7 Experiences that made us ask, “Why Do We Travel Again?!”
Travel isn’t always so fun loving and carefree. Between all of the beautiful places you visit and smiling faces you meet there are countless hours spent on planes, trains, buses, horrific bathroom experiences, and situations that make you think, “Is traveling worth it?”, “Maybe it’s time to go home?”
But than the next day we’ll meet some extraordinary person or visit an amazing city we’ve never been too and remember why we’ve decided to live in Asia the last few years… but when those “WHY” moments strike it’s all I can do not to book a flight home! Character building right?
Here are a few of these moments that I’m sure you’ll find extremely funny to read about and think ‘thank god that wasn’t me‘ but we actually had to deal with them!
1. The Life Sucking Mud Puddle: Ban Lung, Cambodia
We were cruising through back dirt roads on a motorbike when we came to a traffic jam. Let me clarify, it was a traffic jam in the middle of the woods in no-wheres-ville and we should have looked at the locals all waiting in line behind each other and decided to wait with them. There was a giant mud puddle, but it only looked a few inches deep so Rhys made a quick decision to ditch the locals and make his way through the puddle. As soon as we hit the mud we sank up to our knees, and the bike was being sucked up whole. Jumping off, locals crying with laughter at us, we managed to pull the bike out costing us Rhys’s flip flops and me a pair of shorts that never recovered from the mud stains. The locals raced to town, spread the word of our mishap, and as we drove through with our heads hung low, soaked in mud up to our thighs the encouraging Cambodians pointed and laughed!
2. Imprisoned on a Houseboat: Srinagar, India
We arrived in Srinagar and should have known immediately that it would be a crazy trip when the Indian Army had to escort our tourist bus to Dal Lake where we would be staying on a houseboat. Tensions were so high between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and who it belonged to that we weren’t aloud to leave the houseboat. Rhys and I were confined to 2 rooms, no tv, no computer, no outside stimulation, no books besides the 3 we had with us for a week. The highlight of our day was getting to eat lunch and dinner, which was the exact same EVERYDAY. Just the two of us on a boat with no where to go, nothing to do but sleep and wait for the next meal. Cabin Fever isn’t even the word for it! We weren’t allowed to leave because of intense riots in the town, and eventually the houseboat owner came to us and said, “Look I think we can get you out tonight. I don’t know what time, have everything packed, sleep in your clothes, and be ready to go the moment I knock on your door.” Scared? Yes. But ANYTHING to get me the hell off that boat. At 3AM we got the knock, jumped out of bed and crept to our getaway canoe. We were spotlighted the entire way we were paddled to shore, then thrown in a tiny mini van packed full of people for a 10 hour drive through winding mountain roads. The man behind me was puking the entire time and my knees were jammed up to my chin, but we were free, free at last!
3. Indian Hospitals are the Worst: India
Rhys fell and went BOOM on his BOTTOM and the bruise left on his bum was INSANE. The hematoma that was left on his bum was INSANE. It looked like a bus had hit his entire right butt cheek, and he was in big time need of medical attention. He fell down slippery marble stairs at a temple, and the hematoma kept growing and getting bigger and bigger. The first hospital was an awful experience with people everywhere, people left gasping for air, missing limbs, you name it and we saw it. However, when his bruise never got better, we went to an even worse hospital a month later. The doctors didn’t know what to do, I asked them if they thought draining it was a good idea and they said “Yea, ok, sure.” As if I were the doctor! After writing down a list of all the supplies I needed to go buy across the street, they stuck the syringe in Rhys’s still growing butt bruise and proceed to squirt out the blood from the needle into a huge barrel sitting in front of Rhys’s face. The barrel was of course already full from the day’s waste. After gagging, all we wanted to do was get as far away from that hospital as we could before we caught some serious illness!
