Here is a list of things that I have done, or that have happened to me when travelling that equal losing points in my bucket of travel karma. Sure many of you can relate to some of these!
1. LOST PASSPORT. The ultimate travel fail. Not stolen, not falling into the ocean, no – I threw it out in the hotel bin by accident. And didn’t realise for 2 days. Yes, absolute travel fail. Lots of tears, inconveniences, extra costs and lectures from everyone including parents, embassy staff and random strangers.
2. BAG STOLEN. The day after I lost my passport. Was stuck in a travel rut. Must be the only person to get 2 Thai police reports in the same week. Thankfully nothing too valuable in bag, like cameras (see below) and passports (see above).
3. SORE POPO. Slipped down a marble staircase in Cannakale, Turkey whilst wearing rubber thongs. Bruise on my bottom the size of my palm. Had to sit on one butt cheek for the following 7 hour bus ride. Popo = turkish for bottom.
4. LOST CAMERA. Technically it was stolen, but I am sure I did a poor job of putting it in my bag on the floor so it may have fallen out onto ground. After I left and discovered it missing I returned to the Croatian night club, but it was long gone. The Split Police Station proved mainly unhelpful at 3am, and even less helpful at 9am. So much so that I abandoned all attempt to report it stolen in Croatia and reported it stolen in Prague in 2 weeks time.
5. FAKE POLICE SIRENS. Sorry Czech republic for abusing your public services. After reporting my camera missing 2 weeks later in Prague, I was sent to another police station to re-report it. They said I had to return to the original police station, who apparently were just palming me off, and they were so apologetic that they gave me a free ride in the police car back to the original station. Sound confusing? You bet. Seeing as I lost my camera in Croatia 2 weeks earlier. Woops.
6. REAL POLICE SIRENS. After arguing with our dodgy taxi driver at 1am in Kuala Lumpur we were pulled over by police. They started rough housing the driver and came to interrogate us through the car window holding machine guns. Took our passports (AND MINE WAS MY EMERGENCY REPLACEMENT ONE – See above) so it is safe to assume we were ready to pee our pants. Had to hand over money to get passports back and walk away, still at 1am and now with no taxi. Smelt of a corrupt police scan…
7. MISSED FLIGHT. Awkward when you turn up to Stanton airport, London for your 6pm flight only to find out it was actually scheduled for 6am that morning. Fail. Then have to wait 4 extra hours, meaning your total time commuting and waiting was about 8 hours for a 1 hour plane trip.
8. WRONG MONTH. After walking for 2 kilometres in the rain with your luggage you will finally reach your hostel only to find out you booked for June, not May. Oops. Luckily they will have beds available.
9. PRIDE TOURS? Finding a perfect, cheap 6 day tour of Turkey sounds great until after you have booked when you realise it may be a gay and lesbian sojourn around Turkey. Turns out there is no ‘tour’ as such, just random day trips linked together with hotels, bus transport and random people who pick you up and drop you off. Personalised tour of Turkey, no gay and lesbian tourmates, in fact no tourmates just you kicking around central Turkey alone.
10. ADOPTED FAMILY. After sight seeing alone in Kota Kinabalu for 2 days I decided to book a day trip out to the islands. I was told there were 13 other travellers on my boat. Awesome I thought, more tourists to meet! Turns out they were 13 Indonesian people who were all in the same family, and I looked like their adopted white daughter.
11. LOST BEACH TOWEL. Left my only beach towel (actually my only towel) on an island in a lake in an island (hence I was confused) while cruising around the Dalmatian coast and had to go without for 2 days until our next stop in a town. Thank goodness for scarves!
12. MOTORBIKE CRASH. Ooh yes I’ll hire a motorbike with the cute French Canadians I met…. I can just see me on the back holding on tight with my hair blowing in the wind as we drive through the valleys searching for sunset… sorry what was that? I have to hire my own bike? Hmmm. Have you ridden one before? the Turkish man asked. Uh, no. No problem, he said, like a push bike, just turn on off, Here you go. Next thing I know I’m on the wrong side of the road, on the highway doing 80km an hour in central Turkey. It was all going well till we shortcutted it through a field and I fell over with the bike crashing on top of me. Wincing in pain I cried ‘I’m ok!’ as the 2 FC Boys ran to my aid. Even more awkward sitting on an overnight bus afterwards with a bruise from knee to ankle.
