A young university student backpacking her way through Thailand has revealed how a terrifying taxi ride during a drunken night out left her bloodied on the side of the road pretending to be dead.
After completing a year abroad studying in Shanghai, on a whim Rachel Turner decided to fly into Chiang Mai before bussing her way down to Ko Pha-ngan in early August 2017.
Travelling alone, the then 22-year-old made friends with a group of backpackers at her hostel who convinced her to buy a ticket for the incredibly boozy half moon festival.
“There was just a lot of alcohol, the hotel was giving out shots for free, it was one of those events when you just start drinking in the middle of the day,” she told Yahoo7 News.
“Everyone else is in the same boat, everyone is going crazy and I just got swept up in it all.
“You think you’re untouchable but that is just not the case.”
The outdoor rave festival was held in the depths of a rainforest, north of the Ban Tai village, and before long Rachel had lost her friends among the half-dressed revellers covered from head to toe in fluro body paint.
“I remember doing one lap around the event and thinking this kind of sucks,” she said.
“I drank a bit more and then thought I need to go back now or I am going to throw up.”
Given she was leaving so early, Rachel’s attempts to find a tuk tuk (Thai taxi) back to the hostel proved to be harder and far more expensive than expected.
“I walked a bit down the road but it didn’t really click that I had perhaps walked too far. This guy in high vis, who looked completely legit, comes up and says I’m a motorbike taxi I will take you back,” Rachel explained.
“We were driving for a while, he actually went past my hostel and said ‘I know somewhere better’.”
Still intoxicated, Rachel said it took her a minute to register what was happening. A second request to pull over was met with a response of, “shut up, you’re coming with me, you’re not going to the hostel”.
The streets too desolate to scream for help, Rachel said she was left with three options.
“I could go with him – (that’s not really an option),” she recalled.
“I can try and crash the bike.
“I can grab his arm and at least get him to slow down.”
She opted for plan C, pulling his arm, forcing him to slow down momentarily, allowing enough time to launch herself off the bike.
“It took all the skin off my right leg,” she said, recalling how she laid motionless on the ground as her kidnapper stood over her body.
“He yelled out ‘are you dead?’ I didn’t move and he yelled ‘sh**’ and drove off.”
Picking herself off the ground, Rachel stumbled back to her hostel where she tended to her own wounds – at the time oblivious to the severity of the events that had just transpired.
“I just remember sitting on the pool table with my antiseptic wipes trying to clean out my leg,” she said.
“I remember sitting on the ferry the next day and I just broke down crying … the stupidity and severity of the situation just hit me.
Suddenly desperate to get home, she called the airline to change her flight.
One year on from the terrifying ordeal, Rachel explained to Yahoo7 News that she knows she put herself in that vulnerable position.
“Thailand is a beautiful country, it’s just that at the end of the day, I wasn’t thinking, I got carried away and I made mistakes that are now so recognisable.”