A Trip To Another Province.

A trip to another province.

viosWe had recently bought a new car and were going up to see my wife’s parents in Chaiyaphum which is in the North East of Thailand in a place referred to as Esaan.

Thai red plateIn Thailand when you buy a new car you are issued with a red number plate number plate on the car. This allows you to drive the car until the white number plate arrives for you to collect from the dealers.

When the white number plate arrives then, you go to the dealers and they swap the red number white num plateplate for the white one. I guess in some ways these red number plates are similar to trade plates from the dealership in a western country. There are certain conditions to having a car with a red number plate.

For instance:dusk

  • You can’t drive, or you’re not supposed to drive the car after dusk.
  • If you leave one province, the province that you bought the car in and go to another province, you have to write in the owner’s manual which province you’re travelling from and which province you’re travelling to.
  • If the police then pull you over they can check this book and if you haven’t filled in the correct information they can fine you for it.

Anyway, we were traveling from Minburi, on the outskirts of Bangkok to Chaiyaphum which is where my wife’s parents live.

bangkokOnce you leave Bangkok, the road is quite open because Chaiyaphum is basically in the middle of nowhere.

Before I say any more I must explain something, if you were to ask a Thai driver what the speed limits are on roads most of them wouldn’t be able to answer you. As with most countries, the speed limits and restrictions are different in the centre of towns, in built-up areas, on A and B roads etc.301

On this major highway that we were traveling along, there are signs up stating what the speed limits are.

I was quite happily driving along looking and taking notice of these signs when they appeared and adjusted my driving speed to whatever the sign said. I was a more than happy to stick within those parameters.

120Anyway, as we were driving along I saw a sign that said 120kph so, I sped up and reached 120 kmh. This road is a four lane highway and up in front of me I could see maybe one or two cars and behind me the same.

Up in the distance I could see a minivan parked on the right-hand side of the road in the right-hand lane the fourth lane. At the time I didn’t realise what this minivan was.police van

As we got closer to this in minivan, a guy stepped out from in front of it and it was at this point that I realised it was a policeman. Amazingly, he had a speed gun in his hand.

speed gunI think it’s the only speed gun I have ever is a seen in the 16 years that I have lived in Thailand. I checked my speed and was within the speed limit.

The policeman flagged me down and pulled me over. As I pulled over, another policeman appeared out of the ditch and (Thai = Klong) on the side of the road.

Amazing where these guys can hide! The policeman who was holding the speed gun came over and I wound down the window. (Okay, pushed and I pushed the button for the window to go down.)

flashNow, I saw a his eyes light up. Why? Because he’d just pulled over a farang. (farang – it’s what Thai’s call foreigners – it means white man.)

You could see on this policeman’s face, the same as you see on a Thai persons face when they see a foreigner….. Baht signs just start flashing up. (Baht is the currency in Thailand.)

Thai people have the misconception that all foreigners are rich and are quite happy to fork out their money without the slightest argument.money1

If you’re a tourist in Thailand this might be perfectly acceptable to you, but when you live here it’s more than annoying!

same sameThais also have a double pricing system. One price for a Thai and another for a farang. Imagine trying to get away with that in a western culture?

ThiefWhat Thais don’t realise, is even if a farang did have a lot of money, we don’t like to be ripped off! You’ll see this and understand as you carry on reading

Back to the policeman.

He asked me in Thai if I spoke Thai. (Pud Thai Dai Mai – speak Thai no – no (mai) is the replacement for a question mark)

google translateMy understanding of the Thai language is pretty good and, although I don’t speak it a very well. When he asked me if I spoke Thai, I just shrugged my shoulders and said in English, “I don’t understand.”

Let the games begin.

Why, did I not speak to policemen in Thai when he asked this question?

homer drivingSimple, when you’re in Thailand and a policeman talks you, their English is usually non-existent so, if you don’t speak Thai to them they usually just tell you to move on because it’s not worth their effort trying to explain to you what they’re doing or what they want to do.

My wife understands how I play this game. After the policemen had spoken to me, my wife translated what he had said, which I understood anyway. I handed over my driver’s license which I think pissed him off. I think he expected me, the farang to be driving without a driver’s license.

500 bahtThe maximum fine for driving without a driver’s license in Thailand is 500 Baht – about £10. I saw on his face that this had made him a little bit agitated.


Explanation – I know I’ve already said to this policeman that I can’t speak any Thai, but even when I’m speaking Thai to let’s say, anignore1 assistant in a supermarket, if my wife’s there the assistant will immediately start speaking to her and ignoring me. I know it’s easier to converse with someone fluent in your own language and my Thai is not great, but there’s no need to be rude about it!

