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Australia customs


strawberrypi
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So I travelled back to Australia, from spending about 3 weeks in Pattaya. Arrived back to Australia today.

 

After immigration control, a customs officer approached me and asked some questions:

 

- What did you do do in Thailand (I was there for the night-life mostly)

- Did you go there alone (yes)

- Did you meet up with friends there (no)

 

After these questions the customs officer marked my immigration card with some symbol. I assumed it the symbol meant "check for drugs", like all of the previous times I have entered Australia (I am starting to recognise the people with the cute narco labradors.) Maybe it has something to do with being a single guy travelling from Doha (I like the price/performance ratio of Qatar Airlines Business class, and it is a good route from Scandinavia.)

 

But instead of the usual dog drug sniffing routine (quick, cute), I was routed to some big area containing 99% asian people in line for the quarantine check and 1% losers in my line (me and some really scared-looking asian girl).

 

Two customs officers (both female) started examining my luggage (and phone and wallet). One of them asked me to log in to my laptop so she could examine it; I did.

 

What followed was a 30 minute examination of my laptop by said customs officer. Judging from facial expressions, the customs officer found my 20 GB porn collection about 10 minutes in, and then spent twenty minutes perusing it. This particular porn stash contains mostly kinky but legal photography and videos (both commercial stuff and self-made) - which worried me quite a bit. After all, Australia is the country that made abbywinters.com (of all things!) move to the Netherlands.

 

Meanwhile I was being asked lots of questions:

 

- How much cash did you spend per day? (uh, it varied)

- Was this the first time you used this hotel? (no)

- Did you go to any tourist attractions I might recognise? (probably not - she didn't recognise soi cowboy)

- Do you like going to asian countries (yes)

- Where did you get the money to pay for your expenses (from my credit card)

- Are you married? (no, I am single)

- So you spent like three weeks mostly drinking? (yeah….)

-

 

I must say the the custom officers behaved at least somewhat professional during all of this. However, it was still felt really embarrassing. And in retrospect, violated. Not by the officers, but by the system.

 

Finally, I was let go. I was told that they were basically only looking for child porn and drugs (although they didn't do a very thorough look for drugs for me; the primary focus was obviously the computer and strangely also a passive USB hub; they thought it could contain porn. They also told me I shouldn't feel embarrassed for what they found on my laptop - "we have seen it all".

 

Lesson for next time: always encrypt anything embarrassing or sensitive.

Edited by strawberrypi
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I blame the TV for this. They have a programme called "border control” which shows Immigration Quarantine and Customs agents at work. The sensational nature of this program would have you believe that every second person is an illegal immigrant, a drug smuggler or even worse has “Food” in their luggage. Each officer thinks they might get on TV if they get tough so they all turn into pricks.

 

Now I have waited for a few hours at the airport for a couple of girls from Manilla where were visiting me. They were interrogated despite having valid visa’s, invitation letters from me and me waiting to pick them up. Immigration eventually phoned me to confirm details and I had to bite my tongue so I didn’t tell them what I thought. The whole process was disgusting and Australian immigration should be ashamed of itself.

 

Trouble is we are dealing with Government departments and they can fuck up your day if you are non Australian. As an Australian Citizen I arrived late one night and had my car in the long term car park so I was in no hurry to get through. I was happy with the contents of my camera and laptop and so there was little that I needed to be shy about so after I was hassled for the 5th time by various officers demanding to see my passport and quarantine card I let them know that I thought their activities ere rude and invasive. Of course this ensured a complete search of my bags, laptop and cameras. It didn’t help that I was coping down all their names and comments and letting them know about my letter of complaint. In the end I got a bog standard reply from customs but with 3 departments they all blamed each other.

 

So I definitely sympathise with you regarding your treatment but once you are here it is hard to give up the weather, the beaches, the freedoms and best of all it is closer to Pattaya than most places

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts.

 

Voltaire

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Hi Andy,

 

thanks for the sympathy. :)

 

I don't think it is the TV show that makes them "hardened". There were no tv cameras around, thankfully...

 

(Although, a colleague told me he had happened to come across a particularly stern

dominatrix-style customs officer when he happened to go through customs during

a day when they were shooting for that particular show...)

 

Again, please continue comments here:

 

http://www.pattaya-a...tralia-customs/

 

(This thread was started by the combination of a bug in the forum code and a mishap by me.)

Edited by strawberrypi
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