By the time I realized where I was, there was no turning back.
It was dark, and the landscape had taken a sinister turn; The trees had blackened, and I was suddenly awash with insects. “Why didn’t I bring a phone,” I thought to myself, reeling at the fact that no one knew where I was. Moments ago I´d been on Railey beach, Thailand, a shore flanked by huge limestone cliffs. Now I was somewhere in the jungle, following a drunken man into the night.
I cursed having left my hostel. The town was quiet, and street lamps hadn’t made it to the island. I hadn’t told anyone where I was, and no one would notice If I went missing. I was traveling alone after all.
I looked down at my feet, the flimsy flip-flops brought in Bangkok did nothing to protect me. I was lost and unable to turn back, trailing through the jungle in a crop top. Slowly It dawned on me, either I continue to follow this man, or I run, and risk a night alone in the jungle. Either way I´d be eaten alive by mosquitoes.
To give you some context, I´d met this guy earlier in the day. He was my rock climbing teacher, who muttered lewd comments under his breath. He had been sober then, and in stark contrast to the inebriated man before me. It was during this climbing lesson that I’d taken off my grandmothers’ ring and attached it to my harness. It was midnight now, and while I was struggling through the jungle it was still there, locked in a climbing shop. So when I found my teacher at the only open bar and begged him to help me, he drunkenly obliged.
Finally, after a good twenty minutes walking through the pitch black, we arrived at a cabin. Judging by the horror movies I´d seen, this was a great place to kill somebody. I was afraid to follow him inside, so sat in the doorway contemplating my fate. Motionless, until he insisted, quite forcefully, that I follow him inside.
The cabin was small and dark and my heart sunk as I bore witness to the mess. A modest collection of furniture was shrouded by dirty clothes and random pieces of climbing gear. The man went to get something out of his wardrobe and I nearly fainted when I saw what he found. A red, serrated, coping saw.
At first, I felt disbelief. I couldn’t believe that not only was I about to be hacked to pieces, but probably tortured first. How could my life end in such a horrific way? My mind rushed to my family and I imagined the pain they would live with. Sick with fear I began talking to save my life, “My parents know I’m on the island. I told them all about my climbing today” I lied. “Thanks for your help but I gotta go”. It was no use, my ramblings were ignored as he wiggled the blade. With his body blocking the door I was trapped between him and his bed. He finished playing with the saw and stood up, just as I was about to break down in tears.
“Right,” he said. I was taken aback by his tone which was not the bloodthirsty scowl I had imagined. “Let’s go.” I didn’t understand. Wasn’t he supposed to chop me up? Immediately relief crashed into me. I was free!!
But one thing I still didn’t understand – what was with the saw? “I’m gonna saw the padlock to the shop off,” he said quite plainly, as he vanished back outside. I followed him out of the jungle and back to the shore. The journey, which had seemed so treacherous before, turned into the most beautiful walk of my life.
To cut a long story short I never did get my ring back, sawing a padlock doesn’t really work. But I came out of a very stupid and potentially lethal situation unscathed. Since then I´ve been careful about telling people where I am, and most importantly haven’t followed any more strange men into jungles!