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Revellers hurt in Thailand tourist speed boat collision

Sometimes when we are teaching people how to be safe when they travel, it does rather feel that we can use the example of the ‘Full Moon’ party on Koh Pah Ngan as an example for all of the dangers and challenges faced by independent travellers across the world; the ‘full moon party’ has them all.

It is sad to see yet another tragedy unfold and more young people seriously injured when they were relying on the actions of others to keep them safe while they enjoyed all Thailand offers.

What we continually try and reinforce through our website and during our workshops is that you must not rely on others to keep you safe, but be self-reliant.

The ‘Full Moon Party’ need not be avoided at all costs, if it is something which attracts you, then by all means go, but do take extra care; by that I mean really plan ahead for every eventuality because the dangers are significant:

  • Theft – Both from the person and from rooms; spend a little more for a descent room in a more secure location and make use of any additional safety facilities available. Don’t turn up thinking you’ll party through and don’t need accommodation, if nothing else have somewhere to securely leave you things; sleeping on the beach may seem a ‘romantic’ notion to you, the Thai authorities view it differently and waking up having been robbed will ruin your trip…
  • Drugs – Avoid them and look after your drink, as drink spiking is common. The police patrol the beach and even holding a ‘joint’ can see you locked up with two options; a very heavy ‘fine’ or deportation.
  • Sexual Assault – Sexual assaults are not uncommon and often ‘drug-assisted’ either through drink / food spiking or self induced alcohol / drug consumption.
  • Medical care – Tropical disease risk is not significant, the island is not generally associated with a high risk of Malaria or many of the other diseases you vaccinate yourself against before travel. Dengue fever can occur and is on the rise in Thailand generally. You should always visit your GP or Travel Clinic before travel. Protection against sexually transmitted diseases should be a consideration.

There are regularly casualties from the party; dehydration, heat exhaustion, alcohol related conditions, accidents, injury from violence and many of the other common travel related syndromes. Make sure your Medical Insurance covers you and that your activities do not invalidate it. There are medical facilities on the island, but more serious cases need to be transferred to Koh Samui; medical facilities on Koh Pha Ngan are often overwhelmed during the Full Moon parties.

  • Traffic accident – Is one of the major dangers when travelling but it is reduced in this case because there is little traffic on the island due to its size. Some people still choose to hire scooters and motorbikes (this always seems a little odd when everywhere is within walking distance…) and these present the usual dangers; injuries from accidents usually because of lack of protective clothing / equipment / lack of experience and / or drink driving.
  • Transport – This is the danger highlighted in this latest accident. There is only one way of getting to the island and that is by boat, but it is the choice of boat which will dictate your level of risk.

As a general rule I would much rather get on the slow ferry rather than the ‘speed boats’, they strike me as more regulated, more robust and there is an element of safety in the regular schedules which would allow rescue to have a much better idea of where to start looking.

The speedboats are much more haphazard, often waiting till they are ‘full’ before leaving. The drive for profit is often at the expense of safety. There has undoubtedly been an improvement in the regulation surrounding these speedboats in the past 15 years, but how strong the enforcement of these regulation is remains in some doubt.

The trip from Koh Samui to Koh Pha Ngan is not long enough for the additional risk of speedboats to be worth the time saved.

On any boat journey there are factors to consider: 

  • The seaworthiness of the vessel and reputation of the company
  • The capacity – is it overloaded
  • The safety equipment – life rafts, life jackets, communication equipment, pre-departure drills etc.
  • The weather
  • Visibility

In this case some people do seem to have been wearing lifejackets, which is a start. The two points from this report which would worry me most would be the weather conditions which seems to have been far from ideal and travelling at night which is something to be avoided on all but the best equipped vessels (such as those which cross the English Channel).

Maybe more facts will come out from this particular accident in time, although it seems for now that the two boat drivers have disappeared, which would be a worrying sign.

It would be remiss of us to make assumptions in such a case, especially when people have been seriously hurt in an accident; however from personal experience of this region, I have seen boat drivers, showing off, racing each other and using vessels they clearly know are unsuitable or not in perfect working order.

Few would be surprised to hear that corners are cut in an effort to increase profit and to get those tourists who arrive late, across the water and to the party, even in the middle of the night; trust me, the full moon party is not that good that it is worth risking you life for.

 

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Source – www.bbc.co.uk

Date – 27th June 2010