Traveling Isn’t Always Pretty: Mishaps of my Trip in South East Asia

with 48 Comments

 

With an abundance of almost-perfect pictures of travelers drinking cocktails on white-powdery beaches, trekking with apparent ease through thick jungles and posing flawlessly in front of historical monuments, it’s easy to believe that traveling is always wonderful and worry-free.

But, truth be told, traveling isn’t always pretty. It can get dirty and messy and uncomfortable; it’s also been known to induce a few tears and the occasional tantrum.

Before sharing my numerous mishaps during my travels in South East Asia, I’d like to state that I’ve traveled to 35 countries (including India) and have only been sick once (in Egypt). I’ve never had anything stolen, broken or lost. I’ve never been harmed in any way. I’ve never feared for my life. But, for whatever reason, SEA took it upon itself to change all of that. SEA kicked my travel ass.

 

Traveling isn’t always like this!

 

MISHAP #1: SOYA FEEL SICK (THAILAND)

When I travel I try to get enough protein to sustain me throughout the day so I was delighted to find a really good soya beverage in Thailand – it was the perfect accompaniment to my breakfast (I don’t drink milk, coffee or tea). The day we headed to Pai was no exception; I was ready and energized for the 4 hour ride.

Or so I thought.

We hurriedly chose our seats in the mini-van to make sure we weren’t stuck in the back – success! But not long after we hit the road, I started to feel nauseous. I was hot. I was cold. I couldn’t breathe. I felt weak. This was very unusual for me as I don’t normally get car sick so I figured I simply caught a cold.

How wrong I was.

The road to Pai winded endlessly making my stomach churn with every turn. And churn it did. Shamelessly, unapologetically and unannounced. I had just enough time to open the tiny window to hurl the contents of my breakfast into the open air (and unto passing cars)! I hurled and gagged. Hurled and gagged. Again and again and again. (I even let out a very audible toot – you know for good measure). Out the window it went, a veil of vomit carried by the wind. My hair violently flew in the wind catching chunks of vomit, some deposited oh so casually on my face (good thing I always carry wet wipes). I felt so bad for the guys sitting in back of me who had VIP seats to my vomiting fest. And I was so embarrassed!

After that lovely joy ride, I bade farewell to my short-lived love affair with my soya beverage – the instigator of my not-so-glamorous moment vomiting out the window of a mini-van in the Land of Smiles.

 

I’m happy in Pai – after my vomit fest!

 

MISHAP #2: BLAME IT ON THE MOTORBIKE (THAILAND)

After my fiasco on our way to Pai, I was looking forward to exploring this little hippie-esque town surrounded by mountains and the best way to do that was by motorbike. Riding carefree on the back with my boyfriend driving, it was easy for me to relax and take in the breath-taking views of the valleys. Life in Pai was a piece of pie.

That is, until that dreadful moment when we were in town waiting to take a right turn at the main junction. Once my boyfriend saw an opportunity to pass, he did so swiftly yet carefully but for some reason still managed to skid on some loose gravel. He lost control and we both lost our balance. We fell to the ground with a loud bang, our skin painfully skidding against the gravel. I got up from under the motorbike and tears immediately swelled my eyes. My left arm was a mess of oozing blood and deep cuts covered in gravel. My left hand was badly scraped and bleeding profusely.

We headed to the nearby hospital where the nurse disinfected our wounds and prescribed antibiotics to prevent any infections from spreading. Fortunately, nothing was broken and we didn’t need any stitches but we had to wear bandages, change them on a daily basis and disinfect the wounds for about 10 days until they healed.

How romantic.

 

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This is the only picture showing my injury (you know – because I don’t like to brag)

 

MISHAP #3: WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SOUND? (LAOS)

It was our second night in Laos and we managed to find a really quaint guesthouse. The bed sheets were clean and crispy white, the pillows were fluffy and the duvet was warm and fuzzy all promising a very pleasant night’s sleep.

