And it's one government warning that deserves notice
THE following scenario is neither joke nor fantasy, but a travel tip provided by the Federal Government. An Australian man is travelling overseas and walks into a bar. He is beckoned by a woman, who requests a drink. He quickly obliges. What did he do wrong?
According to a travel bulletin titled "Partying Overseas", issued this week by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the bar-goer should have checked the prices before bestowing his largesse. Otherwise, the bill could end up larger than his ego.
"Large numbers of Australians get into trouble overseas as a direct result of partying too hard and forgetting about simple safety precautions," says the bulletin. "Parties and festivals like Full Moon Parties in Koh Phangan, Thailand, and Oktoberfest in Germany can be fun experiences, but drinking too much or taking drugs can put you in difficult and often dangerous situations far from home. Australians have had their drinks spiked, had their documents stolen, been assaulted, injured, arrested, imprisoned and even killed."
The department lists risks and pitfalls such as leaving drinks unattended or getting drunk while carrying passports and valuables. It warns people not to miss the last ferry from island parties, to beware of foreign drinks with higher-than-expected alcohol content, and to pre-pay or check prices for food. "Before entering or ordering services in a bar, restaurant or other establishment that you or your friends are not familiar with, check that it has readily available price lists for food, drinks and other services it may offer. "If you don't, you may find yourself with an unexpectedly large bill, which you might be forced to pay under duress before you can leave. Be aware that in some bars there is strong coercion to buy drinks for others, for example for bar girls, and these drinks may be very expensive."
A spokeswoman for the department said it was concerned about reports of Australian party-goers falling into trouble. The bulletin was a "response to the increasing number of consular cases and comments to our consular feedback inbox regarding drink spiking, assaults and robberies occurring at parties overseas".
The department lists examples of Australians getting into trouble, including two in Europe who were taken to a bar by a friendly taxi driver. They failed to check the prices and received a bill for thousands of dollars. "Security guards" held one person and escorted the other to a nearby teller machine.
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