Thailand: Tourism and the Truth Stacey Dooley Investigates


Thailand: Tourism and the Truth

Stacey Dooley travels to Thailand to explore the darker side of tourism, working as a chambermaid and discovering the sacrifices that some hotel workers have to make.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Thailand.

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Every year, hundreds of thousands of young Brits flock here

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for beautiful sun-drenched beaches,

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amazing hotels

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and perhaps the biggest parties in the world.

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The good news is it's never been cheaper or easier to holiday here.

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For a week, the Banthai hotel

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is only £300 each.

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No way!

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But why is it costing so little?

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Tonight, Stacey Dooley goes to Thailand

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to find out if there's a darker side to tourism.

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Are our two weeks of luxury abroad

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making life hell for the locals?

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Two years you've not seen the girls, no?

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If this is the kind of lifestyle they can expect

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for working six days a week, nine hours a day,

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this isn't on, you know.

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What happens when 20,000 tourists descend on one small island

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for the ultimate beach party?

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It is absolute carnage in parts of that beach.

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Two tourists had a fight and someone got shot?

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And is the building of one more luxury hotel

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more important than saving a local community?

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This programme contains some strong language.

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It makes you realise...

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the sacrifices that are made for the holidays we go on.

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After a 13-hour flight,

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Stacey's first stop is Phuket.

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Over three million tourists from all over the world

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visit the island every year.

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That's almost ten tourists to every local.

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It's exciting. Thailand's exciting.

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This is the place where everyone wants to come,

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everyone's always dreaming about a beach in Thailand....

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and I'm here.

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For the past three years,

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Stacey's been lifting the lid

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on shocking stories in the developing world.

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In Cambodia, she met victims of sex trafficking.

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You're constantly having sex with men in the karaoke bar and you're 13.

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And in Africa's Ivory Coast, she exposed child labour in the international cocoa industry.

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I would much rather them be hanging out in the classrooms than working in the cocoa farms.

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Now Stacey wants to know

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what's happening in the countries where we love to go on holiday.

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Is that a Tesco?

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There's a blooming Tesco in Thailand.

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Stacey will be staying in the Patong Beach area of Phuket,

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which is packed with hotels offering cheap holidays to tourists worldwide.

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So far, I think it's quite commercial.

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It's not dissimilar to parts of Tenerife, Benidorm, Ayia Napa...

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you know, that kind of feel.

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It'll be really interesting to find out

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if the billboards and all the carry on

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is solely for the tourists, or the Thai people as well.

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Hello. Sawadee ka.

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Thank you so much.

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Thank you.

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It's very plush.

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Although it boasts five bars,

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several swimming pools and a spa,

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The Banthai Hotel costs as little as £30 per person, per night.

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Oh, my god.

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Thank you very much.

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That's really kind.

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Thank you. Thank you.

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It's very nice.

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Everyone's lovely.

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It's like you're treated like royalty,

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nothing's an issue, nothing's too much.

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In England, you get a humpy girl sometimes behind the reception

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who flings you your keys.

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But it's lovely. It's very, very nice.

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Thank you. Ooooh.

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This is lovely.

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It's nicer than my flat at home.

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That's really kind. Thank you.

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Beach bag, yeah.

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That's really kind, thanks. I like flip-flops.

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The weird thing is

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I've stayed in places in Ibiza, Marbella,

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I've been to Europe and paid 600 or 700 quid

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and I've literally stayed in a white box with a bed and a towel.

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The service hasn't been great, no-one has been as lovely as...

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It just seems in Thailand that the rooms are extra special

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and the standard is a lot higher, it does seem to me.

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I think I'm going to get my little bikini on and go in...

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I've only got one day so I need to really make the most of it.

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Stacey's here to find out what life is like for the hotel staff.

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Tomorrow, she will spend the day working with them.

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but first, she wants to check out the standard of service they provide.

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How many of you guys are on today? How many staff are there?

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357 persons.

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Oh, my God, that's loads!

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There aren't that many rooms. How many rooms are there?

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290 rooms.

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-So there is more staff than there is rooms?

-Yes.

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That's why we're spoiled.

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Thank you, that's really kind. Thank you.

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-You're welcome, enjoy your drink.

-Thank you.

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With there being more staff than there is rooms,

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it just means that the staff probably won't be brilliantly paid.

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So that'll be interesting to find out - how it works.

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It's 7am.

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Today, Stacey wants to find out more about staff conditions

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so she's going to be working as a chambermaid,

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reporting to Mr Pichet.

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Good morning.

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-Hello.

-This is your uniform.

-That's very kind.

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-Try to keep your hair tight on the back.

-Yeah.

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No wristwatch, no bracelets,

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no earring.

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-Ah, this kind of earring is OK.

-OK.

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Mr Pichet runs a tight ship of 28 chambermaids,

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with military precision.

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He demands the hotel's 290 rooms

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are cleaned to five-star standards on a daily basis.

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For the bed, make up the bed,

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it's going to take about five minutes.