But wait. What the fuck is that sound? Snoring from the next room? The whistling wind? The bed cracking? Crazy birds? Buzzing mosquitoes? I couldn’t figure it out so I asked my boyfriend if he also heard it. He said he thought I was making the noise (huh?). Now I started to worry. It sounded very….wild. My boyfriend checked to see if we had forgotten to close the windows but they were tightly shut. I stayed tucked in bed, not moving, hardly breathing while he opened the lights.

I screamed.

Two bats were frantically flying above our bed! While I quickly and completely immersed myself under the bed cover, my boyfriend grabbed an umbrella trying to persuade the little creatures out the window. Of course, the more he tried the crazier the bats got. The ceiling fan was swirling at full speed and I dreaded thinking what would happen if one of the bats flew right into the blades. *insert disgusted face here*

After several failed attempts of trying to lead them safely out the window, my boyfriend finally whacked one of them with the umbrella. It fell to the floor with an audible thump. We both felt really bad but relieved at the same time. We felt even worse when we noticed the dead bat was actually quite small and, well, kind of cute. *insert sad face here*

It seemed the sudden death of its friend finally convinced the other bat that it had to get out of there before facing the same demise. It conceded by flying right out the window and into the night. My boyfriend promptly closed the window. While trying to figure out how the bats managed to come inside our room, he noticed some vents were left open (who would’ve thought?!).

I don’t have any pictures (because I was too busy hiding under the covers) but here is a video depicting the sound bats make.

Creepy.

 

 

MISHAP #4: CHASING WATERFAAAALLS (LAOS)

Khonepasoi Waterfall is located on the island of Don Khong in Laos. The unstable foot bridge was a worrisome compilation of wooden slats loosely and sporadically put together allowing uneven gaps between each slat – but off I went anyways.

When I arrived in the middle of the foot bridge, I decided to capture the stunning scenery on my camera phone. Without a second thought, I turned sideways to face the waterfall and in a flash I fell through the gap between the slats. Within seconds I swiftly got up, shaking and shaken. At that moment, I realized the only thing that stopped me from falling into the gushing waters below was my knee (and, miraculously, I managed to hang on to my Iphone).

The next day my knee swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. Strangely, though, it wasn’t bruised, scraped or broken. With each step I took it felt like a ball and chain was attached to my knee – it was heavy and uncomfortable (and disturbingly unattractive). I took an anti-inflammatory pill and rested the whole day. Once the swelling went down, a nasty mishmash of purple and blue bruises (and a few scratches) started to appear on my knee, tibia, ankle and foot. Luckily, it didn’t prevent me from walking so I was able to enjoy the rest of my travels.

Here I am after the incident. I was so happy to have made it nearly unscathed and unharmed but little did I know the worst was yet to come.

 

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MISHAP #5: I LOST THE ABILITY TO SPEAK (CAMBODIA)

Senmonorom in the province of Mondulkiri is home to a few minority groups namely the Bunong. We wanted to familiarize ourselves with this little-known culture so we hopped on our motorbike and headed to the very small village of Dak Dam nestled high up in the hills. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with open arms and toothless smiles. But Dak Dam village was hiding a dirty little secret.

It was basking in thick, ochre-colored dust. None of the roads were paved and the strong gusts of wind swept up the dust creating swirls and clouds impossible to avoid. The dust was vicious and merciless clinging relentlessly to our clothes and settling in my tangled hair. And in my throat. Despite wearing a mask, I still managed to inhale a lot of dust subsequently losing the ability to speak.

Beware the evil dust of Cambodia. You’ve been warned.

 

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I’m too sexy…..

 

MISHAP #6: IN THE WOODS I LEFT MY MARK (CAMBODIA)

Still in Senmonorom, we made the best of our stay and our rented motorbike by exploring a few of the surrounding villages. The paved road was closed forcing us to take a bumpy, dusty (evil was everywhere), rugged road that was carved through the woods.

On the way back, I started to feel uneasy. My stomach was a little upset but I figured (hoped) it would pass. With each bump (and there were many), it got worse. Once we got about halfway on the rugged road (in the middle of nowhere in the woods) and still far from our guesthouse, my stomach got out of control; it completely retaliated against me. Awful gurgling sounds. Stinging cramps. Something was desperately trying to get out. And fast.

