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The dangers of travelling without thinking

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Nigel Morris-Cotterill

A very funny story in today's South China Morning Post reminds me of the many hilarious tales of my Hong Kong Police mates about vice raids. The anonymous tourist who bemoans his fate in the article is an example of what happens if you think that being a foreigner absolves you from the important action of switching on your brain and learning at least something about what you are getting yourself into, says Nigel Morris-Cotterill

The story is simple, man wants a shag, hears about a building in Argyle Street in Mong Kok where flats are subdivided into cubicles, each one sublet to an "independent" prostitute. A kind of whoretel. He knocks on doors until he gets a price he's happy with from a girl he likes the look of and starts to get hot and sweaty and, hey presto, the cops descend and arrest about 100 people including the managers, the girls and their customers. After his American passport had been inspected and the police were satisfied he had not been, well, satisfied, he was sent away. He was lucky. Read the SCMP article for details of the set up and 14K involvement which explains why HK is so concerned about prostitution.

The complainant's intention was no doubt so solicit sympathy, or even synthetic rage, at his plight. Instead, he is simply a laughing stock. Another idiot tourist who doesn't bother to think beyond "I'm a visitor so I can do the things wouldn't dare do in my own home town."

It's a common attitude, from the tourists caught in a rowdy party in Cambodia and accused of having pornographic images on their phones to the group baring their backsides on sacred Mount Kinabalu there is a tendency for travellers to leave both common sense and, often, morality at home.

"Holiday brain" affects millions: as they step off the plane in Phuket, they are miraculously granted the motorcycling prowess of Guy Martin, or the chick-magnet talents of John F Kennedy, without the looks or the physique. Or power.

One has to wonder why people do this: is it simply that their lives are so dreary that that they pretend to a Superman complex on holiday?

At the other end of the scale are those who treat travelling as an opportunity to try out new experiences, some good, some bad. The bad ones are all too often where drugs and money mules are found. And it's where those who pay for prostitutes all too often support people trafficking.

So there is it. Holiday brain supports global organised crime.