One of the first things you must learn when travelling in Asia is that the dog is king.
What travel guides fail to make a big deal about is how often travellers have to deal with the vast numbers of dogs they encounter when travelling round Asia.
In Bangkok I had my first, of many, experience with dogs.
I was walking down a road near China town. It was a hot day and I was strolling along still trying to find my way round this massive sprawling urban jungle. I turned into a side road where I saw a temple, thinking I was walking to the entrance I unwittingly came flip flopping across a sleeping dog. The dog was not happy. While the dog started to aggressively bark a primal instinct in me, and the fact I was in a very unfamiliar place, told me to run. As I ran the dog started to chase me, very quickly. I ran down another road, the whole time cursing myself for not getting the rabies shot as the Thai dog snapped at my heels and the slap of my flip flops hitting the ground echoed round as I gave flight which, from a safe distance, would have looked quite amusing. Down the road a monk stood quite still watching this and as I flew past he shouted a few words at the dog and it stopped immediately and skulked off to its previous sleeping place. I will never forget the wise words this monk gave to me afterwards for the rest of my life. I walked over to him shook his hand as I was trembling still from the shock, still feeling very silly and a bit like a kid the monk put his hand on my shoulder and said very simply, ‘No run’.
With this pearl of wisdom I lost my fear of the ravenous pack of rabid dogs, and even got to put this theory into practise.
The Thai people are very used to street dogs and can sometimes be quite protective of dogs that live in their neighbourhood. I was once in a hostel where a street dog had bitten a backpacker that had crashed her scooter near the dog, which was lying just inside the boundary of a local rice farmer. In England this dog might be at risk of being put down, but here the farmer would never allow it simply saying that it was the girls fault for going in the dogs territory. In this way as well the Thai are not afraid of the many wild dogs, they are aggressive toward them to scare them away and don’t flee when barked at.
Of course it’s obvious why you shouldn’t run, the movement excites the dogs and makes them want to chase you, very dangerous if they are in a pack.
Here some simple tried and tested ways to have a dog trouble free holiday.
-Don’t go out alone at night, if you can have someone with you this will deter dogs, strength in numbers.
-Don’t walk home, lots of dogs on the streets, no dogs in the Taxis, simple solution that avoids running into their path.
-Cross the road and avoid eye contact.
-Avoid going into their territory, for example; if they are near a house then avoid passing near the doorway.
-Don’t wake sleeping dogs.
-Don’t pet the dogs, if they decide to give you even a playful bite they may break the skin and send you to hospital.
-Some of my travelling friends saw this post and told me putting your hands behind your back and lowering yourself to their level works well.
-If you find yourself being chased throw something at them, this will make them stop and investigate giving you time to get away, flip flops are effective but food or other items will most likely work too.
-DON’T RUN, this will excite them! Just stand your ground and slowly back away while still facing them, I actually started to bark back at a pack of dogs once which was quite effective, though very amusing to the people in the café across the road.
-Take off your flip flops when running, much faster.
If you follow this advice then you will be much less likely to suffer from a dog attack and have the trouble of spending your holiday in a Thai hospital, not the nicest of places believe me. So if you ever find yourself face to face with a snarling dog in a back alley in a God knows where Asian town, remember the advice of a quiet gentle monk, ‘No Run’.