The time came for me to voice my urgency; to openly admit defeat. I couldn’t keep it in anymore (both my urgency and whatever wanted to get out). I yelled unceremoniously at my boyfriend to stop the motorbike NOW (!!!). Distraught, I struggled to find the necessities I needed: toilet paper and wet wipes (I didn’t lie – I really do always have some). My boyfriend finally understood what was happening and immediately let out a burst of laughter which echoed mockingly throughout the woods.

Leaving my boyfriend bent over in a state of hilarity with tears rolling down his face, I ran to the woods and, like a dog, frantically searched for a place far enough from the road so no one would see me. Sweating profusely, swearing heavily (in English and in French) and begging (to whom?) – please, please, please don’t let me crap my pants – I managed to crouch ungracefully behind a small mound of sand and proceeded to leave my mark in the woods while still wearing my helmet (safety first).

The moral of the story is: always, always, always carry toilet paper when you’re traveling.

 

Somewhere in the woods I left my mark

 

MISHAP #7: NOW WHAT? (CAMBODIA)

On the island of Koh Rong we stayed in one of the guesthouses on the beach tightly squeezed among an exaggerated number of bars and restaurants. The room was a typical beach construction with flimsy bamboo walls but it also had a certain kind of charm….and an uninvited guest. A strange sound was coming from inside the wall. I already knew what a bat sounded like but this was a whole new guttural sound. And of course the sound promptly made itself heard as soon as we closed the lights and settled into bed.

The following scene took place:

Lights on.

Me tightly seeking refuge under the covers.

My boyfriend stick in hand.

Flashlight in another.

Scouring the room to find the source of the noise.

Behind the flimsy bamboo wall.

Culprit found.

A huge gecko.

My boyfriend tried to scare it away but it seemed quite content with spending the night with us. After a bit of coercing (no deadly umbrella this time), it finally decided to leave the comfort of our wall. But not for long.

The next morning it cheekily accompanied me while I took my shower (I didn’t see it but I could here it). The following nights, it came back and serenaded us once again with its clicking symphony. We knew it was harmless so we willingly let it share our room with us (free of charge).

 

 

MISHAP #8: IN MANDALAY I LAY (MYANMAR)

Stepping off the bus, we both instantly took a liking to the non-descript city of Mandalay. It was small enough to easily get around but big enough to offer a bit of unfamiliar chaos. We borrowed some bicycles from our hotel and rode around Mandalay enjoying the everyday scenes that surrounded us. Despite the relentless sun and the ever-rising heat (mid-40’s Celsius), we continued our explorations.

But that was the extent of my visit in Mandalay.

I spent the whole night tossing and turning in a pool of my own sweat. High fever and cold chills kept me awake. I could hardly eat anything (except for some refreshing watermelon). I thought it would pass within one day but much to my dismay I spent FIVE (!!) whole days in bed drenched in sweat. The fever was very deceiving; at times it was dangerously high and other times it was conveniently absent giving me enough respite to shower.

As the days went by, I constantly wavered between several emotions. Impatience. Self-pity. Frustration. Anxiety. Confusion. Sadness. Exhaustion. I took some pain relief medication which helped to control the fever but it always came back seemingly fiercer and fiercer (and so was my sobbing). After five days, the fever finally subsided and I got my strength back. I didn’t go to the hospital for an official diagnosis but I most likely suffered from a heat stroke.

 

HOW TO PREVENT A HEAT STROKE:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Cover your head with a scarf or wear a hat
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible
  • Avoid going outdoors when the sun/heat is at its peak (usually from noon – 2 p.m.)                                               
This is all I saw of Mandalay for 5 days straight

 

So there you have it! Traveling may not always be pretty but it will always make your life more beautiful – mishaps and all!

 

 

 

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Do you have any travel mishaps to share? 

 

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  • gosh, so many bad things in one trip! Luckily they all ended well, and it looks like you managed to keep your sense of humour alive! 🙂

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      I really got my ass kicked….lol! But all was good in the end – it’s hard to complain when you’re traveling! 😉

  • Anthony Jury

    I love South East Asia but it can be easy to see why so many mishaps happen in the region. All well, end well. but great stories.