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For the bathroom...

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six.

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OK.

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So how many rooms do we have to clean today?

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-14 rooms.

-14?

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Oh, I can do that.

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-One-four?

-Yes.

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Yeah, is that a lot?

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-For our staff, they get used to it.

-Yes.

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-They will spend around 30 minutes per room.

-OK.

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You have to try to do that.

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-You follow me.

-I follow you.

-Yeah.

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Chambermaid Kalerb is giving Stacey a demo before she's on her own.

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OK.

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Oh.

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-Take everything.

-Take everything.

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Chambermaids work six days a week,

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earning about £4.50 a day.

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This is about 80 pence above the legal minimum wage

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and considered a living salary in Thailand.

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Have there been cases where the guests have come and the rooms haven't been ready?

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Stacey's training is over.

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She's now got to clean each room in under 30 minutes.

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OK. Here's my time to shine.

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It's twenty past ten.

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Five minutes are allocated to change each bed.

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Oh, I can't even get the sheet off.

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Not likey the bed bit!

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But after 15, Stacey's still not finished.

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I'm sweating like a pig, I'm so hot.

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I can't find the corner, I'll do that in a minute.

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Each bathroom is supposed to be cleaned within six minutes.

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Someone's done a poo in there.

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Stacey's still going after 20.

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Oh, no. There seems to be a stain on here.

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I'm tired.

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45 minutes in

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and Stacey should be halfway through her second room by now.

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I hope they appreciate me tidying their room.

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I don't know what to keep and what to throw away.

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After an hour and ten minutes -

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40 minutes more than the allotted time,

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Mr Pichet returns to inspect Stacey's first room.

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I know the bed isn't ideal.

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Very messy.

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Come on.

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The sheet is not tucked properly.

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The pillow is not in position.

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I'm going to take it out.

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-Can you make it properly? It's got to be like this...

-Right.

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Having failed to reach the hotel's high standards,

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the whole room has to be cleaned again.

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See? It's wrong.

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I'm knackered. I am so, so tired.

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And now, I'm starting to think,

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"Jeez, man, these girls work very hard."

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Ruddy tourists.

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Chambermaids must work at full speed for eight hours a day

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to reach their targets

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and earn their basic daily wage of £4.50.

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Many support whole families on this income.

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-And you've got two kids?

-Two girls, two daughters.

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Oh, lovely.

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Are you able to get back and visit the kids? Is that something you're able to do.

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And there's no plans to see the kids anytime soon?

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What's normal for people over here,

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would blow us away in England.

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So when there's a girl a couple of years older than you

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telling you that she's not seen her kids in two years...

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I'm 23 and if I'd not seen my mum in months, I'd be beside myself.

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So you know, you feel gutted for them.

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You know, you don't want mums to be away from their babies.

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The only way Kalerb can afford to live on her wages

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is to stay in the free dormitory-style accommodation

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provided by the hotel.

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But there are restrictions for the workers who live in the staff block.

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Are you allowed visitors?

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Are you allowed your friends to come into your room?

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Is there a security guard?

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On the door?

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-OK, welcome to my room.

-Aw, thank you.

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-Aw.

-Welcome to my room.

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How many of you stay here?

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Depends.

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-My daughter...

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Oh, my God.

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-The five-year-old?

-Yeah.

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She's beautiful.

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Aw, look at her little skirt.

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Are you proud?

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Hello! This is my friend.

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'In the hotel staff block, there are at least 25 mothers

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'who don't have their children living with them.'

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Have you got any children?

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-I have one.

-You have one child. Aw, a girl.

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How old is she?

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-Nine.

-Nine?

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-Does she live in Phuket?

-No.

-No.

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Do you get to see your daughter much or not so much?

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If you weren't to work in Phuket, in Banthai,

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where would you be working?

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Would there be any work if you could live with your daughter?

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It's a huge sacrifice,

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to be faced with the dilemma of either earning a living wage...

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or spending time with your family.

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'With their basic pay of £4.50 a day,

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'the girls are still being paid above the minimum wage.

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'But Stacey wants to know

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'if there's anything that tourists can do to make their lives easier.'

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If tourists tipped you a little bit every now and then,

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how much of a difference would that make to you guys?

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Tips, even like a quid, 50p -

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if you leave that in the hotel it really can help

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because the girls do 14 rooms a day on average.

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So that's £14 a day, if everyone leaves a pound in the hotel room

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and that doesn't seem like anything, does it?

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I wouldn't miss a couple of quid if I left it on the side,

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but that would make a massive difference to the girls.

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It's not fair, something's not right,

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because there's a 36-year-old woman living with two other women.

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Two of the other woman don't see their kids,

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one of them hasn't seen their girls for two years.

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It's ridiculous.

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Some hotel staff earn more than chambermaids like Kalerb,

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which means they can afford to rent their own homes.

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Barmaid Nid earns about £10 a day

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and she's agreed to show Stacey where she lives.

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Right, nice and slow, yeah?

