If you have yet to read Part I of my own personal Motorcycle Diaries, in which I describe how I became a victim of rental motorcycle theft, start here. It’s a doozy. Part II picks up a few days later, at which time my passport and I were safely ensconced back in Thailand. I’m sitting by the pool in Bangkok when I get a phone call recounting the most insane story I have ever heard in my life.
I will now try my best to retell it to you in the best detail possible given its third-hand status. Luckily, there was also a photographer on hand to capture the days events:
After I had left for Bangkok, Chris was on his own in Vientiane. He went to the police station and filed an official report of the theft, and then waited around for his visa to come through.
On his final day in Laos, Chris took a rental bicycle (he was really over the whole motorcycle thing at that point) and rode out to the Thai embassy to pick up his freshly visa-ed passport. Bored and with time to kill before the same 3pm train to Bangkok that I had taken a few days earlier, he rode aimlessly around the outskirts of Vientiane. Of course he couldn’t help but sneak a longing glance at each and every red motorcycle that zoomed by. Down a few more back alleys and side streets he rode. Just as it was sinking in how very well and truly lost he was, Chris’s heart nearly leapt out of his chest.
The stolen bike was right in front of him, parked outside a hole-in-the-wall local restaurant.
Holy shit! In a city of a quarter of a million people, the capital of the country, he had cycled down a random street and found the very bike that had been ripped off him a few days before. It was beaten up, having obviously been transported on the back of a pick-up truck, and someone had done a number on it trying to remove the decals and identifying stickers. Also, the ignition looked like it had been basically shredded when the thieves attempted to start it.
Of course, Chris’s first instinct was to call the police — but he had no phone. Okay, he’d ride back to town and bring them back to this exact spot — but he had not even an inkling of an idea where he was or how to lead anyone back to it. There was only one option, really — Chris would have to steal the motorcycle right back.
Luckily, as a hard-core traveler Chris was wearing his only sweatshirt for the third day in a row — and the keys to the bike were still in the pocket. He would have to leave the bicycle behind, but it was a calculated loss. Looking over his shoulder, waiting for someone to pop out of the shadows and attack, Chris jumped on and tried to start the bike. As I mentioned, the ignition had been nearly destroyed and anxious moments went by as Chris fussed with the keys and waited for the familiar sound of a revving engine.
Finally! The engine roared to life. In that exact moment, an angry ladyboy came bursting out of the restaurant, screaming in Laotian and running down the steps. In what Chris described as the most adrenaline-fueled moment of his life, he peeled off down the street, chased the whole way. He drove and drove and drove until he could not longer feel his heart in his throat and he could be sure he was no longer in danger. Oh my God — the stolen motorbike has now been reclaimed.
After a while Chris was able to find his way to the city center and back to the bike shop. He told the story to the shocked owner and then asked him with fingers crossed for luck if he would buy the bike back. The owner said he’d love to — except it was still filed as stolen with the police. So, with time counting down until his train out of the country left, Chris sped over to the police and updated them on the situation, filing a new report so that the bike could be sold back to the shop. Side note: I love a country where you can steal back something that was stolen from you and then report it to the police and receive a congratulations. I’m sure Bernie Madoff’s victims would have loved it if things had played out like that for them.
Back at the shop, the owner agreed to give half of our money back. It was a pretty fair deal — the motorbike would need a new ignition and paint job, and one bicycle had been sacrificed in the process. Chris made it to his train with moments to spare, concluding the saga of the most dramatic thing that has ever happened ever in the history of the world.
It’s hard for me to imagine how we ever got so lucky: That Chris happened to go down that street, that he happened to still have the keys in his pocket, and that he managed to escape the wrath of the angry ladyboy thief. Perhaps it was a cosmic reward for how zen-ed out I was about the situation in the first place. Perhaps the universe was giving us some kudos for doing the right thing and not trying to skip town after the bike was stolen. Or maybe when you live a crazy life, crazy things tend to happen to you. But reasons aside, even at the conclusion of Part I of this story I was feeling pretty great about life; after this installment I thought I won the lottery. Basically, I paid $125 for the best dinner party story ever.
