With the coronavirus still running rampant, few if any of us are going on big adventures right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still revel in the joy of traveling and think back to some of the good experiences we’ve had on the road, or read fun stories others have had. Here’s a compilation of travel stories that were submitted to us that I consider to be good reads if you’re stuck at home on quarantine.
- Amazon saves the day [442 words]
- The Manaslu trek [2,281 words]
- Paying for a damaged rental car [318 words]
- Accidental Christmas Eve in Amsterdam [1,118 words]
- Running from falling coconuts [272 words]
- Visited by a Hyena [915 words]
- Bad nightmare (somewhat graphic) [427 words]
- Dangerous mountain [149 words]
- Wrong flight time [196 words]
- Bus accident [180 words]
- Awkward kiss [298 words]
- The unexpected power of women panties in Myanmar [269 words]
- Postcard confiscation [291 words]
- Crazy buffalo [363 words]
- Afghanistan adventure [557 words]
- Tomorrowland savages [537 words]
- No hotels [278 words]
- Don’t forget real-wheel drive [248 words]
- Attack of the mosquitos [203 words]
- In the middle of cocaine [212 words]
- A run in with Iceland’s Ivan Milat [443 words]
I'm happy to share a travel story that happened a little bit before the coronavirus hit, and you could still order from Amazon normally.
The story is about my tried, trusted and irreplaceable Viking's Blade Safety Razor that I have pretty much taken around the world for years now. I gave up using electric shavers and disposable blades a long time ago in favor of this little guy, that provides a perfect shave while being eco-friendly.
Anyhow, so I was leaving Copenhagen and traveling to New York, en route to Crystal River in Florida as I usually do that time of the year. As you may know, they have manatees there almost all year around. My kids love them, and whenever we go to the US we try to make a quick stop there for some family diving.
So I flew to New York as usual and transferred over to Orlando where I would be staying for a few days to attend a conference, while my family continued to Crystal River. As I arrived at the hotel and went to take a shower, I noticed my precious Viking's Blade was missing!
I went into a panic, asked my wife a million times, called the airport to see if maybe it had been stolen by nefarious baggage handlers, and so on. I couldn't get any answers, and I just assumed that somehow I had forgotten to pack it.
Either way, I tried Google to see if there was a nearby store, but the whole idea of calling stores one by one to ask if they carried this product just seemed to be a nightmare. So as per my wife's suggestion, I settled down and looked on Amazon, because they have just about anything you can imagine.
Having resided in the US before, my wife had an Amazon account set up, with all the bells & whistles, including Amazon Prime. We quickly located my prized safety razor and ordered it to the hotel, with our room number and so on. On top of that, we called Amazon's customer service to confirm that the order had gone through and that it would be delivered in 48 hours.
At the end of the day, I went to the conference a bit scruffy, which my wife claimed added character and everything went well. I went to sleep that night and woke up to the hotel reception calling me around 10 am saying a package had arrived. And thus I was reunited with my Viking's Blade, with its incomparable grip, style, and performance that I had gotten used to for so many years.
Amazon had saved the day.
--Torben Lonne, DIVE.in online scuba magazine
*Our First craziest adventure Manaslu trek in 2008*
It was our craziest adventure manaslu trek here is how we did this for the first time in our life.
We got a booking for the Manaslu Camping trek back in 2008. None of our colleagues or anyone from our previous company were there. So we decided to go and look at the route and how it looks like. It was challenging but we did not have any other alternatives rather than this because we had to organize the trip for our customer anyhow and it was fully camping so was a bit challenging as well. The germans group we had to organize and we knew that if something goes wrong on the trip then the reputation of the company would collapse.
Manaslu trek was not very popular at that time. There was no hotel accommodation like now on that time so there used to be the camping trek, which means you had to carry all the luggages of food and sleeping materials and tent as well, that is the reason why we had to prepare very well to organize such a big trip doing pre-trip to it and get more idea for the logistics arrangements. The trekking trail was not popular hardly in a day you can meet some people on the way and because of the monsoon people do not walk anymore.
Having this thought in mind, we (Me Shreeram and my friend Som) started our trek to manaslu in the month of July. We were stupid that we underestimate the trek here is how we got the worst suffering on our 10 days trek. We had very few foods in our backpack. I would say that we were totally under prepared. We had a map to look as well but we lost it due to rain. Our first day we drove to Arughat through the Muddy road. 6-7 times the bus got stuck on the mud and we were pushing the bus to go further on. It took us 16 Hours to drive the 145 KM. Then we slept in the local tea house of Arughat.
Next day we started our trek, we planned to walk double as the tourist does so early in the morning around 6 o'clock we started our trek. It was still raining lightly last night. The river was totally flooded and the small canals also had big volumes of water. A small stupid decision could cost life very much. We walked 6 hours then lost the connection of the phone and it will be the same until we finish this trek. We followed the trekking trail and walked quickly heaving slats on our hand because of blood sucking leeches. We walked 13 Hours on that day and reached Dovan that day. It was the longest as well as very tough walking due to whole day rains. We were totally wet and shivering because of the cold. We asked the local home to give us the settlement for 1 day. They agreed and we stayed there. We lit the fire and dried out wet clothes around the fire. Heaving the local food we slept very well that night because we had a sleeping bag with us. The local gave us the straw mat to sleep after a long walk. It was the most comfortable bed I ever had in my life.
