Stickman Readers' Submissions September 18th, 2004

Thai Horror Story

Anonymous (but with email address supplied)

I was in Thailand some time ago on holiday. I was having a great time…oblivious to reality. I woke up one morning and my hotel was on fire. No fire alarm, no public address warning, no hotel staff knock on my door, no phone call…NOTHING. I was left
upstairs to die.

Through a very tragic series of events and going through the shock of discovering the fire on my own, and being the last one in the hotel, I exited the hotel the best way I could. The fire escape was terribly designed at it was the direct
reason for my being injured. I ended up falling and severely injuring myself. I fell on the concrete pool deck of the neighboring hotel. The bartender for the poolside bar saved my life by stopping the blood flow from a compound fracture of both
of my calf bones. Had this 16 year old kid not done this, I would have certainly died…100% chance. I almost died of blood loss as it was.

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I lay on the pool deck for one hour before the paramedics came to take me to the hospital. I fell at EXACTLY 1pm and wasn’t admitted into the ER until 2:30. When they were taking me to the ambulance, the management of the hotel insisted
they didn’t want a scene in their hotel (remember: I fell onto the pool deck of the neighboring hotel). So they made the paramedics take me over a fence and down an alley around the corner to the ambulance instead of the most direct route,
which was through the hotel lobby. This was quite painful with all the broken bones (20 in all) including 4 pelvic fractures leaving my pelvis in about 6 pieces. All the while the clock is ticking, I am in severe pain, and I am dying. Quite a
compassionate thing for them to do, don’t you agree?

I got to the hospital and they were certain that, with the extent of the injuries, I would die. I don’t remember this fact. I was in severe shock and was only later told this by friends who were called into the emergency room. I lived,
but am still in pretty bad shape.

While I was in the hospital, no one from any authority came to talk to me. No police, no fireman, no tourism authority, no one. All the authorities stuck their head in the sand and ignored what had happened. Everyone reported no injuries…except
for the farang papers. The Thai establishment (meaning those governmental departments that suck up our tax dollars) failed miserably. The paramedics didn’t save my life; the 16 year old poolside bartender saved my life while the Thai ambulance
service ignored me. I actually got a police report from the actual Thai police and it does not mention any injured people.

The management of the hotel told me that they would pay for my medical expenses and give me a little extra money for the inconvenience. I showed them the total of my medical expenses to date. They came to see me the next day and offered me
20% of the amount that I paid…out of pocket…as final compensation. They were bargaining with me as if they were buying a car. They offered to give me not even the total of expenses paid to date. Was I going to go through this and end up owing
money? You bet…that is what they had in mind. They didn’t care. Now keep in mind that they conducted this “bargaining session” in my apartment where I was bedridden and in serious pain and only left my room to go to physiotherapy.
I have still not received any money and am not sure what to do.

After I got better and a bit mobile, I went to see lawyers. I can tell you that no matter where you go in the world…they are all the same. I think it is even worse in Thailand. One lawyer whom I met told me that he read in the Thai paper and saw on
Thai TV that no one was injured in the fire. About 10 farang were hurt in the fire. There are pictures to prove it. I still had my room key (if you can believe that!!!) and actually paid for my room the night before. I had my receipt for payment
the night before the fire, actually, I paid exactly 17 hours before the fire broke out. He took this as proof that I was not lying to him…and only then would he talk to me. He thought, at first, that I was lying about having been involved in
the fire…I think.

I spoke with my embassy. In no uncertain terms, they told me “good luck, but what do you want us to do. This is up to you to handle”. Piss off. Honestly, this is what my own embassy told me. Thai government was the same. I was
scared to go to the tourist police. Who knows what they would have done to me.

I am sending this out as a warning. Something happened to me in Thailand which adversely changed my life forever. I expected to be looked after if something bad should happen. If you stay in a hotel which catches fire, you should expect to
be warned, saved, something. I was ignored. I was left to die. They didn’t feel the responsibility to take care of me, a paying tourist. The staff ran out of the hotel without any concern for the safety of the guests…ME!!

Fires are not uncommon in Thailand and they do not seem to have the infrastructure to handle major fires such as the one I experienced. Please, please heed my warning. It is not completely safe there. Think about all the drunken fools and
how responsible you think they are in Thailand. Remember seeing all the furniture in your room with cigarette burns in the wood? Think about it…and please take care of yourself.

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As a side note; the medical treatment was exceptional. I honestly can say that, although I have always been a person of strength and strong will, I would not have lived had it not been for a very competent medical staff of the hospital where
I was admitted for one month. I guess the moral of that point is that if you directly pay for something, you might get good service in return.

Please take care while you travel in Thailand. If they want you to stay in a high level floor, say no. Also, you can check the safety system of your hotel. I know the odds are strongly against you going through what I did, but on the off
chance it happens to you…you will thank my warning.

Stickman’s thoughts:

Just horrible. I can’t imagine what you went through. (For any readers wondering, I saw all of the news reports of this fire and it was GHASTLY.)

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