A must-not-do list of the strangest laws that govern our world.
By Deboshree Banerjee
Travelling can be an incredibly freeing experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free to do whatever you want. Along with a change in culture comes a change in the laws of the foreign land, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to land yourself in hot water. And the last thing you want is to be hit with a heavy ﬁne while embracing your inner wanderlust.
SINGAPORE: CHEWING GUM While littering is a serious issue everywhere, Singapore takes public cleanliness to a whole new level. The country prohibited the sale and import of chewing gum in 1992 when it caused damage to the public transit system. Prior to the ban, the government claimed that US$106,000 was spent each year cleaning it up. While exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions, we suggest leaving your bubble gum behind to prevent landing in a sticky situation.
CHINA: REINCARNATION WITHOUT GOVERNMENT CONSENT Did you know that you need permission from the Chinese government to come back from the dead? While it is not a problem for most people, it is bad news for Buddhist monks in Tibet, who hold reincarnation as one of their holiest beliefs. The prohibition, although absurd, has very real political undertones and is simply China’s ploy to bring all Tibetans under state control.
THE UNITED STATES: MAKING UGLY FACES AT DOGS America has its own fair share of bizarre rules, but this one’s a beauty. Apparently in Oklahoma, making ‘ugly faces’ at dogs can get you ﬁ ned or even jailed. Not sure how it got implemented, but if you’re naturally ugly, you might want to stay away. Clearly, this state doesn’t buy into the whole “beauty lies in the eyes of thebeholder” belief.
DENMARK: PERSONAL BABY NAMES The unusual baby name trend is a no-go in Denmark. So to protect children from their parents’ bad taste, the country has an oﬃcial child naming guideline for every newborn. Now if you want to stray from the 7,000 approved names, you will need to seek permission from the government. If only the Kardashians had the guideline, then maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to turn to Google Maps for inspiration.
IRAN: WESTERN HAIRSTYLES Iran has left its crazy hair days behind by issuing a list of acceptable hairstyles for men. In 2010, the country banned ponytails, mullets and any spiky haircuts, describing them as ‘homosexual’ and ‘devil worshipping.’ The haircut code was mainly established to stop the inﬂuence of Western culture and is religiously followed by everyone. If that wasn’t enough, hair gel and male eyebrow plucking also made it on the 2010 list of no-no’s.
INDIA: KEEPING MONEY THAT YOU FOUND India does not believe in ﬁnders keepers. So if you ﬁnd a Rs 50 note just lying in the street, think twice before stashing it in your pocket, because any amount over Rs 10 should be lawfully handed to the authorities.
NORTH KOREA: BLUE JEANS In North Korea, a country with wacky leaders and insane laws, blue jeans are illegal. They don’t hate the colour per se, but believe blue symbolises American Imperialism. The jeans worn by North Koreans (if any) are normally black. If caught by the fashion police (literally), strict punishments are applicable. However, as a tourist, you can wear blue jeans, unless you are visiting the past leaders’ memorial site.
GREECE: HIGH HEELS Greece’s exquisite monuments and archaeological sites are on everyone’s bucket list. However, in order to visit these attractions, you would have to leave your stilettos behind. Archaeologists say that stiletto heels and their metal tips transmit more pressure per square inch than a 6,000-pound elephant, and are therefore damaging their national treasures. So even if you look great in those shoes, it’s time to take a step down and do your part to preserve precious history.
GERMANY: RUNNING OUT OF FUEL ON THE AUTOBAHN The German Autobahn is considered a driver’s paradise, except when you run out of fuel. Since stopping on the highway due to insuﬃcient petrol is a human error, it is considered a punishable oﬀense with a US$100 ﬁne for endangering other drivers. What complicates the situation further is that you can’t walk along the highway to get some gas, as walking on the Autobahn is prohibited as well; so it will only make you lose another US$100.