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Nid may earn twice as much as the chambermaids,

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but that doesn't go far in the tourist areas of Phuket.

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Oh, my God.

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The only houses left that the locals can afford

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are on the edge of Patong Beach,

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in the shadow of the high-rise hotels.

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That was incredible.

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It was a bit scary,

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but it's totally the best way to see Thailand.

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I felt very rock'n'roll.

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With her earnings of £4.50,

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Stacey wants to see what she can get for her money

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in Nid's local shop.

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Oh, is this the shop?

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Toothpaste, soap...

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Eh...what else do we fancy?

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Do you want this? Do you need this?

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This is for your cups.

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That's very kind, thank you. Thank you.

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And that's almost half the wages gone.

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I've got toothpaste, bleach, a scourer, shampoo, a bar of soap...

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like, necessities.

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Sawadee ka!

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Look at this little one.

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Sawadee ka.

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I bet you're glad to be home after your long day?

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Very tired?

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Tired.

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Most of the accommodation on Nid's street

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has only one room with a separate toilet.

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Running water and electricity are available most of the time.

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Sawadee ka.

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Oh, brilliant.

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Lovely.

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Oh, home sweet home.

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You're glad to be home?

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Thank you for having me.

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I'm really grateful.

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This is my bed!?

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Nice! Thank you.

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I could just lie on this now, actually.

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Aaah!

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Nid pays £40 a month to live here.

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You can shower.

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Thank you. I probably will need a shower. I don't smell very fresh.

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That's expensive for Thailand.

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Oh, my God, there's a rat up there. Aah!

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Sorry. I'm sorry.

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I can just hear them.

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Oh, man,

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that's a rat up there.

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I'm not going to be able to sleep now.

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I did think there would be rats but I hadn't seen one.

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I've just seen one.

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Oh, man, man.

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Oh, and there's a cat.

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Stacey wants to know why Nid chooses to live in such poor conditions

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when she could like for free

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in the hotel staff block.

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Come and go as you like?

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Is the rent for accommodation

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really too expensive for local people to pay

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in the actual tourist areas?

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Right, right.

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So, out of your wages comes the rent...

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It's insane, isn't it? Absolutely crazy.

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Would you mind showing me around your road?

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OK, so this is your road? Yeah?

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Do you think... Look, all your neighbours are out.

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Most of Nid's neighbours

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have come to Phuket to work in tourism.

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Are there quite a lot of families who live on this road?

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How many people are in this road?

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A hundred people?

0:22:110:22:12

Two doors up,

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Nid's neighbour came from the north of Thailand to find work...

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There's a baby, a little baby in a hammock.

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Sawadee Ka.

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Thank you for letting me come in.

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How many children have you got?

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-Four.

-Four!

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My God, you must be tired.

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And does your family work nearby?

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Do you find that you're selling enough?

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Are you selling enough to get by?

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I think they can't be making a lot of money, can they,

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if they're living somewhere like this?

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It just seems unfair that four kids are having to live in a place like this.

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This is what really hammers it home to you, you know?

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I've spent time in the hotel...

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and the pool and the food and the buffet.

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And it's beautiful, it's very clean.

0:23:320:23:34

It smells lovely.

0:23:340:23:35

It's gorgeous surroundings

0:23:350:23:38

and then you come to the road that she lives on

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and it's this...

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The people that work at the hotel are paid over the minimum wage,

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so by law, they should be able to live off that wage.

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And if this is the kind of lifestyle they can expect

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for working six days a week, nine hours a day,

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this isn't on, you know?

0:24:030:24:05

It's not fair.

0:24:050:24:06

The standard of living she's experienced

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leaves Stacey looking for answers.

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She's arranged a meeting with the managers of the hotel.

0:24:190:24:22

Thank you for letting me see you.

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I'm Stacey.

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-And your name?

-Bula.

-Bula.

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Very nice to meet you.

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-Nice to meet you.

-My name is Hessa.

-Thank you.

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-Please.

-Oh, thanks a lot.

0:24:340:24:36

The staff - does their wage need to be higher?

0:24:380:24:42

Do they need to be paid more

0:24:420:24:44

so they can live in decent living conditions in Phuket?

0:24:440:24:48

Because at the minute they are not able to?

0:24:480:24:51

But I was speaking to some mums that work here

0:25:210:25:25

and they were saying to me

0:25:250:25:26

that they haven't seen their kids in a couple of years.

0:25:260:25:29

Would it ever be an option,

0:25:290:25:32

to have the kids come and stay with the mums at the staff block?

0:25:320:25:36

OK.

0:25:360:25:37

Because family is important

0:26:020:26:04

and, you know, you don't want mums to be away from their kids if you can help it.

0:26:040:26:09

And you know, although sacrifices do have to be made,

0:26:090:26:12

you don't want families to be spilt up

0:26:120:26:16

just so that they can earn a living wage.

0:26:160:26:20

So, is our demand, as tourists,

0:26:200:26:22

for relatively cheap holidays to Thailand

0:26:220:26:25

affecting you guys in a negative way?

