Monday, 4 December 2006

Customs in Thailand

File this one under "no good deed ever goes unpunished".

You see there is a Canadian girl in hospital here in Chonburi whose luggage was sent to Hong Kong by an airline error. Now I'd volunteered to do a meet and greet at the airport to another Australian who I'd known on a support forum for ages.

The airline - which shall remain nameless though it starts with E, ends with A and has a V in the middle - located the lost luggage and conveyed in to Bangkok airport.

But rather than doing the right thing, clearing it through customs and delivering it to the hotel, taking it to the airport was as far as they went. A letter was sent to the hospital saying that the luggage could be obtained from the local airline representative at the airport.

So I helped out, the girl in question currently being hospitalised, armed with her passport and the letter describing the luggage.

I met the representative... who then, instead of handing over the luggage, took me through the quarantine secure area (body search etc) and handed me the luggage from the baggage claim section. From there, I was on my own.

So I proceeded to Customs. "Anything to declare"? Well, I said I had no idea what was in the luggage, it wasn't mine.... so maybe it should be searched.

How was I to know the Canadian girl was a Diebetic?

Do you know exactly how many syringes and vials of drugs a suitcase can hold? Have you any idea how suspicious that can look, especially since my own handbag held a large cocktail of post-operative pain killers?

Now it took a little while, proving the suitcase wasn't mine, that the medications were all legitimate, and the language barrier didn't help at all.

What did help was total honesty, complete co-operation, smiling a lot, and saying My
Pen Rai - something like "Nichevo" in Russki, or "She'll be right" in Strine. Not sweating the small stuff, and generally being calm and patient as the wheels of law enforcement ground slowly.

So I didn't get detained on suspicion of drug smuggling after all. In Australia, they would at least have had the suspicious substances tested. But maybe not. You see, in Thailand they shoot drug smugglers. And I was so very obviously calm, even serene, and not even remotely worried that they didn't bother. Once satisfied the luggage wasn't mine, it had genuinely been lost, and the recipient was definitely in hospital, I was waved through.

Had I not gone up to the customs people first, and instead been given a "random check"
, then maybe it might have been a bit more uncomfy and protracted.

Whatever. My Pen Rai.


Calamity Jane said...

Strewth! (:-) Personally I always carry anything that my continued health is dependent on in my hand luggage a. in case of my checked luggage going astray and b. in a depressurized ie freezing environment insulin has the annoying habit of freezing thus rendering it unusable even when thawed.

You're obviously making a great recovery since you were able to take on such a challenge.

Zoe Brain said...

If I'd have known what was entailed, I wouldn't have done it. I expected to go to the airline desk, sign for it, have it placed on a trolley, and push it maybe 50 metres to the driver.
Instead I carried it a few metres, and pushed it a few kilometres to and from customs, lost luggage, inspection stations...

And yes, I blew a stitch or two, so I bled a bit at the next dilation, and have been getting lots of rest today.

No great harm done, but I did over-do it. I just didn't have much choice once the process was started.

But hey, it's Thailand, and I've earned some good Karma. Considering the amount of good Karma I've blown in this lifetime, having a son against all odds, getting a transition miracle, I need all of that I can get!

The alternate Christian view is that I should bleedin well count my blessings. And I have been truly blessed.