Picture the scene, if you will. I’m in Nana, it’s Friday, the sun is shining (it’s Bangkok – duh), the working week is finished and one post-work beer has all too easily turned to six.
A change of venue, some live comedy, more drinks and before you know it I’m dancing around a table to some dubious ‘hip-hop’ while all too readily necking a glass filled ¾ to the brim with the dangerous, toxic fluid known as Sangsom.
Cut to Saturday, the sun is shining, it’s 12.30pm and I awake face down on my bed fully clothed even down to the (borrowed) shoes. My head feels like a Bangkok traffic jam and my mouth tastes like one too as I reach for a bottle of water.
It’s at this point that the dread sets in… I can see my wallet on the table by my bed, my keys, lighter, crumpled packet of cigarettes, but no phone.
Where is my phone?
There is a strange and ominous tear on the front of my trouser pocket… easily big enough for a phone to slip through.
Dread turns to outright despair as the reality dawns that I have lost my phone and with it the countless contacts, travel photographs and other ESSENTIAL parts of my life.
With no real memories forming from the previous night I’m at a loss to explain exactly how I’ve lost it, but it’s definitely not here now. Did I leave it in the taxi? And what’s with that rip?
Not being long in the city, I don’t have a bedrock of friends I can turn to for assistance… or do I?
Opening up my laptop and clicking onto Facebook I put up a message on the Bangkok Expats forum. Within minutes I have responses from numerous people confirming that they have or would try calling the mobile for me, people offering good luck messages with their own hard luck stories and passing on details of taxi services in Bangkok that I could try to contact.
Alas, the search for my phone was fruitless (no surprises there) but I reflected on how useful and helpful the forum had been and how readily a group of people I have never met before were happy to offer assistance.
A friend suggested I join Bangkok Expats and a number of similar groups, like Bangkok Expats Classifieds, upon arrival in the city and doing so paid immediate dividends when I found a great apartment on the back of an advert on there. Job opportunities are frequently listed and I found a good number of interesting roles advertised on there too.
Since the telephone incident I have since turned to Bangkok Expats for a number of queries and received positive responses from different people each time. After a particularly turbulent experience when turned away at the Thai border in Poi Pet, I even received reassuring answers assuaging concerns about my visa situation.
There are over 43,000 people listed as being members on this site and thousands more on similar groups and forums on Facebook, suggesting that social media may actually serve a useful purpose beyond providing amusing videos of cats in cardboard boxes and pictures of ‘little Jimmy’s’ first day of school’, from a ‘friend’ you haven’t seen in over 20 years.
I feel it worth praising all those who provide such a source of information so readily available at the touch of the finger tips. And of course a special tip of the hat to the moderators who ensure that the (ever expanding) rules are strictly adhered to.
Now, the mantra ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’ is certainly put to the test fairly frequently when reading through some of the posts on there, but hey, if it helps someone who is concerned or uncertain then that’s no bad thing.
There was a recent distasteful story I should mention where the Facebook group ‘Everything Bangkok’ was shut down after some members trolled out some horrific sexist abuse to a woman who had the temerity to wear a T-shirt with ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ emblazoned on the front. Unfortunately where the internet lies, moronic keyboard warriors also lie, so we’ll reserve these as the exceptions that prove the rule.
I was talking through my unfortunate phone situation not long afterwards with a friend who told me that he once found a mobile in the back of a Bangkok taxi.
Being a good citizen, he posted on Bangkok Expats that he had found said phone giving a few details. Although the device was locked, from the screen it was clear that it was of Chinese origin. After a number of exchanges and re-postings the advert made its way to a Chinese forum of a similar ilk and the owner was traced and the phone ultimately returned back to them.
Praise be to decent people, social media and the forums that exist within them for restoring my lost faith in humanity.
How pleasing to see that some tales of woe do conclude with a happy ending.
Are you a member of a Bangkok expat group?
Featured image is in the public domain