“Police! Help! Police!”
As Max screamed into the darkness, someone jumped over the wall of the partially outdoor shower, rustling the thatched roof of the bungalow next door as he fell to the ground. The bare-chested thief bolted around the back of the bungalow and up the dirt footpath, disappearing into the jungle.
Lonely Planet had warned us that break-ins are a problem on Koh Phi-Phi, and accordingly, we made certain all windows and doors were securely locked before heading out for the night. (Incidentally, Lonely Planet has been dead-on about the “dangers and annoyances” in each place. It is by far the most valuable information we have gotten from the guidebooks.)
We had arrived home shortly after midnight. We spent a few minutes on the front porch or our bungalow washing sand off our feet and fumbling around for the keys.
“Hey, did we leave the lights on – wait a minute… did we leave the window open?” I asking as I gingerly lifted the window shutter which hung slightly ajar. The lock had been broken.
“Holy shit! O my my god holy shit there’s somebody in our room! Our room was broken into! He’s still there. I think somebody’s in our room. Ohmygodholyshitohmygod what do we do? whatdowedowhatdowedo?” I freaked out, retreating off the porch. In hindsight, the thief was probably freaking out as much as I was, only in silence, as he hovered in the shower waiting to make an escape.
“Let’s get out of here, come on.”
“What? And go where? We’re in the middle of the jungle. No, I’m not leaving,” I insisted. When I lifted the window shutter I had seen the laptop sitting on the bed, exactly where we left it. Obviously the thief had broken in only moments before we arrived home and hadn’t had a chance to take anything. I was not about to leave and give him that chance.
That was when Max starting yelling for the police. Though we were somewhat isolated and the police were many kilometers away, it was actually the perfect response: the thief was able to escape without the face to face confrontation that none of us wanted, but he didn’t have time to take anything. We were standing far enough away that, even if he had come out the front, we were most likely safe from physical harm.
We cautiously entered the bungalow, careful that no one else had remained inside. Before leaving we had discussed what to do with our valuables; we hadn’t bothered to hide our them. There was no lock box or safe deposit, and we figured that if anyone broke in they would search everything. It wouldn’t do any good to hide stuff at the bottom of our packs or under the mattress. So the laptop sat on the bed, Max’s passport and iPhone were splayed out on the dresser, and my camera was in a bag near the door.
Nothing had been touched. By a genius stroke of luck, we arrived home just in the nick of time.