13. BROKEN CAMERA -1. Halfway through my South East Asia tour the battery door lost a small but vital piece of plastic and would not close, and the lense was out, and the whole camera went into safety mode and shut down. Just had to store it away safely till I got home to replace the tiny piece of plastic. Bought a new one from a shack in Cambodia.
14. BROKEN CAMERA – 2. Making do with my mediocre replacement camera I bought from the shack in Cambodia. Last day of my trip, running into the hotel room with camera on, turned it off and dropped it on bed rushing to bathroom, bounced off bed and hit the floor lense out. Super. One holiday – 2 broken cameras.
15. BANNED ITEMS. Got through Heathrow with 27 kilos in my luggage and 15 kilos of hand luggage. Got to Hong Kong and had my nail scissors confiscated in hand luggage. Bugger. Got to Sydney and declared items in hand luggage – chocolate, cheese and wine. Got home and realised I had 3 swiss army knives in my hand luggage the whole time. Nice work, security of the world.
16. LOST BANK CARD. After losing my passport and getting my bag stolen, I then misplaced my bank card. Literally no idea where it went. Was having an awesome week obviously and had seriously destroyed my travel karma. By this stage I didn’t even break a sweat, just cancelled it and transferred money across.
17. CANCELLED FLIGHT. The catalyst to it all maybe? Left Seattle 6am and arrived in LA for a 5 hour stop over before a 17 hour flight commute to Thailand via Taipei, to discover my flight had been cancelled and rescheduled for 1am. Thus had a 15 hour stop over, then the 17 hour flight and had to wait 4 hours to check into a hotel before I could sleep and shower. That was the scene of the missing passport, clearly my 2 days of travel had addled my brain. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
18. SCARY DOLMUS RIDE. Me, Good Friday, Somewhere in Turkey, 9pm, riding off with 10 Turkish men on a dolmus (mini bus) without any clue where I am going. Expecting the worst to happen (as you do when you travel solo). Lived through the trip and got dumped on the footpath outside a night club, then finally taken to my hotel by a man in a Barina. An experience!
19. IMAGINARY STEPS. Apparently the Vietnamese are so light they can walk on steps made out of hessian with no wood in the middle! I was at the Confuscius University in Hanoi – Confucius says ‘ Hessian steps causes swollen ankle”. Glad I didn’t got and sit on the scaffolding nearby in the park!
20. SUBWAY DRUNK MAN ATTACK. I’m in Paris I’m in Paris! I’m all alone but I don’t care because I’m in Paris! Ooh let’s get a train to the Louvre! Ok I’ll just walk down this narrow deserted corridor to the subway because I’m staying in the 11th Arrondisment because I’m a cheap backpacker. Why is that man talking to me? Is he drunk? Holy heck he is grabbing my neck and my – well, those blobby things below my neck. Push him off and run like hell! Get off the train at the first Paris downtown stop and go to a place where you feel safe to get over your anxiety attack. A department store. Perfect.
21. HEAD ON CAR CRASH. Forgot what side of the road I was meant to be on in Hawaii (momentarily had a mind snap). Swerved the wrong way into oncoming traffic, hit a car head on. Resulted in writing off the hire car (it’s gonna turn into a very expensive holiday!) and a trip to hospital for me and my partner. Luckily only cuts and bruises, realisation that we are very very lucky to be alive. Moral of the story – get ALL the insurances. Always.
22. THANK YOU PENIS. Our first stop in France after crossing from Dover was at a toilet truck stop just out of Calais. With so many of us a few of us girls went into the men’s toilet. When we entered the cubicles the men in there were all from our tour. However when we came out all the men at the urinal were strangers. One guy turned around, pants still down. In a flustered state I tried to say ‘excuse me’ in French, but all that came out was ‘Merci’. I just said thank you for showing me your penis. Winning.
