‘No flights, but here’s how to order pizza’ - Gorleston man trapped in Laos rounds on Foreign Office advice
PUBLISHED: 16:40 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:00 31 March 2020
A Gorleston man is stuck in limbo in Laos and scrambling to get an affordable flight back to the UK.
Sam Jermy has been stranded in Asia for some five weeks as he tried to make his way back to China - avoiding travel bans and coronavirus-hit countries - where he lives and works as a teacher.
But, after being prevented from boarding a flight on Friday, the 28-year-old now hopes to return to Norfolk.
However, with the first available passage now costing more than double the usual ticket price at £1,800 he is uncertain about what to do for the best, and disappointed in the Government’s promise on price.
“I was prepared to pay up to £800. That was my limit,” he said.
“Even if family members had that kind of money to lend me I would not want to put that on them.
“There are backpackers here and some have had four or five flights cancelled and not had their money back yet.
“The ticket price is unaffordable.
“I am exasperated and despondent.
“I am well aware it could be a lot worse.
“There will be a lot of people that are unsympathetic.
“People have got to understand that this is a situation that has changed rapidly.”
MORE: Government announces £75m flights to get Britons back home
Mr Jermy arrived back in the UK staying with his father in Middleton Road, Gorleston, on January 11 at the start of the Chinese New Year holidays.
As coronavirus took hold and it became clear there would be problems returning he bypassed Hong Kong, which had onward travel bans, and flew instead to Hanoi in Vietnam on February 24, intending to travel on to China.
At the time the country had no cases.
After two weeks when his tourist visa ran out he headed to Laos, which was also virus-free, but now has eight cases.
On Friday he was prevented, as a foreigner, from boarding a flight to China.
With all commercial flights cancelled he then found himself stranded with around 120 British nationals.
“I 100pc thought I would be on that flight on Friday,” he said.
“That really put a spanner in the works.
“I was shell-shocked.
“The logical thing now is to go back to the UK.
“Trapped here in Asia’s 124th richest country I can appreciate what the UK has.
“If anything goes wrong here there is barely any health care.
“I can still teach online and my job is okay for now.
“I am getting tired of all the drama now. It is just all the uncertainty.”
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He compared the British Foreign Office with that of Germany which he said had “clear, solid communication” with its citizens.
“The German Foreign Office have sent two flights and our embassy has advised us on what apps to order pizza on,” he said.
Mr Jermy has been living in Xiamen, on China’s south coast, some 600 miles from Wuhan where the outbreak first started.
In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, where he is “holed up” he said the hotel was extending his booking by two days at a time and that he no idea how long he would be there.
An FCO spokesperson said: “We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.
“The government has partnered with a number of airlines who have committed to work together to get Brits back to the UK and up to £75m has been made available for charter flights where commercial options are no longer available.
“We’ll continue working around the clock to bring people home.”
But for Mr Jermy the cost of those being provided means he may have to explore other options or face being in debt.
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