Laura and I were traveling together. I was on a business trip and Laura was tagging along. It was pretty common for us to piggy-back on each others trips, especially if it was to a place we had never been before or if it was a place we enjoyed.  I remember this event vividly. We arrived in Bangkok late in the evening and checked into our hotel. We had been in Bangkok before several times and were comfortable and confident in the city. We were jet-lagged but not tired so decided to go for a walk and get some fresh air.  We thought we would just walk around the hotel. There was a nice park on the side of the hotel, so we figured we would walk through the park and get to the hotel from the other side. There were a few lamps but they were dim. We noticed groups of men just hanging out and talking softly and sitting on benches. The further we went the more of them we saw. It was very uncomfortable at first then it became scary. We pushed on thinking we would emerge from this place soon and complete the circuit of the hotel. The last thing we wanted was to reverse course and have to walk back through the park again.

The park ended at a canal, which was really just an open sewer; it was putrid and disgusting. We could not get back to the hotel this way because the hotel was surrounded by a high fence. We had no choice but to walk back through the park. We could have been easily mugged and robbed or worse. Luckily nothing happened and we made it back. We looked at each other and agreed that was one of the stupidest things we have ever done. What were we thinking!

We found out later after talking to the concierge that this particular park is a known as a hangout for all kinds of pleasantries and crime and we had no business being there in the day time let alone at night. So here’s the cautionary tale, always ask the desk person if it’s safe to walk and if the answer is yes ask specifically where. We don’t want to hear that any of you were found face down in a putrid channel.

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