4. The Act of Travel: Vietnam
The list of horrific buses and trains we’ve experienced (we were in India 2 months and Vietnam 1.5 years!) could go on for days but here is one of our worst. South of Cambodia to Saigon, Vietnam. An easy 9 hour trip, take a nap, listen to some music, have some lunch, talk with the backpackers around you, and boom you’re there. Or so it should have been. We got on the bus in Cambodia at 9:30am and didn’t get to Saigon until 2:30AM. Let me say that again, 2:30AM. 17 hours LATER. It was all smooth sailing until the Vietnam got involved. We got shuffled onto 3 different mini buses. Drove a zig-zag pattern from the Southern coast of Vietnam all the way up to Saigon picking up every local Vietnamese person along the way. The mini-bus could seat 15 people, and we counted 30 PEOPLE crammed on the bus. A woman was using my shoulder as her butt rest, another lady using my leg as an arm rest, no A/C in 90 degree heat, fish were stored under the bus near the engine so every time we stopped (which was every 10 minutes) this gut-wrenching smell of fish filled the bus. Than the little girl in front of us decided to puke all over and of course the tire went flat when we were 30 minutes from the bus station. A true test of a person’s character when a 9 hour ride turns into 17 hours after being told a countless numbers of lies. To say I was ready to kill someone is an understatement!
5. Sleeping on an Indian Train Station Floor: Varanasi, India
India is probably the dirtiest country we’ve ever been to. Actually, scratch probably.. it IS the dirtiest country we’ve ever been to. Varanasi is therefore one of the dirtiest cities you will ever go to, and we had the luxury of sleeping on the floor of the filthy train station! We were all ready to board a train headed North to Darjeeling when all trains were delayed a few hours. No big deal, common practice in India. Delays, delays, delays. After an hour or 2 we were told it would be delayed a few more hours. Until eventually they told us Maoist blew up the tracks and all trains would be cancelled until the next day. We were stuck. Hostels close up early, it was really late, and we had no where to go. The train station looked like a scene out of a refugee camp there were thousands, I mean THOUSANDS of people EVERYWHERE. Laying inside the station in every nook & cranny, laid outside the station, every inch of the place was crawling with people. I had a guy at my feet, Rhys at my side, and a trash can by my head. I just laid there waiting for daylight so I could get on a bus the hell out of India and into Nepal!
6. Life-Threatening Boat Rides: Rabbit Island, Cambodia
We’ve been on a few small wooden boats, where everyone on board were saying their ‘Hail Mary’s’ praying for us to reach land. Not the greatest feeling, but what can you do? We almost tipped over when a storm decided to crash a snorkel trip in Thailand, we defied a storm in the Philippines and boarded a boat that took on enoromous swells for over an hour (I was the one saying the prayers then!)), but recently in Cambodia we tried leaving Rabbit Island and get to the mainland when we thought the boat would either tip from the swells or from taking on so much water. We had to leave the island, a storm blew in, but we couldn’t wait it out.. it was time to rock ‘n’ roll. It was a little wooden boat probably 12 of us on board and we didn’t have a chance! The boat was rocking back and forth SO MUCH that we were actually taking on water from the sides dipping that low into the sea. I was gripping the side of the boat for my life, literally to just stay in the boat and not be thrown out. It was a scene out of a movie. Swell after swell kept smacking me in the face, everyone on board was shouting, scurrying around trying to keep bags with electronics inside dry (they didn’t have a chance), all of our eyes set on coast in the distance. When we made it we looked like we had all jumped in and swam to shore ourselves. We were soaked, cold, and wide-eyed!
7. Mountain Mafia: Mt. Batur, Bali
This was by far the most dangerous situation we’ve ever been in. We’ve written an entire post about it, but in short we were almost severly hurt by a group of mafia men that run a tourist town in Bali. We read online and in guidebooks that Mt. Batur is the only volcano in Bali that can be climbed without a guide. We drove there expecting to hike up it for sunrise on our own when a gang of men wouldn’t let us hike the mountain unless we paid them $100 to be our guides. It was an insane situation, the town is actually INSANE to be in, and we 100% want to make sure word is out there that you should NOT go to this place when you’re in Bali. Read all about our hair raising experience ending with us being pushed, cursed at, and spat on– here.
At the end of the day all of those experiences that made me squirm, cringe, and think of my bed in America that was so many thousands of miles away are all apart of the experience and the art of traveling. We wouldn’t change a thing that’s for sure— well maybe we would have skipped over going to Mt. Batur!