Dumbest Things I've Done

The Dumbest Things I’ve Done While Traveling

Derek Everything Else, Personal Stuff 152 Comments

Dumbest Things I've Done

The idea for this post came about after I mentioned one of the “dumbest things I’ve done while traveling” on my Facebook Page the other day. The result was not only having my kind readers confirm that what I had done was indeed quite stupid, but also a long list of tales from others who were willing to share some of their not-so-brightest moments from their own travels.

I figured I’d move that discussion over here by adding a few more examples of how I can be a little, well, ‘slow’ at times. Luckily, however, I’m fairly confident that every single traveler out there has had plenty of similar moments, which hopefully we’ll soon discover!

Let’s start with the dumb moment I mentioned on my Facebook Page and go from there…

Mango incident: I was in India, someone handed me a mango for the first time in my life and I had no idea how to eat it. So, I just stuck the entire thing, with the skin on, in my mouth. The man who gave it to me looked horrified and asked “What are you doing?”. Sensing that I had done something stupid, I just said, “This is how I eat mangoes.”

Eating a rat: While in Vang Vieng, Laos, two other travelers and I decided to visit the local market one evening. The idea was that we would each purchase some kind of food item to bring back to the guesthouse and share with the group for a nice local dinner. So, I bought a rat from a woman who was selling whole rats that were sliced open and grilled over a small fire, complete with rat nose, rat eyes, rat toes and rat tail still in place. When we returned to the guesthouse, the others were not too thrilled with my choice and so I was left to take a bite out of it myself (see above photo). After taking a bite, I looked a little more closely at the rat only to discover over a dozen maggots moving around in the flesh. I vomited. And then I felt extremely sick to my stomach for a good couple of days afterward.

Wrong airport terminal: This one’s a classic and has probably happened to many people….I once waited at the wrong terminal at Bangkok’s old Don Mueang International Airport for over three hours for a friend of mine who was arriving from Australia. Had I spent one second reading all of the information on the huge “Arrivals” screen I would have clearly seen that her flight had arrived at Terminal 1, not Terminal 2 where I had been waiting. I ended up leaving the airport completely worried and confused as to why she hadn’t arrived, and naturally, my friend had left the airport completely upset as to why I wasn’t there to pick her up. This tale did end well though, with a crazy story of how we finally managed to meet up in Bangkok.

Dumbest Things I've Done

Nearly frozen to death: Combine -20C temperatures, a massive snow storm, sidewalks covered in ice and my occasional stubbornness and you get a very dumb decision on my part. It happened during the winter of 2012 while I was in Bucharest, Romania and I had just finished meeting up with Niall Doherty for some afternoon shisha and good conversation in the old city center. After parting ways, I tried to hail a taxi to take me back to my friend’s apartment where I was staying, but every taxi I asked either wouldn’t take me or they wanted an exorbitant price because of the snow storm and resulting road conditions. I refused to pay the inflated rate and so, despite being in jeans, t-shirt, light winter jacket and running shoes, I decided to walk the 4 kilometers back to the apartment in protest since that was my only other option. By the time I arrived, my face was a block of ice, I couldn’t feel my feet or hands and I was about to collapse, feeling quite sick as I stumbled through those final steps. When my friend opened the door, I just looked at her and said, “I’m going to die.” Later that evening, after telling my friend the story, she simply stated, “Why didn’t you just take the metro? You walked past three metro stations”.

(Here’s a video I made that shows you exactly how to survive an Eastern European winter!)

Blood for nothing: I was working on my first cruise ship when, one evening during my second week on board, I wanted to get some fresh air and just stand on the outside deck for a while. But since my work was finished for the day, I was no longer wearing my uniform and so I had to sneak through the ship in my shorts and t-shirt in order to reach the main outside deck, hoping that I wouldn’t get caught. Eventually, I found a large door that led outside and I pushed it open, only to have a huge gust of wind push it straight back, causing the bolt of the door to slice open my thumb. As blood started to pour out, I quickly ran inside to the Reception Desk to get help and they called the nurse and had me taken care of. The next day I had to meet with the Hotel Director and I assumed that I would get in trouble for being out of uniform in the passenger areas. Instead, he just looked at me and said, “You do know that we have an entire outside deck just for crew members?” Oops.

