I always love reading about other people’s travel experiences, and recently in my time browsing through the wide selection of other travel blogs out there, I’ve started seeing posts about people’s crazy travel stories. This made me think about some of the stories I have to share, so this post is me sharing a few of my own…
All night multi-national karaoke in Kyoto Japan
This night is one that I look back on very fondly, and one that stands out in all of my times travelling. That’s because it epitomised what’s great about the spontaneity of travel and how it brings people together. I’d just come back from cycling around Kyoto with a couple of new friends I’d met the day before, and we decided we’d check out one of the karaoke bars that Japan is so famous for. Beforehand however, we went to the hostel bar for a couple of drinks (as you do). While we were in the bar, we met all sorts of awesome people and ended up having a group of about 9 people for karaoke. Another great thing about it was, in Japan you pay for your own karaoke room for a certain amount of time (usually an hour slot), BUT for the midnight slot, as it’s so late and the last slot you get the room until 5am, a whole 5 hours! Alongside this you also get free beer, soft drinks and ice cream ALL NIGHT! That’s right, it was incredible. So one night in Kyoto, a group of people from all over the world (USA, Colombia, India, England, Ireland, Netherlands & France to name the nationalities remember!) who had never met each other 48 hours previously, ended up literally singing until the sun came up and all having a great time
Taking it to the extreme in New Zealand
Some might find this boring and sterotypey, and if so I understand. But I’m pretty impressed with myself that I stuck to my guns and did all the extreme sports I said I would while I was in New Zealand. In New Zealand I ended up: bungee jumping, skydiving, zorbing, canyon swinging (for mine I fell backwards off a cliff sitting on a plastic chair…), schist running (running down the crater of a volcano) and jet boating. Which when you put together and bear in mind this was in within a month, I’m fairly proud of. The most terrifying was definitely bungee jumping. Weirdly enough I wasn’t actually too scared before, as I just didn’t think about it too much, I just went ahead and did it. I bungee jumped off a bridge asking to be dunked in the river at the bottom, which was pretty awesome. The scary bit though, is when your brain forgets you’ve got a bungee attached to you and you just think you’re plummeting to your death, at which stage I started waving my arms about instinctively and frantically. A couple of seconds later though (the plummet only lasts about 7 seconds) the bungee kicks in and you realise all is well with the world! In a way I think I’d be more nervous having bungee jumped already if I had to do it again… But hey, I did it and it’s something I’ll always have as a sort of badge of extreme sports honour!
Wild camping in Africa
Now from this title, I know what you’re thinking, what’s so special about that? Well, when I travelled through Africa we camped in a lot of ‘wild’ camps. This means you’re in a national park with all the wildlife around you, no fences or anything, often discovering elephant and hippo tracks feet from your tent in the morning. I have so many stories from camping in Africa but here are some things that happened during my six weeks travelling and camping there: finding a scorpion under my tent; getting up to go to the loo then quickly climbing back in my tent as there was a hippo outside; being shown two lions about 50m away who’d just killed a baby elephant; not being able to go to the toilet block because buffalo were in the way; having to move around the campsite in pairs to keep safe from hyenas; and finally defending our tents from cheeky hungry monkeys all whilst trying not to look them in the eye.
‘That night’ in the Mekong Delta Vietnam
So ‘that night’ in Vietnam, was the one that pushed me over the edge… I’m sure we all have them, those times where you only realise you’ve gone too far in hindsight. Unfortunately this was the night that resulted in me being the most sick I’ve ever been travelling, and I don’t mean hung-over sick, I mean fever, shivering, feeling like death and being bedbound for 2 days sick. We were doing a home stay in Vietnam after a couple of very heavy nights. The first was saying goodbye to half our group, the next was saying hello to a new half of our group. So after a lot of drinking the two nights previously, and a lot of travelling by boat that day in the Mekong Delta, our afternoon activity was being chest deep in mud trying to catch fish with our hands. We then had a local dinner where there was the option to sample rat and snake, which of course I did. Rat was just like chicken, but the snake… let’s just say it wasn’t to my taste. This was followed by an evening of drinking games and consuming a stupid amount of alcohol, see the above picture. The quantity of vodka pictured was for about 20 people, and I had genuinely forgotten about how much there really was until seeing this picture again. This vodka was to form our ‘cocktail’ for the evening, called ‘Jungle Juice’, mixed and served in a large bucket. Jungle Juice was what we were drinking all night and consisted of only vodka, red bull, and orange juice. Safe to say I had a great time but it absolutely wiped me out and pushed my body over the edge to where it was like ‘enough of this damage you’re putting me through, it’s payback time’.