23. BRACE YOURSELF. Somewhere in Central Turkey (as a 27 year old) I was listening to a guide talk about the Turkish Pottery. The 15 year old son of the owner who was doing his spiel abruptly stopped and stared at me,specifically my mouth full of braces. Soon the whole group was staring. ‘What’s that?’ He blurted out. I told him they were braces. ‘Do they hurt?’ he asked, clearly all thought of the pottery tour forgotten. Turns out Central Turkey teens have never seen braces before. Lucky them!
24. COMMUNAL SHOWERS. I’m not sure about you, but the idea of public nudity scares me, especially with strangers. So you can imagine my horror when I entered the shower cubicles in a hostel in Berlin to see 9 shower heads in one large tiled space. Tiled hell. The only way to overcome my fears was to shower with a killer hangover!
25. TOGA PARTY FAIL. I decided to go bra free under my toga at the famous Toga Party, Corfu on the infamous Contiki tour. Was a great idea until I drank so much and became much less capable of tying my toga as the night wore on. You get the idea. Lucky there were no shots of that travel fail!
26. NAXOS BB GUNS. We parked our quad bikes and sand buggies outside some houses in a tiny village on the Greek island of Naxos. Some locals told us we couldn’t park them there. Our tough German guide told them where to go. They retaliated by firing BB guns at us! Mr German went all terminator on them and they scampered away… only to push our quad bikes down the hill while we were at lunch…
27. VENICE BEACH PICK UP LINES. Being approached in Venice Beach California by a BMX Wheeling ‘dude’ who told me to ‘Move over baby and make room for daddy!’ Hmmm. You can read all about it here!
28. ICELAND ACCOMMODATION. A trifecta of stuff ups. A) Left my favourite black Haviainas behind. B) Didn’t take bedding on account of hostels providing bedding everywhere else in Europe. Got to hotel and none was provided. Found quilts in cupboard – score! Forgot to put away quilts on day two, staff promptly confiscated them. Second night, no bedding 🙁 C) Thought we could stay at the airport on the last night seeing as our flight was at 4 am. Airport closes over night, so we had to pay an exorbitant amount for half a night’s sleep! Plus we didn’t get home to 1 am after a night of partying… should have just partied then gone to airport…
29. HELLO I’M A DRUG DEALER. Travelling around Europe on trains means you share compartments with other travelers. From Ljubljana, Slovenia to Lake Balaton, Hungary we shared our seats with 2 Portuguese boys. I was cutting up fruit with my switch blade knife, a handy travel tool for one with braces. The Portuguese boys began taking animatedly in Portuguese before one had the courage to ask me – Are you a drug dealer? Apparently drug dealers carry knives. They seemed disappointed when I said no.
30. JOINTS. Nothing beats the seedy hostel world than trying to have a midday nap and shower after an overnight train and coming back (in your towel) to 4 French lads rolling the biggest joint you have ever seen and then wanting to smoke it in your dorm room. Read about it here!
31. TOILET FAILS. Without all the gory details, but the rock bottom moments (pun intended) on two continents happened in a squat toilet in a department store in Chongqing, the world’s largest city in China where my ‘gift’ wouldn’t leave, I fell on the floor, the door wouldn’t shut properly and the faucet sprayed me with water. I ran crying wipes! I need wipes! And then only a fortnight later I had my other fail in a town which will not be named in Southern California. I thought my stomach bug was gone, so I ate a big breakfast. Fool. I then paid the price running down the main street looking for a loo. Never made it. Had to walk shamelessly to the hotel on the footpath while my partner drove the car next to me. Lucky I know no one in those places! Shame…Shame…Shame…
32. ZIPLINING PANIC ATTACK AND BUM BRUISE. I had never ziplined and wanted to, thinking it would be about the level of my adrenalin seeking (no thank you to bungee jumping, rollercoasters and skydiving thanks). So I went along in Lima’s Sacred Valley to do 7 ziplines. Sounds great! I was a little worried when they put a carbiner harness on me along with my ziplining harness… what’s this for? I ask calmly… to help us climb up to the zipline. So what was advertised as a 40min easy hike was really a cliff face climb while attached to the mountain, to then throw ourselves off a rock face, onto a zipline and then crawl and attach ourselves to another rock face. So not really the zipline experience for beginners! I barely survived the first 2 going solo, then number 3 was 700m long so we went in tandem. Still not enjoying it. Asked to go tandem from them on, it was marginally less stressful than doing it myself. Close to tears, I tried to hold it together as by now we are stuck on the side of a cliff and the only way down is to zipline… then I slammed my butt into the platform on line 4 and gave myself a dinner plate sized bruised on my bum. Couldn’t hold back the tears any longer… pretty much cried the whole way down and had a full blown panic attack on line 6. Don’t think I’ll be lining up to zipline again any time soon!
