The more I travel south the hotter and cheaper it gets which I like. I hv seen flying/climbing chicken, ppl riding motorbike in the river, hv travelled 40 hours on a train and ate chicken feet, tried the most bizarre foods u will find at a farmer`s market, had fruits you never ever heard of, went speed boating and drank with the monks, tattooed someone`s arm, hv been trekking forests, swimming rivers, fishing and cooking at the riverside, climbing, caving, biking, skating and I felt restless young. Checked places like the jade n silk market, the dragon`s gate at the west hill, stone forests, tea plantations, tiny minority villages, botanic gardens, local orphanages. I helped out where I could. Also let the kids try my skates on and shared uplifting moments.
After Kunming I made my way down to the colourful Yunan province and stayed in Jinghong. I normally left my stuff at the hostel, and went venturing around, visiting other villages.
So this actual day I did the same, assuming that would be back in the evening. Headed down to Wangtianshu scenic spot, which is 130 km from Jinghong. There I went to explore the tropical rainforest, and checked out the aerial walkaway. Little did I know that this will be by far the worst travel experience of my life.
At the entrance I met 2 random girls dressed in traditional costumes. They were very friendly, we started chatting. Soon I found out they were from Lhasa, Tibet, travelling to Dali. We were trekking in the forest 2gether with the security fellah following us, seemingly they knew him, coz they got in for free whereas i had to pay 100 RMB.
I started worrying when It was getting dark, that I would miss my last bus back to Jinghong. Luckily enough the 2 girls were planning to go to the same place, so I thought I`d better stick with them, we could share taxi and split the fair among us. I didn`t want to walk around alone searching for a hostel in the middle of nowhere.
As it turned out they hichhiked from Lhasa all the way to here, and did not spend a damn penny. Wow! What a coincidence, cool girls, I`m pretty much the same, the dopest lifestyle ever. They hv got me hooked, you know, shared interest are key for friendship, just wanted to hang out with them more. I gotta admit I did promise myself I wouldn`t hichhike over here, but hearing their story and concerning that the 3 of us up for the adventure, felt it was fairly safe.
First we stopped a bus. Apparently the driver already finished his shift, but the girls arranged a ride back to the centre. They were on the phone all the time. In the village we hichhiked again, within a minute they stopped a car that went to the exact direction we wanted. We got in the car, and were taken to a restaurant where we joined few more guys. There we were sitting at the table with 5 man having dinner for free. They looked like they were celebrating something, as if they were friends with the 2 girls, unfortunately I couldn`t understand a world they were talking. But they kept on saying I was beautiful in english, just like a doll, and was staring at me, checking out my hair which was a little frustrating.
I was rather tired and just wanted to get back to my hostel where my suitcase was. The girls assured me that there`s no need to be scared, chinese man are generally kind, and respect woman,(they were from Laos btw) they suggested we should buy a thank u card to show our appreciation. I agreed. We got in the car with the driver, they did not throw me into it like on the movies, instead they talked me into going with them. I`m young, I`m wild, I`m crazy n I wasn`t thinking clearly. I thought nothing bad would happen to me. But everything changed the minute I got in the car. Suddenly another man appeared. Things took a big turn. I had a very bad feeling about this, we were speeding up, passing through long tunnels, music was turned up incredibly loud, so many phone calls, and every time I tried to check for signs they tried to distract me by questioning things. They were very interested in my age. I didn`t want to panic, tried to play it cool, and rather come up with a plan. But I was deathly scared n constantly shaking because my body was in shock. I kept on asking stuff but they ignored me, their behavior has completely changed.
It just seemed so unreal my brain could not comprehend it.
I needed an escape route asap, but I was unable to think.
At one point I caught sight of a police car but was impossible to ask for help. I knew I hv to get the hell out of there no matter what. I would hv jumped out of the car and escape while we were on the motorway but the doors were locked, and were going so fast I probably wouldn’t have survived the fall.
