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Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Sydney
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47 posts
67 reviews
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Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

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………

California
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40 posts
6 reviews
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1. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

That's really unfortunate. You should post this on Lonely Planet as well so people are aware of the way this company conducts business.

Perth, Western...
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2. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Curlyoz, what a horrible experience. Perhaps you should try reporting them to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. There are a lot of expat crooks in Thailand running businesses. We've encountered a few of them ourselves, at great expense.

I would certainly be plastering your review everywhere, including here on TA, write a review, don't just post a thread.

I had heard of these guys before and was talking to my hubby about possibly doing the trip. Certainly not now!

Sydney
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47 posts
67 reviews
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3. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Thanks Vermiscious_knid! I never thought about posting to Lonely Planet but I will now & will check their reviews.

Happy Travels.../curlyoz

Sydney
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47 posts
67 reviews
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4. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Thanks Athena. I tried to post this as a review but with the categories that are available, it was impossible. This should do the trick. Also, I always feel funny about doing something like this when other people have had good experience. I will be posting some good reviews about our travels in Thailand - and the truth is, most of it was good.

Perth, Western...
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5. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Here, Curlyoz, see this link; http://www.tripadvisor.com/Search?returnTo=__2F__ShowTopic__2D__g293920__2D__i5037__2D__k2662806__2D__Paddle_Asia_Asia_Tarutao_Kayaking_Trip_Our_Experience__2D__Phuket__2E__html&q=paddle+asia&geo=293920&sub-search.x=9&sub-search.y=11

You can post your review there.

Mount Gambier...
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1,767 posts
182 reviews
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6. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

So sorry to hear of your awful experience.. I have seen people say that they are good for Khao Sok Tours, so glad I never chose to use them.. always thought they were too expensive

That price you quoted is RIDICULOUS! Wow I would be SO angry...

xx

Phuket
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8 posts
23 reviews
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7. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

I've been to Khao Sok, Phang Nga Bay and Tarutao with PaddleAsia and had a wonderful time on each trip. This is the first trip I've ever heard of where they didn't run a top-notch tour. I wonder if perhaps we're only hearing one side of the story. Honestly, if PaddleAsia was that bad how could they be in business so long and have such a good reputation? FYI, I emailed Dave Williams about this story and he said that Aew was fired shortly after this trip, so instead of blaming the foreign owner, perhaps it was the Thai guide who didn't run the trip properly.

I wouldn't jump to conclusions about the whole company based on this one complain.

Phuket
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187 posts
22 reviews
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8. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

BillyFisch –

Your replies to these postings about PaddleAsia are interesting, in that you say things like “don’t balme the foreign owner, blame the Thai Guide” when the CurlyOz clearly said numerous times that she dealt directly with the owner and that Aew did a great job on the trip.

In both of your postings you have also said both guides have been fired as a result of these bad reports. Are you trying to stop people from writing reports because they feel guilty someone will lose their job?

And finally, you say “don’t jump to conclusions based on one complaint”, for the poor guides who have been fired you jumped pretty quickly on them.

Show some respect for the Thai guides who cannot come here and defend themselves, and ask Dave Williams to defend himself if he wants to.

I have never been on this trip and refuse to say anything bad about it – but your replies have left me extremely curious to find out who you are and what your objectives are.

Elise

Sydney
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47 posts
67 reviews
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9. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Thank you Elise - well put.

I am so sorry that Aew was fired because he was the highlight of our trip & did whatever he could within the confines of Dave's direction. He spoke to Dave several times on our behalf but Dave was not responsive. I would highly recommend Aew to any company as a tour guide.

Phuket
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8 posts
23 reviews
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10. Re: Paddle Asia - Asia Tarutao Kayaking Trip (Our Experience)

Tour operators can't do any advertising or soliciting of any kind according to the trip advisor guidelines. I just spoke with Dave on the phone to tell him what's going on here.

He told me that Aew was not following "Dave's confines" or the format of the trip. The itinerary is to camp on a different beach every night on different islands. Aew was not supposed to camp in front on bungalows! The kayak maintenance is the guide's responsibility. This is pretty standard stuff in tour companies from what I gather.

My main disagreement here is that Dave is not being allowed to defend himself either. I know Dave personally and I know he takes all of this seriously. He liked Aew, but felt compelled to let him go after a couple of serious complaints, including this one.

PaddleAsia is a good company and I know this personally as I've been on several of their trips and I plan on going on more. They have a lot of positive feedback through various media as well as online (there are some nice reviews of PaddleAsia on Trip Advisor too). I don't think it's fair to any company to judge them on the experiences of a couple of people. I'm not saying that they don't have the right to post their complaint here, I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that it is completely different from my past experiences and what I know the company stands for - that's all.

You certainly have the right to your opinion and I hope you appreciate mine. I'm also sorry that you didn't have fun on your vacation. I wasn't there, so I don't know the full scoop.

Good luck in the future. I still like PaddleAsia.