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A popular beach on Phi Phi, where every night is usually a party night

Phi Phi Deaths: Paradise By Day, Party By Night

Sunday, May 10, 2009
Phi Phi Photo Album Above

WITH its two distinct 24-hour phases, Phi Phi is designed for mystery. By day, it is a charming, if crowded, place where the island's beauty still shines.

By night, it becomes one big party in paradise, where many young people often socialise until the wee small hours, and drink to excess.

They wander the island's walkways with ''Buckets'' of alcohol, mixed to include fruit and perhaps energy drinks, to their own individual taste preference.

For some, the bar-to-bar wandering lasts until dawn. Around then, the last of the drinkers crash into their beds.

Within a few hours, Phi Phi's day-tripper crowds are clambering over the ferry pier, and the cycle begins all over again.

Wiped out by the tsunami in 2004, Phi Phi's attractions have brought tourists back in vast numbers.

Enviromental pressures are still evident on and around the island, where rubbish disposal has always been a problem and water and power have to be imported from the mainland.

A short voyage away is Maya Bay, where the iconic film 'The Beach' was made.

The sandy arc there is usually packed with hordes of speedboats and hundreds of visitors, so you have to use your imagination to conjure up how magnificent the place must have seemed in the days before mass tourism.

Now the local and international media is focussed on the island because of the deaths of two young women in extraordinary circumstances.

It's a week since the women died, yet no official answer as to the cause of death has been provided.

They occupied Rooms 4 and 5, next to each other, at the Laleena Guesthouse, one of many that dot the island and cater mostly to young visitors.

The owner of Laleena, Rat Chuped, told Phuketwan today that she remains mystified about what caused the two deaths and is frustrated by some media exaggerations.

Could chemical from a nearby water treatment plant have caused the two young women to fall sick?

The water treatment plant is close to the Laleena, although a canal running to it is also alongside a row of other guesthouses.

Closer to the treatment plant, three steps away from Rooms 4 and 5, is the room that Khun Rat shared that same Saturday night with her children aged three and 13, and a room maid.

Yet only the occupants of Rooms 4 and 5 fell sick.

Guests were in both rooms directly above Rooms 4 and 5, and they remained perfectly healthy. Guests were also in Rooms 2 and 3, backing onto 4 and 5, fronting an internal corridor.

They too remained perfectly healthy.

Many young visitors still on the island last weekend had been drinking. Others were celebrating the full moon this weekend from Friday on, Khun Rat said.

Parties did not begin and end on the night of the full moon, but went on for two or three days, she said.

The Norwegian women who shared one room were usually out until very late, Khu Rat said, and often the pair would sleep through until 2pm or 3pm.

Last Sunday, the pair failed to arise as normal. Nor did they respond when two men knocked on the door of their room about 6pm, Khun Rat said.

It was not until a couple of hours later that a concerned room maid entered their room and found both women very sick.

The American couple had only checked in at the guesthouse about 11am the previous day, so their habits were not known to Khun Rat.

Another mystery is why there was no call for help from either room much earlier, despite apparent vomiting and signs of serious illness.

Khun Rat is now annoyed that it has been reported in the Thai media that the American and the Norwegian died in her guesthouse, when both were helped to the small local hospital, where they died.

A request has come from a Public Health official to close Laleena, Khun Rat said, when it is only supposition that, somehow, something poisoned the four guests there, fatally in two cases.

Yet outside the two rooms, nothing.

On Phi Phi, Phuketwan spoke to a Dutch woman who had been staying in one of the rooms above Rooms 4 and 5, and she said she was perfectly happy with Laleena.

''I'm not bothered,'' she said. ''It's a good, quiet place.''

The mystery is likely to remain the topic of speculation in the media and online this week.

Police told Phuketwan today that the results of the autopsies on the two women will not be available for 10 more days.

The images in the Photo Album above were taken by Phuketwan on a day-trip to Phi Phi in February this year

More on the Mystery

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MediaWATCH: Tourist Death Theories Abound
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Phi Phi Mystery Deaths: The Room Maid's Account
Phi Phi Photo Album Thai guesthouse maids have a way of knowing what goes on and the maid at the Laleena on Phi Phi was close to two mysterious deaths. This is her account.
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Dead Tourist 'Pushed off Phi Phi': Boyfriend
Latest The boyfriend of an American who died in strange circumstances along with a Norwegian woman on Phi Phi has rejected suggestions that they argued.
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Phi Phi Deaths: No Word on What Killed Women
Latest Inquiries were continuing today into the mysterious deaths of two women who occupied adjoining rooms at the same Phi Phi guesthouse. Several rumors have been discounted.
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Phi Phi 'Poisoning' Kills Two Tourists
Update A case of apparent poisoning on Phi Phi has left two young women dead, a Norwegian and an American. A third tourist, a Norwegian teenager, survived after being treated at a local hospital.
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Latest The latest death of a woman tourist, whose body has been found on a Krabi beach, compounds the problems for an industry trying to overcome a spate of bad news.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


So the full moon party is involved?

Tell Ms Rat, the full moon was last night, Sat, May 9th The women died on May 3 and 4th, almost a week before.

Editor: Thanks. We've edited the article to clarify that error.

Posted by Astronomer on May 10, 2009 11:44


The 2 deaths and 2 severe illnesses is the 3rd most read article on CNN. It's not a personal affront to Ms Rat, when concerned people demand her guest house be closed, and a 100% thorough professional investigation be done. If regular Thai authorities can't handle it, send in Ms Pornthip, or foreign experts. The world wants to know why two young vibrant & otherwise healthy young women died so quickly.

Posted by Ken Albertsen on May 10, 2009 21:00


One would think if the owners were so concerned about the reputations of the guest houses, water plant and Thai tourism they might be more proactive and demand a quick conclusive investigation to resolve the circumstances of all the recent tourist deaths.

Find the answers, to hide or ignore these incidents will be shameful and a great dishonor for the Thai government and disrespectful to the families of the girls who died.

Posted by JF on May 11, 2009 04:21


Third most viewed on CNN, yet buried behind the strangled Swiss woman article at The Nation and totally ignored by Bangkok Post.

And what about the male body found in the water May 1 in neighboring Krabi?

btw JF, the deceased were fully grown women, not "Girls." Please show respect.

Posted by MediaWatcher on May 11, 2009 18:16


Bad article, great editorial , Phuket wan seems to have a split personality , One, an excellent journalist, the other- a biased activist on Thailand's behalf. Wonder why?

So after it's pointed out Kuhn Rat is mistaken, and her assertations it was the " full moon party " don't coincide with the actual full moon by 5- 6 days you edit the article to rectify her mistake?
It seems that Phuket Wan is really pushing the drinking angle.
If the women succumbed to excess drinking, ( symptoms are not even close ) believe me, the authorities would have leaked that info by now.

Editor: We edited the article because the error was ours, not Khun Rat's. Like judges, doctors, pilots and prognosticators, Phuketwan journalists are not perfect. We are not ''pushing'' any ''angle,'' simply reporting what we are told as accurately as possible.

Posted by MediaWatcher on May 12, 2009 11:10

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