My name is Sean Yuen and I am a touring cyclist from Hong Kong. I have cycled more than a year in Europe starting from July 2014. Last week I arrived Slovakia, and on the night of 12th September, I was attacked by a group of Slovakian gangsters in Trnava when I was camping in the wild. I want to share my story because it is necessary to let Slovak people know how to be nice to foreigners. Here is the detailed story:
On 12th September, after riding the whole day around 120km, I arrived a Slovakian town Trnava quite late. I tended to find a quite place far from the town center to camp, and on the map I located Družba, on the edge there is huge pieces of green space. Yes indeed it is a forest/park area very close to a residential area. I set up my tent, cooked and ate my healthy delicious nuts and beans buckwheat dinner.
Right after I finished washing the pot, there was somebody yelling outside my tent, I was very unaware of danger at that time, it was very stupid to sneak my head out honestly, but I did. He used his cellphone to try looking at my face, and said some weird Slovak words which I had no idea what he wanted. I just told him “Leave me alone” and closed my tent.
10 mins later, a group of 4 gangsters came, first I got a kick at my forehead. Still having some stars flashing at my right eye, I was sitting inside the tent, hearing the sound of my tent tearing open, and the noise of them yelling at me something sound like “immigrants”.
“I am not an immigrant!!! I am Chinese, from China” I declared immediately knowing the problems of illegal immigrants all over Europe.
“Do you speak English?”
“Yes of course!”
They saw my bicycle.
“Oh sorry sorry….” They left with only 2 sorry…
Is that how European deal with immigrants??? Just kick them and destroy their tents??? So uncivilized and low-class!
I was quite angry seeing my tent being damaged, so immediately I repaired it by needles and threads. Maybe opening my headlamp was not a good idea but I need light to sew. Another 10 mins passed, one of the gangster came back, and started asking me silly questions with his terrible English. Most of the time he was speaking Slovak which meant nothing to me!
“Do you want sex?”
“Do you have a cigarette?”
“NO, I don’t smoke.”
And then more unclear requests and response, I finally realized he wanted to “borrow” my bike to ride back home, and “return” it tomorrow morning.
I eat a lot of nuts, but do they think I am really a NUT??
Luckily I locked my bike with a tree and he could not move it. I cannot stand anymore of this nonsense and came out of the tent with my underwear. Kindly I told him I WILL NOT lend him my bike, and please go home. He seemed did not want to receive my kindness, so I had to raise up my voice and started yelling:
“GO HOME! I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY BIKE. I HAVE TO SLEEP! GET OUT OF MY WAY…..!!!”
He felt threatened, he put on his hoddy cap, and brought up his fists wanting a fight!!
I had never involved in a fight ever, that was the first time I really had to DEFEND myself. Thanks to the basic Wing Chun practice that I joined before I left Hongkong, I still remember some tactics to combat and defend. I knew he tried his best to beat me, but his motion was too slow (because of alcohol or drug whatever). I did hit him once on the head, but I didn’t want to hurt him, so I just ask him to leave! He also thought that he couldn’t beat me, so he left, but yelled something like “Remember me, come again….”
I was immediately aware that staying at that spot was not safe anymore, because the guy and his friends already knew my location, and if they really came back, I would be outnumbered.
I had 3 minutes to pack up everything and flee….
Once I was ready to go and left the forest, I saw the gangsters approaching. Not sure if they saw me or not, but I already pedaled to another direction and did not look back.
Finally I found a garden which is in the middle of a few residential blocks, it was already past midnight so nobody could see me. And in case those gangsters found me, I could yell for help.
Nothing happened, only that I could not sleep well. And I woke up at 6am to pack up….
Thanks to the gangsters, you add an interesting story to my travel.
Thanks God that I was not hurt nor lost anything.
And next time I really have to pay more attention to choose camping spots in such “not-so-civilized” countries. However, I do hope the situation would get better when more people realize the importance of being nice to foreigners, even immigrants or refugees. You never know when you would be in the other side of the table, so please pay it forwards. Be nice to people, and you will be treated nicely as well.
By Sean Yuen