Bucket shower: In India, many budget hotels only have cold-water showers and if you want to take a hot shower, you need to ask the hotel staff to heat you up a bucket full of water. The first time I did this, the owner of the small hotel brought me the bucket of hot water and I went into the bathroom, where I scooped up some water with a small bowl. I then dumped the water straight over me. It never crossed my mind that the steam coming out of the bucket was a result of the water being extremely hot and that the proper method was to mix that water with some of the cold water from the actual shower. I just poured a bowl of near boiling water on myself instead. Oh yeah, it hurt.

I’m sure at this point you know what’s coming. It is indeed time to hear about your own ‘not so bright’ moments during your travels, whether they happened overseas or in your home country. So, what’s some of the dumbest things you’ve done?

Please help me feel better about my own dumb moments by sharing yours below!

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Comments 152

  1. Vishal

    Here is one of my several-
    Visiting my brother over the long weekend.. on a walk on 8 am, Sunday morning, he just asks me to confirm my flight time, which I was claiming as 5:20 pm. No sir. It was at 12:30 pm.
    Run!! I got slapped, brother grabbed his car, drove like crazy and real crazy, to get me to the airport barely in time. I rush to the checkin, flash my e-ticket…and I am told the time is ok, but the day… it is for “yesterday’s” flight. Same #, same time.
    My brother calls me and when I tell him I missed the flight, he freaks. He did indeed drive like crazy.

    So not only was my flight a couple of hours late — it was an entire day late.
    So help me God.
    Everyone still laughs about it!!

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  5. Randy Tyrrell

    This is a long story condensed At 17 years of age I bought an open ticket to England to begin my year long hitchiking trip through Europe. During my travels there were many dumb things done by myself and other fellow travellers, but I think the best dumb thing I/we did was during the ride from Amsterdam to Greece in a fantastic vehicle. The Magic Bus left from Vondel Park in the heart of Amsterdamn(lol) to the centre of Athens. As a hippie you could imagine what Amsterdam had in store for us…Anyway to shorten this story I will get on to the dumbest thing we did, Travelling 24 hrs a day we were in a rush to get to the sun, we(the bus owner) decided that a few extra days aboard the bus wouldn’t be such a horrible thing. Our driver told us that we can stop in Germany, Austria and Yugoslavia over nite but we had to sleep outside, ok since it wasn’t terrible cold outside, After a brutally long and rough day of driving the transporter decided that he would like to stop in Yugoslavia just across the border, clearing customs was simple and quick and we were able to stop at a fuel station, I think, where we were able to buy a few things like pop and snacks, I bought some sort of carbonated sugary beverage, YUK, we then proceeded to drive off the road a bit so we could bed down for the night, the driver drove up a small hill , large enough for the bus and the 8 people inside to stretch out in our sleeping bags. I placed my bag out, got my pop open had a few bites of food and took a drink of what I must say was the vilest, sweetest liquid I had ever put to my lips. I just turned the bottle upside down and let it drain away. I went to sleep as did the rest of the people for the 4 or so hours we were alloted. I awoke to pain, itching, blood, tears, yelling, screaming, at one point, not me though, and copious amounts swearing from all of the travellers. As it turns out our driver had somehow been able to drive up a giant anthill, park the vehicle, get us all out so he could sleep in his bus while we got to sleep under the stars. Yes we were bitten, stung, and crawling with ants, not huge ants just millions upon millions of them, due, in retrospect, in part to my upturned sugary beverage. It took forever to get rid of those ants, and I must tell you that almost a year later I found ant remains in my knapsack, sleeping bag and one even stuck inside a page in my passport, unidentifiable for sure but I knew what it was. So there you have a shorter version of the anthill story, there are many more stories, some funny, some hilarious, some dangerous but for the most part all dumb moves on my part. I’d love to write about the other dumb things, later on if you would like to hear about them Earl. I think I am one of those characters who has things happen to himself all the time, fall into a pile of sh*t and come out smelling like a Gucci fragrance. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to hopefully give a few people a laff or two. Randy

  6. Connie Chase

    The worst thing I’ve done is walk home alone blind drunk in a village in Thailand. No idea how I ended up in my bed unharmed, considering the amount of dogs, ditches and my lack of my sense of direction! Never again.