The start of my accidental week in Nolotu Village, Kadavu
This story stands out to me so much because it was me on my own, completely having to put faith in strangers, and it’s also a story of a journey. I was leaving a hotel friends had booked themselves as a treat before they flew home. When I decided to ask the concierge at the desk a bit of advice, on how to get to an island called Kadavu, which I’d heard was beautiful, unspoilt and rarely visited by tourists. It turned out her name was Meline and she was from there! She then proceeded to make a phone call to her father Turaga (top right above), and arranged for me to stay with him in his village Nolotu, for a whole week if I contributed for food etc (which of course I did). Firstly, this was crazy, she’d just met me and I was going to stay with her Dad?! If you haven’t met Fijian people before and experienced how warm and welcoming they are, you would have thought this was a lot more strange than it was! The village I was to be staying in wasn’t accessible by car only by boat, and didn’t have electricity other than from generators, so I’d be getting to experience real Fijian island life. The island was a six hour ferry trip away, with the catch being that the boat left from a dock in Suva on the other side of Fiji (6 hours coach away) from where I currently was in Nadi. So I arranged with Meline to get the ferry from Suva and meet Turaga at the dock oon Kadavu once I got there, where I’d then go with him on another boat to their village. So a long journey…
I started off by getting the coach from Nadi to Suva. It took about 6 hours as expected, and I arrived in nice and early for the ferry, picking up a gift for Turaga to say thank you while I was there. Then I made my way over to the dock, in the dark on my own and a bit nervously, as it was the opposite of where tourists where and directions were not clear at all. I went down some weird street with nothing open and limited signs of life, only to find a confused man at the end wondering who this lost looking white kid was. The place was absolutely deserted and he informed me that the boat had actually left yesterday… I’d been given the wrong day. I had my slight suspicions about this when I looked online earlier in the day and saw this information, so checked with Meline about it all previously over the phone, but we thought it would all be fine. After I realised my fears about the wrong day were confirmed, a rather mortified Meline then arranged for her cousin Paul to meet me. So a man gets out of a car literally about 10 seconds later, which seemed a bit weird and quick, so suspiciously I checked he knew who I was etc. It turned out he was Paul, and had driven down earlier anyway in case the information about the boat day had been wrong (incredible nice once again). So I hopped in his car and we went back to his house about half an hour away where he’d said I could stay as I hadn’t arranged anywhere and it was late at night. I met his wife and mother and they kindly treated me to some food. After some discussion over what to do next and meeting a few of his other friends who had come over for some kava (the local social drink very popular in this part of the world), I decided I still wanted to go to the island even though I’d missed the one ferry a week… But to do this I had to get a plane. Guess where the planes were, Nadi, the other side of Fiji, and where I had just come all the way from that day. So Paul took me back to Suva and at 2am had a word with a local minibus runner who was leaving shortly to make the journey to Nadi through the night. So I hopped in to make the reverse of the journey I’d just taken, to get the boat I missed, to catch a flight that left the next morning I’d never planned on getting…
So very tired (and feeling as blurry as the picture I took of myself above), sleep deprived, determined, with gift of kava in hand, I eventually got on the flight on a plane that fit about 10 people in it, and arrived on Kadavu to meet Turaga! I won’t go into details of my time on Kadavu as I’ve written about it here, but it was well worth it and the adventure of getting there is something I’ll always remember! (If you’ve come this far through the story, well done you).
So that’s it, my top five crazy travel stories from my trip, and there are plenty more I could tell but I don’t want to overkill this already long post… What are some of your crazy travel stories? Even if it’s just experiencing some of the other extreme sports, I’d love to hear them!