What happens when you bring pepper spray to Hong Kong!
This week I though I will finish my Hong Kong story about an adventure that I have lived during my travel times.
I have also added a part of this story into my “What to avoid in Hong Kong” travel post, but I received some requests from you guys to tell you more about the story to what happened when I brought a pepper spray to Hong Kong, so here you go:
This summer I was travelling to Asia, doing a trip between Hong Kong, Singapore and Bali. When I was packing my luggage to bring with me, I saw the pepper spray, that my mom gave to me for a “just in case” situation and thought it wouldn’t hurt to bring it with me.
In Germany you are allowed to buy the pepper sprays without any restrictions. You are not allowed to use them against other persons, the intention is to save you from animal attacks, but if something happens to you and you have it with you, it might safe you in an uncomfortable situation.
So I took the pepper spray, put it in my checked-luggage and did not think anymore about it. The first day in Hong Kong I was walking through the city alone, as my friend had arrived a day earlier and was exploring Macau, so I took the pepper spray with me – just in case.
Passing by 4 days in this beautiful city it was time to leave and go to Bali. Of course I did not think about putting the pepper spray in my checked luggage anymore…
So arrived at the carry-on luggage check the security guard made me open my bag and found my mini pepper spray.
My quick answer was “Oh I totally forgot it was there, just through it away, sorry!” But the guy looked at me and said “You can’t leave, I have to call the police!”
I remember how my stomach turned around … police ?????
Me and my friend where looking at each other and trying to explain him, that this was just a pepper spray, nothing illegal and that I just forgot to put it away. The only thing he was telling us though was: “In Hong Kong it is illegal!”
Have you ever seen those horrifying movies where a person got taken to prison in Thailand without any justice, because of some drugs that weren’t even his? I suddenly remembered all of these movies in exactly that second!
What could be the penalty for a pepper spray? Money? Not allowance to enter the country again? That would mean I have to buy a new ticket back to Barcelona! Why did I have to bring a pepper spray to Hong Kong ?
The guy wasn’t helping always putting an eye on me and not giving me any answer. I tried to ask him what normally happens in a situation like this, but he wasn’t in the mood to answer and continuously repeated “Wait for police!”
So we waited for the police… my friend unfortunately wasn’t really helpful either, instead of just assuring me that nothing is going to happen, she made funny jokes about the people around us and the situation, which didn’t make me feel more comfortable.
After 10 minute the first police officer arrived and escorted us away to a table. After some minutes two further police officers arrived. Each one of them with a pistol in their shaft.
I remember perfectly how one of the guys was quite nice and tried to explain us, that we don’t have to worry, while the other one of the police officers made me worry even more.
They took out a measure band, measured the pepper spray 5 times, filled a long and not ending police report, measured the pepper spray again, tried to read the information on it (in German) and discussed with the third police men without giving me a glance.
I was not sure if being seriously worried or all relaxed…I mean for bringing a pepper spray to Hong Kong they weren’t going to bring me to jail, were they?
After another 20 minutes waiting, while I started to become additionally worried in loosing my flight, the unfriendly police officer turned to me and started to ask me a bunch of questions, that I was answering precisely one after another. “Where did you buy it?”, “Why did you buy it?”, “Why did you bring a pepper spray to Hong Kong”, “Did you know that it is illegal?”, “You have committed a crime, is this clear to you?” then he started to talk again with the dirt police officer.
Ten minutes later he started to ask me the same questions all over again. This went on and on for about an hour, and I was sure I would miss my flight, till suddenly the nicer guy turned to me. He told me that I had to sign a paper acknowledging to having committed a crime and declaring that this will not happen again. I signed.
And that was it…. They let us go just like that and we ran to get our flight to Bali.
10 days later after our trip to Bali we came back to Hong Kong. I was sure that I was going to be stopped when trying to get into the country, but there was no additional questioning or any difficulties. It seems I was lucky !
I will probably never forget that moment and I definitely will never again travel with a pepper spray !!
Have you had similar experiences during your travels?
*Image from Benjamin Lihn