...so maybe it wasn't a good idea to read a book called Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton just a week before leaving for said country.
In retrospect, Colin Martin comes across as more of an idiot than a hero. He repeatedly refuses to pay bribes that will get him released from prison immediately, despite being tortured and locked up in inhuman, squalid conditions. Instead, to preserve his "dignity," Martin serves 8 years in prison on a murder charge without any actual proof.
Um, I'm all for the justice system and whatnot, but if someone gave me the option between spending nearly a decade festering away inside a Thai prison or scraping up a few thousand dollars, I'd find the nearest bank and fork over the cash. Plus, any country where you can buy off the police/judge for any charge, from drugs to murder, doesn't seem like the best place to depend on a fair trial.
But seriously, ever since seeing Brokedown Palace I've been terrified to end up accused of a crime I didn't commit or have someone sneak drugs into my backpack. The scene that sticks in my mind is seeing MAGGOTS crawl out of a girl's ear. MAGGOTS. (Woah, just in linking to that movie, I discovered that the chick-who-wasn't-Claire-Danes was Kate Beckinsale. Who knew?!)
Just the thought of maggots in my ears (and that whole prison thing) deterred me for years from wanting to visit Thailand because while it may be rare, it does happen. And then Jeanette had to discover that if you're discovered with a certain amount of drugs, it's automatic execution, no questions asked. Um, fantastic?
So... yep, still excited about Thailand. But definitely doing a backpack check before attempting to leave the country. And if you get a call from me in the middle of the night desperately begging for a few thousand bucks -- help a girl out!