I truly thought this was the end, and remembered the ppl who matter to me, my loved ones. But then another realization hit me! I was actually alive! Pictures of my family and million memories flashed through my mind. That gave me strength and encouraged me not to give up.
I pretended I was sick all the way, not that they were bothered, but I was planning to make myself vomit when we get to the centre in order to get the doors open. But it happened differently and so quick. They grabbed me, and took me up to a crappy hostel and locked me in a room. Shut the door on me and refused to let me leave! They were laughing evilly, but not kidding at all, they had no intention of letting me go. The 2 girls were staying with me but didn`t explain anything just yet. They got rid of their fake clothes . Everything became clear now. They must hv purchased those at a cheap fake market. Didn`t even look like traditional clothes of the Tibetian groups. How could I be that blind! I was inwardly cursing myself!!
I knew I have to act fast, and this is the time, while in the hostel. At that time I didn`t know but we were at the Laos border in Mohan Town. I was taken to the opposite direction, and was 240 km far away from Jinghong. I suppose they tried to take me to Laos and sell my body or force me into modern slavery. I used to think these only happen in the paper, we all think it will never happen to us then it does. And it`s a big business.
So back in the hostel I was `fighting for my life`.
Knew the longer I stayed, the more danger I was in.
My heart was in my mouth. I was so freaked out.
I started hitting the mosquitoes with their flip flops, -there weren`t even any- I went nuts, then forced them to look up to the ceiling that`s when I stole the key and broke free, not trusted the downstairs reception so run to the shop next door. The car was still outside with 3 more other guys. They were yelling at the girls who came after me, offering me sweets, grabbed my hand and were very aggressive. I raised both of my middle fingers and spat on the floor, which I learnt from the chinese, the way they spit is just beyond imagination. There was a group of people playing at the table in the shop so they could not force me to go. They backed out but warned me I must go back in 2 hours or I will be in trouble.
Considering that the L in my luck has been replaced with an F, I could not believe there was a computer in the shop. I managed to communicate with the owner using google translator. They called me a taxi which took me to another hotel. Not having enough money on me, couldn`t afford to stay there, it was very expensive. Not knowing what to do, we called the police who took me to another hotel. They were hanging out with me a bit, I don`t think they took me serious, even tho` I got all the evidence on me. I man
aged to take photos of all the criminals and the car.
But it was just the next morning when I realized I can`t trust the police either. The girls were waiting for me in front of the hotel! Soon they buggered off tho` coz I wasn`t alone, I asked the guy at the reception to see me off to the bus station so we were walking hand in hand. The minute I saw those 2 losers, I kissed the guy next to me, pretending he was my boyfriend. I don`t think he mind.
After I got back, I was scared to leave the hostel for days.
So far I got in touch with the embassy, wanting to do something about human trafficking, though I`m not too sure what can be done. I shared this informative story to spread the word about trafficking, to warn you about the signs, and to save others from this nightmare.
I will be a lot more protective from now on, and deffo all the asians who speak good English and are in groups will be suspicious to me.
I have not slept properly ever since. I hv sleep paralysis. I hv nightmares. I stay in a different hostel every night, waking up at nights not recognizing the place, starting to look for the way out..is truly insane. Still in shock. It could have been a lot worse if I`m not that alert and lucky. Still the road to recovery is an emotionally and mentally trying experience. Found hard to put this ordeal behind me, but hoping the new adventures will help me forget. Coz I must continue. Not gonna let it stop me. One thing is for sure, I will never forget the relief and freedom I felt when escaped.
I`m so blessed, and lucky to be alive. I believe everything happens for a reason. I think you can`t go through stuff like this and not change. Maybe I needed that change. It has brought me closer to my family and friends who support me.
It was a powerful lesson. Opened my eyes, made me realize there are some sick people in this world and we gotta look out for each other, we are responsible for each other. It can happen anywhere, in a blink of an eye. But there are some things you can do in order to keep this from happening.
Be aware, spread the word and take care!