A Brit traveller has spoken of his experiences after becoming stranded on an island under strict lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Daniel Worthington, 29, from Manchester was on a round the world trip, and had spent 18 months travelling the globe.
In March, he arrived on the Thai island of Phuket for a friend’s wedding and had checked into a nearby Marriott Hotel – but then the global COVID-19 outbreak kicked in.
According to Worthington, life on the island “became quieter”, before the ensuing lockdown “happened very quickly”.
Management pushed a letter under the door of his room each morning saying of new restrictions in place.
The traveller, who runs an online business, told Yahoo News UK: “One day it said the beaches were closing, which is unheard of here.
“The next day, it was restaurants and bars were closing down and that we had to vacate the premises. We had 24 hours’ notice and then the hotel closed down. It was a mad panic to find somewhere.”
All tourist visas were extended and remain unchanged until the end of July, as Daniel found himself an Airbnb accommodation.
But as soon as Worthington entered the property, a strict quarantine period came into effect – and left him feeling uncertain about the future while literally living in limbo.
Completely cut off from the mainland – and any mode of transport to leave the country – he quickly found himself isolated.
“A curfew was introduced and police roadblocks came in, Phuket bridge to the mainland was closed and the island airport was shut,” he continued. “There’s a supermarket in each district but apart from that you’re going nowhere.
“The uncertainty was quite scary and it affected me. The ability to not be able to move – you realise you’re stuck and you’re not able to move, with a language and culture barrier making it even more uncertain.
The curfew changed – at one point it was in force between 7am and 6pm – but then they banned the sale and consumption of alcohol.”
Unlike the UK government – which advised people to adhere to social distancing measures – and certain reasons to leave the house during lockdown, Worthington explained that Thailand’s strict quarantine measures are enforced by law, saying: “You don’t want to get caught breaking the rules here.”
He continued: “You’re very tempted to head to the beach and they are amazing. I drove down to a secluded road but I saw a police barrier, and you’re like “no chance”.
“It’s not worth taking a risk as they come up and pounce on you – they can get to secluded areas as police use mopeds here – if they catch I think they will lock you up.
“My friend who got married – she’s in a different district – she said people she knew had friends over for a drink. But the police raided the house and six people got thrown straight into prison and are still there.
“You can go into a district now after a full month of lockdown but there’s not much to do as everything, including the beaches, remains closed.”
Although Daniel is enjoying the hot weather, being stuck on the island left him feeling isolated from his family and confined – with no way of leaving Phuket until the beginning of July.
He explained: ”In terms of trying to get home, what I did was sign up to British embassy for flight notifications but the flights are from Bangkok and not Phuket and its 400 miles to Bangkok.
“Besides, the bridge to the mainland is still shut and Phuket airport is shut.
“So essentially, even if the UK government offered me assistance, I wouldn’t be able to get there.”
“I’m missing my family and. throughout this situation, I’ve felt like I’m in paradise but I desperately want to go home. What I miss the most is British food – definetely not weather, I’ve not missed that. But I really miss family and friends,” he added.
“The thing about travelling is you meet people and make friends but then you’re off and you don’t know when – or if – you’ll see them again. Life is really transient – at the moment I’m in limbo.
“People always tell me I’m living the dream – it’s the best thing ever but the hardest part is getting settled and then you’re off into the unknown again.
“I’m glad that I came, but I don’t want to do this again, I’ve been really isolated. Hopefully there’s no second wave of the virus.”
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