The other day it was quite good weather, the sky was partially opened and we had a big mission to reach either Deng or Pewa at Least, due to yesterday's long walk we started our journey around 8 o clock. It was good walking on that day but we were continuously battling blood sucker leeches. They were everywhere around the trail. We continuously walked picking it and throwing it. We know that it is not that poisonous but over bleeding might cause you different problems on the body. We were totally bloody due to the leeches around the trail. We reached to Filim where we did our lunch. We asked some locals how the further trails looks like, some locals they could not understand the Nepalese language because they speak their own language. Finally we met some government police officers who work there and asked about the trails and they said that now the trail becomes more steep and slippery as well as dangerous because of the landscape of the landslides as well as stone falls. We started our journey again. It was around 1 o'clock when we left the Film and we were supposed to be on our targeted place walking further 4 hours but we did not make it there. We Missed our way because of the sheep trail around there, due to the rainy season the trails were totally filled with grass and bushes. We chose the wrong way and went the wrong way for 2 hours. We did not know that it was a sheep carer's trail to reach the high mountains where there is a sheep herd, It was a dangerous trail to reach there. We thought that how people are walking from this trial but we were wrong it was not for the people, it was for the animals. We reached the sheep herd where we saw old couples and asked them.
Where is the way to go Deng?
Old man replied- Deng ? with the surprise on eyes
Som said - Yes Deng.
Old man replied - You guys missed the trail, this is not the way to go Deng. There are no more trails from here, yes there is a small sheep trail where I take the sheep for grazing. Hearing this we became so sad and almost got the cry because we walked the wrong way and we did not have time to reach ultimate destinations anymore.
We talked to each other. It was already 4 o'clock, which means we had to walk further 4 hours more and it started to rain. We made it clear to ourselves that we can not go further in this rain. We decided to go to the sleeping place with the old man.
Som- We missed the trail now we can not reach the Deng, It is also raining outside. We ask you to let us sleep in a sheep herd.
Old Man Replied - hummmmm boys we don’t have a good place to give you for sleep. The roof is not that protective. Will you adjust this?
I replied: We don’t have any alternatives, I replied we want to adjust the night anyhow.
The Old Woman replied: Guys we don’t have food for you because we are almost out of food. We have some flour to make bread which is also limited, will you adjust that?
Som Replied: Yes we can, we have some dry noodles with us so we can cook them as well.
We got to the place where these old couples sleep. The water was dripping from the roof. We were just in front of the sheep where all the sheep were tide with the ropes. The sheep was so stinky and shouting some were fighting inside. It was the worst ever night for us. We fixed the tent just above the dunk of the sheep. Where the water was dripping continuously. They blew the fire and cooked the bread. We got some then we also cooked noodles and shared the noodles soup with them. It was not sufficient but what else we could do. We were sitting on the fire, outside the rain was continuously pouring. We lit the fire until 12 o clock, because the place was not good to sleep. We tried to sleep but the sheep was making noise so we could not blink the eyes. It was very tough to spend the night we woke up around 6 o'clock. We were very thankful for those couples. At least we were lucky to meet them there otherwise what will happen there we did not know.
We now have to return the same way, now we returned to the same way which was quite difficult. Then we took the right way to go to Deng. It took us 4 hours to reach the deng we decided to stay here because of last night. There was a pretty good local home stay, we got plenty of food and slept the whole day here. We also made plans for the next day.
Next day we woke up early, it was raining. We took some soup for breakfast because they did not have an idea to cook bread or whatever. We paid the bill and started to walk. The rain did not let us. We did not stop. The thick corn trees are around the field. Some corn was ready to harvest, others were green. There is nothing more than this you can see. Due to the mountain , the settlement of the people was very low. We were walking until 3 o'clock and did not meet the place to eat. We took the green corn and started to bite. Walking further 1 hours, we reached Ghap where we had some food. We asked the local people how long it takes to get to Namrung.
The locals could not speak or understand our language because they were Tibetan gave us wrong information that it would take 1 hours. The map also said 2 hours that is why we decided to move on. We left the Gap for Namrung around 5 o'clock. So we believed that we could reach there by 7 o clock but we were wrong.
When we left the Gap we had a big forest and again it started to rain. We were walking very quickly but we could not reach the Namrung because of the wrong communication. It was already dark and we had a torch on our hand pointing to the trail we were walking on. Certainly we saw some moments of black things with some sounds. We did not know what that animal was? Now it was making some noise and we stopped and looked forward to ahead of us. The eyes of the animal were shining. We saw black creatures with big size. We got scared and my friend was speechless. I was ahead of him. I knew that the animal was looking at the light. That is why I decided to leave the torch in the place where we are standing right now. Slowly I put the torch to the ground which the animal was looking at. We moved slowly, turning another touch off to the uphill from the trail. Certainly the animal jumped over the torch we were looking at from uphill. It was roaring there we just stopped for a while there then we felt that it jumped down then slowly from there we took the off trail to reach the main trail to Namrung. We walked further 1 hour to reach Namrung. When we saw some light and the smell of Smoke we felt that oh god you saved our life. We reached a small tea house there and stayed there and asked them what we saw there before arriving at Namrung. They were telling us it was a bear (The black bear). We were lucky to avoid the potential injury from it.
Next day, we met some locals who were going to Samagaun 3500 Meter, we decided to go with them because we had no idea about the trail. We walked together with them to Samagaun and got the first shower there even though the water was not hot. We were very welcomed by the locals over there because the locals understood the importance of the tourism there. They were hoping more tourists would come to this place. There were basic tea houses over there. We made the phone call to Kathmandu from the satellite Phone that we are safe.
Next day we walked very late because the locals said it was just a 3 hours trail to reach Samdoo. We walked around 9 o clock. The weather was very clear, we saw Mt Manaslu 8153 Meter just in front of us and many other peaks. We were surprised because that scenery we have not seen before and realize why the Germans selected Manaslu trek.
