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While looking through the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree travel message boards the other day, I came across this posting on Vang Vieng, Laos:
I have just returned from Laos and want to warn travellers about the police in Vang Viang. We were there for 2 days. Vang Viang has a real party atmosphere and the impression that is given is that the police turn a blind eye to drug taking and drugs being sold i.e on menus – mushy shakes, happy pizza. We were arrested by 3 intimidating and threatening police officers for smoking a cigarette with a very small amount of cannabis in it. We had nothing else on us. They took us to the police station. They forced us to write and sign a “confession”. Most of the page was written in Laos which, obviously, we could not read.
When we questioned anything they would say that they would take us to the jail. They made us get our passports from our guesthouse and then told us that we had 2 options. Option 1 = go to jail for one and a half years, option two = pay them $600 per person to “make the problem go away”. They would keep our passports until we paid.
Whilst we were in the police station we saw around 10 other people who the same thing had happened to.
The point of this post is not about whether it is right, wrong or stupid to take drugs in Laos. The point is that these police are arresting and blackmailing tourists for very large amounts of money. The money is going into their pockets. They are not targetting the people selling drugs. It is all about the money, not preventing drugs being taken in Vang Vieng.
Are you effing kidding me?
That was the attitude of most of the respondents, as you can see here.
Seriously, how stupid can you be to do drugs in Southeast Asia? Haven’t you seen Brokedown Palace?
And you have the nerve to go online and whine about the mean, mean police and the very, very small amount of cannabis in your cigarette?
Buddy, you got caught smoking a joint and you thought nothing would happen because it was Laos, and it was such a chill place, mano. Admit it. But thanks to incredible — incredible! — luck, you just avoided a year and a half in prison. I wouldn’t be complaining if I were you.
I do plan on visiting Vang Vieng on my eventual trip to Southeast Asia. And in that backpacker town, I plan on going tubing, trekking to waterfalls, and dancing to Lady Gaga at various Aussie-filled riverside bars. With no happy shakes in sight.
Seriously, how stupid can you get?