10 ludicrous & crazy experiences on the road

Although I wouldn’t exaggerate and say there have been near death experiences in my travels, some incidences have genuinely made me felt… “Oh shit this is it”. Scraping past dangerous encounters alive can occur more often than expected when the adrenaline kicks in. While traveling, people seem to have the mindset that it’s now or never, do or die. Perhaps that’s where the whole YOLO motion came about, who knows?

Looking at my battle scars usually takes me right back to that moment, with details in my mind so vivid that it feels like it happened yesterday. There are tales of others who have told me of how they survived an avalanche on a trekking trip, or how their bus fell off a cliff and had to help move dead people out, or even throwing up midair while paragliding. While mine aren’t as exciting as those, these stories were very much real and sometimes quite scary for me. My fair share of crazy experiences may make good bar story, but it also taught me to learn from my silly mistakes.

So here goes my top 10 list of travel stories:

1. Being violated and unwillingly taken by bedouins in Petra
2. Delhi Belly on the first days of the 2015
3. Waking up in Goa with stitches I don’t remember getting
4. Limping through Europe with a hairline fracture
5. Falling into the Padi fields at 2am with a moped
6. Getting lost in the valleys of Cappadocia
7. Getting “robbed” in Bali
8. A classic tubing scar from Vang Vieng
9. Almost sliding to my death off a cliff while hiking alone in Myanmar
10. Down with the legendary Hampi bug

1. Being violated and unwillingly taken by bedouins in Petra
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This was one story I never wanted to share, because I still feel slightly traumatized from this incident. It’s also a really long story. The amount of helplessness and fear that I felt that night would forever stay with me. We were in Petra, Jordan, and after reluctantly accepting a rare invitation to dinner by the bedouins, one of the guys came to pick us up with mules, taking us to their home at the High Place of Sacrifice. No doubt the dinner was a unique and once in a lifetime experience, but it ended on a really bad note. We descended from the top with two of the Bedouins and a couple of mules. This all happened in the pitch black; in fact I’ve never known darkness to be so terrifying. My initial fear was that the mules would slip and send us all tumbling down steep slopes and unexpected cliffs, but what I should have been afraid of was Sammy, the drunk bedouin who escorted me on his mule.

Rocking back and forth on the mule, a seemingly short journey back to the city suddenly felt neverending. I checked my watch only to realize that we had been marching in the dark for 45 minutes. With no idea of our orientation or any directions, I managed to lose sight of Nick and his escort. Panicked, I shouted his name into the darkness and heard nothing back. Paranoia kicked in instantly. I told Sammy we have to find them and he told me in a drunk state to “trust him”, “don’t worry and be happy”.

5 minutes later I was still screaming his name at the top of my lungs and finally I heard a very faint response “i’m here!”. Immediately feeling a sense of relief, I told him to never leave me again. Sammy decided to try making me feel more relaxed by making conversation about steering the mule, then offered to teach me how to do it. Hopping off even before I could say yes, he jumped back on the mule behind me and led my hands to the strings that control the direction. “Very good, you’re doing very well”, he kept telling me periodically.And then I felt something stiff. The subtle gyrating from the motion of the moving mule didn’t help. Looking around, I realized that me and Sammy were alone AGAIN. Immediately I insisted that I would like to stop steering the mule. He groaned softly and repeated that I’m doing just fine. I was mortified, disgusted and on the verge of tears. Yet there was absolutely nothing I could do.

I maintained my cool for a bit before I demanded firmly that I didn’t want him to sit behind me any further. Annoyed, he shouted out for his partner in crime and they emerged out of the darkness again. I told Nick what happened, speaking in Mandarin and yet again nothing could be done simply because we had no idea where we were. Sammy then hopped off the mule because he “needed to go to pee”. Of course. Of course he had to finish. We waited a while the filthy sick bastard came back, and then he decided not to ride with me anymore so the other guy made a swap with him.

How used I felt, how sick he was. I wanted to stab him with my swiss army knife. I was filled with rage. In the midst of all these, I didn’t even notice that we’d been on the damn mule walking in the desert for more than over an hour and a half now. Frustrated I asked the other escort where we were going, and then he admitted that we were headed for the Bedouin village instead of the city like they promised us. I practically lost it. Not only was I violated, we were now even further from the city than ever. To top things off, and Sammy and Nick were missing YET again. Tears flowed down my cheeks and I couldn’t stop feeling like it was a nightmare in one of the seven wonders of the world. At this point a star shoots across the star-filled sky, and yet I didn’t care. All I wanted was everything to be over.

It did sort out in the end, but there were no nice goodbye’s or thank you’s for the wonderful dinner. We also ended up getting an expensive cab ride back to the city just before midnight. Till today I wouldn’t know if they ever had the intentions to separate us both and rob us but it really felt that way since Nick’s mule and his escort vanished thrice for long periods of time. I had such a wonderful experience in Petra, but ending it on such a bad note was such a shame. Im just thankful that nothing worse happened.