  7. Paula

    One of my favorite stories: I was in Egypt for only one night so far, and this was my first time travelling outside of North America. Our group went to see the Pyramids at Giza. Before going inside, I ducked into the Visitor Center to use the bathroom. There was a little lever at foot level in front of the toilet. I stood up and stepped on it thinking that I was about to flush the toilet, but instead, a geyser of water erupted from the toilet bowl! I was cowering and screaming in the corner of the stall, unable to reach the lever to turn the water off. The bathroom attendant opened the door and bravely managed to get in there and turn the water off, I’m sure cursing at me in Arabic the whole time. Then I had to go meet the rest of the group. My clothes and my bag and my hair were totally drenched 🙁 They all got a good laugh at my expense and I had to tour the pyramids all wet!

  8. Justine

    Just got back from 2 weeks in South East Asia, dumbest tthings I’ve have so far!

    Literally threw my own passport in the bin in the hotel in Bangkok and didn’t realise until I was 2 days travel away from the embassy and had to trek all the way back and wait 2 days to get a replacement one.

    Upon picking up my new passport headed straight to the airport to fly back to my tour got out of the taxi walked 200m and somehow had my smaller backpack stolen off my trolley! Thank god the new passport was not in there…

    Must be one of the only travellers to get 2 Thai police reports in 1 week!

    Then lost my bank card the next day… by then that was so minor, just cancelled the card and transferred money.

    And finishing it all off with being involved in a taxi scam in Malaysia at 1am with police in machine guns!

    Phew, one of the most moronic trips I’ve had, prior to that my only blunder was turning up at Gatwick airport at 6pm to find you had accidentally booked the flight for 6am that morning. Oh.

    Or turning up at your hotel in Dublin in May and apparently you accidentally booked your room for July. Woops.

    Maybe there is a pattern here?

    By the way Earl, love the blog!

  9. Tom

    Even close to home small difference can mean a great deal. I had been to England before and as a dutchmen this is really nothing special. However one time when I had been to Liverpool and had to take the bus to the airport I made quite the mistake. Being hungover from the night before and confident on which road the direct bus from the center to airport would be leaving. The only buses that came where going further into the city center. Two and half hours later I realized I had been waiting on the wrong side of the road… (Wacky english driving on the wrong side of the road 😉 !!!)
    Luckily made the check-in with 2 min and boarding with 1 minute to spare to be the last one to board the plane. Never felt so lucky.

  10. Christine

    In May my daughter, granddaughter and myself were backpacking around Europe. After spending a couple of enjoyable days in rome we were heading to our next location, athens. We took the metro, transferred to the bus and had a fairly lengthily trip out to the airport. Got off the bused headed into the airport terminal to check in. We new our airline but when we looked for it, it was no were to be seen. Quickly I pulled out the ticket only to find out we had travelled to the wrong airport. We quickly asked what the fasted way to get to the other airport was and found out taxi was our only option. 50 euros poorer we made it to the other airport, in time to catch our flight. What did we learn, always pre check tickets, don’t assume you are flying in and out of the same airport like we did. It was an expensive mistake. Lucky for us our flight to athens was one hour behind schedule.

  11. Gaurav

    Hi Earl..

    First time visited your blog and it just rocks….!!! (Y)

    And ya.. being an indian i can tell you we do things very differently over here 😉

    We dont have 24 hour running water because we’re mostly dependent on monsoon.. so we have devised ways to cut down the water wastage. and also as you know we’re 2nd most population in the world, we have to manage all resources.. and money too very carefully..!!!!
    so, every foreigner is bound to get confused.. 😀 😀 😀

    And mango incident was funny… but it must be delicious…!!! 🙂

    I hope to go to other countries someday like you and get confused or get amazed by the way they do things in those countries…!! 🙂