Today it was our challenging day because we had to climb 5106 Meter from 3900 Meter. It was not an easy trek because we had to start around 4 o'clock. Since it was July, rainfall was normal. When you are in such a high place if it rains then it is very cold. It was not raining at the time when we started our trek from Samdo but after walking two hours the clouds and fog started to cover the sky. We hardly saw the trail. It was windy and cold. We were heaving rain cover but shivering. There were clear marks as well as iron polls to show us the way. We reached the top of Larke la pass 5106 Meter around 12 o clock. We did not have a chance to take the photograph because of the fog. We descended down to Bhimthang 3500 Meter, it took us 6 hours more, we arrived at Bhimthang around 6.30. We got the tea houses there, ordered some food, ate and slipped due to over walking.
Next day after walking 8 hours we reached Dharapani, The place we knew very well and had been here many times. We now got our life back. It was a very adventurous as well as crazy trek for us to prepare for the upcoming trek. We were glad that we successfully did it than planned.
--Shreeram Thapaliya, Nepal Trek Hub
The craziest travel story was when we had to *pay for the damages to our rented car, even though we believed we had the insurance*. And more importantly, *managing the whole process while arguing with the dealership who spoke Spanish, and we were pretty poor at it.*
As part of my work, as well as since I like it, I travel a lot and often rely on travel insurance offered by my credit card company. My wife and I *hired a car in Chile*, but *did not buy the insurance offered by the car company. We were under the impression that we were covered by the insurance provided by the credit card company*. Unfortunately *the** car had an accident, and I was charged by the car company for the cost of repairs and maintenance.* I filed a claim with the card company, but it was not honoured. The reason provided was that I had not carried out the complete transaction for hiring the car using the same card. We had reserved the card with some other credit card( don't remember the reason we did it - may be because we were paying in a foreign currency , and this card offered a better exchange rate). The card company's terms and conditions did state that the complete transaction - car-hire rent payment as well as the amount to be blocked by the car company and any and everything else had to be done by the same card. We did not do that and hence *our claim was not honoured. *We did argue our case strongly - mails as well as calls - but nothing positive happened. And ultimately we faced the brunt of the costs.
It was a bit *crazy*, because:
1) We were *new to the country, and did not speak Spanish* 2) The *damages were quite high* 3) We had *just started our travel *and the incident kind of dampened the spirit
--Saurabh Jindal, Talk Travel
*Accidental Christmas Eve in Amsterdam*
I had spent the second half of 2003 backpacking with my friends through Europe, from Andalucia in Spain to Rome, Italy and everything in between. My flight back to New York was from Paris on the 23rd of December, departing late at night. That last week I was with my friends at a hostel in Amsterdam, where we spent the last weekend to enjoy the last leg of our trip.
So I was the last one left on the 22nd of December, as everyone had taken off to their respective countries and I had to take my flight from Paris the next day. I had a ticket with Ryan Air that would take me from Charleroi, in Belgium to the second airport in Paris, where I would transfer to Charles De Gaulle for my flight back to New York.
I had calculated everything perfectly, that is, I would take the 7 am train from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Brussels in Belgium, then change to a domestic train that would take me to the small city of Charleroi. From there I would find my way to the airport with a bus that goes directly from the train station. That was the plan anyway, and I would have arrived in Paris with plenty of time to spare and transfer to Charles De Gaulle for KLM flight that would take me home.
If I could say so myself, the itinerary was perfectly planned, without smartphones or any apps since it was 2003, and we would still use the internet cafes in Europe to check our email. So I set two alarm clocks, asked the guy that worked at the reception to wake me up if I didn't appear by 6 am, and went off to bed.
I woke up and got ready and arrived at the train station as planned. So far so good, as I waited for the train to arrive to take me to Brussels. Time passed, and it was now half an hour late, and I started to wonder if anything was up. I asked people around and everyone confirmed that they were waiting for the same train. About 10 minutes later they announced in English and Dutch over the loudspeaker that the train had been delayed and we would board it in about 15 minutes.
Then I got a little bit concerned. I calculated the time and realized that I could still make my flight in Charleroi, but I would have to hustle. So we eventually boarded the train and it sped off towards Belgium without further ado. Once I arrived at the central station in Brussels I switched trains and was on my way to Charleroi.
Now I was a bit worried because I calculated that if I took the bus from the station, I would probably arrive 1 hour before check-in and that's not good. So the moment I got out of the train station in Charleroi, I started looking for taxis. Unfortunately, there was no Uber to save me in 2003, so I had to look around the parking lots. I couldn't find a single cab, and by the looks of it the bus didn't arrive yet either.
So I was panicking a little and pacing around near the bus stop when I saw an older gentleman. I asked him in English if there were taxis in this area. He didn't understand, and I repeated just TAXI a few times. Then he smiled and nodded, telling me to follow him. So we went to a payphone where he called a taxi for me, to which I was extremely grateful. The only issue is, 15 minutes had elapsed by the time the taxi finally arrived. I told him airport, to which he nodded and drove off.
There weren't many cars and the ride was quick, maybe 20 minutes, but. I was now on the limit of 1 hour before check-in. I paid him what I remember being around 30 euros or the equivalent pre-Euro, which was expensive and grabbed my stuff, rushing through the airport entrance.
I finally get to the Ryan Air counter to check-in, only to find out it was too late. There was no negotiation, and no other flights departing to Paris or near it that day. Now, this was a big problem, as I couldn't pull out a smartphone and search alternate routes, AirBnB's nearby, etc. I was basically stranded, and low on cash as a young adult backpacker should be, not able to just pay for a hotel randomly.
