Back in the hostel, I repacked my bags to what I thought would be more convenient. With the colorful bag I bought from Bac Ha Market, I placed my camera, jacket, and phone and decided to include my passport cum money bag hanging around my neck.
The bus was full of tourists heading to different islands down south, with just the two of us bound for Phuket. When the bus finally arrived, we learned that the bus was only going to Surat Thani and that all of us will be transferred to our respective onward buses. And there goes yet another nasty surprise!
On the first bus stop, I was still awake. As my allergies started to worsen, I opted to stay in the bus.
With a long journey ahead, I placed my bag down on my feet, in between the plastic bag of food and my friend’s backpack, and placed on top of it my Vietnamese hat. Tired from the whole day walk and groggy with the anti-histamine pill, I dozed off. When I suddenly walked up, I found my bag already behind my feet with the hat still on top of it. I thought it must have just slid when I put my feet up on my seat. The bus was dark at that time, so I just opened my bag and searched for my passport bag. Everything seemed perfectly in place, just how I packed it.
Once at Surat Thani, around 6:30 A.M the next day, I took my passport bag to get the 100 baht I returned in the side pocket supposedly to buy a cup of coffee. It was not there. Before I could start looking for it, the driver who will be taking us to where we’re going to take the bus bound for Phuket, told us to hop on the car as we might miss our 07:00 trip.
At the bus stop, there was a convenience store across the street, so I brought out my bag again to get money but I really couldn’t find the 100 baht I remember putting back at the 7/11 counter as I used the Thai coins to pay for the bread. It was impossible dropping it because I never brought out my passport bag after 7/11.
Then I felt something was wrong about my bag, it felt thinner even with my passport in it. My cards were intact. It was when I opened the pocket where I kept the Philippine money my brother gave me that I realized I was robbed! Even the crisp 20 baht bills I kept as souvenirs for my babies back home were gone. I was left with just coins, a few Vietnam Dong, Cambodian Rials and 140 Philippine Peso. I felt numb and my mind went blank! When my friend returned from the toilet, all I could say was, “Kuya, nanakawan ako! (I got robbed!)”
While I agree that what I lost was just money and that I should be grateful knowing nothing worse happened, that we’re safe, accepting the fact that such happened to me was not easy. For someone who is without a job, worked so hard and sacrificed so much trying to make the trip possible, it is not JUST money. It’s the sacrifice that came before I had that money that made it difficult to accept it. But yeah, like the thief really cared!
And while I am thankful the thief left my passport and cards intact, how it happened keeps me wondering until now. It’s just amazing how the thief did it. How he /she had the time to go through each and every pocket of my bag in the dark and select which money to take and spare when he/she could have just taken the whole bag with all my valuables in it. I always had my bag close to me. It was one time…JUST one time, and it’s gone!
And unless I earn the amount back, I probably could move on…but will never forget. What I thought is a well-deserved break turned into a nightmare. A supposedly backpacking trip turned into a very expensive travel.