If I ever say my life is boring, please slap me.
haha oh my word what an ending!!!I’m glad I was wrong about my assumptions! What an amazing story…
Thanks Caty! I agree, this is the far better conclusion 🙂
I’m sending these photos to your graphic design teachers at Pratt. How proud they will be.
I know, right? Glad all that tuition and time has paid off.
Wow…that is so bizarre!! (In an awesome kind of way,lol) The Universe takes care of it’s own 🙂
So true! This might be the greatest example of karma I’ve ever experienced!
I agree with Liv…the graphics are the icing on the story
It’s a pretty good one even without visuals, but what can I say… can’t have a post without pictures.
Is this the END – or will the adventure continue? Glad you got the bike back where it belonged. Gram E
Well, this is the end of Laos posting 🙂 But not the end of the adventure!
Wow – awesome ending to this story! I have paid more than $175 for a good dinner party story so I’m glad you got a “deal” 🙂
Ha, yeah its funny when I tell that story to people traveling Southeast Asia they are like OMG SO MUCH MONEYYYY but when I tell it to people back home they’re like, yeah, well, at least it barely cost anything. Ah, perspective!
I just found your blog courtesy of Nomadic Matt and I am absolutely obsessed! I think I’ve almost read everything and your stories are amazing.
Definitely the most underrated travel blog.
Cant wait for your next post. 🙂
Aw, Cynthia, thank you! You made my day with this comment! Hope you’ll leave more like it! 🙂
Wow great story! Love it
Isnt half of 250 125 though?
Ha, YES! You are right… time to go make a new correction. Well, as I sometimes say, I didn’t go to Math School…. ( I went to Art School instead 🙂 )
Ohhhhhh Myyyyyyy Godddddd!!!!!!!!! That is the most amazing ending ever!
I know, right? Karma works!
Amazing story. I can’t believe he got chased by a ladyboy. That is so funny. Loving your photographic evidence by the way. 🙂
Thanks Tammy! I can barely believe it myself!
A cheap price to pay for the best story ever!
Agreed, I can still barely believe this whole thing happened… but I have the registration to prove it! 🙂
Didn’t get much sleep waiting for this one… but it was worth it 😉
Glad it lived up to your expectations! 🙂
Hurrah, hurrah! I feel really confident that this was universe’s way of repaying your previous day’s good deed! Life always seems to have a balance, and while this little adventure did cost you some money, in the end $125 really isn’t too much to pay for such an amazing story!
I think you’re right… karma was looking out for us that day!
“I love a country where you can steal back something that was stolen from you”
legally speaking you are (definitely) not “stealing back” anything, you are recovering a stolen good which is perfectly legitimate; valid anywhere in the world
Hi Daniel, that’s good to know! However I have to imagine if this situation played out in the US they would have chastised him for not calling the police to carry out the deed…
This is hilarious. I wish you’d animate the getaway scene with Flash using a hillbilly banjo soundtrack.
We were not so lucky. Someone stole our bike while we were on our Bangkok shopping spree. It hasn’t shown up yet. Koh Tao is a pretty small place, so I’m confused about where it has gone. It was a piece of shit that couldn’t get us up hills—would somebody bother to smuggle it off the island? Hmm.
Torre that’s a shame! Did you leave it by the docks? We had one old bike that was kind of broken down and eventually someone stripped it for parts, but that was our fault for letting it sit for so long. One of my friends buys, sells and rents bikes on the island — let me know if you need a contact!
Amazing! I giggled the whole way through, which probably annoyed husband sitting next to me. I’m probably going to tell this story at a dinner party sometime 🙂
Ha, yes definitely dinner party story material! By the way, congratulations on your exciting news — the graduation and the pregnancy both! Can’t wait to hear about your Thailand trip…
Wow! Wow! Wow! Don’t think you could’ve made up a better ending if you wanted to. Karma is a funny thing. Hope you get your monies worth out of this story because it’s a good one. Your pics had me lol-ing all the way through!
Hahah thanks Cat! This is definitely one of my craziest travel stories!