Bangkok, Thailand – Goner

You plan a trip for ages and finally travel halfway across the world to a place where you’ve never set foot. Inevitably you collect tons of memories, take mental as well as digital pictures, let it sink in, and tell the stories once the adventure is over. Despite the modest time frame of two weeks, Thailand is a country of endless impressions just waiting to be taken in by the traveller. So, which memory ends up at the top of the list? The astonishing beaches and the nature? The beautiful girls? The culture? The amazing food? The big city life of Bangkok? All good, but not my top takeaway here. Unfortunately.

For some reason, I tend to remember the animals. They won’t tell you any stories, they won’t invite you to their home, they won’t be able to guide you if you’re lost. On the other hand, they don’t try to sell you timeshare apartments, spike your drink, or curse you out because you’re a tourist. They just try to survive. Dogs, especially, fascinate me. Where you find humans, you find dogs. In Thailand even more so than anywhere else. Bangkok is infested by stray dogs. Dirty, skinny, and in most cases butt ugly mixed breed dogs. They sleep during the warm days, hunt during the nights. It’s literally a “dog-eat-dog” world, where the smartest and the strongest survive.

I’m standing at a crosswalk at one of the largest thoroughfares in the city, waiting to cross. It’s always rush hour in Bangkok, but certain times are even busier than other, and I’m in the middle of the peak, looking at a never-ending flow of traffic. In the corner of my eye I spot a dog coming out of an alley, and simply walking right out in the street. The first car misses him. The second car passes him. He makes it to the third lane, where the minivan does the job. Should be the very first lesson for a street dog not be to avoid close combat with moving vehicles? He doesn’t appear to be chased by anyone, and it’s certainly noisy enough to make it impossible to not know that the busy street isn’t a place to go for a stroll. Maybe this fella is deaf, maybe he has a death wish, or maybe he’s plain stupid. Whatever possessed him – I’m assuming it’s a male for some reason – to walk out in the middle of the street forever remains a mystery. The vehicle cannot – or possibly will not –stop for the dog and hits him head on. The fender hits the dog in the head, the front wheel runs over the legs. There is a heart-breaking cry. Amazingly though, the dog survived the collision. Screaming it gets up and runs – or rather hobbles – back into the alley. A brutal wake-up call. For certain severely injured, probably fatally.

Should he miraculously survive the hit, he clearly doesn’t have the street smarts to last long. Gotta be smart, dawg. Beat the system, or at least work it. His dog family or dog friends probably would help if they could. I’d like to think that there is some kind of camaraderie among the street dog community, that they look after each other. And maybe they do, to some extent. Maybe they protect their own pack against rivalling gangs. But they won’t bring him food, and they can’t fix his broken hip or leg or concussion. 

It only took a few seconds from the moment the dog left the sidewalk until the van hit it, and a few more as I watched the dog run back off the street. There is no one to blame except for the dog itself. Yet, this is the impression that I will carry away as a most vivid memory from this trip to Thailand. The dog is a goner. It’s harsh, but it’s a world of survival of the fittest, and he wasn’t it.