St Clement parishioner Angela Jardim (28) was targeted by a thief on a moped who snatched her bum bag from her chest as she walked with partner Ellen Hibbs (27) through the popular tourist city of Luang Prabang.
The bag contained Miss Jardim’s passport – blocking their plans to leave the country for Thailand.
As the couple worked to secure emergency documents for Miss Jardim to leave the country, borders across Asia and around the world slammed shut in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday – two weeks since they were robbed on Friday 13 March – they were told a flight due to leave for Bangkok would be the last until the end of April, meaning they face weeks stranded.
Miss Hibbs said hotels around them are closing, they have had to move twice already and were now looking at monthly-rental accommodation to ride out their ordeal.
In a desperate effort to find the passport and in the absence of help from the local police, the couple turned detectives and tried to speak to business owners and view CCTV themselves. They also placed reward posters around the city in the hope the thief might make contact.
Miss Hibbs said: ‘We are just totally drained. Every day there is a little bit of news, normally bad news. We were told there might be a flight and then told by Thai Airways that it was cancelled. The only place we can go from here is Bangkok and then we just want to go home,’ she said.
The couple, who ran food truck business El Fuego alongside full time jobs to fund their dream travels, said their vision was to get a working-holiday visa for New Zealand – but that had now been dashed.
In a post on Twitter, the pair, who have been together for seven years and have been travelling since October, pleaded with Chief Minister John Le Fondré to help get them home.
Miss Jardim, who has a Portuguese passport, said: ‘The only airline flying out to Bangkok is Thai Airways who have now decided to drip-feed cancellations as well as closing all ticket shops and headquarters to avoid talking to any of us.
‘We don’t know if we get refunds, the worst is it’s all hearsay. “Maybe a flight tomorrow” and so groundhog day begins again. Head to the airport, get turned away, re-book, get a new COVID-free certificate, get an embassy update, go to the airport, repeat.’