0:26:250:26:28

'Package deals are so, so reasonable.'

0:26:500:26:52

They're so cheap from England to Thailand.

0:26:520:26:55

But you want the money that you're paying for your holiday

0:26:550:26:58

to really benefit the people that are serving your drinks

0:26:580:27:02

and cleaning your rooms

0:27:020:27:05

and I don't think that's happening.

0:27:050:27:07

I think tipping is definitely a good thing. It's a really...

0:27:070:27:10

It's not even difficult.

0:27:100:27:11

If you just leave a quid,

0:27:110:27:13

then at least you know they've got some of the money.

0:27:130:27:17

The hotel workers in Phuket are struggling to make ends meet,

0:27:210:27:25

but there are other people here

0:27:250:27:27

who are facing an even bigger challenge...

0:27:270:27:29

their whole way of life is under threat.

0:27:290:27:34

During my time here in this part of Phuket,

0:27:370:27:39

I've realised that tourism really is pricing out the locals.

0:27:390:27:44

And twenty minutes up the road,

0:27:440:27:46

I've heard of a fishing community

0:27:460:27:49

and they are actually trying to keep hold of the land that they are living on at the minute,

0:27:490:27:53

although a hotel developer is trying to get hold of that land, to build a hotel, obviously.

0:27:530:27:58

So I'm going to see them.

0:27:580:27:59

Stacey's heading to Rawai Beach in the south of Phuket.

0:27:590:28:04

Sawadee ka!

0:28:140:28:18

Hello.

0:28:180:28:19

How are you?

0:28:190:28:21

My name is Stacey.

0:28:210:28:24

-And your name?

-Sunnit.

0:28:240:28:26

Sunnit? Lovely to meet you.

0:28:260:28:29

Sunnit, what is your position in the village?

0:28:290:28:33

What is your role in the community?

0:28:330:28:35

SPEAKS THAI:

0:28:360:28:39

Sunnit is the leader of the fisherman of Rawai Beach,

0:28:400:28:44

who are known as Sea Gypsies.

0:28:440:28:46

They came here from China over 400 years ago

0:28:460:28:49

and have lived on these beaches ever since.

0:28:490:28:53

The guys will literally just dive down into the water now

0:28:530:28:57

and catch the lobster and the fish with their bare hands.

0:28:570:29:01

No rods or anything like that, they just grab it with their hands.

0:29:010:29:05

The Sea Gypsies fish every day

0:29:050:29:07

to support their community of 2,000 people.

0:29:070:29:11

Look, here he is, here he is... Any fish?

0:29:130:29:19

Woo-hoo!

0:29:210:29:22

Well done, you got loads.

0:29:220:29:27

But since the arrival of tourism in this area 30 years ago,

0:29:270:29:31

the Sea Gypsies' traditional way of life

0:29:310:29:34

has become more and more threatened.

0:29:340:29:36

SPEAKS THAI:

0:29:360:29:39

And did they know what they were doing

0:29:550:29:57

-when they put their thumb prints on the paper?

0:29:570:30:00

Since the 1970s, business developers

0:30:100:30:14

have gradually been taking control of more and more of Rawaii Beach.

0:30:140:30:18

You'd have to be silly to think,

0:30:330:30:36

"Oh, I wonder why a hotel developer wants to put a hotel on this beach?"

0:30:360:30:40

It's stunning.

0:30:400:30:41

I've never thought, "I wonder what this place was like

0:30:410:30:44

"before this fancy hotel was plonked on it."

0:30:440:30:47

It makes you realise the sacrifices

0:30:470:30:49

that are made for the holidays we go on.

0:30:490:30:53

Sunnit wants to show Stacey the land that he lived on

0:30:550:30:58

until just a few years ago.

0:30:580:31:00

And now no-one lives here, not one person?

0:31:110:31:13

The land where Sunnit's home stood

0:31:150:31:17

now forms part of the grounds of a hotel development.

0:31:170:31:20

Ah, this is the hotel.

0:31:200:31:25

What percentage of the land that you lived on

0:31:310:31:33

have you lost through business developers coming here?

0:31:330:31:36

So very, very, very little you've been left with?

0:31:430:31:46

Hardly anything they've left you.

0:31:460:31:49

So where does everybody live now?

0:31:490:31:52

Today, the Sea Gypsies who once had the whole beach to live on

0:32:000:32:04

are squeezed into one twentieth of their former homeland.

0:32:040:32:08

He's having his little bath.

0:32:100:32:13

There's not loads of space is there?

0:32:150:32:18

As you can see there's not loads and loads of space for the community.

0:32:200:32:24

It's very, very cramped conditions.

0:32:240:32:27

Hello!

0:32:450:32:47

It seems ridiculous to think

0:32:520:32:54

that we've got that massive stretch of beach just metres down the road

0:32:540:32:59

and then everyone is trying to huddle together in this tiny space.

