Whoever took my camera that day, hats off to them; they were good. I never felt a thing… one minute I was snapping photos from the Chao Praya Express boat, but the next I found myself reaching into an empty pocket when I wanted to take a photo through the Skytrain window.
To be honest, I’d made a schoolboy error; I usually put my camera in a button-up or zip pocket, but when transferring to the Skytrain that day I’d just lazily slipped it into the side pocket of my shorts.
I don’t mean to single Bangkok or Thailand out here; in all the time I’ve spent there that’s the only theft I’ve experienced (though I’ve witnessed a few late night beatings on Khao San Road). It’s just good practice to take close care of your stuff when you’re travelling, especially in the big cities; I’d say lesson learned, but really I already knew. I just got sloppy, and paid for it.
And in fact, pay for it I did. I bought a new camera up in Chiang Mai a few days later, but I never got the insurance payout – the real lesson I learned from that experience was to be more careful when buying travel insurance and pay more attention to the small print and check boxes.
Problem was, the travel insurance I’d left home with had run out, and I didn’t extend it because I no longer needed winter sports insurance but their inflexible system wouldn’t allow me to extend without continuing to include it.
So instead, I’d just bought a fresh new policy – and apparently when doing so I’d checked a box saying I was still in the UK at time of purchase (I was actually in Japan). This meant the policy was void from the start, and the time and effort I spent traipsing to the Chiang Mai police station (while coming down with some sort of tropical illness) was wasted; worse than that, it meant I travelled from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines and then around Southeast Asia for months without any insurance cover.
Fortunately, the only thing I ended up needing to claim for was a low-end compact digital camera (people always say the worst thing is losing the photos, but thankfully I’d loaded mine onto my hard drive the night before so I only lost that day’s pics of Wat Arun and the Chao Praya river)… but what if I’d been in a tuk tuk pile-up, or smashed myself in the river while tubing in Vang Vieng, or that illness had turned out to be malaria?
The insurance company would’ve left me up shit creek without a paddle, that’s what would’ve happened. My fault of course, for checking the box; but I realised then that I needed to find a way to get insurance while already overseas that would suit my preferred flexible style of travel.
Well, pretty much as soon as I asked the question, I found the answer. And if you’ve landed here by asking the same question, the answer is World Nomads. They’ll sell you a policy wherever you are, their website is nice and easy to use, and their customer service was excellent on the one occasion I needed it. Since losing that camera in Bangkok, every travel insurance policy I’ve bought has been from World Nomads. Don’t learn the same pricey lesson I did – if you need flexible insurance on the go, they can provide it.
For more Thailand posts, click here
Also check out my Thailand overland travel guide