Anyway, back to the policeman.

The policeman explained to my wife that he wanted to see the green book, which is the ownership book of the car. As he said this to my wife in Thai, I leaned over and pulled the green book out of the glove compartment in the passenger side of the car and handed it to him before he had finished speaking.

Now there was a bewildered look on the policeman’s face. bribeWhat this policeman was trying to do, was to get me to pay a fine of some sort. – To extort money from me – To get him some T-money. (A bribe!) I think at this point, this was what was running through the policeman’s mind,

  • This just guy just told me that he didn’t speak any Thai
  • When I asked his wife for the green book, he (me) didn’t wait for her to explain to him in English, he just reached over, grabbed it, and handed it to me.
  • So maybe he does speak Thai?

car log bookI handed the book over to the policeman and he started jabbering away to me in Thai again. To which I replied, “Mai kaow jai.” Which in Thai means, “I don’t understand.” Now, the policeman looked really confused.

Buddhist / Thai Holiday.

It had slipped my mind at the time that on the day that we were traveling up to see my wife’s parents, it was a Buddhist holiday. If this policeman buddhist monkscould extort money from me he could then pass that money on to a Buddhist monk in the form of an “almsround.”

buddhist monks collectingAlmsround – Perceived as giving the laypeople the opportunity to make merit. Money cannot be accepted by a Buddhist monk or nun in lieu of, or in addition to food, as their training rules make it an offence worth forfeiture and confession.

Thai people are supposed to live by the five precepts that are set out for them, similar to the 10 Commandments set out in Christianity.10 coomand

  1. I undertake to abstain from causing harm and taking life.
  2. I undertake to abstain from taking what is not given.
  3. I undertake to abstain from sexual activity.
  4. I undertake to abstain from wrong speech: telling lies, deceiving others, manipulating others, using hurtful words.
  5. I undertake to abstain from using intoxicating drinks, drugs which lead to carelessness.

Thai Monks live by 8 precepts, but these can be broken down and reach over 300.

  1. I undertake to abstain from causing harm and taking life (both human and non-human).
  2. I undertake to abstain from taking what is not given (for example stealing, displacements that may cause misunderstandings).
  3. I undertake to abstain from sexual activity.
  4. I undertake to abstain from wrong speech: telling lies, deceiving others, manipulating others, using hurtful words.
  5. I undertake to abstain from using intoxicating drinks, drugs, which lead to carelessness.
  6. I undertake to abstain from eating at the wrong time (the right time is after sunrise, before noon).
  7. I undertake to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands (decorative accessories).
  8. I undertake to abstain from luxurious places for sitting or sleeping, and overindulging in sleep.

As you can see, one of these precepts is not to accept money or anything to show material possessions / wealth.

Back to the book.

car log bookThe police man looked in the book and found out that I had actually filled in the book correctly.

This again ticked him off. He pointed at the book and spoke to my wife. I found what he said to be quite funny. He basically said to my wife that everything that was written in the book was written in English and he couldn’t understand it.

bribe1Tough s**t pal, I’d done my bit! This was now two instances where he couldn’t extort money from me. He then carried on speaking to my wife in Thai. I could understand almost everything that he was saying and…..


What he told my wife was that he’d pulled us over because we were speeding.

I know I wasn’t speeding! I said to my wife in English, “Ask him what the speed limit on this road is?” Which she did and to which he replied, “Mai leaw.”

Mai leaw in Thai means “I don’t know.” I ask you, how could this policeman pull me over and try to fine me for speeding when he didn’t even know shrug1what the speed limit was?

80I asked my wife to ask him again. There was another shrug of the shoulders and then he said 80kph. I then switched to and spoke in Thai to him. I told him that, not half a mile down the road behind us there was a sign that said 120kph. There was a blank look on this guy’s face. Complete confusion!120

I could see what’s going through his mind now (other than space):

  • This guy who I just pulled over said he didn’t speak any Thai, but now he’s speaking Thai to me.
  • I tried to catch him out by asking for his driver’s license, which he has.
  • I tried to catch him out by asking for the green book and then find out that it’s filled out correctly.
  • I tried to catch him out for speeding. (When I didn’t know what the speed limit was.)
  • Now he’s telling me that the speed limit is 120 kph. And, I didn’t even know this myself.
  • What am I going to do now?

I’ve held both my Thai motorcycle and car license for 15 years. Yes, you have to have one for each.

A Holiday Bribe.

He again spoke to my wife and basically told her that because it was a Buddhist holiday…….

