“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

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Front Page -

“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.”

MY DREAM-HOLIDAYTURNED-NIGHT­MARE

“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.

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