Funny Stories in Japan – The Gold Smuggle Incident

After visiting Taiwan during term break, I had some cash left over that I wanted to spend at Taoyuan airport. Changing it back into Yen would have been a waste because of the insane charges. So, I was running out of time and desperately searching for something halfway useful to buy when I came across the chocolate section.

I hesitated no more and spent the rest of my money, about 1200 Taiwanese dollars, on a gigantic pack of Ferrero Rocher. (How I would eat them all and what that would do to my body was something I’d worry about later.)

Back at Narita airport, while standing in line for immigration, I noticed posters on the walls, informing and warning about gold smuggle. Gold smuggle? I thought. Sounds like back in the days with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. 

After the immigration officer had taken yet another delightful picture of me arriving at Narita looking like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, on I went, down the escalator and towards customs. People in front of me were pulling suitcases of all seizes.

Not me though. For a while now, I’ve been traveling with hand luggage only because it’s so much more convenient (and life-affirming when arguing about weight limits at check-in), so when it was my turn to see the customs officer, he looked at me skeptically and said: “Is that ALL your luggage?!“

When I confirmed and he realized that I live in Japan and just came back from a short trip, he said: “OK then. Do you carry any of these items?“ and showed me the same pictures that were on the gold smuggle warning posters. I denied having any gold objects like that, but he still wanted to see inside my bag. What he found in there made him frown, since it was in fact gold that he saw – in the form of Ferrero Rocher. “What’s this?“ he asked, confused.

“It’s…chocolate“, I said. He opened the bag a little more, which exposed even more gold wrapping. “Lots of chocolate“, I added.

His reply was a look that I interpreted as “Woman, what the hell??“ and I tried hard not to laugh. It’s one of these situations when you want to say something funny but know you should really rather not.

“It’s ok, you can go now.“ he said, shaking his head.

Moral of the story? I really don’t know. What I do know though is that Ferrero should make a TV ad out of this. Preferably with a James Bond type of person as the smuggler…

Ok, before this gets any further, I’m off to bed.

(Probably dreaming of exploding from eating too many Ferrero Rocher.)





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