After spending hours going through my journals for some writing inspiration, one thing I noticed is how I’ve not really talked much about my travel fails on the blog (of which there are plenty, I can tell you!)
This is mainly because when I first started this blog, it was simply a way for me to document everything and keep my family informed. I was under strict instructions from dad not to publish anything that might alarm them or give my mum a heart attack.
So much to my dismay, I refrained, even though I knew some of them would make much more amusing stories.
The point is…travelling isn’t always the romanticised adventure it’s often portrayed to be. Sometimes it does throw you a curve ball and things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes you can find yourself in a predicament and not the foggiest idea how you ended up there or how to get out of it.
So now I’m back home, safe and in one piece, it feels like a fitting time to talk about it. And that’s why I have decided to introduce a new series on the blog…
Welcome to PART 1 of my epically shite (and comical) travel fails of all time. There are those that I can look back on now and laugh. There are others that I think are just downright dumb. But even through the worst travel mishaps (whether avoidable or completely unavoidable) there are always lessons to be learnt.
The close encounter with an angry elephant
During a loooong and exhausting jungle trek up the hills of Chang Mai, we had come across an obstacle in our tracks. An obstacle which meant we had to cross a river, over a log to get to the other side. Only on the other side there was an elephant and its calf. Our guide told us if we were quiet and didn’t take any photos, the elephants wouldn’t notice us. So what did my friend do? Take photos. What did the elephant do? Charge at us just as I had made my way across. What did I do? Scream like a little girl which angered the elephant even more. Thankfully I got out of the situation unscathed, but I think it’s fair to say my life definitely flashed before my eyes.
Lessons learnt…NEVER piss off an elephant in close proximity. Disown friends who want you killed. ALWAYS listen to your guide.
The Cambodian journey from hell
They told me it would probably take around six hours (give or take) to get a bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. By “give or take” what they actually meant was the journey would take double that. The roads were terribly bumpy and the driver seemed to think he was on a racetrack. I was in fear for my life for a loooong 12 hours. To make matters worse, I spent a good chunk of my journey being semi-harassed by a weird passenger and witnessed an accident involving a dog and a motorcyclist.
Feeling dishevelled and half the woman I was before embarking on that journey, I eventually got to Siem Reap at stupid-o-clock. The next challenge was finding a tuk-tuk driver that knew where my hostel was, which seemed to take an eternity. After a worrying amount of time driving around dark alleyways (where my brain of course went into complete overdrive…is he going to kill me???) he dropped me off at an entirely different hostel. Turns out he didn’t have a clue at all, but lucky for me the hostel did and gave him some instructions. Of course he expected more money and too tired to argue I agreed…only to discover when I arrived at the correct hostel they didn’t have my booking. F**ksticks. Just as I was about to lose all faith in humanity…they kindly found me a room in another hostel nearby.
Lessons learnt…Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Sometimes you will have your boundaries pushed to the max. But somehow they work out in the end.
The many bank blunders in Thailand
I don’t know what it is about me and the ATMs of Thailand…but we have a very turbulent relationship. There was the time I didn’t tell the bank I was travelling to Thailand and they blocked my cards. The time I DID tell my bank I was travelling to Thailand and they STILL blocked my cards. Oh and the time I thought a cash machine had swallowed my card, so cancelled it, borrowed money off a friend, then discovered several days later that it was in my purse the entire time (I was extremely sleep-deprived ok!?!)
Not forgetting my most recent trip to Bangkok where the machine swallowed one card, rejected all my other cards, and I was almost left stranded with no way of paying for my accommodation, transport, or the visa I needed for my flight to Vietnam the next day.
After a few hours of nothing but tears and tantrums, I realised I had one remaining card that I had forgotten the pin number for. After a call to my parents at an ungodly hour in England, they somehow magically found my bank details after rummaging through all my belongings in the attic for an hour. Life savers! (sorry mum/dad…may have skirted over those minor details when I spoke to you!)
Lessons learnt…I hate ATMs in Thailand. Always carry more than one card. Calls home to your bank are VERY expensive. Sometimes making a note of your pin number IS a good idea.
The Kanchanaburi ant invasion
After a lovely day exploring Kanchanaburi, my friend and I returned to our homely tree-house in the jungle for a cheeky night-cap. When the munchies kicked in, we found an open bag of chocolate buttons, which we’d obviously made a start on earlier that day but had forgotten about.
But when I put my hand in, an army of hundreds (I MEAN HUNDREDS) of huge ants scurried out all over our bed and invaded the entire room. We must have spent the next couple of hours frantically attacking them with our flip flops, before giving up and passing out on a bed full of ants and some nasty bites to show for it the next day. There is video evidence of us looking like crazed lunatics while doing this, but I’d be on my friend’s hit list if it ever went public.
Lessons learnt…NEVER leave unopened snacks where unwelcome creatures are likely to sneak in.
The backpacker that stole half of my clothes
You’d think when staying in hostel dorms, there would be this unspoken rule that travellers respect one another’s belongings. And for the most part this is the case. However, you could be the unlucky one who ends up with a complete knob-head who thinks it is OK to steal your clothes from right under your nose.
I’d been staying in a room with another girl for almost a week and started to notice quite a lot of my clothes were going missing. At first I put it down to my usual scattyness, but then one night I noticed her wearing a skirt that looked identical to one I had tailored in Hoi An. It couldn’t just be a weird coincidence that it was the exact same material and the same style. After a few beers I was feeling brave enough to confront her, which then resulted in me getting a full-on slap around the face. Needless to say, we didn’t keep in touch.
Lessons learnt…Some backpackers are filthy scroungers. And stupid enough to wear the clothes they stole from you while you’re still there.
Now it’s over to you! What mishaps have you encountered on your travels? What did you learn? Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on? Let me know below! And don’t forget to check in again for Part 2!
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