 

2. Food poisoning on the first day of the year IMG_2338
In a nutshell, I spent the first 3 days of 2015 getting acquainted with the toilet more than I did anything else. It’s natural to get sick in India. After all, getting Delhi Belly is what every backpacker fears when going to India. I was 1 month in, ate everything off the street carts and didn’t bother to take any particular precaution to hygiene since I knew it was going to hit me at some point. But little did I expect it to give me unforgettable memories to usher in the new year. Apparently I had forgotten to wash my hands after petting cute cows walking around in Pushkar, and that left me with a bad tummy after I proceeded to eat naans with my precious little fingers. (Always bring hand sanitizers!!)

 

3. Waking up in Goa with stitches I don’t remember getting
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I went out one night for a party in a Russian club near Arambol with a bunch of friends. This was what I could consider an epic, lavish, nightclub that came complete with a pool, great vibes and beautiful people. Music was good, the open bar was serving up pretty damn fine Gin & Tonics, I would say everything was going fine.Fast forward to the the next morning when I woke up in bed, unable to move my mouth/jaw. “How you feeling? You were in the hospital last night. You had to get stitched up”, Ben asked. All that could come out of my mouth were mumbles, followed by a sharp intense pain in my chin and a horrid headache. I look down to see my palm all bandaged up too.

Turns out that while we were walking around the club’s cobblestoned steps, I was dragging on at the back on my own. And when I showed up to join the group, I had blood all over my hands, shorts, and my chin has magically split open like a cracked pistachio. Till today, nobody knew what happened, and I have NO recollection of the night apart from the one faint memory of the bartender wrapping my hand up with bandage.

With the pieces of the night told to me by stories from my friends, I also found out that Lucie had to resort to pinning me down on the hospital bed while the nurse pulled a needle in and out of my chin. Oh, there were some humiliating pictures alright. And even a picture of me post-surgery in the taxi with the French girls looking happier than I have ever looked in my life.

Naturally I spent the rest of the day in bed feeling absolutely destroyed, unable to eat or talk properly. This was such a foolish accident on my part. Shame that at 25, I’ve had to get my first stitches ever, with completely no memory. But ever since then I’ve stopped to think and re-consider having one drink too many – definitely a lesson well learnt.

 

4. Limping through Europe with a hairline fracture
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An unfortunate bicycle accident in Amsterdam left me temporarily paralyzed on the side of the sidewalk one night. I was alone at the time and had to cycle back with excruciating pain in my left knee while tears welled up in my eyes. Getting back to the apartment, I googled my condition and was convinced I broke something.This was day 1 of Dekmantal Festival, a techno music festival located in the forests of Amsterdam Bose. Upset as I was from this fall, the thought of not being able to attend day 2 of the festival made me feel even worse. But what do you know, the devil in me decided to just go for it anyway, because #yolo. And since my travel insurance had run out, I didn’t want to risk ending my trip early so I never bothered seeing a doctor about it. Again #yolo.

Due to this, I practically had to limp around across Europe slowly until my knee healed itself at it’s own pace over a few months. 6 months later I finally got an X-ray and I have to thank my lucky stars because it healed pretty well on it’s own overtime !

5. Falling into the Padi fields at 2am with a moped
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The guesthouse I stayed in Ubud was only accessible via a narrow, thin path along the padi fields. At 2am I was riding a scooter back in the dark, with my surroundings only dimly lit by the weak headlights. At some point I started to feel myself wobble and lose balance, so I slowed down even more. I’m quite sure the moped was so slow that it was practically rolling, and eventually I did make it to the end of the path.But before getting off and parking, somehow I got distracted looking at the beautiful fireflies that were glowing in the darkness, and the bike fell right in. Needless to say I was stuck in the mud for a long time, with nobody around to help me. After countless attempts of self motivation, I managed to drag the bike out of the padi fields and ended up looking gross and muddy like a homeless dweeb.

6. Getting lost in the valleys of Cappadocia
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An attempt to hike through the valleys of Cappadocia and back to the town of Goreme ended up being a disastrous time. The heavy snowfall had covered the trekking path and somehow we steered off the beaten path. Immersed in the beauty of our surroundings, we didn’t care that it was off the path and continued following a pair of footsteps in the snow.The floor started to sound crunchy with every step, and that’s when we swept the snow aside to reveal the thin ice we were really walking on. Suddenly we had to walk with careful steps in case it broke. Turns out we were walking in what was once a stream! Once we got out of that path, we continued going along with the footprints, confident that it would somehow lead us back to Goreme. Being oblivious and thinking we were still on the right track, the footprints we were following suddenly looked like dog paw prints? It was strange, and bizarre but a lot of distractions aside, we must have made a wrong turn and followed the wrong prints!

Now completely lost in the valleys, we pushed on, determined that we could make it out. The hike went on deeper into the valleys as the sun started to set.  and with no proper map, we realized that we were completely lost. Even following our own footprints became a challenge since there were so many random prints in the snow. Recognizing the little flower symbol made from the imprints of my Asolo boots, we had no choice but to head back where we came from. But that also mean having to go through the same stream of thin ice, except it’s now a downhill slippery challenge.

