Belgian-Moroccan tourist breaks his back in motorbike crash in northern Thailand

A Belgian-Moroccan tourist broke his back in a motorbike accident en route to a waterfall in the hippie backpacker town of Pai in Mae Hong Son province, northern Thailand, yesterday.

Issam Messaoudi and his friend rented a motorbike and headed to Mor Paeng Waterfall when they lost control and came off the steep and slippery road. Messauodi’s friend came out of the accident unscathed.

Rescue workers put Messaoudi on a stretcher and took him to Pai Hospital, where X-rays revealed that he broke his back.

Doctors at the small, ill-equipped hospital decided to send Messaoudi on an agonising, winding journey to Bangkok Hospital in Chiang Mai City for treatment.

Mor Paeng Waterfall, just 6 kilometres from Pai town, is a popular swimming spot by nature of its natural rock slide, clear water, and stunning views.

However, the 50-metre-high waterfall is notoriously difficult to access – especially for inexperienced motorbike riders – thanks to the steep and undulating road up through the jungle.

Police said the road was especially treacherous yesterday after rainfall.

Messaoudi is certainly not the only tourist who crashed in the kingdom lately. As international tourists return to the kingdom in their droves, motorbike incidents involving foreigners are on the rise.

An Englishman’s GoFundMe page made headlines yesterday after a moped crash on Koh Yao Noi island left him in need of urgent surgery.

A young Welshman remains in a government hospital in Koh Samui after a motorbike collision on Boxing Day. He suffered a fractured skull in three places, bleeding in the brain, a punctured lung, five broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, a fractured ankle, and other minor injuries.

Pai, a backpacker hotspot in the northern Thai mountains, has a relatively low crime rate and rarely makes the news.

However, in June last year, a foreign tourist went on a rampage and smashed his way into a Bangkok Bank branch in Pai and continued to cause significant damage. He was also illegally residing in Thailand.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.