Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The day I got arrested!

I knew that would get your attention. In the book of lessons learned...don't drive a motorbike in Vietnam like the locals when you are clearly a foreigner.

My adventure started when I lost my wallet in Thailand, and therefore my Australian driver's licence. Then I was riding a motorbike in Hoi An, I have a bike licence so it is all good normally, except when you have lost your wallet and can't prove to the Vietnamese policeman that you actually have a licence of any description.

I was driving down a street in the town but too late realised that it was a one -way, the other way of course, and would you believe that I was the only one picked out by the police? Of course you would, because clearly I am not vietnamese. So one of the policeman got on my motorbike, made me get on the back and drove to the police station, where I had to sign something I couldn't read, except for the 3 bits in English. 1 - fine for no driving licence, 2 - fine for not having the rego papers for the bike (why would I - it was rented?) and 3 - driving wrong way in one-way. OK, I can live with 1 & 3, but 2 not my fault! They let me go after about 30 mins, when I realised that arguing and pleading dumb tourist would not get me anywhere and the rude policeman was happy to let me sit there forever until I signed the unreadable document. I had to walk back to the hotel.

After some chatting with the hotel, where I got the bike, some phone calls and of course a few tears, I ending up paying about $16 Aussie for the fines and the hotel paid the rest. It also took about another hour the next day for us to get the bike back, which of course I was not allowed to ride and the owner took two trips to get it!

In all, that trip was expensive, I lost about $35 in my wallet, plus I need to get a new licence and then I had to pay the fine. Luckily the pax tipped me, so I got some back in the end!


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