    All the bet for your travels buddy…

  12. Jojo

    I was looking for interesting travel blogs and am glad I found this one 🙂 The best one I’ve seen so far! Thanks Earl 🙂 Reading all these crazy stories brought to mind a few of my own…. Once I was chilling on a beach on the isle of Crete and started to sense a funny smell hovering about me. Opened my eyes to see a lamb staring at me. I don’t know why it picked me, of all people. I’m a city girl so it was in fact the first time I’d seen one up close (although I was 28 then). After an intense staring duel of about 5 minutes, the lamb finally walked off for a swim in the ocean. It must have been sweating like hell in the heat with all that wool on it… All the Greek guys around me laughed at me for hours. Don’t know if that was embarrassing but it sure was awkward! Another time I went to China by myself with no luggage and just some business cards to show taxi drivers (with names of places of interest and my hotel in Chinese). Anyway, I bought a couple of empty suitcases and filled them up with souvenirs (wouldn’t do that anymore but back then I was quite thrilled with the shopping). So, when I got home, I tried a Chinese beauty cream I’d bought from a local drugstore/cosmetics store. It was in a packaging with everything written in Chinese, which I didn’t understand, but the bottle was just so CUTE, and completely harmless-looking… So, I spread the cream all over my body one night after a shower. It didn’t take long before I started feeling a strong burning sensation from inside my skin. It was the weirdest sort of pain: it was like a wave of fire from inside out…. I took the tram for 30 minutes to the only pharmacy in town which was open at night and couldn’t even sit because by ass and thighs were burning! Once I got there, I had to explain to the pharmacy guy (of course, a guy…) that I tried on this weird Chinese cream, maybe a sellulite cream (?) in a package which I couldn’t read…. He gave me cortison which eventually helped, but warned me that Chinese products may contain substances banned in the West by health authorities. Needless to say, I threw the cute bottle away and never again bought weird products which I didn’t know the purpose of! Another incident that comes to mind after reading this blog and reading about the guy who fell through a roof: once I was living in Paris, the City of Romance, and had to change a lightbulb in the bathroom, directly above the toilet. I stood on the toilet seat to reach the light on the roof and fell through the toilet seat into the toilet!!!!!! Like, my leg got all wet up to my knee. I am norml weight, but apparently Parisian toilet seats are very thin!! My favourite embarrassment is this though: once, a looong time ago, I was dating a gorgeus Italian guy, in Italy, and we were having breakfast in a café. It was pizza actually… My front tooth is prosthetic and the pizza crust was actually so hard (maybe it was last night’s pizza?) that my tooth fell out!!!!! I was completely shocked and raced to the bathroom: I looked like a 90-year old bag lady, it’s amazing what a difference a missing front tooth can do! After a while, I plucked up my courage and came back to my date…. told him what happened and why I suddenly took off. He laughed so hard (and teased me about that til the end of our relationship), I had a hard time covering my mouth and my missing tooth cause I was laughing with my mouth open, too…. with no tooth. Luckily he took me to a dentist who fixed the problem right away. Thank goodness for traveller’s insurance!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jojo – Thank you for sharing your tales…quite a few interesting moments you’ve had 🙂 That tooth one is most unfortunate and I’m not sure I would have tried that cream. Are you sure it was even body cream?

  13. Scott

    I was skiing with some friends out in British Columbia for a week, last winter. Every night I would come back to the room and apply some Icy Hot on my lower back (to help relieve the aching that came with skiing all day).The effect is a hot and cold effect on the area that you apply it on. One night I arrived to the room and put some toothpaste on my toothbrush and started brushing my teeth. All of a sudden, my gums were burning and then I realized: I had picked up the Icy Hot that was flipped over in a white tube that looked exactly like the tube of toothepaste!

  14. Andreaz

    Yeah, i did almost the same in kyoto!
    Came from Osaka in the evening, already dark, late autumn. No bookings. I just walk around the small streets around the main station and find a cheap ryokan (Kyoka Ryokan, still remember it!) I read the street name “…shinotoin” was the end of the name. Then go on to the center with a small maps (i left my LP in the bag in the hotel cos i didnt want to carry too much weight during the night). I had a great dinner in center, met some other gaijins for a few beers and go back to the hotel. At least, tried to. I looked for that street (around 2am), found the “Higashinotoin” but it looked just different than it did few hours earlier!
    I walk around 2 more hours, going back to the station and try to remeber the way (all dark of course!) Around 4 im desperate. I find a police station, i go in and say “I cant remember where my hotel is! I cant remember the name neither!!” They cant help me. Bag with clothes and some papers in the hotel, no cell phone to be called. A ghost! Around 7 i accidentaly find the way and finally the hotel. It was in “Nishinotoin” street. Go inside and sleep!
    Next day i had to meet a japanese friend there. She says “Lets meet in Karasumaru guti station”. Im sure she means the metro. I wait for 1 hour and go away. In the evening i manage to go to a Internet-cafe. She was disappointed i didnt come (!!). Ask where she was: Kyoto main station in Karasuma street. Kyoto Kyoto, oh Jesus!

