The 400 Baht Pepsi

So today I’m scootering down Sukhumwit Rd, the main drag of Rayong, helmet-less. The day is warm, and all is right with the world. If I wasn’t on a little scooter, this song might be on the mental playlist

The scene changes very fast when a Pride of brown-uniformed helmeted blokes appear ahead in my lane waving me over to the curbside. Oh, so that’s what Thai cops look like.

I’m told I’m not wearing a helmet, and that my NZ driver’s licence is only for 4-wheeled vehicles. I left my international driver’s licence at home, of course. I’m told that I need to pay a fine, for being helmet-less.

The Thai cop who pulled me over

The cop, a solid genial guy only a little taller than me, tells me I have two options. Go to the police station brandishing a ticket he’s about to write me, and pay 500 baht, or pay him 400 baht at the roadside. I tell him I’ll pay at the station ( sure I will ), but it starts to look like he’s gonna keep my driver’s licence as guarantee of said payment. Getting the licence back seems like it’s going to present huge problems to someone who still can’t find his way around Rayong without Google Maps barking orders. And the cop clearly would rather not fill out the ticket, which looks like a Byzantine affair.

I moan that I need the money for other things, but hand him a 1000-baht note. He doesn’t do change, and sends me on foot down the road for it. I do my business, and return to pay. He sidles me away from the glare of his comrades, and the public, and gestures for me to lean into a huddle. We opens a leather note holder and gestures for the baht to go in there.

Once all that furtive nastiness is over, he’s all jovial again, and presents me with a … can of Pepsi. A small one.

I’m on way again, having paid my donation to the police social club beer kitty fine.

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