0:32:590:33:03

It doesn't make any sense to me.

0:33:030:33:05

Money, money, money, isn't it?

0:33:050:33:08

Sunnit is keen to show Stacey the way of life they have lost.

0:33:100:33:15

You've got so, so much more space here.

0:33:160:33:18

Are these the kind of houses that you were used to before?

0:33:180:33:21

That house is bigger than any of the space

0:33:230:33:26

I've seen the families living in.

0:33:260:33:29

It seems ridiculous to think that the living conditions

0:33:290:33:33

were better all them years ago.

0:33:330:33:36

You've gone backwards not forwards.

0:33:360:33:39

Unfortunately the Sea Gypsies' problems are not over yet.

0:33:390:33:44

A businessman now wants to build a hotel

0:33:440:33:46

on the last bit of land they have left.

0:33:460:33:49

But, Sunnit, who owns the title deeds for this land?

0:33:490:33:53

So were the Sea Gypsies here on this land

0:34:060:34:10

before the title deeds even existed?

0:34:100:34:13

So the King even came and visited you guys

0:34:310:34:33

and recognised that you all lived here?

0:34:330:34:36

Like many traditional communities,

0:34:360:34:38

the Sea Gypsies have never had the deeds for the land they've lived on.

0:34:380:34:41

This has meant businessmen have been able to buy the deeds

0:34:410:34:45

and draw up plans for more hotels.

0:34:450:34:48

The Sea Gypsies were absolutely on this land first.

0:34:480:34:52

There's no question.

0:34:520:34:54

They've all told me and there's pictures to prove it.

0:34:540:34:56

I think it's important if these sea gypsies were here first

0:34:560:35:00

then they have to know their rights,

0:35:000:35:03

and they have to be, you know...

0:35:030:35:06

people should acknowledge that they were here first.

0:35:060:35:09

Tourism really frightens the Sea Gypsies, I think, you know.

0:35:090:35:15

The thought of losing the tiny bit of land

0:35:150:35:18

they are living on... really, really hurts them

0:35:180:35:22

and they really don't want to go there, and I get that, I understand.

0:35:220:35:26

The next morning, Stacey is meeting with lawyer Puvanart Baoneam

0:35:390:35:43

who is single-handedly fighting the Sea Gypsies' case.

0:35:430:35:48

Something that I really don't understand

0:35:480:35:53

is that if the Sea Gypsies were here first

0:35:530:35:56

how has someone else managed to get their hands on the title deeds?

0:35:560:36:00

SPEAKS THAI:

0:36:010:36:05

What could guarantee that the sea gypsies could live and stay

0:36:150:36:18

on the land that they are on right now?

0:36:180:36:21

What could absolutely make sure that happens?

0:36:210:36:23

It really is the sea gypsies and this one lawyer

0:36:330:36:36

against a lot of tough businessmen.

0:36:360:36:39

Like, this is their home.

0:36:390:36:41

Rawaii Beach is where they live. They're not doing any harm,

0:36:410:36:45

just leave this one community to be.

0:36:450:36:49

You know, I feel really passionately about this

0:36:490:36:51

and I feel that it would be ridiculous for me to come out here,

0:36:510:36:54

feel as passionate as I do and then not really do what I can.

0:36:540:36:59

Stacey tries to set up a meeting with the politicians

0:36:590:37:03

who have the power to help.

0:37:030:37:04

OK, there is a chance that I could maybe

0:37:040:37:09

get to speak to someone important, or someone in power,

0:37:090:37:13

or in government, because I think we need to take this

0:37:130:37:17

to the top, or else we're never going to be able

0:37:170:37:19

to get it moving as fast as it needs to be

0:37:190:37:22

and there's a danger of leaving here and it not being safe,

0:37:220:37:28

the Sea Gypsies not being safe where they are.

0:37:280:37:31

Beautiful beaches like Rawaii are a big draw all over Thailand.

0:37:370:37:43

I've seen how the Sea Gypsies want to live and how they are fighting

0:37:450:37:48

for the land that they are living on.

0:37:480:37:50

They don't want it to be taken over by tourism.

0:37:500:37:54

And now I'm off to a place called Ko Pha Ngan , and it hosts the full moon parties

0:37:540:37:58

and that's exactly what happens on the island once a month,

0:37:580:38:01

tourists, tens of thousands of them, all flock to that one spot.

0:38:010:38:05

Located in the gulf of Thailand just ten miles north of Koh Samui,

0:38:110:38:15

the island of Ko Pha Ngan can only be reached by boat.

0:38:150:38:19

I hope everyone on the boat thinks I'm as cool as them, which I'm not.

0:38:190:38:25

A visit to the Buddhist Island is seen as a rite of passage

0:38:270:38:31

by gap year students and back-packers world wide.

0:38:310:38:34

Everyone's cool and everyone's just here to have a good time,

0:38:340:38:38

so you can see why it's attractive to most British people my age.

