So. An eventful time so far and also a partial retraction from a previous post. Currently on Koh Phangan and tomorrow I leave to go to Krabi. Also, happy birthday Dad!

Anatomy of a scam.Previously I referred to two genuine Thais who appeared to assist us without profiting personally from the advice they were giving. I consider myself somewhat of a skeptic. This is how it went down. Went for a walk intending to see some Wats. Walked into a well dressed and well spoken man who was very helpful and noted that the temple we wanted to see was closed but we should see two other temples that were very nice (Lucky Buddha and some other one). He seemingly hailed a tuk-tukfrom nowhere and we were on the way in minutes through the steamy streets of Bangkok. Once at a Wat a nicely dressed man who claimed to be a teacher at the local high school told us some of the history of the Wat and engaged us in conversation. He then recommended we go to the ‘official’ Government tailor factory (not true). Our Wat tour over, the driver then asked if we wanted to see a tailor. Feeling sorry for the old man (in his fifties probably :)) we agreed and I almost bought a suit. Then on we went to what we thought was the Tourism Authority of Thailand (in fact a travel agency licensed by the same). We then paid for too much for a 21 day tour of southern Thailand. And the funny thing is we had no idea we had been scammed until we were on the bus trip south! Incrediblely complex and practiced scam with many disparate actors all seemingly not benefiting from the advice they give but in reality all ringing ahead to get the next person in the scam in place. Really quite entrepreneurial!

All gone Pete Tong. Seriously . Now ok!

Landed in Koh Tao and randomly saw Shannon who I had been sitting next to on the bus south from Bangkok. Decided wisely to have drinks with Shannon (an American former UK premier league soccer player) and met up with Matt DB (cheers Lauren and Ballinger!) – for drinks with the local scuba mafia (Koh Tao being the site of probably the cheapest PADI licensing and some superlative diving). Then onto dinner quickly followed by whiskey buckets at a salubrious Ozzie establishment called Choppers… suffice it to say Tristan went blind and just kept saying he ‘just wanted to get home’ and spewed black stuff quietly in the corner. Shannon decided in his vastly inebriated state he could drive and spun out in a puddle with me on the back. My Keen shoes have now saved my feet twice! Luckily the scooter was not too damaged but the key was nicked out of the machine while Shannon went to get his foot dressed at the local pharmacy. Not only that but some local Thai layabouts had wheeled the scooter 15m down the lane to make it look like we had crashed into another scooter. After a brief scuffle to try and retrieve the key, the guy who had them threw them to a friend who ran off up the road. They said they would call the police and duly summoned, a young guy with a fake police badge around his neck tuned up and informed Shannon he would have to pay recompense of 3000 baht (NZ$150). During this time I was  looking for Tristan and our scooter….

We finally managed to extricate ourselves from this situation (poorer and perhaps slightly more ropable) and Tristan hailed a ride on the back of a scooter with a Thai guy willing to drop him off for 100 baht. As we drove in font of him, we were unaware that Tristan had in fact been driven down some random driveway and taken into a one room house where he was asked to pay 1000 baht to be able to leave, before being offered the opportunity to buy drugs. In the end the only thing he could do was pay 200 baht for some “marijuana” also known as pot pourri.

After Shannon and I realised he had gone missing, we turned around and wisely deciding to walk, we were overjoyed to find Tristan being dropped off by the rouge ‘taxi’ driver but not after he asked Tristan to pay an extra 300 baht for his bag of pot pourri which we managed to prevent.

The next morning horribly hungover we returned to the scene of the crime and reflected on how it could all have been a lot worse. Shannon had to pay for damages to the scooter in the region of 3000 baht. In talking to the scuba crew they said that it was the first time they had ever heard of such a crazy story happening in Koh Tao. Even directly outside of, of all places, the local 7/11.

So, the learning continues and we are now much the wiser where whiskey (containing the local Thai stuff which is very dangerous when mixed with Red Bull concerntrate), helpful Thai people and scooters.

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