So what to do?
Well, one thing was in my favor, and that was my Eurail pass was still valid for another week. So that meant I could still take trains in this area of Europe without having to pay. Unfortunately, I didn't have the internet resources in 2003 to quickly search for all sleeper trains, which would have been one solution. Another would have been the Couchsurfing app or Airbnb, but it was 2003, so what then?
The only thing I could think of was that I had become friends with the owner at the hostel in Amsterdam that we stayed, and that if I were to be stranded for Christmas Even, let it be Amsterdam then!
I then left Charleroi airport, by bus this time, back to the train station, and worked my way back to Amsterdam, arriving late at night. I got back to the hostel, and the guy was surprised to see me, and I explained what happened. I told him that if I could stay a few days that I'll have some money through Western Union from my folks and I would pay him back.
He just smiled and said, don't worry about it, how about this, tonight you stay for free and tomorrow we will figure it out. So I went back to the room and fell asleep knowing my parents would be pissed off that I missed that flight. They would probably think I was out partying in Amsterdam when I actually missed the flight because the train was late, and it wasn't my fault.
Anyhow, the Christmas Eve itself was uneventful, since the hostel owner was Muslim and didn't celebrate it. We did have fun hanging out with all the other stranded backpackers in the hostel, with a big pot-luck meal and many beers to go around. It was fun and different from the usual Chrismas Eve dinner, but it was a great memory nonetheless.
I would re-book my flight directly from Amsterdam since the flight change was cheaper and safer than re-booking through Paris. Eventually, I made it home a few days later, and all was well.
--Philip Weiss, PhilipWeiss.org
Many years ago when I was in Hawaii visiting the Island of Kauai we were staying at a resort that was away from the main town. My husband was tired from the day's excursions and I decided to go for a walk.
I was walking back from the little shops and along the grounds when the sun was just starting to set. I was probably about a half-mile from the hotel. I was enjoying the scenery and every once in awhile I would hear a sound behind me. I would turn and look but wouldn't see anyone. I thought it was my imagination. Then I would hear it again.
I started to think someone was following me. I started walking faster and every so often I would hear the sound again. It was always behind me or to the side of me near the grounds and away from the street. It was starting to get dark and after hearing this about 7 or 8 times, I was starting to panic and my pace was at a very fast walk and then BAM...about 5 feet in front of me a coconut dropped with a thud.
I then realized I was run/walking from coconuts falling. It was funny then, but not funny when I thought someone was following me. I talked to some of the islanders and they told me that coconuts often drop in the evenings as the sun is setting. Also that you have to be careful because people have had serious injuries from coconuts hitting them on the head. Lucky for me, I just had a scare and no injuries.
--Robin O'Neal Smith, RobinONealSmith.com
What a day it had been!
It started early, well before dawn, with us waking up in a small tent in the middle of nowhere. It was so early and the light pollution so weak that we got dressed in complete darkness. We weren’t the least bit tired, though, because the air was thick with anticipation of today’s epic adventure. As we fumbled our way outside, we were welcomed by our guide, who was, thankfully, equipped with a torch. It made a crackling sound that was strangely comforting, and it was definitely a welcome relief from the uncertainty of what might be lurking in the shadows. The morning was cold, more so than you would expect from even wintertime in Africa. It was the sort of crisp cool air, where your breath acts as a vaporizer, sending out huge plumes of smoke with every exhale. A pleasant surprise awaited in the open 4x4 vehicle, though. Warm blankets had been prepared, and we could snuggle up tight in the back seat. It was an old Land Rover, heavily modified to handle the off-road requirements of the African bush. The roof had been removed to offer excellent visibility for the passengers, and the car had no windows or seatbelts. This was the kind of vehicle that could take you on an epic adventure. And it did. We were on our first ever Safari excursion, with no idea of what to expect and with no other choice but to hold on and enjoy the ride!
The morning mist hung low on the savannah, and as we drove, we witnessed one of those glorious sunsets that you can only find in Africa. The sun really is bigger, and glows brighter, on this continent. And as the red sun rose, it slowly revealed the abundance of wildlife roaming the reserve. Impalas grassed the vast plains, looking up nervously from time to time to spot danger approaching. They weren’t looking at us, though, because they had grown almost entirely accustomed to humans and their vehicles. No, it was hyenas, wild dogs, lions, and leopards they were alerted by. It was easy to understand why, because we saw plenty of these exotic beasts even on this first day in the bush. In fact, we saw more animals in the wild than we had ever seen before. Most impressive were the large herds of elephants, majestic animals, all the more fascinating thanks to their immense size. Cutest was the baby Giraffe, born just a few days prior. Rarest was the pangolin, hunted almost to extinction by poachers, and most elegant was the stealthy leopard; a lean, mean, killing machine that we only caught flashes of. Warthogs, hippos, crocs, rhinos, zebras, lions, buffalos, you name it, all lived together in perfect harmony out there on the African plains. It was beautiful. What a privilege it was to witness their lives unfold from the comfort of our jeep.
We didn’t return to camp until after dark. Having spent a full day in the wilderness, we came back rich in novel experiences, but also incredibly hungry. Luckily, we were welcomed by a roaring bonfire and a mouthwatering aroma. Dinner was almost ready to be served outside, and it was a particularly beautiful evening. There, under the starry African night sky, the local chefs and waiters served us a royal feast.
As we sat around the fire, gulping down roast chicken, we were buzzing. Admittedly, buzzing in a sort of mellow way. Everyone were still processing what we’d witnessed throughout the day and “hunting” the big five sure prepares you for a good night’s sleep. None of us expected that the wild nature of Africa had one final adventure in store for us.
