Wigan natives Elaine Morley and Dianne Tomlinson, along with colleagues Val Travis and Anna Williams, were enjoying the trip of a lifetime, travelling across Asia since the start of the month.
The group, who work at Winwick Hospital, were due to return home yesterday, until the Covid-19 pandemic grounded flights out of Cambodia to Britain.
Since then, all their attempts to get home have been unsuccessful, with flight after flight cancelled. They have no idea when they will be able to return home, saying they are fast running out of cash and have had little help from the British Embassy.
Elaine, who lives in Appley Bridge, said: “We left the UK on March 1, starting off in Vietnam. Before we left, we were told everything was fine, we could still come and there was nothing stopping us. We asked the travel agents and insurance company, everything, they said it was fine to still go, so of course we did.
“We had 12 nights in Vietnam, then moved onto Cambodia, travelling around for two to three nights in various places.”
The group were due to return home on an Emirates flight on Monday, but last weekend realised their flight had been cancelled. Frantic efforts to contact the airline were unsuccessful.
“They’ve cancelled everything and left us stranded here,” Elaine said.
“Consequently, we’ve been in touch with the travel agency who say they can’t do anything to help us. We can’t get any money back from Emirates because they have partly fulfilled their contract by bringing us out here.”
She went on: “We went to the British Embassy yesterday but we had to ring them three times before they let us in. It’s atrocious. We had to go away and ring them, we were on the phone for hours. Then the Embassy finally let us in after about five hours, and all they did was look online for a flight for us. They said there was a flight on Friday and that we should book it.”
They each paid £900 to book their seats on the plane, but within half an hour the booking was cancelled, and they were told it could be up to six weeks before they were refunded.
Elaine said: “We’ve been trying to get in touch with the Embassy again but are getting no answers. We’ve asked if they could help us financially or help us with accommodation, they can’t do anything, they say it’s our of their hands.
“We’ve no idea what to do. We have had to move hotels but the Embassy didn’t care, so how is anybody going to find us to get us home? The Government is doing absolutely nothing to help repatriate us.”
She added: “We’re just worried about what will happen if our money runs out. Luckily we are all still healthy, but the frightening thing is what if we become ill.
“We fear it could be months before we get home.” WIGAN TODAY
UPDATE: A Go Fund Me appeal has been launched.