The first time my passport went missing in action

  • Asia & Oceania
  • Thursday, 11 Oct 2018

The Malaysian passport is ranked 12th globally. Filepic

If I had to ask my mum to describe me in one word, I think she would use “lalai” (careless or forgetful in Bahasa Malaysia).

I should be offended but she does have a point.

When I was studying in college, I travelled around whenever I could. During my travels, I’ve lost items like a mobile phone (at a museum in London) and a laptop (hotel in Perth). Every time I lost something, I dreaded making that call to my parents to tell them the news.

Now that I’m older and hopefully a little bit wiser, I am proud to say that I have not had any “item loss” incident for a while.

Well, there was this ONE incident last year.

During a holiday in Bangkok, I suggested to my boyfriend that we should check out the Siriraj Medical Museum. It’s a fascinating place that houses a collection of medical oddities and other macabre displays. If you want to see the mummified body of the first known serial killer in Thailand named Si Quey, a guy who ate his child victims in the 1950s, this is the place to fulfil that morbid curiosity.

Getting to the medical museum via public transport in Bangkok is an adventure on its own. First, you have to get to the Saphan Taksin BTS station. From there, walk towards Sathorn Pier and get on a Chao Phraya boat service. Enjoy the ride and riverside views until you reach Pier No. 11 or the one with a sign that says “Siriraj Hospital”.

One of the most intriguing displays at Siriraj Medical Museum is the remains of infamous serial killer Si Quey. Photo: Wkimedia Commons

After that, follow the signs and walk towards Siriraj Medical Museum. The museum is very near to the hospital so the area is quiet and not as bustling as the usual touristy spots.

After paying the 300 baht (RM37) entrance fee, I was eager to roam around.

About 10 minutes into the museum, I have to admit that I cannot stomach many of the displays. I’m talking about fully-developed foetuses in formaldehyde jars, cross-sections of gigantic tumours, dead pregnant women and more. I saw the infamous Si Quey display and learned that he has “become” a bogeyman – adults would refer to him as that to teach children about safety and how not to simply wander around aimlessly.

It was also a reminder of how bad people will pay for their crimes.

There was also a display of personal items like clothes that belonged to murder victims. After a while, I just didn’t feel like exploring anymore.

My boyfriend found it amusing that I had given up on my so-called macabre obsession faster than you can say “I ain’t afraid of no ghost”. He wanted me to admit that I regretted visiting the museum, but instead I told him I enjoyed the vending machines and there were some good dining options at the food court.

Little did we know that our true horror experience would happen the next afternoon. It was the day of our flight back to Kuala Lumpur and we were getting ready to check out of the hotel. We had planned to do some shopping first before heading to the airport. I looked through my travel documents and discovered that my passport was not in my backpack.

For the first time, I realised that I had lost my passport.

Did I panic? I won’t admit to that. Instead, I calmly tried to retrace my steps from the day before.

I remembered giving my passport to a receptionist for registration at a counter in Siriraj Medical Museum. A phone call to the museum (luckily I had their number!) confirmed that my passport was there.

Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to get to Siriraj Medical Museum. Photo: The Star/Angelin Yeoh

Thus began the most thrilling journey back to Siriraj Medical Museum via train and boat just to retrieve my passport, merely hours before my return flight to KL. Thankfully, I got that very important document back.

I never told my mum about this. However, I have a feeling that she would be more upset at the fact that I decided to check out a museum dedicated to death, than me forgetting to take my passport back from a stranger. She would have made me get rid of bad luck with a traditional “mandi bunga” (flower bath) ceremony!

I hate to admit that she is probably right. Again.

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