My day started pretty good. I went to the famous white sand dunes about 40 kilometres east of my hotel. It is claimed to be the driest spot in South East Asia and you kinda feel like in the sahara desert. I hiked over the dunes and tried sand boarding … which didn’t really work out. It was nevertheless a great experience.
After a short break and two cups of fresh sugar cane I decided to go to the Red Canyon. I started my scooter and followed the directions given by google maps. The street winded along the coast and I passed some really nice landscapes. After a curve I even got into a huge herd of cows. Pretty cool!
However, a few kilometres further everything changed completely. I got stopped by a group of policemen somewhere in nowhere. They asked for my driving license and claimed that I was driving too fast. 55 km/h too fast to be exact. They must have a pretty good feeling for speed as they haven’t had any machines to measure my pace… not to mention that my scooter did not even drive that fast.
To cut a long story short, they wanted me to pay more than 3.5 million Vietnamese Dong which is about $160. They said they would confiscate my scooter if if don’t pay that amount.
I of course did not agree on paying that much money for something I did not do. I wanted to see their police ID which they did not show me. Then I wanted to drive to the next police station which they did not agree on.
Two policemen tried to drive away with my motorbike.
One policeman suddenly just sat down on my motorbike and told me to give him the key. I of course did not do that! I told him that I want to go together with him to the next police station. He however adamant that he is driving what I didn’t agree on as I did not trust any of these guys.
In a moment where I was distracted by another policemen he just grabbed my scooter and started running. When I saw it, a second policemen was driving next to him with his own motor bike and started to push him. In the last moment I could hold my bike and stop them.
At the latest now I recognized that something is going very wrong. I just wanted to leave but I was surrounded by three “policemen”. One of them was holding the breaks of my scooter. I haven’t had a chance to escape.
After a long discussion I could convince them that I will follow them on my scooter to the next police station. When we arrived there I saw two european girls that were also caught by the officers. I got an even worse feeling and stopped on the road in front on the station.
In front of the police building there were already more than 30 scooters locked with big chains.
The policemen got very mad at me and tried to force me to drive onto the police station area. The area where already more than 30 scooters were parked, locked with big chains. I thought when I drive onto this area I will loose my scooter for sure.
The situation got more and more out of control. He was shouting at me and touching me. Another man tried to put a chain on my scooter what I could prevent. I asked him what he actually wants from me. He and the other men were obviously not acting like police officers.
I don’t want to f**k you but the owner of the scooter.
After a while he said that he does not want to f**k me but the owner of the scooter. He said that I can just leave the scooter behind me and leave… I first thought I have misunderstood him but he confirmed his statement.
I told him that I won’t leave without the scooter. He got even more aggressive and did a few phone calls. After 10 minutes another officer arrived by motorbike and I was suddenly surrounded by four or five men. The atmosphere was very aggressive and they were shouting at me pretty bad. I did not really know what to do and just stayed on my scooter.
The policeman suddenly hit me and took the scooter by force
After some time one policeman suddenly hit me and the other ones were trying to get the scooter by force. They just dashed it to the ground and did not even care that my legs were below. A part of the scooter broke and I could jump off in the last second.
After this they just took the scooter and pushed it in front of the police building. There was no chance to get it back! The two girls from the beginning were also still there and have filmed the whole situation. In the end they got their scooter back without paying after they have threaten the officers with publishing the video of them hitting me.
Luckily I knew an expat who is living in that area since many years. I called him and told him what has just happened. He said that it is a common scam on tourists and that I should just leave without the scooter. He said, the owner can get it back.
If you ever get into this situation simply leave and tell the renter.
In the end I indeed just left and took a taxi back to my hotel. When I told the story to the guy who lent the scooter to me he said that it is a common problem. Policemen are stopping specifically tourists and try to rip them of. The local law requires everyone to have a vietnamese driving license. Policemen sometimes take advantage of this and just stop tourist, banking on the 99% chance that they don’t have the proper documentation. Everyone however can still get a scooter without presenting any license at all. If you ever get into this situation in Vietnam just leave and tell the renter about it. He can get his bike back without paying for it. Don’t risk a fight with the police in Vietnam.