Robbed while on vacation alone with her six-month-old son, Victoria Deng recalls her chilling encounter and what she learnt from it.
In July 2015, I set off on a two-week holiday with my then-six-month-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 first six days. Owen and I had a wonderful time checking out the lavender fields 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 with a 100-euro (around S$158) banknote. For some reason, the cashier announced to everyone in the store that he was returning me over 90 euros 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.