Soap star cleaned out on holiday to Far East
A HOLIDAY of a lifetime turned into a nightmare for a Scottish soap star when her passport was stolen in Bangkok.
She and her boyfriend was forced to miss her flight and was trapped for three days in the Thai capital while officials arranged for her to return home
Allison McKenzie, otherwise known as Joanne Rossi from River City, went on a six-week adventure backpacking around Thailand and Laos.
But the holiday, which saw 26-year-old Allison and boyfriend James Miller embark on an elephant ride and an adrenaline-pumping speedboat trip down the Mekong river, came to an unexpected end shortly before they were due to return home.
On the last day of the holiday, when Allison - who trained at the city’s Queen Margaret’s College - and 22-year-old James were only five hours from boarding the plane back home, disaster struck.
The couple had decided to have a snooze in their hotel room to prepare them for the long journey ahead. But while they were sleeping someone broke into their room and stole their passports. Allison said she woke up when she heard the door closing.
"I thought it was the maids. But the next minute it flew open and one of the cleaners came in screaming: ‘Someone took your bag’. I’d been so careful about keeping the passports safe , but how can you stop someone coming into your room?
"Later we decided it must have been someone from the hotel. There was no forced entry and the hotel staff wouldn’t show us the tape from the CCTV monitors." Fearing that it would take a long time to resolve the situation, Allison said she started to worry that she wasn’t going to get back in time for filming of her TV show.
" I was shaking and thinking: ‘What am I going to do?’ All I was worried about was getting back to work. I thought it took weeks to be issued with a new passport and by then all I wanted to do was get home."
But three days later, after changing their flights, they were issued emergency passports by the British Consulate.
Allison added: "I suppose in many ways it prepared me for coming back. When you don’t have that bit of paper, boy do you want to get home. I’ve never felt so vulnerable in my life."
But unfortunately for Allison, losing her passport was not her only trouble as she and James also had to contend with police bribery and lax airline security.
River City’s producer Stuart Doughty said everyone involved with the programme was relieved to hear that Allison had arrived home safely.
He said: "The production team were aware of what was happening. We were concerned for her and were very pleased when it turned out all right."
A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents said UK passports were seen as a "valuable commodity" in many foreign countries and advised people to copy essential documents before going abroad.
She said: " It’s a really good idea to photocopy your essential documents and leave a copy at home and take a copy with you. This could save an awful lot of time when you go to the embassy or consulate in the country.
"If your passport is stolen, you do need to go to a UK embassy or consulate in that country to try and get it sorted out and you also need to report it to the local police."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises that travellers to Thailand should be wary of theft.
According to its website, people should "watch out for crimes of opportunity - theft of passports and credit cards is a particular problem."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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