  • travelscout

    This is great! As long as nothing terrible happens it is great to look back and laugh on the mishaps. We would’nt be travelers if we didn’t have any adventures.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      So true! 🙂

  • Wow, so many bunfortunate situations. I had a bat once in my shower. Imagine being still half asleep without my glasses seeing something black in the corner of the shower. Just in time before I actually turned it on. I asked the guesthouse owners to remove it alive and release it, but I don’t think he survived their attempts to catch it in the bathroom.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Wow – in our shower!?!? That’s crazy! It reminds me of all those times I couldn’t see properly because I wasn’t wearing my contact lenses or glasses. I must say I don’t miss those days – I’ve had laser eye surgery and it was the best thing ever (especially for traveling)!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Couldn’t let those things ruin our travels but I admit after our motorbike incident, I was uneasy every time we rented one (which sucked cause I love riding on a motorbike!). That road to Pai was brutal!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Most of these we find quite funny ourselves – they sure make for great memories! I actually DID have toilet paper (never leave home without it)! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Being sick while traveling is the worst but, fortunately, nothing was too serious. I’m ready for more! 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Don’t feel bad….it was meant to be funny (I also laughed at myself while writing this post)!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Not weird at all! I guess it’s different when you expect bats to be present. Not so in our hotel room…lol!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Glad it made you laugh! My boyfriend has been a life-savor many times! 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Exactly…..gotta take the good with the bad if we want to fully experience the world but I would gladly forego one or two of these mishaps! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    SEA seems to want to kick our travel asses….lol!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Getting sick is one of the worst aspects while traveling but, ironically, it makes us appreciate our travels more! The bat’s squealing was definitely creepy!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Thanks Raymond! Whoa…..a bat inside your friend’s jacket is intense!!! Traveling is all about embracing the good and the bad – or else we might as well just stay at home! 😉

  • Flights Services Inc

    Such a great Blog! Thank you for your sharing!
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  • Ana Ojha

    Oh boy! So many series of unfortunate events! But glad that it didn’t turn worse and you and your boyfriend were safe! Traveling seems lucrative but that’s not reality always!

  • Damn girl! You really did run the whole gamut but a raconteur you are and I thoroughly enjoyed your post 😛 I live in HCMC and since I’ve been here, we’ve had two bats fly into our apartment and its been the most harrowing experience. But I am deathly afraid of lizards and I know all too well the sounds they make. We also have very similar waterfall tales, although I jammed my foot into the crack a rock to stop myself from falling and lo and behold same reaction!

  • Andreea Bujor

    Your writing is very sparky and funny, i actually laughed. I feel like checking my room for bats now and listen to any strange noise. It good also to show sometimes the not so good part about travelling, cause everyone thinks it’s only glamour :). Great post and photos .

  • Paula – Gone with the Wine

    This was fun to read, a little bit different from regular travel experiences. I am usually most worried about getting the motion sickness in a bus or a boat. So far, I have been lucky enough with the foods not to get food poisonings. I am pretty adventurous in what I eat, however, I was extra cautious in Egypt. Great post!

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    Bat inside the room was hilarious, but I would be scared to death if anything like that happened to me. I felt sorry to hear about the other mishaps, but hey you have loads of memories and stories to share now. Can’t wait for more!

  • Taiss Nowrouzi

    hahaha!! sorry I don’t mean to laugh at you, just that yes, I believe in ALWAYS having toilet paper with me ( I lost a good pair of undies once when I didn’t have any with me). Also, I puked ALL THE WAY to Pai once (my husband kept passing me bag after bag and I just kept filling them up!) oh man the things that happen when traveling —not Snapchat appropriate, but they add to the fun! Not to mention, the stories you can tell like this one!

  • This is a great post. I’ve actually had two bats fly into our flat in “Vienna, Austria” and it was an absolute nightmare trying to get them out!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Haha….they’re quite stubborn!