33. BAD BURGER. My first dinner in Lima (at a reputable expensive cafe no doubt) was so wrong in so many ways it had me running (pretty much literally) all the way home to make it to the toilet in time in our apartment. Let’s just say (before I ruin everyone’s dinners) that I didn’t quite make it… Well it was bad. So bad. Bridesmaids movie bad…
34. THE VOMIT GIRL. Perhaps taking medication on a empty stomach at 5 am and then getting on a bus for 3 hours isn’t such a good idea. Especially when your stomach is pretty much empty and sensitive due to last night’s bad burger (see above). Especially when you have had no breakfast. And you have no change of clothes and your sightseeing all day (boat ride, bus ride, dune buggy, sand boarding) and not getting home till midnight. Let’s just say that at 7.30am I vomited twice in my mouth and swallowed it ( I was pretty impressed with that skill) but then 3 times projectile vomited all over myself. Luckily it was 90% water. Great, now I’ll be known as vomit girl, who has to sit in her vomit covered clothes (that I cleaned with 7000 baby wipes) all day. Joy!
35. COLD TRICKLE FUN. Sure I’ll have the first shower in our ecolodge in the middle of nowhere in the Bolivian high desert! Yeah I think I’ll wash my hair… Who cares if its zero degrees outside! (And it was minus 6 when we woke up)… What’s this, the water is a bit cold? Oh well, I’ve put shampoo in, I’ll be quick. What’s this? the waters stopped running? I’ll fiddle with the taps a bit… ok, this is tiny trickle running down the side of the wall… that’s cold… and I’m naked and now smushing myself all over the wall to get my hair and body wet. And shivering… ok shower fail!
36. MYSTERY BITES. Some time after the Inca trail (like in a few days) I noticed 5 little bites on my lower legs. Dang, I thought, bloody mozzies! I put some tea tree ointment on them as they stung a bit. For the next 3 weeks in South America they would sting now and then, so I would just put on some ointment each day. After I cam home they got redder and redder and bigger and bigger. What were they? Maybe they weren’t mosquitoes? The doctor was equally puzzled, the swab showed nothing, and despite new medicated cream and antibiotics they kept getting bigger. By this time (a month after the trip) I had also broken out in a rash over my hips and arms. I headed off to the infectious diseases specialist and the dermatologist who talked and prodded and diagnosed and hypothesised all things from allergic reactions to tea tree oil, parasites and bacteria in my gut, low immunity, scabies, eczema, and extreme hives. Meanwhile I got redder and redder and itchier and itchier and basically lost my will to live and my ability to sleep. I was put on more drugs; steroids, 4 types of antihistamines and immunity boosters. I tried scabies creams, eczema creams, pine tarsal baths and finally, after another month of Itchwars I began to get better. The specialists are still puzzled as to what bit me, whether I had scabies or not, if the parasite in my gut was from South America, or the scabies, why I got a rash, what I am allergic to… I’m still a bit itchy, eczcma style, even as I type this. What an absolute ordeal! Disclaimer: I am not blaming South America for anything but the bites, I will not have my epic trip trash talked because of my uncooperative skin!