This morning I had a text from an American friend that had been visiting me recently. He had taught English here for nearly two years. While here he had done a few side trips to places like Cambodia. He then went back to further his education in the States. Then last month he came back to Thailand to visit before heading to Nepal for a photo assignment. The other day he flew back to the States. His problem occurred at the DHS office in Canada. These are run and owned by the US Customs. They took one look at his passport and were immediately suspicious. They basically told him that he had been “visiting Thailand too much”. In fact he had only been here twice, but he had done a side trip to Cambodia so I guess that didn’t help. Then he also had a Nepalese visa in his passport. What they then did was do a thorough search of both his clothes and bags. They even went through his laptop and copied his hard disks. They told him that he “may be human trafficking or smuggling drugs”. After going through all his pictures and also his bank books that he had on him, they finally let him go. But they made it clear to him that they had put his passport on a watch list now. No apology or anything for stopping him. No apology also for making him miss his connecting flight.
I have heard stories like this before for people travelling to the US. I just didn’t realize that they did this for their own nationals too. This is a good lesson for people to be aware about. Be careful about what you have on your laptop and memory card in your camera. They could search everything. The pictures of your kids taking a bath maybe interpreted in a different way by immigration officers. The same goes for buying fake goods or pirated DVDs while on holiday in Thailand. Many people have said that in America and Europe these items have been confiscated and they were given a big fine. It’s not worth it so don’t buy any fake goods while on holiday in Thailand. And don’t copy any pirated movies onto your laptop. And certainly don’t buy any porno DVDs here in Thailand to take home. You have been warned. Don’t take this lightly.