I was arrested on my gap year for stealing a Twix
I didn’t even get to eat it
We spoke to York student Toby (not his real name) about what happened when he stole a Twix from a 7/11 on Bangkok’s Khaosan Road.
I had been travelling for almost six months on my gap year without anything bad happening so I guess I was due a bit of misfortune, but probably not this much.
On the final night of my trip, with a flight home at 6pm the next day, I decided to bow out in style. A Ping Pong show, too much alcohol and bad decisions were on the cards. Little did I know, what was about to ensue was one of the worst experiences of my life.
We were staying at the Khaosan Palace right in the centre of the Khaosan Road enjoying relative luxury at around £15 a night: much needed after far too long spent in sweaty, un-air-conditioned dorms listening to other random backpackers noisily having sex.
The night began with drinks by the pool and, with the knowledge that I’d soon be seeing a Thai woman rather intimately, I ended up drinking far too much.
Red Cock vodka, my drink of choice, always proved deadly as the 40 per cent ABV was more of a rough guess than a definitive measurement. Or at least this was the excuse I regularly rolled out to hide my obviously meagre alcohol tolerance.
A group of about 10 of us then staggered from the hotel to a nearby bar for a Ping-Pong show. It was all a heady mix of joyless exhibitionism. No one really seemed to be enjoying themselves, least of all the baby turtles and dove one woman produced from the labyrinth of her lady garden. I know I’m complaining about my experiences, but at least my night wasn’t as bad as theirs.
I remember arguing fervently with the barman as I’d been short changed, and soon I found myself outside the bar not being allowed back in. I either left voluntarily due the sheer injustice of someone trying to swindle me, or because I was being a belligerent drunken wanker…probably the latter.
By this point I knew I’d got it very wrong.
I then made the intelligent decision (so I thought) to get some food to sober myself up, and what better place to do that than every gap year wanker’s favourite supermarket, 7/11. I grabbed a can of coke and popped a Twix in my pocket to take over to the counter. I paid for the coke but left forgetting I still had the Twix in my pocket, and was quickly called out on this by a shop attendant who had followed me out of the store. I quickly apologised and got out the correct amount of Baht to pay for the offending object, but the shop attendant was having none of it.
He threatened to call the police, to which any normal person’s reaction would be even more begging and apologising to avoid a run in with the authorities. Not to me though. I took this as a challenge, trusting in my ability to reason with the Thai police. This was a stupid idea at the best of times, even more so counting the military coup had ended only a week or so previously.
I was taken to a large room in the police station just off the Khaosan Road and was sat at a large desk faced with lots of paperwork and a pen. I refused to fill out any of the paperwork, and as I’d been watching a lot of Suits, I channelled my inner Harvey Spector and “reserved my right to plea the fifth amendment”. I thought this was a fool-proof plan to ensure my safety but soon found myself thrown into a large cell with four large, scary-looking Thai men.
Think Bridget Jones, but without the singing.
I began speaking to one of these men who was actually Burmese and was being deported for outstaying his visa. I asked why the other men were in the cell and he advised me to not make any eye contact let alone ask why they were there. Sage advice. Still not gathering the gravity of the situation, I passed out in the foetal position on the concrete floor.
I was woken up the next morning by the Chief of Police in Bangkok and his interpreter. He proceeded to tell me, in heavily accented English, that I was due in court the next day at 8am, my bail was set at £1,000 and if I was found guilty I could face prison for up to 5 years. Understandably I had a number of issues with this, not least my flight home in a few hours.
I sobered up very quickly. It’s without doubt the most scared I’ve ever been in my life.
Over the next few hours I sat in the cell absolutely petrified eulogising everything I had wanted to achieve in life. One of the police officers caught my attention, ushered me over to the bars and we began talking. I vividly remember him saying “we can make this all go away” with a giant toothy grin plastered across his face. I quickly grasped what he was getting at and started the bidding off at £50 to which he burst out laughing. His return offer was £1,000, somewhat out of my price range.
We continued haggling for my freedom for a few minutes and settled on the eye-watering figure of £360.
Knowing I didn’t have this much money in my account, I was faced with the worst phone call of my life: asking my mum to transfer me more money to bail me out, waking her up at 5am UK time. In the call there was a lot of crying, solely from me, but after only a few minutes the money was transferred into my account.
I passed this message on to my trusted corrupt copper who proceeded to unlock my cell and escort me to the nearest cash-point on the Khaosan Road. I took out the money – 20,000Baht – handed it over, and was granted my freedom.
Still shaking, I wandered back to my hotel room not knowing what to do with myself. I packed up my bags, made my way over to the airport and caught my flight home without any more problems.
18 months on I love using it as a drunken anecdote as no one ever believes me. My mates also love to shock people if we play “Never Have I Ever”. Despite this, its still very much a taboo topic with my parents.
I still love Twixes though.