Idiot Tourists Who Got Trapped In Foreign Countries

The advent of mass tourism was both the best and the worst thing to ever happen to the developed world. Best, because it meant we could all now kick back on a gorgeous beach in Thailand for the same sorta money as kicking back on a much less gorgeous beach in New Jersey. And worst, because it meant the rest of the world finally got firsthand experience of what absolute jerkwads vacationing Westerners are.

You've probably encountered the guys and gals we're talking about, the ones who get tanked, punch a waiter, and end the evening naked in the nearest fountain, chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" You've probably even wished someone would teach them a lesson. Well, good news, everyone! Turns out there are some countries out there that don't look kindly on obnoxious and stupid tourists. And by that we mean they deliver them the legal equivalent of a haymaker to the groin.

Kevin Scott Sutay

Remember the advice your mom used to give you? Don't talk to strangers, don't do drugs, and don't go walking in remote jungles controlled by Marxist narco-guerrillas? (Everyone's mom says this, right?) Apparently, Kevin Scott Sutay wasn't listening. In 2013, aged 26, the U.S. Army veteran took a hiking vacation in Colombia's troubled eastern provinces. He'd been there less than 13 days before being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. (Shown above, looking kidnappy.)

The Daily Beast has the story. Sutay was staying on the edge of the jungle when he got the idea to walk to the Venezuelan border. The Colombian-Venezuelan border is dangerous today, but in 2013 it was like walking into al-Qaeda headquarters and taking a dump on a picture of bin Laden. Local police, staff at Sutay's hotel, and a Colombian photojournalist all pleaded with him not to go. The best he could hope for, they said, was to be kidnapped. The worst he could hope for was to step on a landmine, wander into the line of a government airstrike, get bitten by a deadly snake, or just get lost in the jungle and wander hopelessly before dying. (But hey, all that would still be a better time than a trip to Atlantic City.)

Sutay was quickly kidnapped. Thankfully, FARC wasn't in the mood to break its previous "longest-held hostage" record of 13 years. Sutay was released after four months, following a joint mediation effort by Cuba, Norway, and the Red Cross (via The Guardian).

Evan Hunziker

Next time your friend tells you they've got a "hilarious" story about their drunken escapades, just know they will never have Evan Hunziker beat. In 1996, 26-year-old Hunziker was getting drunk in China when his buddies dared him to swim across the Yalu River. Since Hunziker was probably drunk enough to drown on dry land, you might be thinking this sounds like a dangerous idea. Wait till you hear what was waiting for this wasted bro on the other bank. The Yalu River forms China's border with North Korea.

As The Telegraph details, Hunziker survived his swim to the DPRK, just long enough for the real trouble to start. Hunziker was found by farmers, who handed him over to authorities, who charged him with espionage and threw him in jail. North Korean jails are unpleasant places at the best of times. When Pyongyang is in one of its belligerent "unstoppable march toward war" phases, they're probably horrifying.

Given that the Kim regime has since sentenced Americans to up to 15 years' hard labor, Hunziker got off pretty lightly. He was detained for three months before New Mexico Congressman Bill Richardson flew to Pyongyang and secured his release. You'd think such a story would act as a warning to other drunken bros, but apparently not. In 2014, South Korean authorities arrested a U.S. tourist at the Han River. He had also been attempting to swim to North Korea (via the Guardian).

Vince Acors

A general rule of thumb when in strict Islamic cultures is to not engage in any unmarried man on unmarried woman mutual grinding while out in public. But hey, rules are made to be broken, and guys like Vince Acors don't just break rules, they smash them apart with all the force and forethought of a tactical nuclear strike. In 2008, Acors was visiting Dubai when he met expat Michelle Palmer at a champagne brunch. One thing led to another, and, next thing you know, the two were having drunken sex on a public beach. Care to guess how the conservative Muslim authorities reacted?

Yeah, they didn't just throw the book at them. They emptied out the national library, dismantled it brick by brick, loaded the whole lot onto a catapult and launched it right at them. As The Guardian explains, they were arrested, fined, jailed, and prevented from leaving the country for six months. Since Acors was meant to be working as director of a telecommunications company in Britain at the time, this turned out to be a very costly sentence.

Acors' bad luck didn't end there. After he was given leave by the Dubai authorities to return to Britain, he managed to mess up his flight confirmation papers and was actually rearrested at the airport (via The Telegraph). Palmer, on the other hand, lost her prestigious publishing job and was forced to return to the U.K. Still, great story to tell at the bar.

Antti Tapio Peltomaki

Not every tourist who gets stupid drunk and gets trapped abroad is from the English-speaking nations. Thirty-five-year-old Antti Tapio Peltomaki is as Finnish as they come, complete with glorious mane. And he got into quite the pickle in Singapore in 2015. After drinking an amount of alcohol best described as "astronomic," Peltomaki ripped his clothes off, collapsed in the street, and slapped a police officer who was trying to rouse him (via Singapore's Straits Times).

Fortunately for Peltomaki, Singapore's cops are way more restrained than America's, so he was simply arrested, rather than being repeatedly tasered in his lingonberries. Unfortunately for the drunken Finn, Singapore's legal system is the very definition of draconian. You can get fined for spitting gum or forgetting to flush a toilet (via BBC). For slapping a police officer, you can get fined, caned, and chucked in jail for seven years. Still, at least your cell will presumably have a spanking clean toilet.

