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Three months on, Simon Burrowes makes it through Immigration today

Jet Me Out Of Here! Stayput Simon All Set to Fly

Saturday, May 16, 2009
'Leaving on a Jet Plane' Photo Album Above

SIMON Burrowes made it to Phuket airport in good time today for his 5.50pm flight to Singapore. By 4.20pm, he was through Immigration, virtually on board and ready to fly.

He went to the airport today armed with all the correct paperwork, accompanied by friends and a Phuket City Immigration escort, and was looking forward to bringing an end to his strange experience in Thailand.

But given that Murphy's law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) seems to always dog his travel plans, the affable Briton said: ''I am not counting any chickens.''

''I am not out of the woods until I am through Heathrow airport and on home soil, I mean, on home concrete,'' he told Phuketwan

His ordeal began with every traveller's worst nightmare as he tried to catch a flight back to Britain on January 31.

A rumpus with Immigration officials questioning his passport and leading to his arrest was bad enough.

But to be told that your country's data base does not list your passport among its records . . . that is the stuff of horror for travellers everywhere.

Simon Burrowes is 44 and a likeable, charming man with a degree of mental strength that helped him through three weeks in a crowded Thai jail on Phuket and the long period of waiting that followed.

He talks a lot, thinks a lot, and writes a lot, and it's highly likely that his complete version of the three months he spent as a kind of ''prisoner'' in Thailand will come tumbling out online eventually.

When Phuketwan caught up with Mr Burrowes today, he was reading 'The Damage Done' by Warren Fellows, a heroin trafficker who spent 12 years in the so-called ''Bangkok Hilton.''

Mr Burrowes says he had never been in prison before, so his three weeks in Phuket Jail opened his eyes to a seamy and at times distasteful side of life.

''It wasn't like you see in the movies,'' he said. ''I steeled myself to be a hard man. You know how you see the US jails depicted as filled with color-based factions.

''But inside Phuket Jail, it was very different. Everything was very Thai, and tactile.''

Prisoners would have to sit on each other's knees to eat, and sleeping conditions were so crowded it was inevitable that one prisoner would throw a limb across a neighbor.

He was pleasantly surprised with some aspects of jail, but extremely unhappy to be there.

And while he appreciates the help he has received from many Thais, he remains distinctly unimpressed with his treatment.

''It has been bizarre, it has been ludicrous, it has been vindictive,'' he said.

''It was practically impossible for me to respect this country's institutions.

''It's a great place to visit. . . and there's a dark side.''

Back in Britain he will land on his brother in London, then consider whether to go ahead with a fitness instructor's course or return to his former job as a doorman.

To a certain extent, having lost his job and his apartment, and spent most of his savings, he will have to start all over again.

His passport, the one with the photo that caused all his problems?

Given that most countries insist passports have to have six months validity on entry, his is just about due for renewal.

He will probably have a photograph in the next one that isn't old, and probably be told that he definitely has to wear a shirt this time.

He is certain that he will travel again (''I'm a restless fellow''). But he is not planning to return to Thailand in a hurry, although he loves the food and the weather, and some of the people.

He will almost certainly write about his experiences, and continue to think and talk about them as well.

Just before we headed off, he said: ''You know, I'm a cheeky guy. While they [the Immigration officers] were questioning my passport, I was taking photographs of them.''

Having met Simon, listened to his story, and come to understand his perspective more completely, we wouldn't be surprised to see those photos online soon.

Over the past three months, although his punishment was disproportionate to his ''crime,'' many people came forward to help him through his tribulations.

We hope he isn't too unkind to Thailand.

Phuketwan on Simon Burrowes

Stayput Simon to Try to Fly Again Tomorrow
Update British tourist Simon Burrowes is to be held in detention at Immigration in Phuket City overnight and will be on a flight to Singapore at 5pm Saturday, Phuketwan has learned.
Stayput Simon to Try to Fly Again Tomorrow

Phuket's 'Rude' Tourist Given Air Ticket to Ride
Latest A mysterious Thai benefactor comes to the aid of British tourist Simon Burrowes, who suffered unfair punishment after swearing at Phuket airport. So long, Simon, and good luck!
Phuket's 'Rude' Tourist Given Air Ticket to Ride

Rude Phuket Awakening for 'Impolite' Tourist Simon
Photo Album As he waited to catch a flight home from Phuket in January, British tourist Simon Burrowes had no idea that his holiday in Thailand was about to take a troubled twist.
Rude Phuket Awakening for 'Impolite' Tourist Simon

