Ever jetsetted off to a dream destination only to be hit by such bad turbulence that you wish you had stayed at home? Or perhaps you’ve woken up from a dreamy nap on a beautiful beach during a holiday, only to quickly realise that the boat has left without you and you literally are stranded on a dessert island? These Holiday Horrors, Travel Terrors, Backpacker f*** ups, whatever you want to call them, happen to the best of us, and as Landlopergem says:
“Sh*t Happens! And just because your abroad doesn’t mean that sh*t escapes you”
It was her after all who had to endure those two very real scenarios above (not to mention survive an Indian bar brawl and attempted kidnapping). As I read her part-scary, part-hilarious Travel Misadventures blog post yesterday, I began to look back at my own Travel history. We always come home with stories of Adventures and new Friendships, with our first words to friends and family being ‘Oh my God, it was Amazing’. But we forget that it’s not all Fun in the Sun. I’ve been in a few tricky travel scenarios myself that I’d rather forget. But that wouldn’t be fun would it? Obvs I’m going to share them with you…
Thailand: Nearly Losing my Leg
On my first night in Bangkok, aka my first night ever in Thailand, it was the first day of Songkran, the water festival that celebrates Thai New Year. The streets of Bangkok were full of both Thai people and Tourists spreading the New Year joy by throwing buckets of water all over each other and using hoses to battle it out in water fights. Keen to get involved the Beard and I literally dumped our stuff in our hostel and headed onto the streets to get into the spirit of things. As we left the hostel the music on the street was pumping, the people were ecstatic and the floor was erm, VERY wet.
I realised I’d left my purse in our dorm so I ran upstairs to get it. Yup, I Ran. Fast. On the wet floor. As I turned the corner to go up the second flight of stairs, I slipped on the water and bashed my shin against the concrete step. Ouch doesn’t even begin to cover the pain. I had cut open my leg. Not too badly, but there was a lot of blood pouring from two little nasty cuts, each about 1.5cm long.
We tried to get to a hospital but with the festival in full swing it soon became apparent that that would NOT be happening. I cleaned the wound, plastered it up, took some painkillers and tried to forget about it, choosing to get involved in Songkran instead. And that I did for the next three days, soaking myself from head to toe in the Bangkok water that you are told NEVER to drink, so I’m not sure why I thought letting my wound get doused in the stuff would be okay. I’d covered it with a plaster, but I’m not sure what I thought that plaster would do, it’s not like it was some industrial strength waterproof plaster, it was just your average first aid plaster!
By the evening of the third day, I noticed my leg and ankle had swollen and my wound was really hurting. The Beard decided to help me change my plaster before we carried on partying. As we pulled back the plaster, our hands shot to our mouths as we both gasped in horror at the bright green puss coming from the cuts on my leg. Yes, green! It was infected. We headed to the emergency room where I had to have my leg cleaned out using these horrible sharp scissor type tools (with no local anesthetic because I had alcohol in my blood).
All cleaned, dressing put on, infection gone, yes? NO. Three days later when I thought the wound might have healed, I took off the dressing and it had in fact turned black and purple. It had become so infected that blood was no longer running to that area and it wasn’t healing. It was getting worse. I had to cut out alcohol for the next two weeks, take antibiotics 3 times a day and visit a local clinic every single day to get the wound cleaned until it was clean enough to stitch up. A doctor on the island of Koh Samui told me had I left my leg as it was the infection would have spread within days and I would have surely lost my leg. Moral of the story?
Don’t run on a wet floor When you forget something, screw it, leave everything behind and just go and have fun!
Thailand: Koh San road Shootings
Funnily enough, just a few hours before I went to the hospital with my groce green leg, I was experiencing a different kind of travel terror. As myself, the Beard, plus some brand new hostel pals were outside a bar on Koh San Road, wondering why we were queuing to get in when the bar was clearly empty, gun shots went off not far from us. The Thai people immediately began screaming and running. If the gun shots hadn’t already terrified us, seeing the locals flee with panic stricken looks on their faces certainly did. If they were scared, then we definitely should be!
