Before the new year I wrote a reflective post about my top 10 best travel moments from 2017. However, if you have been reading my blog – or know anything about me – you will know that I have a tendency to attract bad luck while traveling. That is why it only felt fair to also write a list of my top 10 worst travel moments from 2017.
10. Volunteering at a school in Nepal
Before you think I’m an awful human being, hear me out.
While in Nepal I volunteered on a farm in a small village. One day, I decided to spend a day volunteering at the local school – and two of the other volunteers came with me.
When we arrived I was surprised that they put us all in one classroom to teach together. I had been teaching English for the last year and a half so I was pretty confident to teach on my own. When I got into the first classroom through – all hell broke loose. The children would not listen or sit still to save their lives.
Throughout the day we were moved around to different classes. The classrooms were hot with no air conditioning. Each class was worst then the next – our energy was quickly dwindling and our patients was wearing thin.
The students were so out of control that once, while changing classrooms, a heard of children ambushed one of my friends, overpowered her and pulled her into the classroom. It was at this moment we realized we should be afraid – very afraid.
By our last class of the day, we were exhausted and frustrated. Of course, they saved the best for last. The whole classroom of eight-year olds were jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs. One demon child literally slapped me in the face! Even with three teachers we had absolutely no control. It got to the point where our only purpose was so stand in front of the classroom door acting as a barrier preventing the wild children from running out.
For the rest of the week I stuck to the farm.
9. My horrible layover in the Ukraine
I had a layover in the Ukraine with enough time to go into the city to spend the night. I was in the country for less than 24 hours, yet every encounter that I had was miserable. Everyone was rude and I got yelled at just for walking into a store as it was apparently closing. When I checked into my accommodation nobody spoke any English and I couldn’t believe how rude they were.
By the time that the morning came I couldn’t wait to get out of the country and never return. However, my terrible experience in the Ukraine didn’t end there. Once I arrived at the airport I couldn’t check in for two hours.
It turns out that the airport had been hacked. Angry people were piling up outside of security, and the line was never-ending.
By the time that I finally made it through the security line I was starving. I tried to buy something to eat but, due to the recent hack, nowhere was accepting credit cards. I had no more cash on me. I would have to wait until the flight.
When I got on the flight I was ecstatic to order an overpriced sandwich. Once I had my packaged sandwich in my hand, I immediately bit into it – like a crocodile attacking a deer. Halfway through my sandwich, the flight attendant came by to take payment. My credit card didn’t work. However, it had nothing to do with my card – it was their machines that were the issue. Even though it was their problem, they wouldn’t leave me until my sandwich was paid for. Eventually, the girl sitting next to me paid for my sandwich for me.
I will never go back to the Ukraine again – not even for a layover.
8. Ending up in the hospital in India
The classic Delhi Belly. Yup – you can bet that I got it. I think it was literally from the very first meal that I ate when I went to India. I saw this random hole-in-the-wall spot where a lot of locals were eating and thought I had the stomach to eat there too.
The next day my friend and I both ended up getting sick. We spent a good two days lying in bed and a solid two nights on the toilet. Eventually – we built up the courage to go out exploring. Traveling was tough. There was all of this delicious food around my but I didn’t have the appetite for any of it – my energy was low and I felt awful.
It had been over a week of being sick so we decided to visit a pharmacy for some drugs. However, it was too late. The next morning I got the chills. I was in the desert in India – and I was cold! I remember taking a hot shower and shivering in it. When your cold in India, you know something is seriously wrong.
When I got out of the shower I collapsed on my bed and my friend immediately took me to the hospital.
It turns out that I had a stomach infection and the doctor wanted to keep me in the hospital for four days. I had a train to catch that night so refused to stay in the hospital. Eventually the doctor gave in and gave me some antibiotics, drugged me up on morphine, and sent me on my way.
On a positive note, it was the most relaxing train ride of my life.
7. Staying at a Buddhist monastery from Hell
This sounds like an awful thing to say about a sweet little Buddhist monastery tucked away in a small village in Nepal. I mean no disrespect to the monastery – it was the weather that was hell!
To get to the hottest spot in Nepal, I took a five hour bus – which turned into eight. The bus had no air conditioning and I sweated more water than I consumed.
By the time I arrived at the monastery I was sticky with sweat and felt sick from the heat. I couldn’t wait to refresh with a cold shower. However, their water tank sits outside in the scorching sun all day – meaning only warm showers. I needed some way to cool down so I asked for some water. It turns out that the only thing that they offer to drink it boiling hot green tea.
The nights were not much better than the days as the temperature was still hot and sticky. There was one slow moving fan for every two beds and half of the time the electricity ran out so the thick hot air would just consume you.
My plan was to stay for a week but after two days I was getting nauseous from the heat and had to leave. On the plus side – they had wifi!
