British teacher and backpacker Gavin Topley had to spend a week in a prison at Thailand’s border and slept on floormats amidst cockroaches and bedbugs because his passport was stained.
Topley, 30, was leaving Thailand earlier this month and attempting to enter Vietnam, where he was meant to start a teaching job, but he was denied entry to Vietnam for having stains on his passport that he said came from leaking hand sanitizing gel.
Topley had to return to Bangkok to get a new passport, but he overstayed his visa by a short period. Because overstaying a visa is technically a crime, he couldn’t be released back into the country, and because his passport was damaged, he couldn’t enter another country either.
As a result, he was taken into custody and sent to the Airport Detainee Center, a short-term police holding facility for people arrested at the airport, reported The Sun.
There, he shared a 9 sq.m. by 6 sq.m cell, with 30 other inmates. He chose to sleep on floor mats because he claimed that the beds had bedbugs. He also said that there were cockroaches everywhere. However, the food looked okay. Sandwiches, rice and boxes of soy milk were on his menu.
Topley took photos and shared information on social media about his entire stay. His friends and family could see where he was staying, what he was eating and who he was in a cell with.
Despite his reports that, “I was made to feel like a criminal. Prison was hell on earth. It was absolutely horrific. I wouldn’t wish a stay there on anyone,” he looks quite smiley in most of his pictures, posing with the other inmates and with his “favorite guard.”
He also reported that the toilets smelled bad, and there were not proper hygiene items such as toilet paper or soap.
To be honest, the accommodations don’t look that much worse than some of the guesthouses on Khao San Road. You might even think that the budget-conscious backpacker could appreciate a free, 6-night accommodation at the Airport Center.
However, we were shocked when Topley revealed that he was somehow charged £16 (THB743) per night for his detention. Yes, he was charged to stay in jail.
We’re guessing that money went straight into the Lao Kao fund of his favorite guard.
The British Foreign Office eventually stepped in to help Topley get back to the UK but warned other about the risk of overstaying a Thai visa. A spokeswoman said: “We provided assistance in this case and are pleased that the situation has now been resolved.”
Topley was back in the UK as of yesterday and plans to repair his passport and take up his teaching post in Vietnam, according to his Facebook page.