Tourist bound for Turkey ends up in Torquay

Rumman Gaffur (gaffurr@sonnyj.BTNA.COM)
Thu, 19 Jun 97 15:00:39 EDT

from the daily telegraph ...

A JAPANESE tourist who wanted to catch a flight to Turkey was put
on a train to Torquay after asking for directions at Paddington.

Kumiko Tsuchida, who was on her first visit to Britain, arrived in Devon
at midnight, convinced that she had been through the Channel Tunnel
and was in Istanbul.

She was found wandering at 2am by police who instigated an operation
involving social services, a home for the elderly, a travel agent and the
Japanese embassy.

Mrs Tsuchida, 40, who teaches Japanese at Istanbul university but has
only a limited grasp of English, eventually caught a flight to Turkey
yesterday morning.

Things started to go wrong on Monday when she left the house of a
friend in London to catch a train to Heathrow. At Paddington she
inquired about the best way to travel.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Tsuchida said: "I told the staff at
Paddington that I wanted to go to Turkey. I kept saying 'Turkey,
Turkey'. But because of my pronounciation they put me on a train to
Torquay. I thought it was a long way to the airport but when I asked
people 'Turkey? Turkey?' they told me I was on the right train."

"She told officers that she had been on the train so long, she genuinely
believed she was in Turkey already," said a spokesman for Devon and
Cornwall police.

Torbay social services received a call from police at 2am. "They had a
lost and exhausted lady from Japan who needed a bed for the night,"
said a spokesman. "We were happy to oblige. She was too tired to eat
and went straight to bed."

Mrs Tsuchida slept at an old people's home and was taken to a branch
of Thomas Cook before being handed over to the Japanese Embassy.
Yesterday morning she found herself 26 short of the single fare to
Istanbul but the Heathrow press corps raised the extra cash.

"What happened to me was caused by my mistakes," she said. "I was in
Brussels and thought I would visit London for the first time. I came on
the ferry but I did not have any maps or books and did not know where
to go."