  1. He was skint and didn’t have any money to give almsaround
  2. He was trying to get as much money from people as he possibly could, so he could give almsaround.
  3. If he didn’t get any money out of us, the guy who had jumped out of the ditch, who was his boss, would be very angry!

plankI really didn’t give a s**t about this! I told my wife to tell him to “Take a long walk off a short plank,” which doesn’t translate into Thai so, my wife told him something similar, but basically with the same meaning.

This police man was not happy at all! He then went on to say something else, I forget what it was, it’s not relevant at this point as this policeman was just being a complete and utter cock!cock1

In Thai I told him to, “f**k off!”  Whether he understood me or not, I d0on’t know. Again I didn’t care! I’m sure the look on my face said it all.

I wound up the window up and drove off.




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  1. nice story, the police and speeding reminds me of South Africa – only think is that English is widely and well spoken in South Africa so you cannot get away with it.

  2. Wow that’s crazy how corrupt that is! Is that pretty typical? I had a friend from Thailand and he said a lot of stuff associated with the Buddhist holidays is terrible. Do you spend most of your time in Thailand?

    • Trevor

      I spent the last 16 years living in Thailand. That’s what these stories are about – if you read my “What’s it about?” page, it’ll explain how these stories are so unbelievable that most people won’t actually believe they are true. Yes, it’s pretty typical!

  3. Chicken

    As I was driving through a police. checkpoint some years ago I reacted to the young policeman’s stop signal (crooked arm up) by reaching out the window and applying a strong “high 5”. The look on his face was initially amazement, then anger that someone could treat him with such disrespect. Before he could react (haul me from the car) there was a crescendo of laughter from the whole camp of around 15 police. Extremely amused by the crazy farang (foreigner) the more senior police quickly moved me on before the young one could go any further with the situation. I still think of trying again sometime but probably better to not push my luck.

    • Trevor

      I was pulled once and handed over the 100 baht fake license that I bought off KaoSan Rd. The policeman told me to go to the police station within the next seven days to collect it. Obviously, I didn’t.
      If you look on Youtube you’ll see a Thai policeman dropkick a guy on a motorcycle so be careful.

    • Trevor

      You don’t know the half of it. Thailand has the second worst deadliest roads in the world. It is an absolute nightmare to drive there! It will certainly make me more sensitive and aware of other road users while driving in the UK. In Thailand you have to watch out everywhere. From m/cycles coming towards you on the wrong side of the road, them driving on the path, not using their indicators or mirrors, making illegal (not that there is such a thing there) turns. I’ve even had a m/cycle driving towards me between lanes three and four, in the dark, with no lights on and four people on the bike! Like I say, you have to have lived there to believe the things that they do.

  4. ha ha, what a great story. It kind of reminds me what Cyprus was like when we moved over there in 1977. Not the bribe part, but the not speaking English part. For the most part, back then, if you were a foreigner who had been pulled over (for whatever), you were usually waved on because the copper didn’t want to strain his brain by trying to talk in English 🙂

    • Trevor

      I’m not knocking the place. I had some great times there. My stories are just things that foreigners should be aware of and obviously things that have happened to my friends, colleagues and myself.

  5. Sounds like textbook Thailand, based on your other posts. Loved reading your story Trevor. It’s amazing how blatant that officer was in his corruption! While I’m in Canada now, I spend a lot of time in Lebanon, and the “favoritism” of foreigners is similar, it gets worse if you’re a returning expatriate! They think you grow money on trees!

    Was there any followup to this incident? Or it just ended? It seems like other people could be stopped like you were and practically robbed!

    • Trevor

      I think the policeman got the idea when I wound the window up drove up.

      I tended to treat the policeman in Thailand with the disrespect that they deserved.

      Just before I left Thailand I was pulled over by the police, I don’t know the reason was but I pulled out 20 yards past the policeman. He couldn’t be bothered to walk toward me so he just waved me on and that was the end of it.

      There’s a simple tip for you if you are in Thailand, if a policeman pulls you over don’t stop in front of him drive past in 20 yards and pullover it will be too much effort for him to walk towards you and he’ll just wave you on.

  6. Nice story.
    I really wonder what did the policeman said to his “boss” in the ditch after you left.
    It’s not surprising though, those policemen are trying to extort bribes from foreigners in Thailand. It’s common in many places around the world

    • Trevor

      To be honest I am/I was so peed off with the policeman and policeman in general in Thailand that I couldn’t give two hoots what they have to think about, which really isn’t a lot most of the time, and that’s why just wound up the window and drove off.

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