Yesterday, in a rural part of Isaan, something strange was spotted by by local police.
Adding a new dimension to the ongoing debate about Westerners from developed countries begging in Southeast Asia to find their travels, was a pair of Asian begpackers in elephant pants and tourist tops hanging around by a roadside with signs, including one that said “No Money.”
This is the first known viral reporting of Asian begpackers and they turned out to be from the wealthy nation of Japan.
When caught, the two young men were all smiles, revealing that they were Japanese college students and posing for pictures with police, who offered them cold water and advice about safe travel.
A post yesterday about the incident by local police garnered almost 600 reactions.
安全な旅 (เดินทางปลอดภัย)ครับสายตรวจจราจร สภ.อรัญประเทศ ขณะออกตรวจพื้นที่ พบเห็นนักท่องเที่ยวยืนถือป้าย หน้า รร.อนุบาลศรีอ…
It translates as:
“The patrolmen of Aranyaprathet Police Department [of the Sa Kaeo province] saw two tourists outside Sri Aranyothai kindergarten. They were holding signs that read “No Money,” “Bangkok,” and “Sa Kaeo,” so the officers went and talked to them.
We found out that they were Japanese university students who wanted to travel to Bangkok, so they made signs in order to hitchhike and save money.
The patrolmen contacted the tourist police, who brought the two tourists to rest at Aranyaprathet Police Station and told them that traveling that way was unsafe.
We then contacted the public vans at Aranyaprathet Transport to take them to Bangkok, so that they would travel safely.” The police hashtagged their post with #HighStandardService #AranyaprathetPolice
Most of the comments on the post praised the police for the good job they do while others condemned the men — who come from a rich nation and are enrolled in college — for traveling with no money. While we only know that they were explicitly asking for a free ride, we are not sure that they were collecting cash donations. However, the “No Money” sign would imply that they were.
The fact that the “No Money” sign was also translated into what appears to be Khmer implies that they might have been begpacking in Cambodia before reaching Thailand.