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Austrian Tourist’s Smoky Revolt in Phuket: A No-Smoking Policy Sparks Chaotic Limousine Encounter

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Imagine this – a peaceful Wednesday morning in Phuket’s Thalang district turns into the set of an action movie, but with a twist that’s more bizarre than fiction. On the bustling Thep Krasattri Road, a scene unfolds that could easily be mistaken for a high-octane thriller, albeit one starring an Austrian tourist and a limousine taxi driver instead of Hollywood A-listers.

In the heart of this tropical paradise, an Austrian visitor, let’s call him the ‘Smoky Bandit,’ decided to light up a cigarette in the back of a limousine taxi. Little did he know, this simple act would ignite a series of events more explosive than a pack of fireworks. The chauffeur, Wuthiporn Chaiyamongkol, a man dedicated to his profession and the no-smoking policy of his vehicle, found himself in an unexpected showdown with his passenger.

Our story begins at Phuket airport, where Mr. Wuthiporn picks up the aforementioned ‘Smoky Bandit,’ officially known as Gernot Leoben. The destination: the tranquil tambon Chalong. However, tranquility was the last thing they would find on their journey. As they cruised through Ban Mueang Mai, Gernot, unable to resist the call of his cigarette, lit up, enveloping the limo in a cloud of smoke. Mr. Wuthiporn, ever the professional, reminded him of the limousine’s no-smoking policy. Advice that, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears.

The tranquility of the drive was shattered when, in a move that seemed to defy the laws of common sense, Gernot vaulted from the back seat to the front, securing Mr. Wuthiporn in a headlock fit for a wrestling ring. The limousine, now a rudderless ship, collided with the rear of an unsuspecting MG car halted at a traffic light.

The driver of the MG car, known only as Thanongsak, suddenly found himself an unwilling actor in this drama. As he stepped out to assess the situation, Thanongsak heard cries for help. Rushing to the scene, he found our ‘Smoky Bandit’ still in full assault mode. Together with other Good Samaritans, they managed to free Mr. Wuthiporn from the clutches of his assailant and restore a semblance of peace to Thep Krasattri Road.

The next morning, amidst the serene backdrop of Phuket, Pol Col Pasakorn Sonthikul, deputy commander of Phuket police, recounted the events with a sense of disbelief at the press conference. An Austrian visitor, charged with assaulting a limousine taxi driver over a no-smoking dispute, had brought action movie chaos to their sleepy island.

This story is a potent reminder that reality often surpasses fiction in its absurdity. It’s also a public service announcement for all the ‘Smoky Bandits’ out there: when in Thailand, heed the no-smoking signs, or you might just spark off an adventure you hadn’t bargained for.


  1. TravelerJane April 4, 2024

    This is insane! How difficult is it to follow a simple no-smoking policy? Especially in someone else’s car!

    • FreedomRider April 4, 2024

      Everyone’s quick to judge, but maybe the ‘Smoky Bandit’ was having a really bad day. Sometimes a cigarette is all it takes to calm down.

      • HealthFirst April 4, 2024

        A bad day doesn’t give anyone the right to endanger others’ health and safety. Secondhand smoke is harmful, not to mention the physical assault!

      • TravelerJane April 4, 2024

        Exactly @HealthFirst. Plus, there are laws for a reason. Respecting local regulations is part of being a responsible traveler.

    • PhuketLocal April 4, 2024

      This kind of behavior is exactly why some locals are wary of tourists. Respecting the culture includes following our laws and rules.

  2. AnAdventureSeeker April 4, 2024

    Honestly, this sounds like something straight out of a movie. Can’t believe this actually happened!

    • Realist123 April 4, 2024

      Trust me, it’s not as fun when you’re the one in the situation. It’s scary how quickly things can escalate over something as trivial as smoking.

  3. NomadEric April 4, 2024

    While I do not condone the tourist’s actions, I can’t help but think about the pressure tourists are under. It’s not easy being in a foreign country, trying to navigate the rules.

    • LocalGuide April 4, 2024

      Pressure or not, assaulting someone is where the line should be drawn. It’s about basic human respect. Tourist or not, you should know better.

      • NomadEric April 4, 2024

        I agree, assault is definitely crossing the line. I was just reflecting on the broader picture of tourist stress.

  4. SmokeFreeTom April 4, 2024

    It’s time for a global no-smoking movement in all rental and public transport. It’s the only way to avoid situations like these.

    • LibertyLover April 4, 2024

      That sounds like an overreach. People should have the freedom to make personal choices, as long as they’re not affecting anyone else.

      • SensibleSusan April 4, 2024

        But in this case, the smoker was affecting others. The driver made it clear it was a no-smoking limousine.

  5. CulturalObserver April 4, 2024

    This incident is a clear example of the clash between individual desires and societal rules. It’s fascinating and alarming how a personal habit led to public chaos.

  6. LegalEagle April 4, 2024

    Curious about the legal implications here. Assaulting a driver over a smoking dispute seems to reflect a deeper disregard for law and order.

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