One unlucky traveler got hit with an excess-baggage charge of $2,200! So outrageous, he may as well have bought his luggage its own seats on the flight.
The offending Party: Thai Airways
At the counter, Bob Wolfe was told that his four bags were each about 2 kg or 3 kg over the 32 kg limit, and that he'd have to pay a penalty. (See 50 essential travel tips.)
Wolfe was sent to a Thai Airways office where he says a number of employees discussed how much he should be charged for the bags. They argued with each other. They made phone calls. They looked generally confused, he says. More than an hour later, a
verdict was rendered: Wolfe owed 66,000 Thai baht, or approximately $2,200.
Anxious to catch his plane, Wolfe reluctantly coughed up the penalty, vowing to take up the case when he returned home. After exchanging numerous letters and e-mails with representatives of the airline, Wolfe is still unsure why he was charged so much,
or how the confused employees arrived at the 66,000 baht figure.
The Avenger contacted Thai Airways, and a rep provided the same letter that had been sent to Wolfe. It read, in part, Any bag or piece which exceeds 32 kilos shall be charged at three times the applicable excess-baggage charge of 5,500 baht. Huh?
After a few weeks, the airline finally provided its overweight-baggage policy in writing. The explanation was that Wolfe was charged three times the normal fee because his bags were overweight and oversize. The policy, while confusingly written, seems to
say that bags over 32 kg with total dimensions of more than 80 in. would get socked with a triple penalty.
Fine, except that Wolfe insists no Thai Airways employee ever measured his bags. So the Avenger had Wolfe do it, then sent photographs to the airline of the bags next to a tape measure. The first two bags each totaled 60 in., while the second two totaled
67 in. each. All four were under the 80-in. limit, and should therefore have not been charged the triple penalty.
Export of Antiquities or Buddha Images from the Kingdom of Thailand
1. Buddha images, Bodhisattva images or related fragments, part of ancient monuments and prehistoric objects, are forbidden to be taken out of the Kingdom.
Newly cast Buddha images in complete condition can be exported for worship, cultural exchange or educational purposes with licenses issued by the Fine Arts Department. Not more than 5 pieces per person shall be allowed.
2. Reproductions of antiquities can also be exported with licenses.
3. Procedures to obtain a license for export of antiquities or Buddha images:
3.1 The following documents should be produced together with the application form :
(a) two copies (3x5 inches) of front view photograph of the object(s)
(b) a photocopy of the applicant's passport (in case of export of Buddha images the photocopy of passport must be certified as true copy by the related Embassy or Consulate in Thailand.)
3.2 Bring the object(s) and the documents to apply for a license at any of the following places:
(a) Office of Archaeology and National Museums, 81/1 Si Ayutthaya Road, Theves, Dusit, Bangkok, Tel: 0 2628 5032
(b) Chiang Mai National Museum, Superhighway Road, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai, Tel : (053) 221-308
(c) Songkhla National Museum, 13/1 Jana Road, Tambon Bohyang, Amphoe Muang, Songkhla, Tel : (074) 311-728, 311-881
(d) Thalang National Museum, Tambon Si Sunthorn, Amphoe Thalang, Phuket, Tel : (076) 311-426
3.3 Please allow 4 working days for license issuing process.
What should you do if you get stung by a jellyfish? Here's our cut-out-and-keep guide: pack it, or tuck it into your trunks.
There are different types of jellyfish - and also things that look like jellyfish but are different entirely (like man-of-wars) - and their stings respond to different treatment. But rather than wade back into the sea to identify the offending
creature there are a few general steps you can take. Most stings will cause little more than pain and discomfort but if you are in any doubt, call for medical help.
Avoid them. If you see one in the water, get out. If it's on the beach, walk around it - their tentacles can still sting.
If you're stung, get out of the water and don't thrash around. A Portuguese man-of-war may wrap its tentacles around you if you start flailing.
If you see tentacles on you, pick them off with a towel or the corner of a credit card. Don't rub the area. This will make the sting worse. But if you use a towel, be careful. The stinging cells - called nematocysts - might stick to it.
Vinegar, applied liberally, can stop the remaining nematocysts on the skin from discharging. This is particularly important if you are in tropical water, because of the types of jellyfish found there.
If vinegar is not available, rinse the area in salt water.
Contrary, to popular opinion and American sitcoms (Friends), cleaning with urine or fresh water and rubbing with sand are best avoided.
Put a bag of ice wrapped in a cloth on the affected area to relieve pain.
If you have is any difficulty breathing, dizziness, or an allergic reaction, call for medical help immediately.
They're expats helping local police help tourists in Pattaya, but not all visitors are happy with their public presence on the streets
Amid the neon kitsch of Pattaya's notorious Walking Street they're hard to miss. In the real world they are journalists, businessmen and retirees from around the world. But when the sun goes down they don the military-style black uniforms of Foreign
Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA) and patrol the streets with local police offering help to foreign visitors.
The job is unpaid volunteer work, and they pay for their own uniforms and equipment. Briton Howard Miller, the FTPA's group leader, tells Spectrum. 'We all love Thailand and that's why we're here, to serve the tourists.'
Police Captain Suprapan Phothiphirom from the Tourist Police station in Pattaya said the FTPA's job is to ensure the safety and security of foreign tourists and give them information and assistance.
We started the project in 1994, first with the Thai Tourist Police Volunteers, which now numbers 369, and later we added the FTPA component to it, said Capt Suprapan. Now we have about 30 assistants, which is not enough. We would like to
recruit more people, particularly the ones who can speak Italian, Korean and Russian. We need also women, something very hard to find.
But the farang police , despite their good intentions, have been subject to criticism, particularly over what people see as their intimidating black uniforms, their imposing appearance and the carrying of handcuffs and batons.
Capt Suprapan said that foreigners who want to join the FTPA must come to his office with a passport and fill out an application form. Applicants with a non-immigrant visa are preferred because they can be granted a one-year extension. A tourist visa is
not acceptable: We will send the information to immigration to conduct a background check. After that, we will investigate what the person has been doing in Pattaya and in Thailand. We don't check the person's history from his native country, but in
some cases, we will do so with the embassy.
If accepted, we will send the new recruit to our Tourist Police mobile unit on Walking Street positioned there every night for training with our assistants. This will last about three months, which is also the probation period. If the trainee performs
well then he will become an assistant and receive an identification card.
Capt Suprapan said qualified assistants carry a baton, gloves, handcuffs, a torch and a radio. He stressed that they can only assist Thai police to help subdue suspects when an arrest is made.