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Stranded Aussie tourists left behind on Phi Phi, Jamie, Brie and Erica

Phuket Speedboat 'Stranded Us on Phi Phi'

Thursday, January 12, 2012
PHUKET: Three Australian tourists say they were stranded on Phi Phi by a Phuket tour company on a speedboat that appeared to have only one lifejacket for about 30 passengers.

Erica Dunstan, 25, her sister Brie, 21, and friend Jamie Hill, also 21, spoke out about their experience this week ''because we don't want others to make the same mistake.''

The three pals from Cairns, in the part of Australia known as Far North Queensland, felt lost and frightened when left behind this week on their day-trip outing from Phuket to Phi Phi.

''It's lucky we weren't on a diving trip,'' Erica said today at their resort in Kalim, north of Patong. ''You save all year to go somewhere nice for a holiday, and we certainly feel let down by our Phuket experience.''

Although the tour company insisted on taking their portrait photographs ''for insurance purposes'' before the outing, that's as far as the care went, said Erica.

''After being left behind on Phi Phi there were no apologies, no concern.''

When the three friends discovered the speedboat had left the Phi Phi beach without them, they ran to other speedboats pulled up along the beach and asked them to contact their errant driver.

''We got no help at all,'' Erica said. ''None of them seemed the slightest bit concerned. Eventually we had to walk across Phi Phi to the pier and catch a ferry back to Phuket.''

After trying at the Phuket ferry pier on the east coast to locate their tour company, the three friends opted to ride back to their resort in Kalim - and a friendly local driver in what appeared to be his personal car charged them 500 baht each for the trip.

''We lost the gear we'd left on the boat and thankfully there were no cameras or valuables,'' Erica said. ''It is a bit surprising that none of the other passengers said 'Hey, what about those three girls.'

Erica admits that because they were last on the speedboat they found it difficult to hear instructions shouted from the front and so relied on ''following the crowd'' to know what they were supposed to be doing.

She said they bought the trip from a street vendor in Patong at what seemed like good value - 1200 baht each for the day- but it ended up costing them twice that much.

The street vendor took no responsibility, nor did the tour company.

''It was like talking to a wall,'' Erica said. One of the three engines on the speedboat had ceased to function on the journey from Phuket to Phi Phi, she said.

''I was here four years ago and people did not seem quite so concerned only about making money,'' Erica added. ''It was an eye-opener at New Year when restaurants and tuk-tuks suddenly started charging double. We became used to rip-offs.''

The three were looking forward to returning to James Cook University, where they are all doing courses and working part-time . . . and saving to go somewhere else next year.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


No wonder the TAT changed their quote from Amazing Thailand, because its a word that is rarely used in the positive.

More bad publicity please, then other people on this island may actually wake up and do something about it, but then again, this is Amazing Thailand.

Posted by Tbs on January 12, 2012 15:23


They took your photo for insurance purpose? Nah, that's to stick in those naff cheap frames that they try to sell you when you get back.

Marine Chief response? Something like, "It's not my problem. Anyway Farang have big money so can afford to be ripped off."

Welcome to the Phuket Holiday experience. Please remember to stand in the VERY LONG LINE when making complaints.

Just remember to tell all your friends back home what a wonderful, warm and caring place Phuket has become.

Posted by Graham on January 12, 2012 16:18


The best part of this story is that we can read about it. PW comes up frequently on Google news about Thailand and is often quotes in foreign media.

Obviously a lot of foreigners visiting Phuket read it too and as a consequence they contact PW when things go wrong.

Many have noticed the same as these 3 girls, meaning nobody gives a damn but fortunately PW does, listens and the incidents are made public

It's quite surprising when one notes how image conscious Thais are that the authorities rather let their dirty laundry be done publicly.

I'm waiting for the day when the media exposure reaches a critical point and forces authorities to act.

The Rassada Pub incident is a good example of what we need to see happening when crimes are committed and today's assassination a terrifying example of the realities on Phuket for those brave enough to expose the wrongdoings.

Posted by Steve C. on January 12, 2012 19:37

Editor Comment:

PW isn't the only place where these issues are being raised these days. Other media, Tourist Police, honorary consuls and ordinary citizens are all doing their bit. This is not to say Phuket isn't a great place for a holiday. But standards of responsibility certainly can be improved.


Next Holiday I will go to Hua Hin.

Posted by Isnogood on January 12, 2012 21:17


a street tout, a boat that engine fails, one life jacket for 30, no head counts, a pic for insurance purposes that's to sell you on return, a black taxi who charges 500 per person . . . welcome to phuket. next vacation bali: avoid touts boats tuk tuks jetskis and if possible motorcycles, a dangerous but last resort transport option.

Posted by traveller on January 12, 2012 22:59


I live in Australia and i am looking forward to my holiday in your country, I'm glad to have read this and the other stories so now i hope to be pointed in the right direction so as i can enjoy my tours and the happy people of your country as this will be my first trip.

Posted by Trevor on January 13, 2012 13:50


Dear Editor, why do you insist to avoid to say what visitors and tourists often call Phuket, " The Remake of the Old Wild West ? "
I totally agree with them and I add, " ... with a modern m**** style! " This is what Phuket looks like to foreigners, and not the image of joy and happiness, except some spots in the nightlife.

Posted by Mario on January 13, 2012 14:40

Editor Comment:

Mario, where have you been?
I've never heard a tourist call Phuket ''the remake of the old wild west'' and I don't believe I ever will.


Was there any tour guide to lead the trip? If yes, then they can ask a refund I think, a tour guide is supposed to be able to count the pax.

Posted by Olly on January 14, 2012 15:29

Editor Comment:

There were three crew on the boat.


Clearly the ladies did not hear the schedule for the return trip to Phuket and missed their boat. A non-story. Brilliant plan of theirs to follow the crowd except obviously they didn't. If it had been a dive trip then leaving divers out there would have been terrible, I've only heard of that happening in Australia. I've had friends who went to Phi Phi on a day trip and decided to stay an extra couple of nights. It would not surprise me if that happened often. How long should the other 27 passengers and crew wait for latecomers. My sympathies remain fully with the tour company. This is not "bad" publicity for Phuket. If you are late you can expect to be left behind, it's simply polite to be on time.

Posted by Chris on January 14, 2012 15:45


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Posted by Speed boat tours phuket on January 18, 2012 15:47

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