Sometimes it may seem like everything is sunshine, roses and unicorn when I talk about my travels. And most of the time it is. But let me assure you, sometimes it most definitely is not. Let me share with you some of my biggest travel misadventures. I hope it makes you laugh:-)
Misadventure #1. “You bumped me!” in New Zealand
Wait, I did what!? Well, I may have accidentally bumped into the car of a very old man while reversing out of my parking spot at the New World Supermarket in New Zealand.
Okay, I admit it, I did bump into his car, there is convincing evidence…I still don’t know how it happened, I just didn’t see his car and even though I was reversing very slowly our van still made quite a dent (not a scratch on our campervan though;-).
When I got out of the car, the old man kept yelling at me ‘You bumped me! You bumped me!’ This was pretty funny in hindsight, though at that moment I wasn’t too happy with myself. Of all the misadventures I had during my 5 month trip, this was the most expensive one…
Misadventure #2. Being locked out of my room in Hong Kong
Ah yes, that time when I was locked out of my room in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year. Let me start at the beginning…
After a long flight from Auckland, during which I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I had just left my beloved New Zealand behind, I was pretty tired and just wanted to get to my hostel as soon as possible. Since it was Chinese New Year I had already booked a room, I did not want to run the risk of ending up on the street because everything was full. I had booked a room in one of the countless hostels in Chungking Mansion.
Big mistake! Don’t go there. Ever.
It’s a maze and not in a fun way. Anyway, when I finally managed to locate my pre-booked hotel there was nobody there. So I called the number scribbled on a piece of paper pasted on the door and was told my reservation was cancelled. Just like that. There I was, on Chinese New Year, bone tired and without a place to stay.
But it gets worse…
Out of thin air a guy emerged who told me he had a room for me. As dodgy as I found this, I was too tired to care so I went with him, he showed me the room and I quickly agreed. So far so good. But then I made the monumental mistake of leaving the room to see the parade. Because I couldn’t justify being in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year and not watching the parade passing by in front of Chungking Mansions. I mean, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so tired as I was, pulled myself together and went to see the parade.
When I got back to my room and put the key in the lock nothing happened. I pushed and wriggled and cursed and tried and finally burst out in tears because I couldn’t get the door to open. Luckily the people in the adjourning room came to check out the noise (of me trying to break down the door) and gave me the number of the guy who has showed me to the room. So I called him and after an hour he finally arrived and opened the door. Needless to say I changed hotels the next day…
Misadventure #3. Getting a Thai tattoo* in the Philippines
If you have read more of my posts you surely came across one where I mentioned how much I love road trips and exploring places on a scooter. Stopping wherever I want and taking pictures on every road corner in New Zealand… Bouncing over the adventure road on Phu Quoc… And seeing how the locals live in the Philippines.
The Philippines was the first country in Southeast Asia where we rented a scooter and while I had driven one before that had been a while ago. Possibly Crete in 2007 but I’m not sure… Anyway, I hopped onto the backseat of the scooter and let my husband Frank try driving it first;-) This went well. Very well. Until we made our first stop and I got off. On the right side of the scooter.
Which was the wrong side!
I burned my leg on the exhaust. Ouch… It kept me out of the water for a couple of weeks and I searched all the pharmacies in Hanoi to find proper Band-Aids for burn wounds (seriously, put them on your packing list) but it healed fine. It did leave me with a permanent reminder of our trip though;-)
*Google Thai tattoo, it’s a thing;-)
Misadventure #4. Booking a flight on the wrong date in Vietnam
I rarely planned ahead during our 5 month trip. Before we left we bought a round the world ticket so those dates were set. A good thing, otherwise I am not sure if I would have gone back at all;-). Anyway, other than that our itinerary was wide open.
Which is an awesome way of traveling!
However, traveling this way does mean you kind of forget which day of the week it is. Or which date. Heck, Frank even forgot what month it was at some point when he was asked to fill out some paperwork for our PADI course.
Anyway, when I was in Hoi An in Vietnam I was reading my Lonely Planet and decided it would be a good idea to visit Phu Quoc. The island sounded great and it was just a short trip to Cambodia, a country that was on our list to visit. So I checked Skyscanner for some cheap flights and sure enough found plenty. Without hesitation I filled in all our details and clicked on book.
The second I clicked the button I realized I had made a mistake… I had booked the wrong date! I had booked ahead 2 weeks instead of 1. Which wouldn’t have been a problem had our visas not run out before the flight date…
Well no, not panic, but I was pretty bummed. Luckily, I was at our favorite cafe in Hoi An where Phap, the awesome owner, lend me his phone so I could call the airline company and ask if I could change the dates. That was possible, for the very reasonable fee of €15 per ticket…
Bottom line: it’s great to forget the time and live in the moment when traveling. But if you book a flight it might be a good idea to verify the day, date and your visa expiration date;-)
Misadventure #5. Boarding a train without locomotive in Thailand
The general rule in Southeast Asia is: if there is transportation leaving in your desired direction you get on. Forget about anything you wanted to do before leaving, just get on the transportation vehicle available at that moment because it might be your only chance… Okay, that might be a bit dramatic;-). But that is what we should have done in Thailand.
We had made it our mission to travel from Langkawi to Koh Tao in one (very long) journey consisting of 10 legs. When we made it to Hat Yai Railway station after 6 legs we were pretty happy. Just a train ride to Surat Thani where we would hop on the night boat to Koh Tao and that would be it. Or so we thought…
When we arrived at Hat Yai station we went to the ticket desk and asked for a train to Surat Thani. We were in luck, a train would depart in 3 minutes! Hmm, we were pretty hungry having been on the road since 7am in the morning so we decided to get some food first and take the next train.
As I said before: if there is transportation leaving in your desired direction you get on. Hungry or not. Because when we boarded the next train, with a full stomach, we noticed there wasn’t a locomotive in front of it. Hmm, I don’t know much about trains but I am pretty sure it needs some kind of power source to make it move. When we asked a friendly Thai lady sitting next to us when the train would leave she indicated it was delayed. For 2 hours…
We waited for 2 hours. There was still no locomotive. We asked the railway employees standing on the platform when the train would leave. Soon, they said. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, almost 4 hours later a locomotive appeared and after half an hour of trying they managed to connect it to our train and we took off. We could forget about catching the night boat. And the funniest thing was: as soon as the train took off there were at least 5 Thai ladies coming by selling all kind of food! LOL:-)
Yes, travel is awesome most of the time. But there can definitely be some hiccups, unexpected delays or unexpected things in general down the road…