Thailand’s Traffic Police
Today I had my first run in with Thailands traffic police! After a nice morning coffee I’d dropped Mitch at his co-working space and set out to do more exploring of Chiang mai. On my way back into the old city to find a postoffice I’d spotted yesterday, I was met with a bunch of traffic police pulling over all the tourists on scooters going past! Since I’d done nothing wrong I readily complied wth the Poiceman when he pointed at me and gestered for me to move to the side of the road. He pulled out a card and pointed to the Thai/English writing to say pull out your licence. I attempted to politely explain that I do not require a licence… Ok he wants my passport, I give it to him and he begins writing out a fine!
Wth… I asked what I had done, he says ‘no licence’, I again explain I am not required to have a licence as I’m not in Thailand long enough…. This goes on for a while longer with him finally saying I have to pay 1000THB (almost half our daily budget!! Not happy!). After going round in circles with him I eventually concede and ask what I have to do… ‘Go to the police station (he points vaguely round the corner) and pay fine’ ok fair enough… But then he refuses to give my passport back! No way! One of the biggest travel rules is NEVER leave your passport with a random! I told him if he wants me to pay he has to come with me to the police station as theres no way he is keeping my passport… By this stage I pretty sure he was regretting pulling me over as he walks me round the corner and gives my passport back points to the police station…
I walk over and enter the station, grab a number, sit down and wait for my number to be called… during this time a number of groups of tourists walk in and join the line. Once we all realised we were holding the same piece of paper we all had a good laugh about the situation!
So I get callled, I attempt to explain that as a tourist I don’t need a licence… nothing works and he ends up asking me to pay the fine, which is now 200THB?? not sure what happened to the 1000THB I was originally told! Either way I was much happier about a 200THB fine than 1000THB, so I paid the fine and off I went!
On my way to collect my scooter, the traffic police had about 20 people pulled over on the side of the road all being issued fines…
Doesn’t matter now… all part of the experience! And I am happily sitting at my favourite juice bar with a nice, cold, watermelon juice! :)