But it did.
Just as we were finishing up the main course, all the while chatting about the top sightings of the day, we got a visitor. Out from the shadows, stepped a four-legged beast. It was a furry creature, but it wasn’t the typical case of the family’s fat dog coming to snatch a few scraps. No, this was the next level.
It was a full-grown male hyena!
He stepped into the light, just about a meter from the bonfire, and cast long shadows extending into the blackness of the night behind. A low gasp emerged amongst the dinner party. He was staring directly at us, and we at him. Somehow, the local waiters were already safe inside, behind a steel gate. The rest of us had barely had time to react. We were sitting completely still, and no one uttered a word. Thankfully, the hyena froze as well.
Then our South African guide Jacques, a big fella twice the size of myself, broke the silence: “Piss off,” he said, waving his hand in a shoo-off fashion. That didn’t seem to bother the hyena much, so Jacques stood up, raised his voice, and half-yelled: “Get the hell out of here, you scum!”
That did the trick, and that was that. End of story. The hyena scooted off, and we helped ourselves to some dessert. We had to, because the kitchen staff, comprised entirely of locals, didn’t surface again until the next morning. None of us tourists had been particularly scared during this brief encounter with a wild African animal, but maybe we should’ve been?
We were later told that once upon a time, the camp had been visited by a leopard. Well, THAT might just have scared the living crap out of us!
--Nick & Kia, The Danish Nomads
I have been backpacking for 40 years (yep). On our honeymoon, my husband and I decided to backpack through Australia. Hubby found work at a landscaping company so we stayed in Sydney for a couple of months to make a few dollars before setting out north to Brisbane. We found a rooming house in Paramatta that rented out rooms cheap. We were the only backpackers; the other guests were long-term residents - all single men of varying ages. They seemed to be in need of such accommodations because the place also provided meals in a communal dining room. Many of the men appeared to be disabled or down on their luck as they say.
Our wing was located at the back of the property, configured in a strip like a motel, with each room side by side and a small concrete terrace in front of each door. Others rented rooms inside the majestic old house that sat among grand, shady trees. We stayed there peacefully for about two months and when we found we had saved enough to continue our travels we booked bus tickets for the next leg of our trip, packed our bags and went to bed.
In the middle of the night we were awakened to screams so terrifying we were convinced someone was being murdered. Loud bangs preceded an explosion of glass. By now the shrieks were ear-piercing. We locked ourselves in the bathroom because the incident was occurring directly in the room next to ours.. After a few minutes we heard sirens, many of them.
When we saw the flashing light of the ambulance and police cars underneath the crack in the bathroom door, we reckoned it was safe to emerge from our hidey hole and joined dozens of people on the concrete terraces, viewing the carnage. Paramedics were attending to our neighbour, a young man who had recently moved in. He explained to the police that he had experienced a nightmare so frightening, he felt his life was in danger and escaped by kicking his way through the closed, glass window, the one directly next to ours.
We could not go back to sleep after observing him and his shredded body, lacerations from head to toe, weeping into his hands. The paramedics attended to the most serious wounds but did not have enough gauze to cover every gash. A group of us milled around while the owner swept up the glass. We could only imagine what possessed the young's man's dreams but my own, for the next few weeks, were troubled indeed.
--Janet LoSole, Adventure by Chicken Bus
While visiting Denver, Colorado, in December, we decided to make a trek up the mountains to go snowboarding for our last day there. We're from California and not used to driving in the snow and did not realize that our rental car was not suitable for weather conditions. We made it halfway there and had to turn around as we couldn't grip the road anymore. On the way back down, our car got stuck on a huge hill down and we had to be pulled out by a tow truck. We weren't alone though - we saw multiple cars being pulled out of the snow next to ours. It looked like we were playing a game of curling with our cars and trying to not hit each other or get stuck. And all of us had terrified faces on. It was quite the memory. I will never underestimate snow again.
--Alisha Chocha, Roam Often
My backpacking adventure got off to a rather bumpy start. Aged just 21, I started my journey in Fiji, which is the opposite side of the world to my home in the UK. After a 27-hour series of three flights, I landed at 3 am where I expected to meet my boyfriend at the airport. But he didn't show up. I hadn't seen him for six months and, as this was before the time of social media, all I had was a mobile number which didn't connect. I had no idea what to do!
I checked into a backpacker hostel and stayed there for the next 24 hours, adjusting to the idea that I'd be travelling alone but worrying that my boyfriend was either dead or had left me. Then, in the middle of the night, I heard a knock on my window. I jumped up and saw his face. I thought I was dreaming. He was there! Turns out, he'd got the time of my flight wrong by 24 hours. Someone in the airport who had helped me the previous night remembered where I was staying and helped him to find me. All was well!
--Jenni Fielding, cruisemummy.co.uk
A crazy but scary incident happened with a family living in my neighborhood. The father of the family had a bus trip planned by his company, to Montana. He, his wife and their daughter, around of the age of 22 went along with it. There was total of three buses planned for the trip. The husband and wife boarded the same bus but their daughter went on a different one with a friend. Somewhere along the way, the husband and wife got the information that one of the buses had met an accident. When they described the looks and physique of their daughter, someone confirmed that she might be in that bus. Both parents panicked and were in a state of shock. The worse thing was that her mobile was unreachable or switched off. After a few minutes, a phone call came, which was from their daughter that she was not on that bus and that they were safe. After the visit, the whole family was so traumatized that they refused to go on any vacation for a few years.