0:38:380:38:43

The island we're approaching is a really tiny island

0:38:430:38:48

with local people living there, and there's 20,000 30,000 tourists

0:38:480:38:53

all go there at the one time.

0:38:530:38:55

So I think it will be really interesting

0:38:550:38:57

to find out how the locals deal with that.

0:38:570:39:00

The full moon party is meant to be pretty awesome,

0:39:020:39:04

-I've heard a lot about it but never actually experienced it before.

-Me too. It's my first time.

0:39:040:39:08

What have you heard about it? What do you think we're expecting?

0:39:080:39:11

They are known as the world's biggest beach parties

0:39:110:39:14

and I've read a lot about them in books.

0:39:140:39:16

I've heard there is going to be about 20,000 people.

0:39:160:39:18

Really looking forward to it. I've heard loads of really good things.

0:39:180:39:23

People come from all over the world to this one party.

0:39:230:39:26

I think that's what makes it so famous isn't it? The party.

0:39:260:39:30

Since the early '90s, the full moon party has been a mecca

0:39:350:39:39

for travellers seeking a spiritual experience.

0:39:390:39:43

One please.

0:39:440:39:45

But what was once a gathering

0:39:450:39:47

for enlightened, like-minded back packers...

0:39:470:39:50

..is now a riot of body paint,

0:39:580:40:00

dance music and cheap alcohol.

0:40:000:40:03

They set the rope on fire

0:40:120:40:15

with petrol and then they... Oh!

0:40:150:40:19

You couldn't pay me £1,000 to do that. I'm such a wimp.

0:40:260:40:30

It's just so commercialised.

0:40:340:40:36

It's so English.

0:40:360:40:37

It's so European.

0:40:370:40:41

It feels really English here.

0:40:410:40:44

You could be in Benidorm, Tenerife, Ayia Napa.

0:40:440:40:48

It's just not what I expected at all.

0:40:480:40:51

Cashing in on the tourist invasion,

0:40:510:40:53

the locals are selling bucketfuls of booze from 100 Bhats.

0:40:530:40:57

That's as little as £2.

0:40:570:41:00

How much did you pay for your buckets?

0:41:000:41:03

-200 Baht.

-No, this one was 100.

0:41:030:41:06

Here is 100 Baht. There is 450 and down there is 150.

0:41:060:41:12

-How come it's so cheap?

-Everyone likes the cheapest.

0:41:120:41:15

Everyone likes it cheap?

0:41:150:41:17

The island's population is almost 15,000, but tourism

0:41:170:41:22

is bringing in over £50million a year to Ko Pha Ngan .

0:41:220:41:26

Do you think the full moon party is good for the locals?

0:41:260:41:29

It's the best thing for their economy, it has to be.

0:41:290:41:32

-There's nothing else they've got.

-Money talks over here.

0:41:320:41:35

Money does talk over here. That's true.

0:41:350:41:37

As the hours go by and the booze flows,

0:41:410:41:43

the binge drinking paradise takes a darker turn.

0:41:430:41:48

It is absolute carnage in parts of that beach.

0:41:480:41:52

Literally, like, girls are like rolling round the floor dribbling.

0:41:520:41:57

One of the girls can't talk.

0:41:570:41:58

Drunken accidents are so common at the parties that the locals

0:41:580:42:03

have started a volunteer rescue service to cope with the casualties.

0:42:030:42:07

SPEAKS THAI:

0:42:080:42:11

What do you personally think of the way the tourists behave

0:42:160:42:21

when they come to your island?

0:42:210:42:23

Min and Nam are on duty tonight.

0:42:370:42:40

How is their reaction to you when you are just trying to help them?

0:42:400:42:44

Is it that every full moon party everyone gets carried away,

0:42:540:42:58

affecting the level of service and level of medical attention

0:42:580:43:04

that the local people on this island are getting?

0:43:040:43:07

Even though they don't understand the tourists' desire to over indulge,

0:43:200:43:25

the rescue volunteers still make sure everyone is safe.

0:43:250:43:28

She's trying to help people and they get really violent and aggressive

0:43:450:43:49

and everyone's been drinking.

0:43:490:43:51

It puts a whole different spin on things.

0:43:510:43:53

You don't want to be really solemn

0:43:530:43:55

and say people can't have a party, but this island is so tiny, so small

0:43:550:44:00

and they can't really handle it.

0:44:000:44:02

They've not got the facilities

0:44:020:44:04

and they've not got the space to handle tens of thousands of people

0:44:040:44:08

coming and needing medical attention, a lot of them.

0:44:080:44:11

It's chaos. It's ridiculous in parts of that beach.

0:44:170:44:21

It's the morning after. Despite starting 12 hours earlier,

0:44:290:44:35

the party is still going strong... for some.

0:44:350:44:39

It's a cheap night out for the tourists, but the islanders

0:44:460:44:51

are left to deal with almost 12 tons of rubbish after every party.

0:44:510:44:56

It's not just the rubbish the locals are left to pick up.

0:45:010:45:07

With the excesses of the full moon party, it's often dead bodies.