We did make it out of the valleys eventually, I slid down the stream with so much fear, slipped and probably broke a lot of thin rooted branches while grabbing onto them for my dear life. But that was one helluva hiking experience and I will NEVER again attempt to hike through a place with no map and lack of daylight ever again.

 

7. Getting “robbed” in Bali
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A night out in Bali. Humid weather + drunken state naturally equates to silly suggestions of going for a night swim in the sea, I locked up my bag containing my phone, wallet and room key in the boot of a moped thinking it was safer than leaving it on the beach.So this motorbike was parked outside a convenient store with many other vehicles around. Somehow during my cool off in the sea, somebody had come and forced the boot lid open, shoved his hand in and stole my bag. I didn’t even notice that everything was missing after the dip and riding around the island freely until I returned to my guesthouse.

Turns out in my stolen bag also contained the room key where my intoxicated friend who passed out in the room – which I locked from the outside. And because the guesthouse owner insisted there was no extra key, I was convinced that my friend was locked in good until the locksmith came the next morning. Worried for her and assuming that I’m some sort of ninja in my state, I made many silly attempts to climb through the window which obviously wouldn’t fit any human. Eventually the guesthouse staff came running to stop me with a spare key that he swore didn’t exist. Robbery and blatant lies thrown at me in one night. Un-Bali-vable.

 

8. Letting an open wound from tubing in Laos soak in the dirty river again and again because #yolo
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Tubing in Vang Vieng is THE infamous activity to do when in Laos. This notorious attraction spot is probably cursed, judging by how many lives it has claimed and how many life long scars it has left on people. My first day of tubing left me with an open wound on my ankle as I was being roped out after my jump off a bamboo platform. It was merely a slight scratch on the rocks, causing a cut that wasn’t too serious.But instead of getting it dressed, I continued partying and got into the river again and again after bar hopping all the way to the end. I even continued tubing the next couple of days thinking it was no big deal after applying some Savlon on it (I’m a firm believer in self medication and google diagnosis). Little did I know that this brown murky river was just filled with all sorts of bacteria that infected my minor wound badly. With all the regrets that I felt, I now have a tubing scar to match my ‘in the Tubing” tank top. Congratulating myself on my foolishness every time I have to look at the scar on my ankle.

9. Almost sliding to my death off a cliff while hiking alone in Myanmar

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My descend from Mount Zwegabin in Hpa An ended up in me almost sliding off to my death. There was a proper path, but then came this long flight of steps that were incredibly steep and high. With the water flowing down from the mountains mixed with the humidity, the entire path down slippery and moss-filled! I stared at it for a good while and somehow I knew something bad was going to happen. It was wet, I knew my nike trainers didn’t have the best grip and I made sure I told myself to hold on to the railings on the left but somehow in that split second that I let go and slid down half the flight of steps on my ass. I couldn’t break the fall and people who have had experienced an adrenaline rush as such would agree when I say that I saw everything happen in slow motion. I frantically reach my hands out to grab hold onto anything but i was still sliding down on my butt and losing grip of any branches I had. My foot eventually jammed on the rusty railing and my entire body swung sideways and almost off the flight of steps down where a mini waterfall was plunging down towards. Needless to say, everything was wet, muddy and I was all bruised up with cuts. Limping 1 hour down from the mountains and a 45 mins walk out of the village, I hopped on a local pick up truck to be taken back to the town. Of course I received conflicting looks of pity and curiousity from the locals who saw me in that state.

10. Down with the legendary Hampi bug
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Never have I ever been so sick that I could not move. There was some bug going around in Hampi during the time I was there. It seemed like everybody was ill and had symptoms of food poisoning but it wasn’t even really food poisoning – this was worse. For 5 days, I felt excruciating abdominal pains and felt dizzy frequently. Anything and everything I ate would come right out from my throat like a broken pipe and I was pretty convinced at some point that I was going to pass out and get sent to the hospital.I spent at least 100 hours in those 5 days cooped up in my tent looking pale and “sleeping it off”, only crawling out to use the loo. Even the staff at the guesthouse thought that I died inside the tent, until they saw me belching by the toilet. I also had a flight to catch in the next couple of days, and was concerned that I might have to give it a miss because I was so sick. Moments like these I’m extremely thankful for probiotics and bottled water !

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Ok so looking through this list, I guess I deserved most of it from stupid decisions from living in the moment. Osho said that “living in uncertainty, living in insecurity, is simplicity” and “to be simple means to be intelligent because simplicity is intelligent, living without ideals”. So I guess that makes me intelligent in some sense? Okay, no.

Jokes aside, I’m happy that these crazy things happened to me. Of course some were traumatizing, but with all these experiences, that’s where the life lessons come from – being street smart, knowing when to look out for shady people, and to be always cautious no matter how safe a place looks. I love to hear and exchange such travel stories with fellow backpackers, so please share if you have any!

Dara

Wanderer of lands, searcher of souls. Last seen tree hugging and running wild into the mountains. Might have eaten all the ice cream in the tub.

2 Responses

  1. ed says:

    I like reading this blog. you post interesting things.

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