Stories of the police in Thailand are true and we can share a story first hand to attest to it. I’m working on a post to catch you up with the happenings of our stay here in Chiang Mai but I could not wait to share this little tale. (Please note that my travel companion and I decided it best not to put this vivid story on the world-wide web until we were safely on our way home. Better safe than sorry. Incident occurred on Friday 3/03)
Today, with our own transport, we decided to venture out of the city. We checked for possible destinations and decided on Huay Tung Tao Lake. I packed up the swimming suits, sunscreen and bug spray and we headed through the old city and off the north end of the canal to take the turns we needed to reach Highway 121. We gassed up and the friendly attendant instructed us on Thai language. 91 tem hong (phonetic spelling) and we were full of gas and on the road in search of 121. Left hand turn, pretty certain we needed to backtrack one street. We are traveling along and a set of police, faces completely covered, wave us over. I notice another set of euro toned skin travelers are shaking their heads and chatting as they work to get back on the road. My honey always shows the utmost respect to officers of the law. This day is no exception, he addresses the officer by sir, follows his instructions to pull to the area on the side of the road and he is introduced to the “boss”. This heavily intoxicated, wreaking with whiskey at high noon officer, inquires where we are from and where we are going. He then procures the honey’s driver license and then flashes a tattered laminated sign reading international permit. What? We had done our homework and copied here is our findings: “According to the UN Traffic Act of 1949 and the Thai Traffic Act of 1979, an IDP is not required if you are a tourist/visitor in Thailand as long as your license is in English, has a photo, and your country is a contracting state of the 1949 treaty, which most are.” We had verified that again with the rental company.”
Shakedown! The senior officer shook my partner’s hand, asked him to stand and whispered in his ear to pay him 1000. Pulling the money out of his pocket (way more than is asked for but he has to get the right bill), the man in charge laughs, shows the tattered infraction with my hubby’s drivers license, snatches the 1000 baht bill and crumples it rapidly into the tiniest little ball and shakes my husband’s hand once again and laughs as if they are sharing some great stories. He instructs my partner to sit once again. The boss points his thumb my direction and says 1000 him. What? I’m a passenger (and by the way it’s her a**hole). I do have my license but he doesn’t inquire about it. He shakes my husband’s hand yet again taking the additional 1000 he has pulled out and thankfully hands back his license. He says “where you go?” My husband says again “121, a ride to the lake”, senior officer laughs and says “Good day, nice sun, go.” Yep, $60 later, we did not argue lest we find ourselves in more trouble. In researching, this is common. If you are a new resident who hasn’t taken care of the required ITD which is the road to Thai license then it would be legit, at 200-500 baht. We should have been okay because of that reciprocating agreement. We continued on the day but this corrupt guy portrays what brings some to start getting that “F*** the police” mentality, not me, not going there. I don’t envy the corrupt ones the negative they bring in their own life.
Philosophy, “Let it slide off your back”.
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