“I was robbed while travelling alone with my baby”
A dream solo trip with her young son turned into a nightmare, but 33-year- old entrepreneur Victoria Deng says despite losing her passport, cash and credit cards, she still believes in the goodness of people. She tells why. SASHA GONZALES
“In July 2015, I set off on a twoweek holiday with my then- sixmonth- old son, Owen. It was a break I was looking forward to – a free- and- easy journey through the south of France by train and a few days in Paris.
“My goal was to cover 14 cities and towns in all. I was breastfeeding Owen at the time, so I had to take him along with me. My husband didn’t have any issues with me holidaying alone with our son, and being a seasoned and savvy traveller, I wasn’t too worried either.”
“The trip went smoothly the rst six days. Owen and I had a wonderful time checking out the lavender elds in Haute Provence, and the stunning coastal views of the French Riviera and Monaco.
“I also went on a few day tours, where I met fellow travellers from Asia. When they found out I was travelling alone with Owen, they were surprised and told me that I was brave.
“I must admit I was proud of myself for having survived almost a week without any drama. Owen was generally easy to look after; occasionally, I would need help carrying his stroller up and down the bus or onto the train, but bystanders and other travellers were usually more than willing to lend a hand.
“On the seventh day of my trip, I went sightseeing around Nice. I hadn’t booked a day tour, so I just took Owen for a walk along the beach. We then went for lunch and ended up in a little shop in Old Town, shopping for souvenirs.
“I’d run out of small notes, so I paid for my purchases with a 100 euro banknote. For some reason, the cashier announced to everyone in the store that he was giving me back over 90 euros (roughly S$138) in change.
“It made me self- conscious. I quickly shoved the money into my pouch, put the pouch into my tote, zipped it and hooked it onto Owen’s stroller before leaving the shop.
“About 10 minutes after I left the shop, I noticed that my tote was missing. I looked everywhere around me to see if it had fallen and even retraced my steps, but it was nowhere to be found.
“I was shaken. Who could be so cruel as to steal from a stroller! Desperate and helpless, I stood in the middle of the street and asked everyone who passed if they’d seen a purple tote.”
LEFT WITH NOTHING
“Both my passpor t and Owen’s were in that tote, along with my wallet, which held my credit cards, my driver’s licence, and more than 700 euros – which was all the cash I had. I was now alone with Owen in Nice, with no money even to buy food. I was going to Paris the next day, but thankfully, I’d already pre- booked and paid for my train ride to the capital.
“After making a police repor t, I returned to my hotel. I told one of the front- desk staff what had happened, and she gave me a couple of bread rolls and some fruit from the kitchen. Another helped me print my train tickets, a map to the embassy in Paris, the con rmation e- mail for the hotel I’d be staying in in Paris, and copies of the two passpor ts that I’d e- mailed to myself weeks before. Beyond that, there was not much else they could do.
“I stayed in my room the rest of the day. All I had to eat were the rolls and fruit, and some snacks I’d packed. Luckily, I still had my mobile phone – I’d kept that, as well as my camera, in my jacket pocket. I contacted my husband in Singapore and asked him to cancel all my credit cards immediately.
“The next day, on the train on my way to Paris, I met a Chinese woman and her two children. We struck up a conversation and I told her what had happened. She felt so bad for me, she gave me a muf n and some fruit her daughter had bought from the train’s food car t.
“The ride to Paris gave me plenty of time to re ect. Things could have been a lot worse – I could’ve been robbed at knifepoint, for example, or something could have happened to Owen.
“So while I was angry and upset, I was also extremely grateful. And the thieves didn’t get my camera – my photos meant more to me than my passpor t and credit cards because they held my holiday memories.
“The rst thing I did when I arrived in Paris was go to the embassy to get new travel documents. The next day, my husband remitted some money to me via the embassy, to cover my expenses for the rest of my trip.”
“About 10 minutes after I left the shop, I noticed that my tote was missing. It was nowhere to be found.”
Overlooking the Nice coastline – the bag theft occurred an hour later. Checking out the lavender eld outside Senanque Abbey in Provence.
These lovely women from China helped Victoria carry her son’s stroller up and down the steep streets of a village called Eze.