The number one issue of safety isn’t always who IS watching and participating with us but much more so who wasn’t asked to join us or purposefully included. In all of our experiences when we thoughtlessly unite with people who are unknown, how many of these circumstances are very unknown/uncertain and even quite risky? Of the many I’ve known who have served as very valuable connections and references to finding resources in different areas within the world, some have worked their hardest to fight against me, my rights and all that I stand for in the ways of freedom. This isn’t the easiest of issues to talk about because I am by far not the only one who is affected by these people, but in the case of the one whom I’ll talk about, I am the most unfortunate in the way of knowing what he’s really about. We all hope for the best in our circumstances but sometimes when we’re at our most vulnerable point, we’ve left ourselves so open that we don’t even realize we’ve done it.
For example, when I was traveling through Bali I was traveling with an English guy, when he suddenly decided to go another way for a a couple of days and then meet up with me afterwards. Within the first day after he had left my side (first time in 3 weeks) this woman somehow made her way into his spot without much effort. She was friendly enough but didn’t like or want to talk to any of the locals, who were my friends and had some really strange rules about who she’d associate with.
It’s not possible to go through all of the details without drowning on for ages, but I’ll say that in the 5 days she ended up “working” me, she not only covered a lot of ground that sounded like legit traveler details (she was WELL rehearsed in the ways of traveler issues, which she was using to exploit lone travelers with)…but she almost got away with it as a self-proclaimed traveler! How is that even possible that she could so easily manipulate an adult almost to the extent where it could have caused massive danger?? Well, she literally exploited every possible area that could have been a sensitive area for other travelers. She didn’t have her passport on her because her visa was being extended for Bali, she had had her credit cards stollen, she had been staying at a hostel in Ubud for a month without leaving that area and only really knew 1 local. Of course these were all parts of her lies…amongst these and the origin of her birth (half Japanese, half Mexican apparently, because who am I to know???) and the fact that her father was her sole caretaker, even though she was clearly an adult…she had lots of details in her story and none of them were initially reason to take alarm.
However, there was a time when all of the details and stories she had given me came together (questioned by a few insignificant details I’d learned in a previous banking job) as minor (followed by significant) red flags. As the details started to come together and I realized what I was so close to getting caught up in a really intricate and extremely dangerous situation, I found myself shocked by the whole of it! I was minutes from being dragged into money laundering, drug and sex trafficking without even realizing it! I may write specifically about these details later (if I feel necessary), but for now all you need to know is this girl who claimed to be a traveler (also claiming her name was Sana) was doing everything she could to pull me completely into a lifestyle which I had NO IDEA about and NO intention of joining!!!…and was some of the most subtle manipulation I had ever witnessed in my life!
I thought for sure when I left the US that I was well educated, knew what I was getting into and was ok with trying to figure out the ways of the world without being in direct access of extreme danger…but after this experience I can tell you that each traveler out there is much closer to being completely overtaken by these kinds of people than they even have the slightest indication about…because they’re good people and the people who are trying to manipulate them are unfortunately using these key points against them.
Right after this happened, I ran out of money and went back to a hostel which I had previously stayed at, hoping to get help from the hostel owner who I thought was my friend. Unfortunately, this too ended up being a situation where the person I thought I was going to be helped by was actually the one trying to cause me massive harm. It turned out that this hostel owner (unbeknownst to his travelers or regular stayers) was not only a lying, manipulative, verbally abusive employer but was also exploiting ALL of his staff and sexually molesting female travelers who came in and were too drunk to be able to accurately call him out on his disgusting tactics. In fact, when they did remember and called him out on what he did, he’d deny it and tell them their drunkedness was clouding their judgement. Fortunately and unfortunately, I was there long enough to see and experience the ACTUAL truth rather than just the side that he tried to get people to see and remember about him. Amongst the lies he was telling was his age (he was 54 yrs old posing as 41 yrs old), his marital status: he was married but posing as single with 3 kids…and sadly, he was even posing as being sterile to these poor girls because he didn’t want to wear a condom (which is how and why he ended up with 3 illegitimate children from 3 babies momma’s from 3 different countries).
These 2 circumstances are the sickest, most disgusting experiences for me and I’d really rather not bring them up but I can’t help but share them because I know these 2 people are still actively infecting people with their manipulation and terrible lies. Sadly, most people who know these 2 don’t even realize who they are and what they’re doing. I hope some who read this figure out the hostel owner who I’m referring to and stand up to him as the bullying, sexual abuser and horrible person that he really is.
But in spite of these experiences which have caused me and many others some really difficult circumstances, I can’t help but still WANT to trust people in the world…and believe that they’re looking to do great things rather than trying to overtake me with their evil tactics. I do believe that MOST of whom we meet will fit the category of friends…people whom we can trust, rely on and who will remain in our lives for a long time to come…but as that’s not always going to be the case…watch out. Know that the movies aren’t ALWAYS wrong or extremely off-based. Keep a clear head on your shoulders and keep other (known and verified) travelers close to you…because in a world where you’re completely alone and vulnerable, when you’ve got even one intimate friendship…close enough to know where you are…it can make the difference between life, death and serious legal issues… 😉
Moral of the Story: Don’t be naive, don’t be pessimistic, and don’t be stupid. Most people aren’t looking to hurt you, but you WILL find those (even in places that seem safe like Bali and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) who only want to hurt and take advantage of you. Don’t keep from taking chances, but know that your greatest resource of allowing relationships to develop so quickly can be both your greatest resource and easiest downfall!