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Back in July 2013, at the end of my soi, American Troy Lee Pilkington was hacked to death by a taxi driver with a machete.
According to newspaper reports at the time, a disagreement over the unpaid ฿51 fare had resulted in Pilkington getting out without paying and throwing a cup of coffee through the window and over the driver’s face. Grisly CCTV footage of that Saturday night shows what happened next. The driver armed himself with a machete – most taxi drivers across the world carry some type of weapon in their cars, the machete is the weapon sometimes favored in Bangkok – and barbarically settled the dispute outside the 7-Eleven.
A few months prior to this, the same year, a policeman fired off three rounds from his Glock outside our house while in hapless pursuit of a suspected drug-dealer.
Episodes of violence and violent crime are a daily occurrence.
Mostly this street-level violent crime is between two or more Thai nationals, and usually occurs after hours. The combatants have often had more than their fair share of alcohol or drugs or combinations thereof. Somebody has normally lost face, be it through matters of the heart or the wallet.
Despite witnessing several acts of violence in Thailand, however, I’ve never felt unsafe to tread the Thai streets after dark.
That surge of anxiety while being followed or approached through an inner-city housing district in London or Manchester is thankfully a thing of the past.
I’ve always assumed that with the right words and the right mannerisms one can avoid violent situations in most South East Asian countries. Be calm, don’t lose your temper, don’t shout, don’t hit out, don’t throw, don’t spit, keep it together and generally you will be safe here in the streets after dark.
Glancing at the recent shocking footage from Hua Hin is a sobering reminder of all this. An elderly couple and their middle-aged son are knocked out cold on the streets outside a nightclub by a group of Thai men. The video footage of the incident has been solidly doing the rounds on social media and has been picked up by several of the UK’s newspapers.