the cusp of signing a piece of paper that could have been a confession.
'You sign, you have document for insurance,' the policeman grinned. 'You don't sign, you have nothing.'
I'd already informed my insurance company about what had happened, angling to make a legitimate claim just as soon as a claim form was emailed out to me.
Nevertheless, I had a feeling that the insurance company would still refuse to pay out, especially when a company representative argued over the phone that I should have been using the biggest and best variety of padlock currently available on the world market in order to protect my gear.
Aspiring to escape the stuffy confines of the police station before I passed out, I pursued my gut instinct, wholeheartedly trusting what the policeman said.
So I signed, and I sighed, and I took the carbon copy and fled.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 25: A Temporary Loss of Faith By Steve Rudd
In my absence, somebody had broken into my room and stolen my backpack from where I'd rested it against the wall beside my bed. I hadn't unpacked anything since checking back into the guesthouse. I'd had neither the need nor the motivation to do so.
Fortunately, I still had my passport, my bankcard and my camera; they went everywhere with me
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 24: Spontaneous Combustion By Steve Rudd
I'd returned to Bangkok in anticipation of heading south to Ko Samui, one of Thailand's most-visited islands, on which two friends were due to be married. However, they weren't going to tie the proverbial knot for another two weeks, a fact which awarded me plenty of spare time to gad about at my leisure.
It was a scorching hot Friday morning, and I'd just met an English girl called Abi on Soi Rambuttri in Bangkok. We both had something in common: money - or rather 'lack of.'
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 23: A Cashflow Crisis By Steve Rudd
Twelve ATMs down, and not all that many to go. It was fair to say that I was in a quandary, with no cash to my name other than a few dollar notes I had left over from my recent trip to the US.
It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd had a clutch of British pounds, or a sizeable wad of notes in any currency for that matter; a staggering number of currency exchange offices line both sides of Khao San Road in Bangkok,
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 22: Trios Amigos! By Steve Rudd
OK. So what do you get if you cross a well-to-do Frenchman, a freethinking Englishman, and a mad-as-hell Spaniard? Adventure by default.
I was in Sukhothai, Thailand, all psyched up to savour the unassailable beauty of one of the most dazzling jewels in the country's crown. Long before Ayuttaya and Bangkok succeeded the city as Thailand's capital, Sukhothai flourished as the naval of the nation.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 21: The One Hundred Baht Experience By Steve Rudd
I was searching for 'The London Hotel', having had the place recommended to me by a friend. Paying close attention to the road signs, I was definitely heading in the right direction as I made tracks away from Phitsanulok's train station.
Confusingly though, the hotel that I presumed to be 'The London' had no exterior hoarding in English proclaiming it to be the place I desired. Its sign was in Thai script, and thus beyond my comprehension.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Twenty: Stray Dogs and Cheeky Monkeys By Steve Rudd
I'd barely made myself at home in Lopburi, and I was already on the verge of being chased out of town. From the off, as I ambled out of the train station after catching an early morning train north from Bangkok, the town's myriad stray dogs were on my tail, as though they genuinely resented backpackers snooping around their patch.
Making more haste than usual to find
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Nineteen: Going West for Eastern Inspiration By Steve Rudd
'Tuk-Tuk!' came the shout across the concourse. In the same beat I was offered a taxi, before a middle-aged lady rushed up offering me a cut-price massage. And this was all out front of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, into which I'd just flown from LA.
My writing work in the US finished, I had decided to head over to Southeast Asia in order to attend the wedding of a couple of friends who I'd first met on my first visit to
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Eighteen: A Mile Of Miracles, And Then Some By Steve Rudd
Taking the bus was too easy, despite the fact that my film making pal Dave Kebo had dropped me off at the Shell gas station at the Wilshire and Vermont intersection in Koreatown which was conveniently situated right beside a bus-stop.