Briton Fined 500 Baht for Being Impolite
Latest A British man whose case was widely noted when he was jailed after an encounter at Phuket Airport Immigration has been fined 500 baht in a Phuket court.
Briton Fined 500 Baht for Being Impolite

Jailed Tourist Blames 'Embassy Passport Error'
Latest Two British newspapers have published Simon Burrowes' version of the Thai Immigration encounter that left him in jail for three weeks. He faces prison for allegedly swearing at officials.
Jailed Tourist Blames 'Embassy Passport Error'

Lessons from One Phuket Tourist's Nightmare
Latest Analysis Phuket's Burrowes affair probably alarms many people. Tourists can sympathise with a man who wants to catch a flight and is wrongly accused of carrying a faked passport.
Lessons from One Phuket Tourist's Nightmare

Arguing with Phuket Immigration: Is It Safe?
Latest Questions are being asked by tourists about the case of a man who was arrested and jailed following an argument with Immigration officials at Phuket Airport. Is it too high a price to pay?
Arguing with Phuket Immigration: Is It Safe?

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I hope Simon writes about Thailand and the despicable way it treats foreign guests ( btw is Burrowes a "Farang" I notice he isn't referred to as "Farang" once in PhuketWan's extensive coverage?
Guess it is a racist term after all , huh ? )

BoycottThailand

Editor This comment has been severely edited because it was laced with racist commentary, but the first paragraph survives because, as a matter of fact, Simon Burrowes is a farang, and refers to himself using that term.

Phuketwan's preference is for the word expats, because that also covers non-Europeans who happen to visit or live here. We don't like the words ''foreigner'' or ''alien'' because they imply non-Thais do not have a right to be here.

Posted by Boycott Thailand on May 17, 2009 09:43

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Thailand can hide it from its own people but the www exists, and Thailand will suffer from its denial. Pity . . . it is a nice country.

Posted by petre on May 17, 2009 15:16

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So are Asian tourists from Japan, ""Farang?

Editor: Again, this comment has been heavily cut for the level of its racist generalisations and unnecessary personal abuse. Just because you blindly criticise one country doesn't mean what you say is not racist. It is.

''Farang'' is the word Thais use for non-Asians, so all Europeans are ''farang'' and so, for that matter, are Africans. People from Asian countries are referred to by their specific nationality. Phuketwan uses ''expat'' where an article applies to expats and ''tourists'' where it applies to tourists. There is a difference. We use ''farang'' when officials use the word and it remains the most appropriate form.

Posted by BoycottThailand on May 18, 2009 07:29

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correction. farang is a thai word for white non-asians. blacks are almost never referred to as farangs. the equivalent term is the word negro or just kon-dum meaning a black person.

Posted by correction on May 19, 2009 10:54

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I have visited Thailand twelve times and have always found it a very good idea to be respectful to all people at all times while there. I have NEVER had ANY problem .

Posted by Harry Needham on May 19, 2009 14:05

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As a regular visitor to Thailand I have found it much better not to be cheeky or rude or angry or disrespectful in any way in the country .

Posted by michael steen on May 19, 2009 14:07

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Respectful and respectable tourists are what we prefer here in Thailand .Is this too much to ask for ?

Posted by waraporne singphaen on May 19, 2009 14:09

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While on a fact-finding trip to Thailand I noticed some rowdy behaviour from some British tourists. This was in stark contrast to the quiet and friendly behaviour of the locals, who do not need to be subjected to rudeness or disrespect.

Posted by David Martin M.P. on May 19, 2009 14:13

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So before racist term denoting " Whitey" "farang" was preferable, now it isn't? Your backtracking and hypocritical racism is showing

Editor: Well, at least some of your comment makes it through. There is no reason why a sensible debate can't be held about the terms people use to describe each other. These days, though, most of the inappropriate generalisations have passed their use-by date. Use of the word 'farang' is seldom racist, but it is descriptive of people of non-Asian background, which is why some Thais use it to describe Africans as well as Europeans. Most people deal with other individuals as just that: individuals. Your sweeping, inaccurate generalisations are a sign of ignorance and bigotry.

Posted by Julie on May 20, 2009 09:52

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You got to be pretty silly, they want tourist and at same time put same tourists in jail for minor offences. They must learn that many come to celebrate and should be more lenient and should be taught some western reactions if they insist on supplying plenty of drinks.

Posted by Herman on May 20, 2009 23:48


Wednesday January 20, 2021
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