0:45:070:45:13

THEY GREET EACH OTHER IN THAI

0:45:130:45:17

-How are you?

-I'm fine.

-My name is Stacey.

0:45:170:45:20

Khun Lek founded the rescue service eight years ago

0:45:200:45:23

to help the island cope with the extra casualties

0:45:230:45:27

from the full moon parties.

0:45:270:45:29

The volunteers are unpaid and depend entirely on donations

0:45:290:45:33

to buy medical equipment.

0:45:330:45:35

So these pictures, which ones are a direct result

0:45:350:45:40

of the full moon party?

0:45:400:45:43

SPEAKS THAI:

0:45:440:45:45

This guy?

0:45:450:45:46

My God.

0:45:560:45:57

What happened to this guy?

0:45:570:45:58

They shot each other?

0:46:070:46:09

This is the actual beach because I recognize the bucket,

0:46:110:46:14

where they sell the buckets, and two tourists had a fight

0:46:140:46:18

at the full moon party and someone got shot?

0:46:180:46:21

How many of the tourists that die every year,

0:46:360:46:39

how many of them are British?

0:46:390:46:41

So seven or eight people that are British

0:46:520:46:54

are dying every year in Ko Pha Ngan?

0:46:540:46:56

There are no official figures for the island of Ko Pha Ngan ,

0:47:010:47:05

but last year a total of 292 Brits died in Thailand.

0:47:050:47:10

The morning after the full moon party ends here for some tourists.

0:47:130:47:18

This absolutely happens.

0:48:050:48:07

In these fridges there have been girls my age,

0:48:070:48:10

British girls that came here to have a wicked holiday

0:48:100:48:13

and they've ended up lying in a...in a fridge

0:48:130:48:17

and I think that's a really... sobering thought, isn't it?

0:48:170:48:22

When you see the kind of conditions

0:48:220:48:26

that these locals volunteers are working in,

0:48:260:48:29

you know, they are dealing with dead bodies.

0:48:290:48:31

It's not an easy thing to work with.

0:48:310:48:33

They've not got the facilities and they've not got the time

0:48:330:48:37

and they've not got the people or the money...

0:48:370:48:39

to look after everyone as best they can. They're just too stretched.

0:48:390:48:44

You know, this island's got 15,000 people living on it normally

0:48:440:48:48

and then all of a sudden on one night, another 30,000 people,

0:48:480:48:52

so double their population normally,

0:48:520:48:54

are on the island as well.

0:48:540:48:57

You know, it's very difficult.

0:48:570:48:59

Back in Phuket, Stacey's finally had a response to the calls she made

0:49:160:49:20

to try and help the Sea Gypsies.

0:49:200:49:22

The Prime Minister of Thailand's office have said he may have time

0:49:220:49:25

to meet tomorrow with her and the head of the Sea Gypsies, Khun Sunnit.

0:49:250:49:29

I just really hope that,

0:49:290:49:31

the main thing is that good things come out of this

0:49:310:49:35

for the Sea Gypsies and for Sunnit and his family.

0:49:350:49:38

The problem is, Stacey's got one hour to find Sunnit

0:49:380:49:43

and catch the last available flight to Bangkok.

0:49:430:49:46

Guys, have you seen Khun Sunnit?

0:49:470:49:49

Have you seen Khun Sunnit?

0:49:580:50:00

He's at sea?

0:50:030:50:05

He's fishing?

0:50:050:50:07

Yeah.

0:50:110:50:12

He's gone out to sea.

0:50:120:50:14

He's fishing?

0:50:140:50:16

Right.

0:50:190:50:20

A meeting with government could be the Sea Gypsies' best chance

0:50:250:50:29

to stop a hotel being built on the land they are living on.

0:50:290:50:32

It's so tight for time.

0:50:320:50:35

We've got to be at the airport in an hour or else we're going to

0:50:370:50:41

miss the flight we can't say to the Prime Minister we've not made it.

0:50:410:50:44

He won't give us another one.

0:50:440:50:47

Time is running out for Stacey and the Sea Gypsies.

0:50:490:50:53

I've got twenty minutes until I need to leave for the airport,

0:50:530:50:57

we'll miss him, we won't make it.

0:50:570:50:59

But with ten minutes to spare, Sunnit arrives.

0:51:070:51:12

Sunnit! I've never been happier to see you.

0:51:120:51:16

We'll go to Bangkok and give your case

0:51:160:51:19

to the Prime Minister and try and get something done.

0:51:190:51:21

-OK, come on let's go. Go and get your stuff.

0:51:240:51:28

Bangkok.

0:51:340:51:36

Stacey and Sunnit are on their way to the Prime Minister's office.

0:51:360:51:39

SPEAKS THAI:

0:51:400:51:43

But there's a problem.

0:52:120:52:13

He's shaking his head.

0:52:130:52:15

The guy's at security have just told us

0:52:210:52:25

to turn the camera off, and he's got the hump so...