Looking due west along Wilshire Boulevard, my feet felt the twitch before my heart. A bus bound for Santa Monica had just pulled up, and for the meagre fee of a buck and a quarter ($1.25)
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Seventeen: On Foot Across LA By Steve Rudd
I don't like not knowing what's out there. I prefer to be informed rather than ignorant. I hate living in the knowledge that there are sections of certain towns and cities in the world that I know next-to-nothing about.
That's why, given the chance, I always walk whenever and wherever I can. I walk and I walk and I walk until my feet begin to announce their grievances.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Sixteen: When in Venice ... By Steve Rudd
No visit to LA is complete without a saunter along Venice Beach, south of Santa Monica.
The actual beach is beautiful, yet it is the mad parade of stalls and performers which are set back from the beach on Ocean Front Walk that are the real attraction to this part of the city.
It's like the sixties never ended, a slew of tarot card readers, tattoo artists, dubiously talented musicians and all manner of folk on the scrounge for marijuana making
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Fifteen: A Run-In With Gordon Ramsay By Steve Rudd
Having touched back down in LA on what had been a sensationally overcast day, I was glad to see the sun the following morning as I ventured out into Santa Monica, aspiring to hit the beach. I was back in the city to catch up with a friend and to do some writing, but I still intended to make some time to see exactly why people get so excited about the smattering of beaches gracing The Pacific Coast at LA.
It's certainly easy to understand why
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Fourteen: St. Patrick's Day With A Difference By Steve Rudd
In the wake of an exhilarating hike into Runyon Canyon, one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets, I was all buoyed-up to sample a prime slice of LA nightlife. It was St. Patrick's Day, and I was keen to see how Americans celebrate it. Rest assured, I wasn't disappointed. They celebrate the day with just as much gusto as stout-addled folk back in Ireland.
Opting to head downtown in order to appreciate the wide variety of bars in the district, I was accompanied by Dave Kebo, a movie-making friend who I'd first met in Istanbul back in November 2008.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Thirteen: The Green Side of Hollywood By Steve Rudd
Keen to see a side of LA that the majority of visitors to the city never get to appreciate, I couldn't have been more pleased when my friend Dave Kebo, a movie-maker who was raised in LA and knows much of it like the back of his hand, offered to show me around.
It was St. Patrick's Day, and our first port of call was a cafe in the Silver Lake district, east of Hollywood. Neither of us had so far indulged in breakfast, so we ordered up and sat back, sitting out on the busy sidewalk in order to increase our chances of spotting a celeb.
Places to Visit - Beinvenue: Paris in 3 Days for Less Than 100,000 Calories! By Ruth
The long weekend in Paris was a spur of the moment idea hatched by my daughter. I was initially sceptical about the cost. Summer fares to Europe are never less than extortionate.
My cousin in Paris pointed out that fares spike sharply at the end of June and remain high throughout the summer months. Armed with that information, we checked flights for the first week of June
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Twelve: Onwards and Upwards By Steve Rudd
I don't do early mornings. At least I don't do them very well. I mean, was it 5 a.m. already? We'd had less than two hours of sleep, and it was time for my friend Evangelina to whisk me to the airport in order for me to catch my 7:50 a.m. flight with 'Mexicana' back to Los Angeles.
Having joined a bunch of Evangelina's friends for some food and drink at a cantina close to Bellas Artes in the Historical Centre of Mexico City the previous night,
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Part Eleven: Going Barmy in Barra. By Steve Rudd
As I grew increasingly accustomed to the laid-back beach-life around which the tiny Pacific Coast town of Melaque revolves, I realised it was going to be no easy task to pull myself away from this area of Jalisco, Mexico.
The pace of life which afflicts Melaque is a world away from the hustle and bustle that comes as part and parcel of larger towns and cities
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Ten: Sun, Sand, Sea ... and a Man on a Mission. By Steve Rudd
In terms of beaches, visitors to Mexico genuinely are spoilt for choice. World-class stretches of sand are to be found on both The Pacific Coast and The Gulf of Mexico, with old favourites in the ridiculously commercialised forms of Acapulco and Cancun still managing to draw in huge crowds with ease.
However, some of the country's lesser-known beaches are