  15. Allen

    You got me thinking of my time overseas now… The only thing that comes to mind at the moment was living in Korea and I went out with one of my FOB friends to go downtown. He was as American as it gets, and not too great at picking up the language. So, in the days before, he had asked my how to say this and that and this and that. One of the things was how to tell a taxi driver to take him downtown. Another was a pretty rude insult about one’s mother.

    Well, one night we got in the cab and he decided to show me what he new, and ended up blending the two together and pitching a pretty rude insult about downtown Daegu. 🙂 It took a while for the cabbie to regain his composure and drive us downtown. 🙂

  16. Petra

    I did something pretty dumb in Kyoto, where I was with a group, so someone else had booked the hotel for me.

    In the evening, I just took my hotel key, which was in one of those little paper envelopes with the address of the hotel on it, and went out. I also had a map of Kyoto with me, so I wasn’t worried about finding my way back.

    So when it was time to go back to the hotel, I pulled out the key, and found that I couldn’t read it in the dim light. Moving closer to one of the street lamps, I realized I couldn’t read it because it was all in Kanji and Katakana.

    So I asked a nice-looking man for help, saying just “I don’t know where my hotel is”. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize what the problem was, and took me to a police station two blocks down the road.

    There, three police officers jumped to their feet and approached the desk. I explained my problem again: I didn’t know where my hotel was, and could they please tell me what street it was in? I showed them the card, feeling pretty foolish. They were very helpful and consulted their city map. Then, they explained me how to get to my hotel.

    They also mentioned the name of the street it was in. Go-jo street.

    So next time, I’ll not just pocket things, but actually look at them first.

  17. Alin

    Haha, this post reminds me of my first weeks in Hungary (lived there for 1 year) and all the nice experiences that come with not knowing shit about the language of the country you’re visiting (or you live in).
    I went to this supermarket wanting to buy some cheese, the Romanian type (“branza”), after finding out that Hungarians have something similar. And so, I’ve bought this HUGE piece of cheese (must’ve weighed like 2 kilos) and brought it happily back home. To my surprise (at first) and dismay (following), that big chunk of “cheese” was nothing else but a big, BIG piece of freaking LARD. Yup, I had just bought 2 kilos of lard. Good lard, nonetheless, but I wanted cheese. Anyways, I’ve since learned that food cravings and really strange foreign languages don’t mix man.

  18. Robert Hill

    I, like most of you it would seem, have had quite a few blunders whilst travelling. I shall stick to the most recent though, which happened just a few days ago. I was leaving Xi’an to catch a bullet train back to Beijing, so having packed my things I jumped in a taxi to go to the station. Literally, the second I paid the cab and closed the door behind me I remembered something – I hadn’t picked up my passport (or so I thought). I rummaged through my entire bag and found nothing, so I hailed the next cab I could and headed straight back to the hotel. I got there and searched the room: nothing. Now getting extremely panicked I checked my bag one last time, only to find my passport tucked away in the pocket of my jeans. For the third time, I had to hail a cab then go back to the station. Luckily, I made the train with about 2 minutes to spare. ~~~ Backpacks & Broken Cameras

  19. Constance Houck

    My Portuguese language “skills” are always good for a laugh. Since I have moved here I confound the locals with my “Con-tuguese. I popped into a bookshop looking for a book r my teacher recommended. I confidently asked the women “Por favor, tu os ratino ?” I had asked her if she had little rat, turned out she didn’t have one. The other day at the bus stop I turned to a lovely older woman and commented how hard the oven was blowing. Mixed up vento (wind) with forno (oven). Lucky the Portuguese like people who at least try to learn the language…

  20. Mike

    I had meat on skewers in Hong Kong that a Chinese friend kept ordering me (in chinese) I went to eat alone one day…recognised the symbol for that meal and asked the waiter(who spoked no Englsih) …”Moooo” I asked?…………he thought a second………………….wagged his head and said “no..meeeow!”…I never ordered it again LOL

  21. Morgan

    The one good thing that came out of all these “dumb mistakes” – reader appreciation – not only do we laugh a bit (or a lot in my case) but we probably won’t make the same errors. Note to self on cold showers in India. (I probably would have just poured it on myself as well!)

