We had an interesting scandal at the airport recently. The big concessionaire out there is King Power. They run duty-free shops, souvenir places and magazine/book stands. Many foreigners, White foreigners, were arrested upon leaving King Power premises for “shoplifting.” Little things like one extra pack of cigarettes mysteriously showed up in their bag along with the stuff that they’d just paid for. I say arrested, they weren’t really arrested, they were bundled by police off to some cheap hotel for a couple of days until they could arrange to pay the “fees” that would get the “charges” dropped, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of eight or ten thousand dollars, which was then split up between the police and the King Power people.
This kind of thing is an exception to the rule in Thailand, which is generally speaking a very, very safe place to travel. AND LET ME SAY, FOR THE BENEFIT OF MY VISA, THAT I LOVE THAILAND AND HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BAD TO SAY ABOUT THIS, THE MOST BLESSED AND WONDERFUL KINGDOM ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH.
Since I read about this scam I’ve been avoiding King Power like the Titanic should have avoided the iceberg, actually I’ve been tracing wide circles around airport vendors in general. The other day, though, I really wanted a book, so I broke down and went in.
Leaving with my purchase, I got fifty feet before realizing that they hadn’t given me a receipt. I looked over my shoulder, expecting the worst. Oh, shit, I thought, I’d hate to get busted for buying a copy of “The Tiger Warrior” by David Gibbins. Now that would be embarrassing.