Gambling, homosexual acts, taking prescription drugs or even a jet ski accident could land you in hot water and turn your vacation into a nightmare.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia and India are among the top ten destinations Australians flock to. The problem is these six countries have harsh laws that seem unimaginable here, which can land some unaware Aussies in some serious trouble.
The Newsroom takes you through what you need to watch out for when visiting these hot spots.
Bali is the go to holiday destination of young Australians. Approximately 16,000 Australians travel there every week. It has everything they love: beaches, booze and parties. Thanks to the Bali Nine, most Australians are now very aware that being part of a drug ring and trying to smuggle 8kg of heroin out of Bali will give you a death sentence. However they are not aware that less than five grams can cost you a million bucks or a decade in jail. Possession of less than five grams of cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy or meth can end in a fine ranging between $100,000 and $1.1 million, and/or a prison sentence of 4-12 years.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, in 2014 three people were arrested on drug related charges and all three of them were imprisoned.
Bali is known for its stories of assaults, robberies, and drink spiking. In December 2013 Liam Davis, 19, from Western Australia died from methanol poisoning while partying in Bali.
Smartraveller provides safety warnings for people looking to travel to different countries. They currently advise that tourists should reconsider their need to travel to Central Sulawesi, Maluku, Papua and West Papua. The remainder of Indonesia has warnings for Australians to exercise “a high degree of caution” due to a high risk of terrorist threats.
Over 610,000 Australians head to Thailand each year for the opportunity to ride an elephant and have fun at an infamous full moon party. But there are allegedly many reasons why it’s so bad, literally. English author John Stapleton wrote the book Thailand: Deadly Destination, published in late 2014, he wrote about the “land of smiles” in a darker light. He wrote about the bus, ferry, speedboat, motorbike and car accidents, murders, knifings, unexplained deaths, numerous suicides, diving accidents, robberies gone wrong, anonymous bodies washing up on the shores and a string of alcohol and drug related incidents.
Stapleton brought light to the daily robbing, bashing, drugging, extortion and murder of foreign tourists on Thai soil, that he claims are suppressed so the tourism industry is not affected. The Thai government issued a Do Not Travel warning for Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla areas as there are high levels of ongoing violence. Death and injuries are common and there are almost daily bombing and shooting attacks. In the last decade over 6000 deaths have occurred in this area. The full moon and other parties at Koh Phangan and in other locations regularly result in reports of sexual assaults, deaths, arrests, robbery, injuries and lost travel documents from tourists.
Phuket.com, a travel guide for Phuket, warns of jet ski scams that operate throughout Thailand. You hire out a jet ski and when you return it, the operate accuses you of damaging the jet ski and orders you to pay the costs. What they don’t tell you is that the damage was previously there. If the police are called to the scene it is not uncommon for them to be involved in the scam and order you to pay up.
China is visited by over 400,000 Australians each year for a new and exciting cultural experience. Selling or using narcotic drugs have harsh laws that can result in life in prison or the death penalty and gambling is also illegal. Smartraveller advises to exercise a high degree of caution if travelling to Xinjiang. The security situation in this region is volatile due to heightened ethnic tensions. There is also a high risk of Avian influenza in China.
Crimes of vandalism, visa offences and rioting can result in corporal punishment. Homosexual acts are illegal and can result in imprisonment. Inappropriate language and behaviour can result in fines, imprisonment and/or corporal punishment. The use and selling of narcotics is illegal and can result in the death penalty. Van Tuong Nguyen, 25, from Melbourne, was hanged in Singapore after being caught with almost 400g of heroin. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in Singapore, and can result in fever, blisters and rashes.
Many Asian countries have high usage and trafficking of drugs, hence why most of the laws in these countries are so harsh. Selling narcotics in Malaysia can attract heavy fines, lengthy jail sentence or even death. Julia Bishop issued a media release in October 2014 warning Australians of kidnapping threats in eastern Malaysia. Malaria and dengue fever are also common in the country. Homosexual acts are illegal and can result in corporal punishment and/or lengthy prison sentences.
India’s threat is not harsh criminal laws but the high threat of terrorism and civil unrest throughout the country. The Department of Foreign Affairs advises to “exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the high threat of terrorist activity. We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks in India and assess that attacks could occur anywhere at any time with little or no warning, including in locations frequented by Australians.”
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in India and can result in life imprisonment. The Department of Foreign Affairs suggests Australians should reconsider when travelling to India’s North eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur due to the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion, separatist and insurgent violence. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings in these states. After the fatal gang rape of a New Delhi student, locals say security efforts have not been raised with the mother of the victim saying “there are attacks happening everyday”. Australian woman should be cautious when travelling alone in India. A 22-year-old student from Australia was drugged and raped in India.
So next time you travel, spend a few minutes learning about your destination. It might just save your life. – Jade Meiach-Sherlock
Top photo from Bart Speelman’s Flickr photostream.