  • Chrysoula Manika

    Don’t take it wrong but your post was so funny epecially the bat inside the room. I think I could never sleep in case another one appeared. Generally I am really careful of what I eat when traveling abroad.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      We laughed hysterically after we got rid of the bats….lol! After I got sick from the soya beverage, I looked at the ingredients and noticed a bunch of weird things (including milk….in a soya beverage!?!).

  • You are so lucky that none of that turned into anything worse! On the plus side, some cultures consider gecko to be positive house spirits or guardians of a house. If one decides to make your house their home it is a good sign 😉 …and he was probably helping to eat the mosquitoes in the room

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Good to know about the gecko – thanks! 🙂

  • I enjoyed your blog a lot. I admit, it is unique. While most bloggers would love to share good moments, there are also few who would love to open eyes to realities that in travelling both good and bad also happens. Thanks God that both you and your boyfriend are safe. I would love to do motorbike with my boyfriend but we also worries what if accident happens while we are on a different country.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Thanks Phil! So much happens when traveling I thought it would be funny/interesting to show the ‘bad’ side. We were very lucky our motorbike accident was minor. We did have travel insurance but we didn’t need to use it that time.

  • Janna C.

    Wow you had some mishaps alright. I havent really experienced anything like these when I visited Asia. I think the closest thing would be food poisoning. But that’s crazy, bats in your room?? I would’ve freaked out!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      No food poisoning but lots of other stuff….lol! The bats did freak me out – I was so scared one of them would get caught in my hair!

  • Jenna

    Oh no! Sorry to hear about all the mishaps! That soya story sounds horrible–not much worse than getting sick like that. We haven’t had any really tragic incidents, but I do always seem to minority injure myself, lol! Happy travels and thanks for sharing the other side of travel that doesn’t get talked about as much!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Turns out there was milk (!!) plus a bunch of other weird things that shouldn’t be in a soya beverage (which is usually organic). Luckily nothing serious happened and now we can laugh about our mishaps. Happy (& safe) travels to you too!

  • Wow! Those are not good experiences. The good and bad always go together, but we learn more from the bad experiences!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Nothing serious but, like you said, travel is made up of all sorts of stories and experiences, good and bad. But it’s still the best thing ever! 🙂

  • Melissa Kiely

    You poor bugger – but hey they all make a great blog post!!! I’ve been pretty lucky in my travels and have not had too many dramas. The good thing is it appears you have managed to get back up again and continue on with your travels.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      I was lucky nothing serious happened but every time I thought to myself “Why is SEA so hard on me?!” lol

  • Drew Seaman

    I learned one very important lesson reading all of these – always carry Wet Wipes!!! Always, always, always. And have them readily available on you at all times (maybe even more important). Like you, I’ve traveled extensively and never had any dramatic ‘incident’ – save for a few small ones – and this is a reminder that we’re all human.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Don’t leave home without them! 😉

  • Wow, you’ve certainly had some crazy mishaps! The story about your fall when visiting the waterfall must have been terrifying. That’s one of my biggest fears is slipping and getting an injury. So glad to hear that you were ok and you even managed to not loose your cell phone. Thanks for sharing your crazy experiences!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Falling through the cracks on the foot bridge was definitely terrifying but I think I was very lucky nonetheless!

  • Tamara Elliott (Globe Guide)

    Oh my goodness it really did you in! I had some similar experiences in Asia- just the nature of the place I guess. Those bats would have really thrown me for a loop!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      We traveled for 4 months in 4 different countries so I guess when you move around so much strange things are bound to happen. Good thing nothing was too serious! 🙂

  • First of all, good to know that you didn’t face any major troubles! Touch wood!!
    OMG, you had 2 bats in your hotel room?!!! That’s pure crazy! But I had one in my own home in the living room!!! I just ducked and opened all windows, so it would find its own way out!!! I mean, it finds its way by sonar right?!!! Yup, it took a couple minutes, but worked!!!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Believe it or not, years ago I also had a bat flying all over my apartment!!! I took my dog, went to the dining room, shut the doors and slept on the table until my boyfriend got home….lol! I live in Montreal (a big city) but there are still lots of bats.