0:52:250:52:29

It turns out, the Prime Minister has been called away.

0:52:290:52:34

We can't leave. I can't leave for England

0:52:370:52:39

until we've got some kind of answer.

0:52:390:52:43

Jib, what's going on?

0:52:430:52:45

Number two of the Prime Minister party...

0:52:450:52:48

Number two to Prime Minister?

0:52:480:52:50

The Prime Minister may be unavailable but Stacey's got the next best thing.

0:52:500:52:55

Is it like the deputy? Not the Prime Minister but the guy beneath him?

0:52:550:52:59

-Yeah.

-He's going to speak to us?

0:52:590:53:02

Yeah. If you like, to speak to us.

0:53:020:53:03

We're in. Fingers crossed, Sunnit.

0:53:080:53:11

I think I'm going in.

0:53:210:53:22

She's meeting a senior advisor to the Prime Minister, Vittayen Muttamara.

0:53:220:53:27

I've spent some time in a community,

0:53:330:53:35

a fishing community, called Rawaii Beach.

0:53:350:53:37

They are actually in danger of losing the land they're living on

0:53:370:53:41

because a business owner

0:53:410:53:42

wants to put a hotel exactly where they are living.

0:53:420:53:46

And I was just wondering if there is any way

0:53:460:53:49

that you guys could stop this from happening?

0:53:490:53:52

In Thailand we have problems similar to this,

0:53:520:53:55

quite a number of cases, and right now the Government

0:53:550:53:58

are trying to help the people,

0:53:580:54:00

because there is a lot of people in Thailand having similar problem.

0:54:000:54:03

We have to prove who was there first and have right over the land.

0:54:030:54:06

If it turns out that the Sea Gypsies were there

0:54:060:54:09

before the title deeds were issued, there's no way...

0:54:090:54:12

They will have the right to stay.

0:54:120:54:13

There's no way that a hotel will be built where they are living?

0:54:130:54:17

It's not going to happen?

0:54:170:54:18

-Mm-hmm. Yeah. OK?

-OK.

0:54:180:54:20

I hope so because I want to follow this case

0:54:200:54:23

when I leave back to England.

0:54:230:54:25

I'm going to keep ringing and I will probably return.

0:54:250:54:29

Can you promise me that you will really try and protect these people

0:54:290:54:33

because they are very vulnerable?

0:54:330:54:35

We are protecting them.

0:54:350:54:38

He said that if they can absolutely prove

0:54:380:54:42

that they were there first there is no way on Earth

0:54:420:54:45

that these guys will be moving anywhere.

0:54:450:54:48

And they can, so I feel good, I think.

0:54:480:54:51

SPEAKS THAI:

0:54:520:54:55

Thank you so much.

0:55:040:55:06

It's time for Sunnit and the lawyer to return to Rawaii Beach.

0:55:060:55:10

Have a safe flight.

0:55:100:55:12

Stacey's time in Thailand has come to an end.

0:55:320:55:35

Thailand's amazing and you can understand why people flock here.

0:55:370:55:41

I get it. It's a wicked country, the people are lovely,

0:55:410:55:44

the service is great.

0:55:440:55:45

And there's no doubt that, financially,

0:55:450:55:49

tourism is a really good thing for Thailand.

0:55:490:55:52

But I've also definitely learnt that there's also a darker side

0:55:520:55:56

to tourism that we don't always necessarily see

0:55:560:55:59

straight away as a tourist.

0:55:590:56:01

If you're the Government of Thailand you have to make sure

0:56:010:56:05

that your people, the Thai people, are treated just as important as us.

0:56:050:56:10

That's not a massive thing to ask.

0:56:100:56:12

Treat the tourists lovely, of course, so we come back,

0:56:120:56:15

but treat the Thai people just as lovely,

0:56:150:56:19

because it's their country.

0:56:190:56:21

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:56:350:56:38

E-mail [email protected]

0:56:380:56:41

In 2008 Stacey Dooley emerged as one of the stars of the hit BBC Three series, Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, and has since spent the three years lifting the lid on shocking stories from the developing world.

In 2010 she travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo where she examined the plight of child soldiers and journeyed to Cambodia to investigate the shocking world of underage sex trafficking.

This time Stacey is travelling to one of our favourite holiday destinations, Thailand, to explore the darker side of tourism that the average holiday maker doesn't see. Hundreds of thousands of us flock to Thailand every year, where for just a few hundred pounds you can enjoy beautiful beaches, top hotels and unbeatable service. A trip to Thailand has become a rite of passage for many young Brits, but why is it possible to enjoy such luxury at such bargain prices?

Stacey begins her trip in Phuket, where she stays as a tourist before swapping roles and becoming a hotel worker. She works as a chambermaid and struggles with the hard work and incredibly high standards, having to clean 14 rooms a day for just four pounds. She also discovers what it's like to live on such low wages and the sacrifices that some hotel workers have to make. Many live in slum conditions or in hotel dormitories, separated from their children for months at a time.


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