A local comedian in all his wisdom posted an image on Instagram that stated: “My worst fear is going overseas and being chased by a dog that doesn’t know what Voetsek means.” I always found this incredibly funny but a rather cynical observation about travel.
Some time later a friend sent me a message to ask me exactly the same thing. I thought this was just his way of regurgitating an old joke and giving us something to chat about. I then went on to say that in all my travels I had never once found myself needing to think about this as I never found myself in this situation. Murphy’s Law is a strange thing. The universe normally brings up a topic in rapid succession because something around it is about to manifest. Oh, did it manifest!
In most of Thailand it’s not uncommon to see people going to outside vending machines to buy drinking water. Usually you can find these machines in the building where you are. But in this case I had to venture out into the street and take a brisk five-minute walk to the machine outside. I was doing one of these water runs one Saturday when that Instagram post became very much a reality for me.
In most suburbs of Phuket you will find what is commonly referred to as “Soi dogs”. These are local dogs that kind of just lay about in the street and shuffle around doing nothing. It’s like those dogs in the township back home but on a far less aggressive level. I casually walked right past them because hey, I’m South African and I have had to deal with far more menacing dogs in my lifetime.
About two minutes into my walk and all of a sudden, I hear an ominous bark. Then one dog gets up and another appears, and another. All looking at me while I’m blissfully unaware what’s about to transpire. I see a dog running. It has something tied around its mouth. I’m not sure what it is. It looks like a muzzle. But wait. Is that dog barking and running towards me?
My first instinct is too scream out Voetsek, but then I remember this dog doesn’t know what that means. So I turn around and start yelling “Hey! Hey!” like I’m screaming at a person. I don’t think this dog understands that either. There I am, an empty bottle in one hand, with flip flops on running from the pavement into the busy road all because a dog is chasing me.
I catch glimpses of locals looking at me and probably thinking: “Another crazy foreigner.” I outrun the dog barely (thanks treadmill) and stop dead just in front of two Thai ladies. They look at me, see the dog commotion and then with a scared look on their faces turn around and get into their car. I start laughing, more out of nerves than anything else.
I need this water so I decide to cross the road and walk on the opposite side to get to the vending machine. As I walk visibly shaken I take a corner and find another “soi dog” which looks at me and half barks. “What?” I scream and cross the road again finally making it to the vending machine. I make it back to the apartment. I take my scooter to get water every time in future. I chuckle to myself every time I do.