We all tried to climb our way over the waist high gate that had been blocking us from the bar, forcing us to queue. It was quickly pushed down to the ground, as was I. I quickly fell down with it and was soon being trodden on by my fellow backpackers, everybody in a state of panic, every man for himself (and yes my poor leg was getting even more battered than it already was as I became crushed underneath people). The Beard quickly helped me up and we managed to run into the bar just as they were closing their doors to lock them shut, fearing the mad gunmen might come and fire at the bar. We rushed underneath the shutters in what felt like a movie-style slow motion bodyroll (but was probably just us drunk stumbling into the bar). We had made it. We were safe.
This whole thing must have only lasted 30 seconds but it felt like a lot longer. I remember being able to actually hear my heart pounding as I feared that we were all about to become victims of a terrorist attack! Am I about to be shot?
Fortunately, it turned out to be a couple of kids trying to ruin the festivities by setting off some sort of fireworks or fire crackers, whatever you call those things that sound exactly like gun shots. Still, it wasn’t all bad, we were forced to stay locked in the bar until the Thai Police deemed the streets safe enough. There turned out to be about 15 of us locked in Koh San bar, and the owners decided they may as well make money out of the situation and sell us drinks, therefore we spent the next hour playing drinking games with our buckets of Rum and Cola. Every cloud!
Speaking of clouds…..
London > Amsterdam: Plane Hit By Lightening
I hate flying. I mean, I love it, because it means I get to travel the world, but it terrifies me. Whether it’s a quick one hour flight or it’s an eight hour long-haul, I spend all my flights completely tensed up, waiting to plummet to my death. So you can imagine what state I was in when on a flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam I endured the WORST turbulence I have ever experienced.
It was wet in the UK and it was wet in Holland, so take off and landing were horrific. As the air hostess passed me a mini bottle of vodka, the plane did a weird move that felt like it had just dropped 200 feet, causing all bums to come off the seats and causing all drinks on trays to spill. And that was just the start, the plane kept rocking horrifically, and every now and then it felt like it was nose diving. The captain assured us it was just bad turbulence, but being someone who suffers from anxiety & extreme paranoia, I began to convince myself he wasn’t even the pilot but a hijacker!
The worst came during landing, I was squeezing the Beards hand praying for the dam thing to hurry up and land safely, when all of a sudden I was blinded by a big light and a deafening bang went off.
“What was that? Oh my God, what was that?” said me and basically every other passenger. Peoples panic stricken voices got louder and more high-pitched. My mind was racing 100 miles an hour with awful thoughts. Was it a bomb? Has a part of the plane gone up in flames? Oh my god, I’m too scared to look.I can’t look, oh my god.
“It was lightening, calm down everyone,” shouted a man from one of the back rows.
Lightening?? Isn’t that’s worse? Surely a slower death? Are we all about to fry in the sky? Are we about to catapult to our deaths??? Both the Beard and I were clinging onto one another.
But we landed in Amsterdam fine. No explosion. No one frazzled on the spot. As I stood up to exit the plane, I noticed that the Beard and I weren’t the only ones who had had the fear of death put in us. We saw many other pale faced, shakey people all clambering over seats to get off the plane as quickly as possible.
As soon as I had access to wifi I Googled: Aeroplane hit by lightening. It turns out that aeroplanes have this
magical protective stuff that means if they get hit by lightening not much will happen. I wish I’d known that before.
I could go on with the Travel Terrors, like the time we got locked out a super strict, curfew enforced, no sex allowed hostel, whilst our friends got locked in their rooms with a key only the staff had access to! Or the time I got food poising before boarding a 15 hour sleeper train in Thailand. Or the 36 hour death bus to Vietnam! Oh the stories.
Have you had any Travel Terrors? Holiday Horrors? Backpacking gone Balls? I know you must have, no-one has every single trip go perfect for them every single time. Come on, spill the beans…