While most people travel in hopes of finding enlightenment, discovering new cultures, meeting like-minded people, or even just for the sake of drinking copious amounts of alcohol, most travelers know that life isn’t always an endless party on the road.
The longer the time spent on the road, some travel experiences might start to resemble something out of a bad horror movie – the missed flight, food poisoning, running out of money, discovering that your hostel dorm mate is actually a serial killer, etc.
Fortunately, the best parts of travel far out-weight the bad, and by the time you’re home, most travel horror stories are simply reduced to an entertaining tale you tell to some random guy you’ve just met at a party after indulging in too many drinks. Luckily my travel “horror” stories are pretty minimal. Here’s a few of my most memorable experiences below. What is your worst experience travelling abroad?
At least I think it was in Beijing…this happened while I took a taxi into the city. It was raining so much the streets were flooded and of course there was a huge traffic jam. The opposing lane had very little cars since not much people were heading out of the city, so my driver after much frustration in the non- moving lane, steered the car into the opposing lane, and drove exceedingly fast down the wrong lane as incoming cars honked and swerved. At the time I was completely freaked out but now that I think of it, if taxi drivers drove like that in New York City and everyone is actually able to get to work in time, they would be making some crazy tips. Lesson learned: never take a taxi in China.
I stayed at this really sketchy hostel during the night of the Germany vs England world cup match. Of course I was cheering for Germany, but had to keep my favouring country a secret as the hostel was divided to about 98% Brits, 2% Germans. After the game in which Germany won 4-1, tensions mounted, and the Brits started shouting insults at the German guys, calling them Nazis, and making war references such as “You may have won that game, but we won the war. TWICE.” This one German guy then grabs this girl’s England flag and starts to burn it with his lighter, only to have three huge Brits run over and tackled him to the ground. Shirts were being torn, and blood started spilling until security came and broke up the fight.
And let’s not forget the bugs on the floor of the hostel, and the creepy old man in my dorm room. I stayed up all night, and left that hostel asap. Luckily my friends came up to Cairns the next day, and we all checked into a much nicer hostel. Although I have to admit, that did make for an interesting story. Lesson learned: don’t stay at hostels named after a mental institution.
I went to a backpacker’s bar with my Irish friend and we noticed a full pitcher of beer on an empty table. There was nowhere else to sit so we ended up sitting there after getting a few drinks. My friend decided that no alcohol should go wasted and decided to take a sip of the beer in the pitcher, despite my protests. A few minutes later, some sketchy guys came over and tried to hit on us, in which we pretended we were a lesbian couple and ran out of the bar. My friend later tells me that she didn’t really feel well so we ended up going to a much nicer bar with a much better crowd (where ironically I met my then future boyfriend). To this day, I’m positive that that pitcher of beer was spiked. Lesson learned: pretty self explanatory, don’t you think?
At the Charles de Gulle airport for my flight back to Canada, the airport made their departure announcements in both French and English. Only, the English the girl spoke over the announcement was so indistinguishable, I think I understood the French better than the ” English.” I was completely oblivious of what they were saying until last minute, another person took over making announcements, and I heard the words “last boarding call,” ” Toronto,” and “gate 5.”
I ran for my life over to the gate and showed the guy my ticket, causing him to look panic stricken. He said something into his pager, and a few seconds later, about ten airport staff members surrounded me, speaking worriedly in rapid French (none that I understood). This continued for about fifteen minutes much to my confusion, until finally a small car drove over to the gate, everyone directing me to get on, and drove me to the front of the airplane, where I had to quickly run up the stairs of the plane. I think I’m probably banned from the CDG airport now. Lesson learned: never fly into French speaking countries.
* note: at CDG, there’s no tunnel that goes from the gate directly on to the plane because the airport has only one floor. Instead, a shuttle bus (which I missed) takes you from the gate to the airplane.