Thailand vacation: Australian conversations about sex, drugs and fights

From drugs to prostitutes and a shocking injury; Australian Luke Kennedy partied way too hard during his riotous holiday in Thailand and is lucky to be alive.

Luke, 37, who has since become a motivational speaker and author, recalls his darkest days, including his time on the journey, trying to lead others on a better path so they can avoid making the same travel mistakes he did.

His new book Sex, drugs and a Buddhist monk describes how his fateful and near-fatal journey ended in enlightenment after a Buddhist monk forced him to confront his demons.

Depressed, obese and an avid drug and alcohol abuser, he had taken the Thai vacation with his brother Ruben as a last hurray before joining the navy. However, Luke said his problems started long before that, here at home.

“From 2000-2008 I was an obese alcohol and drug addict,” Luke told news.com.au. “As one of the headmen of a violent street-fighting squad, I was stabbed twice; one time in the lung, the other time in the head.

“On the outside I looked strong and confident, sometimes even happy. Inside, though, I struggled—depressed, anxious, and paranoid. I hated myself. I changed my life by losing 50 pounds and participating in boxing, and I made some big changes.

“However, all the changes I made were of a physical nature, and I hadn’t looked at the psychological or spiritual tools needed for lasting and deeper changes.

“I joined the Navy to promote the physical changes. A few months after I joined the Navy, my brother invited me to go to Thailand one last time.

“The first night I was in Thailand I partied hard, scored drugs at a local drug dealer and wreaked havoc.”

The drug was Coke, bought on Pattaya’s main street at 4 a.m.

“I blindly grabbed a bag from his hands, took off with my purchase and tucked it between my back cheeks,” he recalls in his book.

Earlier that night, Luke brought a stranger back to his hotel room for sex.

“As we walked into the club, a little local woman was leaving, and we caught each other’s eyes and smiled. Nothing was said until we were in each other’s arms,” ​​he recalls.

“When we got back to the hotel, I was approached by an employee. Apparently you had to pay to take someone back to your room. This was money that a drunken fool would gladly part with, a fool like me.”

Then there was a shock when the condom broke.

“I panicked, screamed and cursed and ran straight to the shower. In the shower in a stupid and urgent attempt to rid myself of any chance of catching something I scrubbed away.”

On another occasion, he mentioned confusion between him and his brother as to whether two women they had picked up from a bar were prostitutes or not. This was a concern as they had used up all their money on room service so didn’t have the extra money to waste on such extravagance.

Ruben insisted they weren’t prostitutes, but Luke said that while his brother passed out, the women insisted that he pay.

“You worry about money for room service and you bring back two whores?” Luke asked his brother, who claimed they were just “from the bar.”

And then came the day of the horror injury.

“I got drunk blindly and then woke up in the hospital with no idea what had happened,” Luke said.

He was found to have seriously broken his leg while driving at high speed and had to be operated on.

Doctors had to put a plate and bolts into his compound fracture, and both bones had punctured the skin. He was told he was very lucky when he collided with a local taxi, if it had been a normal car his head would have hit the roof and he would have died because he was not wearing a helmet.

“A lot of chaotic things happened in and around my hospital stay – travel insurance didn’t cover me and the bill was 19K at the time,” he said. “The lady whose bike I wrecked visited me with a major enforcer looking for their money.

“A lady was wheeled in in a wheelchair and claimed when I got off the bike that it hit her and injured her leg. She sought compensation, but later I saw her walking around perfectly.

“In addition, when we tried to flee the country, I had to be in bed for weeks with my injuries, but we couldn’t afford to stay. The morning of our flight, Bangkok Airport was taken over by protesters and we couldn’t go home.

“Another eight days passed with the risk of losing my leg to infection and the risk of a mob finding us to get the money we didn’t have to pay. While all this was happening, I was visited by a monk whom I met earlier on the trip.”

Luke said the monk showed him the reason why all the chaos was happening in his life.

“I used to run away or try to suppress my emotions and thoughts through distractions, drugs, alcohol, and even sex.

“By running away and suppressing my inner demons, they would erupt in other areas of my life – anger, fear, impatience and not being open to love.

“The monk forced me to turn around and face everything. Thus began my journey of self-discovery and lasting change.”

So, what’s life like for Luke, who is now based in Burleigh Heads, Queensland?

“It’s been 13 years since the journey, and while there have been many mistakes and lessons along the way, I’m now in a space where I can use those lessons to help others,” he said.

“My whole life is now dedicated to helping our youth and giving back to a space I have taken a lot from. I speak at primary schools, high schools, prisons and corporate events on topics such as resilience, mental health, self-awareness and looking within to make lasting changes.”

And his one parting word for young Australian travelers getting ready to party hard in places like Thailand: “Respect the people, culture and beliefs of the places they visit.”

“I felt that once I was abroad, the consequences of my actions were less,” he continued. “They’re actually amplified when you’re dealing with different laws, medical systems, and without sounding too esoteric, you’re dealing with energies and spiritual forces beyond anything we can understand through the mind.”

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