In Peltomaki's case, the authorities went easy on him, "easy" in Singapore meaning they detained him in the country for two months, fined him $1,000, and then jailed him for another month. Know how much it costs to be detained in Singapore for two months? Let's just say it's gonna be a long time before Peltomaki can afford to shop at IKEA again. (We're kidding, IKEA is obviously Norwegian.)

Oliver Jufer

Before you hear the story of Swiss man Oliver Jufer, you need to hear the story of Thailand's crazy love for its monarchy. Before he died in 2016, King Bhumibol (above) was revered with the intensity of a bald eagle made of American flags. Making jokes about him or his family could land you in prison for decades — one Thai man was threatened with 37 years for insulting Bhumibol's dog (via CNN).

Oliver Jufer was doubtless aware of this. An expat rather than a tourist, the 57-year-old had lived in Thailand for years. But his behavior was closer to that of a drunken bro than a middle-aged man. In 2007, Jufer grabbed a can of spray paint and went on a tagging spree. He didn't stop until he'd defaced countless pictures of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. In Thailand, that sort of crazy disregard for kingly feelings can stick you with 75 years in jail. Or, to put it another way, more than double the time John Hinckley Jr. served for trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan.

Jufer's sentence was reduced to 20 years after he pleaded guilty, then cut to 10 on appeal. And there his story would have probably ended, had King Bhumibol himself not intervened. Unusually for a revered monarch, King Bhumibol never bought into his own hype, and used to say he shouldn't be above criticism. After Jufer was jailed, Bhumibol issued him a royal pardon (via Reuters).

Haruna Yukawa

The fate of Haruna Yukawa should be carved in stone and displayed as a public warning for anyone who wishes they had a more exciting life. A Japanese loser with few friends, Yukawa went through a sad and lonely childhood, followed by an adulthood marred by relentless tragedy. In 2014, aged 41, he finally decided to jettison his crushing existence and set off in search of adventure. For most people that would mean going backpacking in South America, or finding themselves in a retreat in India. Yukawa had somewhere more exciting in mind: Syria.

The Guardian has the details. At that time, Syria was three years into a bruising civil war that was already shaping up to be the deadliest conflict of the early 21st century. ISIS was on the scene. Chemical weapons were being dropped on civilians. The country was on the verge of utter collapse ... and Yukawa decided this would be the perfect place to find meaning in his life. Forging credentials, he set off for Aleppo, styling himself as an expert security consultant there to help international companies. It went about as well as you'd expect.

Yukawa was quickly captured by ISIS, dragged off, and held hostage. Initially the terror group tried to ransom him but when that failed, they settled for gruesomely executing him. Sadly, they also captured and executed Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who went to Syria partially to beg for his compatriot's release. Wow. This lighthearted article sure took a dark turn.

The 'Budgie Nine'

American readers! Prepare to be introduced to the dubious joys of Australian slang. "Budgie smugglers" are what the fake-Brits (Down Under) call skintight swimming briefs that leave very little to the imagination regarding a certain part of the male anatomy. When worn by someone like David Beckham, they're a pleasing treat for heterosexual female eyes, non-heterosexual male eyes, and for any eyes that appreciate "ideal" human forms. When worn by literally anyone else, they constitute an optical assault so vicious they're outlawed in several nations. That's not a comical exaggeration. In 2016, they directly contributed to the arrest of nine vacationing Australians (via BBC).

The "Budgie Nine" were a group of young, rich, privately educated friends plucked straight from Australia's elite. This being Australia, "elite" meant they liked to spend their time drinking beer, being loud in foreign countries, and stripping down to their budgie smugglers in inappropriate places. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a full list of places they subjected to the sight of their inexpertly smuggled budgies.) In this case, that inappropriate place was Malaysia, and the budgie smugglers in question were decorated with the Malaysian flag. Malaysia took one horrified look at the nine bulging, sweaty nutsacks being rubbed all over their beloved flag and arrested the lot of them.

The "Budgie Nine," as Australian media christened them, spent four days in jail before being deported after an expert (read: expensive) lawyer got them off. Hilariously, it later turned out that one of them worked for the Australian government. That probably went down well in Canberra.

Thailand's homeless Westerners

"When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go ... to Thai-land," is absolutely not something Petula Clark sang, but it is apparently the lyrics a lot of Westerners heard. The southeast Asian nation is full of Brits and Americans blowing off steam by getting drunk and taking advantage of a cheap, sun-drenched lifestyle. Some have such a good time that they overstay their visas to keep the party going. Bad move. Thai overstay penalties are so harsh that, according to The Independent, tourists sometimes wind up trapped there for years.

The Library of Congress's website has the exact figures in USD. For minor overstays, foreigners are expected to pay a measly $14. But for longer overstays, that figure can rise to $571 plus jail time. The longer you overstay, the longer you can spend in jail, and Thai jails are the kind of places that make Texan jails look like amusement parks (or Norwegian jails). So some tourists are forced to stay on, unable to make money, forced to sleep rough in case they get reported to immigration authorities, effectively trapped in the country.

To call the overstay lifestyle grim is to do a disservice to plain ol' misery. Some homeless foreigners are forced to eat leftovers in food courts just to survive. Nearly all of them had crippling alcohol addictions. Gee, it's almost like things can turn out badly if you willfully ignore a foreign country's laws.