A few weeks ago – we were sitting in a colorful Trishaw (bicycle taxi), touring the streets of Georgetown in Penang while filming a new travel episode and chitchatting with the old wrinkled man behind us pushing the bike. In reality, it would have been faster to simply walk, so it was a little funny to see people walking past us, but we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
How We Got Mugged In Malaysia
Then, in the matter of seconds, it happened … Suddenly, out of nowhere, two men on a motorbike came up from behind us – the guy behind the driver was sitting backwards on the motorbike, turned towards us (obviously prepared).
He broke out into a big smile as if greeting us, while at the same time grabbing the camera that Nathan was holding in both hands by his chest, forcing it out of his hands at the same time as the driver on the motorbike accelerated to gain more power, and drove off.
It all happened really fast, but it was one of those moments when time suddenly stops and everything seems to happen in slow motion. Those who have ever seen me get mad, know not to let it happen again – it takes a lot for me to snap, but when I do I get a death look that shocks people in ways you can’t imagine. That guy on the motorbike was one of the few who got to see it.
I gave him “the death look”, let out a long, loud animal-like scream, and as I leaped out of the seat, the guy’s arrogant smile had turned into a look of pure terror.
I knew there was nothing I could do to get it back, but I would NOT let him get away with my camera while still smiling. That was the fastest way we’ve seen 4,000 US dollars disappear out of our hands ever. The poor old trishaw man was close to tears, and tried to pedal as fast as he could, helplessly repeating “wait, I tell my boss”, making his way to the “boss”. At the police station, I cried – not of pity, but of anger. I was so pissed off by how anyone can justify mugging someone. They have no excuse, being poor is not a valid excuse, especially not when they could obviously afford a motorbike and fuel, a luxury in my opinion. It was not losing the camera that made me so mad, it was losing the memory card with all our photos and video footage on it.
Sometimes Safety Is Not The Problem.
During the last 4 years of traveling, this has never happened before – which in other words means, I guess it had to happen some time. People can go on and on about how you have to be careful with your stuff, but there is a limit to that too. Sure, it might have been safer keeping the camera inside a bag, but what’s the point of having a camera if you’re not using it?
During our travels, we’ve met quite a few travelers who have chosen not to bring even a cheap point and shoot camera with them on their trips – in fear of losing it.
I think that’s taking it too far. It sucks to be mugged, but I can’t imagine having traveled to all these countries for so many years without having taken one single picture – just for the sake of not getting mugged.
What We Learnt.
How to avoid being mugged – Incidentally, we had just (a few weeks earlier) changed our insurance company from World Nomads to another company which we felt seemed more willing to help out rather than trying to find every opportunity to avoid paying out. It always stings a bit when you pay a lot for something you probably won’t need, but I was so glad I had my insurance this time, and while we didn’t get the full amount back, getting half of it was not too bad (the new insurance we use is called ERV). Having a good insurance makes things so much easier, and only two weeks after claiming the insurance we were paid without any further questions. I’m not afraid of buying another expensive camera, to be honest we probably got more money back from the insurance than we would have got by selling our second-hand gear – don’t let one bad experience make you expect it to happen again – it might, but it also might not.
Have you been mugged before? how did you deal with it?
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen – keep in the sunlight” – Benjamin Franklin