--Jennifer Willy, Etia.com
A few months ago I was traveling through Europe. Since I wanted to see many cities, I took some overnight buses. One day, I woke up in Verona, then I went to Venice by train. I spent the whole day in Venice, and then I got into the night bus in the evening, which would go to Lucerne (Switzerland). I was really, really tired and ready to sleep well in the bus. It had been so much fun and I didn't really have a lot of sleep, because I wanted to see as much of the cities I visited as possible. And at the moment I got in that overnight bus, the most awkward thing happened! I sat in the front row of the bus, about 30 minutes before the bus was leaving. I was having thoughts about different bus companies (don't ask me why haha) and since I was so tired, I got a little bit confused about the different bus companies. I was staring out of the window, looking really confused. I didn't realize, that I was actually staring at a...... kissing boy and girl! I didn't even see them as I was lost in my thoughts! I only realized that once the boy started sticking his tongue out of his mouth to me! Then, I realized I looked at them as if I was disapproving that they were kissing, which I would never do on purpose! It was so awkward, and I couldn't even explain myself to them, because I sat behind the glass in the bus and was already in my pyjamas. Moreover, the bus didn't leave for another 20 minutes, and the couple didn't leave either, which made it even more awkward, since I sat in the front row visibly behind the glass!
The unexpected power of women panties in Myanmar
This is a story from our backpacking trip in Myanmar. It was already our second week in the country, and we decided to go to quite a distant and non-touristy area in Rakhine state - Mrauk-U. When we came to the hostel, a very kind old lady greeted us. She spoke just a few words in English. We saw that there was a washing machine for guests and as we understood we were allowed to use it.
Later in the evening, we brought a bag of our laundry. The lady pointed to her husband and told us that he will take it. And then it happened. The man and woman started a very loud Burmese conversation. We didn’t understand a word. That man threw the laundry bag back to us. And the angry women started pointing to us, first to my boyfriend and later to me but we still didn’t understand the situation, so we just took our clothes and went back to the room.
We were curious and started to search the internet. We have found the reason after a while! Burmese are very superstitious and believe that a man can’t touch a woman’s underwear because they believe that touching a lady's underwear will sap them of their power. So the poor lady thought we want to hurt her husband!
Back in 2007, there was even a campaign by a Thai-based group called 'panties for peace' ( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/oct/19/burma.martinhodgson) in which supporters were encouraged to send women's underwear to Burmese embassies, in the hope that it would weaken the regime power.
--Matej Halouska, Czech the World
Crazy travel story: We had a postcard confiscated at a border crossing!: Last fall (October 2019), my husband and I traveled through the Caucasus as part of a year-long backpacking trip. The border between Armenia is Azerbaijan is closed due to tense relations between the two nations, so after visiting Armenia, we traveled back through Georgia to get to Azerbaijan (all via overnight train). During our crossing into Azerbaijan, the border guard saw we had previously been to Armenia (which is technically allowed, if not desirable for tourists to Azerbaijan) and asked if we had any souvenirs.
Did you buy anything in Armenia? he asked (in Russian, via a Chinese woman from Kazakhstan in our train car who thankfully translated for us). Perhaps a bottle of brandy?
Nope, I asked truthfully. Just a postcard.
He asked to see the postcard, so I climbed up into my top bunk and got the postcard out of my backpack. (My husband and I collect postcards from every country we visit.) I was curious what he was looking for; did he think the postcard would declare, Down with Azerbaijan! or some other anti-Azeri sentiment?
After looking at the postcard and flipping it over a few times, he said something in Russian and tucked the postcard into his clipboard. The woman in our car laughed in disbelief and then told us, He said you cannot take anything made in Armenia into Azerbaijan. He is keeping the postcard.
The postcard was probably made in China, my husband pointed out. But as it was not worth potentially being turned away at the border, we nodded and acquiesced to the postcard theft, then celebrated one of many firsts for us: A first having an item confiscated at a border!
--Megan Stroup Tristao, Tristao Travels
My wildest travel experience was one where I nearly died! I was volunteering at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya where we participated in various citizen science, field work, and anti-poaching projects. One of our goals was to fix an animal hide (a small building where you can observe wildlife without being seen). First, we needed to clear an overgrown path to the hide in the middle of the wildlife reserve.
A group of four female volunteers, myself included, plus two guides worked for a short while on the path, moving rocks and hacking away at weeds with machetes. All of a sudden, I heard one of our guides up ahead screaming words in Swahili. While I couldn't understand him, I could sense his sheer panic by the tone of his voice. I took this to mean one thing: RUN. We all raced back to our jeep as fast as possible. As I swung open the back door of the car, I looked ahead to a petrifying sight. A massive cape buffalo stampeded towards us. She was furious.
One guide and two of us managed to get into the car safely. There was a mom and daughter in our team who didn't make it into the car as easily. The daughter positions herself on one side of the vehicle as her mom jumps on the hood of the car to narrowly escape the buffalo. The daughter pulls her mom towards her and then pushes her into the car (as I'm also pulling her in). At the same time, the buffalo rams the front of the car with her huge horns. BANG. The car shakes. The daughter rolls beneath the vehicle.
The buffalo stomps to the other side of the car and rams the vehicle again with all her might. BANG. The car shakes. I am terrified. Is the buffalo going to penetrate this vehicle with her horns, flip over the car, and kill us all? In the end, she decided to give up and walk away. After what seemed like a lifetime, our guide emerged from the bushes, alive but scraped up, as he jumped into a giant cactus tree to escape the buffalo.
