Monday July 14 2014
Vietnam a ‘High Risk’ country?
Vietnam it seems for Australians is a ‘high risk’ country. That’s what I learned from a grumpy Australian Immigration official who ‘interrogated’ when on my return to Australia at Brisbane airport a few days ago.
I have been visiting Vietnam for many years and this is the first time I have been subject to such an ordeal. It’s no doubt due to the frequency of my visits and perhaps reflects a change in the official view of Australian Customs and Immigration.
When I asked the purpose of the questions and told I had been to ‘a high risk country’ I said, “in what sense?” “Drugs and paedophiles” came the curt reply. I nearly laughed in his face because if that was the criteria, then I was about to enter another ‘high risk country’. Australia has its share of paedophiles and an acknowledged big drug problem. By rights, when I entered Vietnam, their Immigration should have pulled me aside because there is no doubt using that Australian Immigration guy’s reasoning, Vietnam would have been within their rights to interrogate me.
When the questioning had finished, the guy scribbled a symbol on my entry form handed it back to me and grunted, ‘all good”. As I stepped away from him I thought, “I bet it isn’t.” And I was right! When I gave it to another official, this time in Customs, I was directed to an X-Ray machine and told to “sit down and wait for someone to speak to you”.
A few minutes later a 30+ something woman came and proceeded to search thru my luggage, which consisted of my suitcase, small travelling hold-all and computer case. Of course she found nothing untoward and I was allowed to leave.
I left the airport tired after a long flight in which I barely slept a wink and a little upset. Of course I realise and understand these people are only doing what is a very important and necessary job. But when I thought about the lovely, gentle Vietnamese people I had left who over the years, had shown me nothing but kindness and friendship it made me sad to think that their country, the safest in south-east Asia is still regarded as ‘high risk’ by my country. Australia today has capital cities awash with violence; bashings, shootings, home invasion, rape and petty crime. Major cities in Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi have nowhere near this level of violence, drugs and paedohilia.
For safety and free of drugs and paedophiles, give me “high risk” Vietnam any time.