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Round the world +10: My top misadventures

Accident and emergency sign at hospital

Earlier this week I shared some of my favourite memories from my round-the-world trip though India, south-east Asia and Australia ten years ago. But travel has its fair share of downs as well as ups, and the things that seemed a disaster at the time usually make the best stories. So it’s time to balance out the good with some of the experiences that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. And there were a fair few for me to choose from. Transportation blunders, weird people and random injuries seem to follow me wherever I am in the world, so here are some of my top misadventures from my 16 months on the road.

Getting dysentery within the first week

When you plan a trip to India you usually expect to pick up a case of Delhi belly somewhere along the way. But I did think I might manage to get through at least a week with succumbing to it. Despite a food hygiene obsession that meant I only ate vegetarian food, avoided salads, dairy products and ice in drinks, I still ended up with dysentery after only five days in the country. My memories of Goa are pretty sketchy, having spent most of my time in a fever and regularly passing out whenever I attempted to stand up. A few days, a delirious rickshaw trip to the local doctor and a handful of giant mystery pills later I was back to normal, and managed to get through the entire next 15½ months without any further outbreaks.

Drugs at a pharmacy

Required packing for my next trip to India

Waiting eight hours for a train and still missing it

Indian trains are a law unto themselves, so on our third overnight train trip we were expecting it to be late. We’d arrived at Tundla Junction outside Agra four hours early and then had another four hour delay, so had well and truly exhausted the fun possibilities of the station. Finally the train was on its way so we lined up on the platform… and were plunged into complete darkness when the power went off. Fifteen minutes later the power was back, but the train had gone. It’d been changed to another platform but without any lights or announcements we didn’t know it. So we’d been sitting around while it left without us. It was another three hours til the next train, where I ended up spending the night wedged in a corridor between a bin and a toilet, thinking wistfully of my empty bunk bed somewhere three hours ahead of me.

Train from Goa to Delhi in India

One of the Indian trains I did manage to actually catch

Getting stuck in the jungle with a potential madman

Khao Sok in southern Thailand is a beautiful National Park where we decided to spend a couple of days relaxing in a resort where you could stay in a treehouse. The days were spend kayaking, walking and swimming in this idyllic jungle. The nights were another matter though. Second night there the place was deserted save for a lone guy who seemed to be in charge for the night. That day we’d broken our one remaining mobile phone and the power had gone off, so we really were in the middle of nowhere and on our own. I’m not sure whether he was on something, or just a bit weird, but he definitely wasn’t the person you’d like to be stranded with. After his attempts to practice English focused in on the conjugation of the verb ‘to kill’ (“I kill you or you kill me, what do you think about that?”) we decided it was time for bed, where we barricaded ourselves in for the worst night’s sleep ever.

Treehouses in the jungle in Khao Sok, Thailand

Treehouses in the jungle in Khao Sok National Park

Sinking a sea plane in the middle of the night

On a weekend escape from working in Brisbane, a group of us ended up staying with an eccentric friend of a friend. He fancied himself as a bit of an inventor, and was currently building his own sea plane. It was at a pretty early stage – no wings or engine yet – but he wanted to test how watertight it was, so roped us in to help. Only problem being he wasn’t sure the police would be too happy about it, so we had to do it at night. What could possibly go wrong? So once it got dark we loaded it up onto a trailer, unloaded it a deserted stretch of riverbank and pushed it out into the water… where it promptly started to sink. Not as watertight as he’d hoped, the water rushed in and we ended up swimming out to try and haul it back to the bank and bail out a few hundred litres of water. I only hope his first flight test went a bit better.

This seaplane would've floated a lot better – photo credit Lenny&Meriel on Flickr

This seaplane would’ve floated a lot better – photo credit Lenny&Meriel on Flickr

Breaking my ankle after not looking before I leapt

After travelling down the east coast of Australia, it was our first night in Sydney so a celebratory night out was in order. Fast forward a few beers and a few hours and we decided to head down to the beach in Manly. Someone decided to do a running jump into the sand so I followed on behind. Unfortunately long jump isn’t my sport, so instead of landing on the sand I only reached the concrete steps. Landing down hard the pain was intense, and both ankles soon started to swell. I couldn’t put any weight on either foot so ended up being carried back to the taxi rank and off to Manly hospital. After spending the night in a temporary toe to hip cast, x-rays showed I had broken one ankle in two places and sprained the other. Not the time to realise that my travel insurance only covered the Asia part of my trip. Luckily Medicare covered part of the cost and I was lucky not to need it pinned, but it’s not a risk I’ll be repeating.