--Lauren Yakiwchuk, Justin Plus Lauren
Last summer, I spent two weeks solo trekking in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor. The main goal of my trip was to reach the remote Little Pamir plateau and meet the nomadic Kyrgyz people who inhabit it.
Getting to the Little Pamir involves a 12-hour drive on a precarious dirt road, and then a 3-day hike along the roaring Wakhan River. After I crossed the border into Afghanistan from Tajikistan, I set out to organize a car for the 12-hour drive to the tiny town of Sarhad-e-Broghil I had ahead of me. While wandering the bazaar of the town I was in, I met a local family who happened to be heading that direction - and they had an extra seat.
We set off on our journey, and it went surprisingly well - our car only broke down four times (this is pretty good for travel in rural Afghanistan!). We arrived at Sarhad-e-Brogil in the evening, and I went straight to bed so I had enough energy to begin my hike the next day.
I woke up early and set off immediately after a brief meeting with the local police office to inform them of my plans. For the next three days, until I reached the Little Pamir, I would be completely alone. I spent those three days enjoying the beautiful scenery of Afghanistan and listening to podcasts - it also gave me a lot of time to think, which was nice.
After three days of trekking, I finally reached the Little Pamir. The Little Pamir is a high altitude valley covered with green grass and dotted by nomadic Kyrgyz homes. By this point, I was running low on food and energy - I needed to find a family to stay with for the night.
I could smell the scent of burning yak dung (the only fuel available at these altitudes), so I followed it. After another hour or so, I came across a settlement comprised of three Kyrgyz homes - I would later learn that this settlement is named Itchkili.
I wandered around for a bit until a young boy came out to greet me. We couldn't speak the same language, but I gestured to him that I was looking for a place to stay, and he invited me into his home.
When I entered his home, I got to meet his entire family. His father's name was Belak, and he seemed excited to have a visitor. We spent the evening attempting to communicate, and laughing when we couldn't understand each other. I got to see what it is like to live in such a remote place, where there's no electricity and the nearest road is a three-day hike away.
The next morning, I sadly had to set off. I wish that I could've spent more time with Belak and his family, but I'm grateful that I was able to meet them at all. I know I'll be back soon, and this time I'll try to learn a bit more Kyrgyz.
My visit to Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor was challenging - but I learned a lot from it. Carrying my heavy backpack for days on end was all worth it when I finally got to witness the traditional lifestyle of the nomadic Kyrgyz people.
I hope that one day, Afghanistan is a more accessible country and that more people are able to experience its beauty.
--Jacob Laboissonniere, On The Way Around
I would say the craziest travel story I have is when I went to Tomorrowland last year as part of a Europe trip. Tomorrowland was, in particular, the event I was looking forward to the most. Who knew what would make it most memorable were three rowdy British neighbors camping next to us.
After the first Pre Tomorrowland, even we managed to stumble back to our tents take a nap and wake up fresh the next day. Little did we know that we would be woken up at 7 am. We hear our British neighbors next to us talking, followed by “Baby Shark Doo Dooo Doo Dooo Doo Doo” almost like our of a horror scene in jaws. We woke up, wondered who in their right minds would play this song at 7 am while we were hungover. A few minutes later we hear the bellowing voice of my tall German friend yelling “Shut the F*ck up with the Baby Shark!” he continued, “You are not allowed to play ze Baby Shark until 9 am tomorrow!”. Our neighbors apologized and kept drinking heavily throughout the day.
The Next day we hear it again, “Baby Shark Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo”. We roll over and were like what the hell is wrong with these people. We look at our clock, it is 9 am on the dot. Fair play British neighbors. As the day goes forward our British neighbors get exceedingly drunk and catcalling random girls that walk by. By catcalling they were yelling “MEOW, KITTY WANT SOME MILK!” charming.
The next day I hear commotion with my German friends. The quiet friend that was always to himself, for the most part, was visibly upset. I asked what was going on and there was human crap on his tent. Just like in Seinfeld when Jerry says “Newman!” we said “Those damn British Neighbors!”. We confronted them about it and they blamed it on a big guy in crutches that was sometimes hanging out with them. Sure. After cleaning human shit off the tent we headed back to the Tomorrowland grounds.
We arrive back late at night and me and my friend and I noticed that our mattress was outside of our tent. What the hell? It almost looked like our area has been ransacked. We throw the mattress back into the tent and go to sleep. The next morning we confronted our British neighbors about this and they reply with “Ahh yeah sorry mate we brought some girls back to our campground and we didn’t have a mattress so we borrowed yours but it didn’t fit”. These people were sleeping on the ground in a tent, the definition of savages.
It was time to pack up and leave Tomorrowland, we all exchanged Instagrams with the British neighbors and went on our way. When we were on our way back to Germany we looked at the Instagram story of one of them and one of them was being hauled off in a stretcher while one of his friends laughing at him all the while calling him a pussy. I’m not sure how those people are handling social distancing right now but I’m sure there’s a lot of alcohol involved.
--Derek L, Floating Authority
Last November I had the privilege of backpacking through Australia, although a short journey, only 3 weeks, during which I wanted to visit as many sights on the East Coast as possible. I even managed to squeeze in a 2 day trip to the outback! Here's where the story gets interesting, I booked an excursion through outback tours, which was brilliant, a real taste of what life for the Aboriginals was and is like. We hiked, we laughed and we camped. As I only booked an overnight tour, I thought I'd be able to get a flight the following day, this wasn't possible. Ok, no biggie, I'll stay at the airport and wait for my flight...no can do, the airport closed an hour after the last flight departed, which was 9pm. So as any logical human being would do, I looked at hotels in the area, although a room was available, paying $600 for one night wasn't happening. So I rented a car, parked outside the airport and tried to sleep throughout the night, but believe me, trying to get to sleep in the 30 degree Celsius heat did not make it easy! At 1am I heard a knock on my window, security was patrolling the car park and saw my fogged up windows, I got kicked out of the car park and had to find another place to stay. Of course there are endless possibilities of parking in the outback, but with no street lights I was not risking an excess of $4000 on the rental insurance!!!! I ended up parking in a supermarket car park and waited for the sun to come out. What a journey!
