My partner & I travel extensively & have been on several kayak expeditions both on our own & with a tour company. Prior to any bookings made my partner emailed and then and phoned Mr Williams (an owner of Paddle Asia) and made it clear that we had very specific requirements in regards this expedition. They were
a) We wished to be on our own and not with inexperienced kayakers and as such paid a 20% premium.
b)My partner is a highly experience kayaker & owns his own kayak. He made it very clear that he wanted to see the type of kayak he was getting. He was directed to the Necky web site (a Canadian company) to be told he would be provided with a relatively new Necky with rudder. He made it abundantly clear we had been let down before on these kind of trips and would not contemplate booking unless we were assured of the quality of kayak. Our booking was predicated upon this equipment being provided. As a 60 year old, despite his high level of fitness and strength he has difficulty in paddling downwind or tacking across a strong wind without a rudder.
After many months of planning and assurances from Mr Williams, my partner & I booked a 6-night private kayaking trip to Tarutao with Paddle Asia.
What we had planned & paid for was so different to what we received. We felt we had been cheated in that we were not delivered what we had booked.
Upon seeing his kayak and after the initial shock and disbelief had worn off my partner phoned Mr Williams advising him that the kayak he was given was nowhere near to what he was told he was getting. The subject craft was at least 10 years old and had no rudder. It was nothing short of a barge Mr Williams in two seconds dispensed of both him and the call with the words “that was all they had”.
Based on conversations with Dave Williams and the information on the website, we thought we were going on an expedition through the Tarutuo National Park, where we would spend each night at a different island. What actually happened was that we stayed at the National Park headquarters for the whole time & did day trips from there.
We thought we would sleep in tents, at a camp which would be set up for us every night by the sea gypsy. Unfortunately, the plan was for us to tent at the National Park Headquarters (never disclosed as such) & use their facilities. The toilets were disgustingly dirty and we decided to rent a cabin (with a toilet & shower) in the park for an extra $60/night at our expense. Prior to this we trekked up north with no formal toilet facilities so we weren’t asking for 5-star luxury. We just wanted a tent & clean public facilities. Even our guide, Aew, said that the reputation at this park was that the toilets were disgusting.
We initially thought that this expedition would be similar to other that we have done. That is the leader (& usually members of the group) would prepare & cook the meals. We heard from Dave just prior to our trip that the meals would be picked up by our guides or the long boat driver. What really happened was that there was a restaurant at the park where we had most of our meals. The food was very mediocre and after a couple of days of the same choices, we asked to be taken to Ko Lipe for dinner. The lunches were picked up from Ko Lipe every day. We were told that there would be snacks. There were no snacks & it was difficult to go for hours without any nourishment. On every other kayaking & trekking expedition, we were provided with lots of snacks.
However our guide, Aew & our long boat driver, Cabo went out of their way to make our trip very enjoyable.
We paid in excess of $2,500 AUD for the trip, something we wouldn’t have minded if we got what we paid for. Once Mr Williams had our money he was in the pound seats. Why give us what he had undertaken to!! We were merely customers out at sea, far off the beaten track with zero recourse………