a couple of nights ago a friend of a good friend found herself in a really, really scary situation. she’s a falang (foreigner) and hasn’t been in chiang mai very long and so doesn’t really know her way around, and she wanted to go by a 7-11 from a bar she was at to get something or another. she got a little turned around and as she was walking by a very young and “innocent looking” thai guy on his motorbike, he offered to help her out with a ride… at first she refused, but he was persistent (i’ve lived here long enough to grow a thick skin when it comes to people trying to pressure you into things here – between the taxis and the merchants it can get pretty ridiculous) so unfortunately she conceded and got on the bike with him. when he drove her past a 7-11, she tried to get him to stop the motorbike but he kept saying that he wanted to show her something. eventually he pulled into some empty parking lot or something and jumped on her, trying to wrestle her clothing off. she kept punching him in the face until he got off then she ran as fast as she could back the way they came, and about an hour later somehow made it back to the bar to where my good friend was. another friend of mine said that this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, that some thais think that they can rape tourists and get away with it (and do get away with it) since it’s pretty much impossible to track down the perpetrator when you’re only in town for a few days and it’s a completely foreign land.
the moral of the story – don’t accept rides from strangers, obviously. i can understand how easy it is to forget that there are really bad people even here in chiang mai, since the place is so friendly as a whole. luckily i was brought up to be totally paranoid and suspicious of pretty much everyone, especially strangers, and i’ve lived in a few bad neighborhoods in the city and have learned to have no problems offending people by refusing rides or refusing to stop and chat. especially after dark! kids, don’t trust strangers.