b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Travel » Post 1939547 | Search
This is a question Travel

I've had guns pointed at me in many different countries, sometimes even by our own side. I've also sat on my own on a beach on a desert island, which was nice because nobody was trying to shoot me. Tell us your tales of foreign travel.

Thanks to SnowytheRabbit for the suggestion

(, Thu 18 Apr 2013, 17:43)
Pages: Popular, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

« Go Back

TLDR: Got hassled at U.S. customs, twice.
I've told this story plenty of times but never here.

It was after 9/11 when the rules of travel and security were in a state of flux. You could get a metal fork on a Lufthansa flight but not a knife. You had to take your shoes off at Heathrow but not in Frankfurt. You had to put all liquids in a tiny clear plastic bag unless it was copious amounts of alcohol from duty free.

I was in the process of moving my whole life from England to New Zealand. My route was Heathrow - Los Angeles - Los Angeles - Auckland - Wellington.

I'd done this flight before and prepared for all the date jiggery pokery by staying awake for almost 24 hours. It worked, I got on the plane at Heathrow sat in the middle of the three seats on the left side, and slept all the way to Los Angeles (looking back I feel sorry for the person trapped by the window).

I got off the plane and headed to baggage to claim my suitcase that contained my entire life. NOTE: Prior to 9/11 you didn't have to claim your baggage at Los Angeles if you were on a connecting flight.

As I took my bag of the carousel two chaps in uniforms approached me and asked if I'd follow them to an interview room for a random check. Okay, nothing out of the ordinary here - just proceed.

I was left with the jolly John Goodman while the skinny Steve Buscemi departed for more routine tasks. I was wrong John wasn't jolly.

We were in room that looked just like the movies - four white walls with one of those cheeky two-way mirrors set in one of them. My suitcase was on the table in the middle.

He asked me a bunch of questions - this was a test I'd prepared for - his questions were pretty much the ones on the arrival card: am I terrorist? Have I been hanging out with terrorists? Am I drug user? Am I a drug dealer? Am I part of a drug cartel? Would I be a moron to confess to any of these things?

I gave short but polite answers.

Then he came out with the first startling piece of information: "You didn't eat your meal on the plane," said with a question mark of menace and suspicion.

Alarm bells: how the fuck did John Goodman know that and why the fuck does it matter?

"No, I didn't," was my simple and short answer.

"Why not?"

Because I haven't developed the talent for opening tin foil lids whilst maintaining REM sleep...is what I didn't say.

"Because I was asleep," is what I did say.

Goodman didn't say anything for a few minutes, probably a classic sweat'em tactic. I stayed quiet too - thinking of the Mancunican flight attendant that had ratted me out.

Then the non-jolly John Goodman started up again. He decided to get back to the topic of drug cartels, which is a shame because have an Irish name and thought he'd at least go the terrorist route for five more minutes.

"Let's talk about the contents of your suitcase," was the line he used to up the ante.

The whole reason for being in the room suddenly became clear.

You see, my Mom had decided that my Kiwi girlfriend should collect porcelain dolls. My Kiwi girlfriend thought this was quite an odd thing to be decided for her but went along with it. In my case was a porcelain doll. According to John Goodman, a clear sign that I was a drug mule.

He probably thought he had me at that point. I was sweating and starting to panic as my next flight was very soon.

Still, I managed to explain my situation.

He then explained his - that the initial x-rays were inconclusive. He was quite grumpy and said: "We'll just have to put your bag through our super-duper* machine and then we'll see if you story holds up". Fuck knows what it was really called.

Two minutes the result came in: no drugs, just a doll. I asked why he didn’t do that in the first place and he answered "9/11".

I was released. I checked in my bags at the desk and headed towards departures for security.

Before I even walked through the metal detector I got approached by a nice, smiley, chap that looked like Chris Tucker. He asked if I could come with him for a routine check.

As we entered the room I spied my suitcase on the table and chanced an opening gambit: "is this about the porcelain doll in my suitcase?"

"Yes", came Tucker's reply sans smile.

I explained the past hour spent with Goodman, asked him to check. He was dubious but agreed.

Tucker returned, disappointed that my story had checked out. But that wasn't going to ruin his chance of a big bust. He opened my suitcase and told me I had too many pairs of shoes (too many = dress shoes, trainers, football boots, flip-flops). I explained that i was moving my whole life in this suitcase and he left the shoe scenario alone.

Then he spied my hoody: FCUK. His face betrayed his thoughts 'Is it offensive? can I get him for this?'

"French Connection," I offered as a clue to the acronym.

In an instant i regretted it. Tucker perked up with: "You've got connections, you a made man, you think I’m scared, you think you're protected?".

...ten minutes of explaining the quirks of the UK fashion scene to him and I was on my way again. He apologised the only way these guys knew how: "9/11".

I arrived in New Zealand. Going through security I was stopped by an official - Tom Selleck – if you must know.

Tom assured me that this was just routine and asked if I had any apples in my bag. I didn't. He said enjoy your stay. I have ever since.

TLDR: Got hassled at U.S. customs, twice. Arrived in New Zealand and got asked about apples.
(, Mon 22 Apr 2013, 5:21, 4 replies)
I remember the US team raising concerns about security during the last world cup add they were playing on 11th September.
Officials responded by saying even even locals had trouble finding the place they were staying.
(, Mon 22 Apr 2013, 8:32, closed)
In a just world,
people in FCUK hoodies would be shot on sight.
(, Mon 22 Apr 2013, 8:43, closed)
Calm down.
On my travels I embraced the spiritualism I encountered. A system that’s far superior to the decadence of western religions. I learnt that every action we perform leaves an imprint, or potential, on our very subtle mind, and each karmic potential eventually gives rise to its own effect. Our mind is like a field, and performing actions is like sowing seeds in that field. Positive or virtuous actions sow the seeds of future happiness, and negative or non-virtuous actions sow the seeds of future suffering.

Once you embrace these truths you’ll see the folly in thinking about shooting a man because of his sweatshirt, and you’ll be ready to take the first step into living the life of a Buddhist, by burning him to death, or perhaps hacking him to pieces with a sword.
(, Mon 22 Apr 2013, 10:14, closed)
Sectarian slaughter is proper lol!

(, Mon 22 Apr 2013, 11:58, closed)

« Go Back

Pages: Popular, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1