When Angela Carnegie made the disastrous decision to smuggle heroin from Thailand, she had no idea how much worse her life could get.
After being caught at Bangkok airport, she was sentenced to life in a Thai prison in 1993 – where she was forced to eat rotting food teeming with maggots, sleep next to prisoners with leprosy and survive without running water.
Carnegie, from Livingston, Texas, was in her twenties and had just broken up with a serious boyfriend. Feeling vulnerable, she decided to take up a friend’s offer for some quick cash by bringing a suitcase lined with drugs back to the U.S.
Thai officials spotted her immediately at the airport and she was arrested. She sentenced to life at the infamous ‘Bangkok Hilton’ prison.
Her experiences have been chronicled on National Geographicshow ‘Locked Up Abroad,’ a series about inmates who have endured the hardships of foreign prisons.
‘The conditions were very crowded, dirty, and unsanitary,’ Ms Carnegie said of her experience on her Facebook page.
‘We showered outside rain or shine, often times standing in floating sewage which overflowed from the sewage canal that ran all around the edge of the prison.’
She said that after she was sentenced, she contemplated suicide.
‘The government food that was provided was barely edible and often had rocks or bugs in it.
‘After it was “served” onto metal trays it often sat on the table for more than an hour before the prisoners actually got to it.
‘During that time birds would sit and eat off the side of the tray…’ she said.
During her decade at the prison, she would often sleep next to prisoners with tuberculosis, leprosy, pink eye and various other rashes and infections.
‘There were times of water shortage, exposure to extreme heat almost constantly, power outages at night while in the room with 200+ other people so no fans or running water even for toilets,’ she said.
‘It is nothing that someone who hasn’t experienced can really imagine… ever.’
But her story does have a happy ending. After she was extradited to the United States on December 6, 2002, she gave that same boyfriend a call.
He was the one person who told her not to go to Thailand. An eight-hour phone call lead to a nine-year marriage.
‘The funny thing is, NOW I feel as though I have finally arrived…the past though hard and harsh has brought me to the place I’m today,’ she said. ‘I live for the happiness and success of my family.’