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Safety and security in Bangkok – of keys, locks and chainsaws

I don’t know if the amount of locks of my Bangkok room should make me feel safe or worried

What to do if you’re locked out of your apartment twice in one day?

A tale of slight stupidity (I do blame the heat), embarrassment and Bangkok locks.

Coming back from a splendid weekend trip to Kanchanaburi, home of the bridge on the River Kwai, I climb the staircase to my room. I’m sweating like an Olympic runner due to the hot weather and my luggage that somehow has extended over the weekend (don’t ever let me close to bookshops! I simply can’t resist).

When I finally get to the fourth floor I start opening my padlock and two door locks (from the inside I have an additional safety chain and another lock).

Everything is fine until I get to the second lock. The key goes in, something makes a sad click and then nothing happens. Great. I sigh and put my backpack down. After what feels like a very long time and being an even closer resemblance to an athlete after a major sports event I go downstairs. I take off my padlock keys in case they give my key ring away for repairing the lock (and potential copying).

At least not a stupid Farang

My ‘house manager’ Kun S., who can usually be found with a bottle of beer in his hand and a slightly fazed look, is not at home. One of the two women who live with him can be convinced to call him once my colleague, friend and constant saviour T. speaks to her on the phone.

Half an hour later, Kun S. arrives, looking surprisingly awake and without his usual bottle of booze. I hear him rummaging through what sounds like a lot of metal and when he is armed with a plastic bag fool of tools we go to my door.

I give him my key and am almost relieved when he can’t open the door either. At least I don’t look like the stupid farang who can’t even open her own door.

With his own original key and a bit of rattling around he opens the door and starts replacing the lock. This process takes the alarmingly short time of five minutes and I feel that investing in one of the more expensive padlocks in addition to the other two outside locks was a very good idea.

The padlock plight

After he leaves I hurry to get ready, because I’m about to miss a skype conference call with my translation team. I run out of my room, snap the padlock shut and the moment it clicks I break into cold sweat – I didn’t put the padlock key back on my key ring. I go through my bag with the faintest of hopes that I threw them in there. Of course I didn’t.

So now my apartment is safely locked. So safely that I can’t even get in. I remember accidently locking

English: Padlock icon

How long does it take to get rid of a padlock? Apparently not that long. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

myself into a Chinese bathroom as a child and a cleaning woman bravely climbing from one balcony to the next to save me. I wonder if I have to climb into my room via the balcony and then remember that of course the balcony door is locked as well.

For a split second I consider going to the locksmith down the street, just so I don’t have to go down and tell Kun S. about how stupid of a farang I actually am. I man up and ask the very puzzled woman for Kun S. (again).

Miming: an essential skill for all globetrotters

After a few minutes of excellent miming on my side (I can now make a very convincing impression of a padlock being shut and a person in shock) he asks if he should ‘cut lock?’, I nod. He seems amused (which makes me feel very relieved) and gets his chain saw (which makes me feel a little concerned).

We get to my door (again) and he looks at the lock and pulls up one eyebrow. ‘yeah, I sigh, I bought one of the better locks.’ He starts his automatic saw and about half a minute of something that looks like a lot of chainsaw fun and some blue sparks later he wipes his bald head and grinningly holds my lock in his hand. So much for buying one of ‘the better locks’.

Kun S. leaves me with the advice to always lock my four locks at night. I nod vigorously and think that he’s actually quite a nice person when he’s sober.


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