Manly beach in Sydney, Australia

Manly beach in Sydney – offending steps not pictured

So there you have it – my top misadventures from 16 months travelling around the world. Also in the running were almost falling off a waterfall, dropping through air pockets on a Lao Aviation flight, spending two days dolphin spotting without seeing a single dolphin and getting banned from my flight to Australia after getting tonsillitis. And people say travel is glamorous! What’s your worst travel misadventure?

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love your post! I had a misadventure when I went to California for a year. One year of sunshine, but we went to Lake Tahoe skiing for a weekend. And I broke my knee. I laugh at that now.

    March 22, 2013
    • Ouch, sounds painful. I have somehow managed not to injure myself skiing other than a few bruises (fingers crossed) – all my injuries have been doing much more mundane things!

      March 24, 2013
  2. Ouch! The misadventures always make for good stories – fortunately I haven’t had any on your kind of scale! Great post 🙂

    March 22, 2013
    • It’s very true – it might seem like a nightmare at the time but it’s usually funny to look back on afterwards!

      March 24, 2013
  3. Wow! You certainly found yourself in a few pickles! Well done on surviving life on the road! Lessons learned and happy travels moving forward!

    March 22, 2013
    • I used to have quite a reputation for being accident prone so I don’t think anyone was surprised that there were a few incidents en route!

      March 24, 2013
  4. Oh my–no broken bones, but I have had Montezuma’s Revenge (Mexico’s verson of Delhi belly) in the Yucatan. One of my worst was what I thought would be the thrill of swimming with dolphins in Queen Charlotte Sound in New Zealand. They were *wild* dolphins, it was March and the water was *cold* (we wore full wetsuits, yet another hindrance), and I, who always prided myself as a strong swimmer, a certified scuba diver, hit that water and had a panic attack. Soon I had to give the boat crew the distress signal they had told us to use, got hauled back aboard, and spent the rest of the morning watching my husband frolicking with the wild dolphins (when they deigned to cooperate, which wasn’t a whole lot). Not an outing I would recommend or repeat.

    March 22, 2013
    • Don’t think I would like that either, I feel the cold really badly and am a bit nervous in deep water so it sounds like a nightmare!

      March 24, 2013
  5. You’ve been on some very adventurous trips. I’m glad you survived.

    March 22, 2013
    • Thanks Gerard – yes fingers crossed I seem to have got a bit less accident (and incident) prone as I have got a bit older!

      March 24, 2013
  6. The seaplane story made me laugh. I’m sure it *seemed* like such a good idea to take a plane without wings or engine out on the water during the night; I can’t believe things went wrong. 🙂 I’m still chuckling. It sounds like something I would talk my family into doing and that we’d laugh about for years.

    March 23, 2013
    • It was definitely one of the oddest experiences of my trip!. I don’t know if he ever got it off the ground, but I don’t think I’d want to be a passenger!

      March 24, 2013
  7. I broke my ankle on both sides when I missed the bottom step coming down from our apartment in Spain last year. It was day 2 of a holiday we had planned for over a year. I had insurance but refused to go to the hospital because I didn’t want to miss the Danube River cruise we had planned for the following week. So I hobbled along on a broken ankle for two weeks. When I got home I needd surgery and now have 7 pins in my foot. Never a dull moment but travel is still worth it. BTW I had a fabulous time anyway!

    March 24, 2013
    • Ouch, I was very lucky not to need my ankle pinning. The hospital did think for a while that I might have broken both ankles which would’ve meant I had to go home, but luckily the other was only sprained. We had always planned to spend a few months in Sydney so it didn’t disrupt my trip too much!

      March 24, 2013
  8. This is certainly an impressive list of misadventures. And at least there’s a pretty decent story behind breaking your ankle. I broke mine falling off my front door step at home. Oh the shame! Fab post!

    March 30, 2013
    • That’s the sort of accident I would have – I once broke a rib by coughing, very unimpressive!

      March 31, 2013
  9. Wow! That really is an impressive list! Good you are able to look back at them with humour 🙂

    April 2, 2013
    • Not bad for 16 months eh! Fingers crossed my travels are a bit less eventful these days.

      April 2, 2013
  10. Here is my story of moving to Ecuador, it is full of hilarious misadventures. But you cant have the good without the bad. Enjoy.

    April 7, 2013
    • You certainly can’t! I will check out some of yours too.

      April 7, 2013
  11. Reblogged this on Somewhere in the country and commented:
    Hilarious! Loved reading this.

    May 8, 2013

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