6. Getting kicked off a train in Indonesia in the middle of the night
While in Indonesia I took a night train from Yogyakarta to Malang to cover the long distance in my sweet dreams. However the train-ride ended up being more of a nightmare when a man approached me at 2 a.m. and told me that I was in the wrong seat. Technically, I was int he right seat – just on the wrong train!
Even though this train was also heading to Malang the train attendants wouldn’t let me stay on – even if I bought another ticket from them. Instead I got kicked off the train at 3 a.m. (I spent about an hour arguing with them) in a town that I cannot name in the middle of Java Island.
You can read the full story here.
5. Changing my Travel Plans due to Terrorism
I had the perfect plan for my trip to the Philippines – including visiting Bohol to see the Chocolate Mountains and the world’s smallest primate. Upon checking into my accommodation in Cebu I was making small talk with the people at the front desk and mentioned to them that I was heading to Bohol Island in the morning. One guy told me that I may want to make new plans since there were terrorists there. WHAT?!
The guy had mentioned this very casually so I thought me might be joking. I asked him if he was serious. He said yes – still in a very casual tone and offered nothing else. I still wasn’t sure if he was messing with me and nobody else seemed concerned. I turned to the other people at the front desk and asked them if he was joking. Finally the boy offered me more information. He took out his phone and sat with my on the couch and showed me a news clip from the morning – explaining the terrorist situation on Bohol and how tourists were a target.
Needless to say – I changed my plans and spent the rest of the trip on edge.
4. Breaking my toe in South Korea
During my last month living in South Korea, I broke my toe. This was the worst timing because it meant that on my two week vacation to Myanmar I wouldn’t be able to walk. I had two more weeks back in South Korea and then I was off to travel the world for five months. My first stop? China where I had planned to see the Great Wall of China.
Well, I went to Myanmar and… I went to the Great Wall of China! Everyone starred at me like I was crazy and asked me why I was even there. It was the Great Wall of China – I wasn’t going to let a little (yet extremely painful) broken toe stop me from checking this off my bucket list.
3.Crashing a scooter in Indonesia…with my Mom on the back
You read that right. While I was in Indonesia, my Mom came out to visit. We went to Nusa Penida for a couple of days because I heard it was a beautiful island to drive around. Well, it would be a beautiful drive – if the roads weren’t so terrible! I drove a scooter down a long, steep and dodgy road to a beautiful beach.
We spent a few hours at the beach but I could hardly relax knowing that I was responsible for driving us back. Since the roads were so terrible we decided to not do any more exploring after the beach and to head home.
We got lost and ended up on even worse roads than on the way there! While driving down one particularly bad hill – with broken cement covered in gravel, a local drove closely past me and I lost my focus. Next thing you know – I went crashing down on the pavement with my Mom coming down on top of me and the scooter landed on my leg, pinning me down.
2. Being on a bus with fish guts everywhere
After waking up at 2 a.m. to hike Mount Bromo I was looking forward to being off of my feet and getting some rest. That’s why when it came to booking a bus to my next destination I booked first class. I was promised a bigger seat, a hot dinner, and toilet on board.
Well, the dinner didn’t happen – they only served the dinner to the locals. This was upsetting but with only a couple. More hours to go I figured I could last. The bus ride ended up being about 2 hours longer than they had told us it would be – now I was definitely hungry. By the time midnight struck I knew that we were almost there.
However, the bus stopped on the side of the road and they began loading crates of seafood under the bus. This took about an hour – and we were only thirty minutes away from our destination!
I couldn’t believe what happened next. When the storage under the bus was full, they brought the crates of seafood onto the bus! They filled the bathroom with them and the whole back of the bus – right were I was sitting. The smell was horrendous and the nasty fish water was pouring out of the boxes as they loaded them.
We didn’t end up getting to our destination until 2 a.m. and when I got my backpack it was drenched in disgusting water where fish guts and dead lobsters had been sitting. My clothes smelt like fish guts for weeks.
1. Saying goodbye to Ashley Teacher
During my year and a half teaching English in South Korea, I worked closely with a Korean co-teacher – Ashley Teacher. Not only did we teach our classes together but she became my best friend. Ashley was my Korean angel. She helped me set up my bank account, make doctors appointments, and other important things that I could not have done without her help. She had a heart of gold and an amazing sense of humour. She understood me and accepted my craziness. My time in South Korea wouldn’t have been as meaningful without her.
When it came to say goodbye it was heartbreaking. She dropped me off at the train station, but we arrived late so I had to run for it. I jumped on the train just in the nick-of-time. As Ashley reaches the train car that I am standing in she jokingly shout, “I hate you Tessa teacher!” and Hands me an envelope.
Suddenly, the doors began closing between us. Her broad smile turned into tears as reality sank in and the train started pulling away. I too broke into tears. I found my seat and sunk down into it – crying. The tears got worse because when I opened the envelope, there was a beautiful three paged letter handwritten to me from Ashley. I still have it to this day.
Of all the terrible things that went wrong over my travels over the last year – none we as upsetting of having to having to say goodbye to such a dear friend.