It’s been a while old friend. I’ve been distracted from writing for a fair few weeks as arriving back in the UK has kicked up all kinds of chaos and stolen my attention. So here’s something a little different; a handful of my unique, embarrassing and even chaotic travel experiences. With the recent lockdown restrictions leaving most of us grounded, I hope that this will bring you a bit of entertainment and you can relish in hearing about my idiotic mistakes.
5. ‘The chicken stare down’: Back in 2015, I took my first solo trip around South East Asia and one of my stops along the way was Vietnam. This country is well known for its endless stream of locals on mopeds but this particular story is set high up in the mountains, in ‘Sa Pa’. Based on the Eastern foothills of the Himalayas, this hiker’s paradise is home to hill tribes who are kind enough to share their homes with intrepid travellers. After taking the four hour, upward journey amongst the rice paddies and through the forests to our host’s dwellings, we arrived at the home. This mountain top house also had a small selection of farmyard animals grazing around the garden.
After settling in and meeting the rest of our charming guide’s family, I asked to be pointed towards the direction of their toilet. It had been about two months since the start of my trip in Asia so I was now accustomed to basic, outdoor bathrooms. As I walked into to this particular solitary outhouse, I quickly realised that there was no natural lighting and in order to see what I was doing, I would ultimately have to pee with the door ajar. So there I squatted, bare arse over a hole in the ground, in the dark, when along came a chicken who decided to stroll right on into the toilet. So there we both were, staring deep into each other’s eyes whilst the trickle of whizz hitting the muddy floor broke the silence. A surreal moment I’ll never forget and I’m sure the poor chicken won’t either.
4. ‘The moped’: Most people’s experiences of driving a moped in Thailand always seem to end badly. For me, this was no different. I was a couple of weeks into my trip and had taken the nauseating, three hour minibus journey to Pai in Northern Thailand. Pai is famed for having a relaxed, hippy vibe with backpackers tending to flock here to get high on mushrooms and smoke cheap weed. Another common activity is to hire a (usually) crappy, old moped for about £3 a day and the price alone should have been a huge warning sign. I was with two other friends and we decided to ride up into the mountains, towards the local hot springs. We spent a few hours bathing before hitting the road again to head back into town, then it began to start raining, pretty horrendously. Being a cautious, first time moped driver, I took my corners slow and became quite nervous of the turn in weather.
Without realising that mopeds don’t react like a car, I continued to brake sharply and essentially began to skid down the road. I reached a rather steep decline and without thinking, I slammed onto the brakes suddenly. In doing so, I managed to slide the moped underneath my body, through my legs and threw myself sidewards. I watched in mid air as the bike flew onto its side and screeched down the road with an eerie sound. I then landed elbow first onto the gravel road, slicing my arm open and nearly tearing my flimsy elephant pants in half. Once it was over, I stood up and stared in disbelief at what had just happened. Then, like a child who’s just dropped their ice cream, I began to ‘ugly cry’ at the side of the road, bleeding and soaked by torrential rain, until a couple of tourists pulled up on their bike to save the day. Squished between my two saviours, they then drove me back to town where I spent the remainder of the day cleaning dirt out of my arm in the hostel showers. What a tit.
3. ‘Bronte rescue’: Not my proudest moment but once again this story starts like all good stories do, with alcohol. A group of us had decided to leave our hostel in Sydney and head out to do the Bondi > Coogee coastal walk. We also thought it would be a fantastic idea to bring alcohol along with us for the journey and not just any alcohol; Fat Lamb. Donned the “rocket fuel” of ciders, this bad boy cost $8 AUD a litre and can affect even the most stern, sound-minded of drinkers. So, as we went on our merry way, we were around half way through the trail and arrived at Bronte beach. Being a hot, summer’s day in January we decided to go for a swim. Little did we know, that the clouds had suddenly rolled in and the weather grew stormy right above our heads as we bobbed in the wavy, Tasman sea.
Before I knew it, the waves had turned extremely rough and it became impossible to keep my head above water. I was thrown about like rag doll by the strong current and the waves started crashing down on me, this was turning out to be no leisurely swim. I could see the majority of my friends lingering by the shoreline and calling out my name in panic. By some complete miracle, my chubby arse somehow drifted back towards shore before I was spat out by the most almighty wave onto the sand. I could see the local lifeguards running towards me to check if I was okay. Then in my drunken state, I quickly stood up as though nothing had happened, tucked my exposed nipple back into my bikini and calmly said “Nothing to see here.” I’d like to confirm that the saying is true; Brits abroad really are the worst.
2. ‘A sore New Year’s’: I had spent an initial week of partying in the tourist hot spot ‘Boracay’; a small island in the Philippines. So, spending New Year’s Eve here seemed like the most obvious choice for a hedonistic end to the year. Little did I know at the time, was how packed each of the beach bars were going to become! As nighttime approached, hoards of people began to fill up the dance floors and cheap drinks began to flow. So much of a flow, that the queues to the club bathrooms started to stretch out the doors, down the stairs and onto the sand outside. The women’s toilets are always busy during a night out but this particular queue looked about fifty people strong and with no way of leaving the bar without losing the right to get back in, the desperation to pee set in swiftly.
Drunkenly thinking it was a great idea at the time, my friend and I decided to instead join the gents queue and within five, short minutes made our way into a cubicle. Not long after, a security guard had caught sight of our genius plan and stormed over to bang on the door, ushering us to vacate. Physically unable to stop mid flow, I called back “hang on, I’ll just be a minute” but this wasn’t enough to satisfy the beefy ogre of a man. He then proceeded to boot the cubicle door, unknowingly (and without a care), into my forehead as I sat adamant on the toilet seat. I then spent the rest of the night in a drunken/ concussed daze with a giant, egg shaped lump on my head and to top it off, I then managed to get locked out of my bungalow and spent the transition from 2015 into 2016, sleeping on a hammock outside, whilst being absolutely ravaged by mosquitoes. Note to self; just wet yourself next time.
1. ‘Jet Lag is a bitch’: My official first day of solo travelling saw me visiting the local temples of Bangkok, Thailand. I had landed the night previous and barely slept a wink due to jet lag. However, I found myself feeling rather peppy this next day and decided to go for a walk around the local area. “Wat” is the Thai word for temple and Bangkok has these in abundance. The day had initially started with me wandering around the surrounding gardens and politely greeting the locals. However, the peaceful and serene settings of this particular temple were soon to be disrupted. I had taken my shoes off, as is tradition and made my way inside, up a winding staircase which took visitors to the top of the temple’s tower. On arrival to the rooftop, I began to feel nauseous and my stomach started to turn.
Suddenly, I felt the overwhelming urge to spew and I immediately had to try and bulldoze past a number of people to get back down the narrow, spiral stairs. I made a break for it, barefoot and thundering down the stairs. I was barging people out of the way, with the fear that at any moment I was going to throw up everywhere. After what felt like an eternity, I saw the bottom of the stairs and the doorway which lead outside. Now sprinting, I managed to force my way out of the building before running over to a nearby bin and sticking my bonce inside. Due to the narrow, horizontal shape of the lid, I had to then projectile vomit into the bin, sideways. So there I was, in front of this sacred temple, barefoot, blowing chunks into a rubbish bin, right next to a group of local monks. Suffice to say, I probably disrespected a lot of people that day.