--Will Hatton, The Broke Backpacker
When I first started full-time RVing, I had lived in Florida all of my life. So once I was a free bird, I ditched the beaches to hit the lush and mountainous Montana.
In December, I took a trip from Montana to Seattle pulling my 24’ travel trailer. On my way back to Montana, I had to cross Snoqualmie Pass on I-90. A blizzard was quickly approaching. I saw a road sign saying ‘snow tires or chains necessary’. So I bought some chains and put them on at the ‘chain up’ area. Now, the storm was on me. Conditions had deteriorated to cause traffic to slow to about 30mph. Halfway up the pass, I suddenly noticed the back end of my truck starting to slide. How could this be? I was using chains.
But more and more, my truck slowed and I felt my back end sliding. Finally, I couldn’t go any farther. It soon dawned on me what I had done wrong. I put the chains on the FRONT tires, thinking my truck was front-wheel drive. Oops! Nope. I had to, in the middle of I-90, change the chains from front to back. The blizzard was so bad, the Interstate closed not long after I got through. I’m happy I made it through and that there were emergency vehicles patrolling. One parked behind me while I (in the middle of the interstate) changed out the chains.
Now I will NEVER forget that my truck has rear-wheel drive!
--Kelly Beasley, Camp Addict
Our craziest travel story is from our time spent sailing down the Amazon river n a local passenger ferry. In our minds, this was set to be a week long pleasure cruise: relaxing on hammocks, blissfully sailing down the river, checking out the scenery and just enjoying life.
It quickly turned into a nightmare.
On the very first night, all of the western passengers (not a lot of us) got sickness from eating the food on board. With toilets no bigger than 10 square feet, it was not a pleasant experience!
What with that and the never ending heat, there wasn't a lot of fun to be had lounging around in our hammocks. Respite came at sunset when, for about 30 minutes the temperature was wonderful and the sunset views were out of this world.
After that ... the mosquitos attack!
Looking back, it's not quite as dreadful as it sounds and there were enjoyable moments, especially with the camaraderie on board as you were all going through the same ordeal together. In fact, we are still close friends with 2 Australians we met on board. So it really wasn't all bad and is now an experience to look back on and laugh at.
--Bradley Williams, Dream Big, Travel Far
I met once this girl with a super crazy story. Let's call her Megan. Megan and her boyfriend took an overnight bus from Argentina to Brazil. They had a fix seat number and although the bus was empty, an older men was sitting on their seats. Without thinking too much, they showed him the tickets with their seat number. The older men stood up and sat down nearby again.
On the road, While Megan and her boyfriend were asleep, the bus had to break quite hard. Megan woke up as she had the feeling someone was hammering on her chest. She opened her eyes and was covered in white packages of what most likely was cocaine. Her boyfriend woke up too. As fear kicked in to be in the middle of a drug smuggle, they pretended to sleep while the older men approached to pick up the kilo packages of cocaine lying around Megan and the floor.
Both their hearts were pounding. And while the older men most likely knew she was awake, everybody pretended nothing happened. When they finally arrived, Megan and her boyfriend waited until the older drug smuggler was off sight before leaving the bus station.
They never saw him again. I guess, this was in everbodys best interest.
--Matt, Hostelgeeks Media
We went on a Christmas trip to Iceland with Nadia's sister a few years ago. Our first bad mistake was arriving in late at night to the airport.
After getting our rental car, we tried to make it on the unmarked, frozen roads to our airbnb, about a 2 hour drive away from Reykjavík. This is where all the real 'fun' began. The roads were so slippery, covered in ice, that our snow tyres really weren't doing a thing to help us. Slipping around the road, a drive that should normally take 2 hours, now took us 4 hours to complete. Needless to say, we felt pretty concerned at this point.
As a lot of the roads in Iceland are unmarked, we were finding it difficult to locate our airbnb along the Golden Circle. Following our GPS, we thought we made it to the right place when we came across the only lit up house in the street.
As we drove into the gate we saw a little house with snow all around and an open garage. Inside the garage was all sorts of scary tools including hooks, axes etc. Probably completely innocent country tools but in the middle of nowhere at midnight, we were pretty scared. Rechecking our GPS, we believed we were in the right spot but none of us were too keen to get out and find out.
Suddenly, the porch light of the house turned on and an older man in a red robe appeared at the door of the house and looked out at us. We argued as to who was going to go over and speak to him. Mike drew the short straw and went out to speak to this man. "We are looking for an airbnb - have we come to the right place" he asked. The elderly man just looked at him and after a while Mike ran back to the car.
"We gotta get out of here" he said. At this point, we were completely convinced that the old guy standing at his porch with an open garage full of scary tools was Iceland's Ivan Milat (the Australian backpacker killer) and we were doomed to be tortured to death. Like those backpackers, our car was barely starting. Not because he cut our motor but, as we were in thick in snow, our car was moving about 1km per hour.
We got out of there eventually, unscathed by Iceland's Ivan Milat and eventually found our airbnb. Moral of the story for us - don't make silly decisions while traveling like arriving too late in foreign places and trying to make long drives in the dark.
--Nadia & Mike, Couple Travel The World
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