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Morgan – Thanks for that…I’d like to believe that many people would make the same bucket shower mistake. Not sure if it’s true but I’ll keep believing it anyway!

  22. Malen

    That’s an easy one. During a layover en route to Vietnam from India, my girlfriend asked me if I had my Vietnam visa ready for our transfer flight. We were in line at the Air Asia desk in Kuala Lumpur. A rush of anxiety hit me when I realized I completely neglected to apply for it online–a process I had bugged her endlessly to take care of during the week prior.

    Apparently it’s easy to forget to do something yourself when you’re too busy bothering someone else to take care of theirs! What is normally a quick turnover for a visa took two days, due to the holiday–New Years. We ended up spending an unexpected two days in KL. Let’s say she was mildly pissed at me.

    Oh and then there was the time I wore a transparent bathing suit top at the beach. That was sure embarrassing.

  23. Philip

    Losing my passport on the West Bank has got to be my dumbest travel move yet I think.

    I lived in Tel Aviv at the time as an exchange student and being international gives you freedom of movement in all of Israel/Palestine, so I thought that I would exercise that freedom by going to a couple of charming villages in the West Bank over the weekend.

    I was going with a friend from university on the bus through the Qalandiya checkpoint and on the bus we got talking about travelling stories and we got to comparing passport stamps. On the bus full of Palestinians who would probably pay a bit of money for a passport with an Israeli residence permit in it.

    Fast forward to later in the trip when I suddenly think “where is my passport, it’s usually in my pocket, but where is it now?” and of course it’s not there. It turned out that it had been stolen sometime on the bus and I was now on the wrong side of the wall, with no passport and only my Danish driving license as ID.

    I ended up smuggling myself across the border in a car with some settlers. I speak a little Hebrew, so I managed to explain that I wanted to go to Jerusalem, after a weekend spent with friends, it was vague enough that they let me in the car and luckily the wife was speaking on her cell the whole time, so they did not have time for questions. Since we crossed through a special checkpoint for settlers they did not ask for any ID and I was back in Israel.

    I cannot recommend crossing the internal Israeli border without documents, but at least it’s a good “war story” now 🙂

  24. RT

    Thank God the bus had a toilet. Imagine if you had fortified yourself lavishly at a stop and then had to go! Happened to me recently on an overnight bus from bombay to goa. Luckily the driver also had to go.

  25. Ana

    I just remembered a story of traveling, but when I was a kid! I think this one almost beats the mango one – but not the rat thought.
    I was in the Austrian Alps with my parents and sisters. We went to the top of a mountain by aerial tram. But when we got there it wasn’t obviously the actual top. Instead of enjoying the view like my family was doing, I decided I wanted to see the OTHER side of the mountain. So I started hiking it. When they noticed it, I was already pretty far away. The transfer was shut at 5, and we had only some minutes to sit on it again to go back, so my family started to call me, explaining that the top seemed near but it was just an illusion. It was probably some kilometers away. When I realized they were right I looked at them and they were really tiny in the landscape, I had walked a lot! So I agreed with them and decided to go down. But I had to go down with careful not to fall, so I was actually taking more time than when going up. They started yelling that I should walk faster, or we would be stuck on the mountain. My younger sister was almost a baby and I got a little worried, so I decided to walk faster. But some phenomena happened: because it was a really high slope my legs started accelerating a lot! Every time a foot hit the ground I was going faster and faster and faster! Suddenly I was really running A LOT and I could not even see where I was stepping, I felt like a machine, my legs were running very fast automatically and there was nothing I could do!!! Needless to say I passed by my family without stopping, running. They thought I was crazy. This made me laugh so hard that I PEED my pants while I was running! At this point I decided I had to do something to stop, so I fell on purpose to the side. I went some meters rolling down the mountains, peed, and to make matters worse, I ROLLED OVER SPINY PLANTS!!!
    We made it to the transfer, but I was hurt, with spines all over my hands and legs, and wet and smelling. And it was cold! I remember being ashamed to sit on the trainer, but my mother but my mother borrowed me her jacket so I wouldn’t get it dirt, and my baby sister wanted to go on another transfer!!! AHHAHA OMG, I laugh so much remembering this! I only tell this to good friends, is too embarrassing, even as a kid!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ana – Well, I certainly appreciate you sharing that story here! I read it a couple of times trying to picture it all unfolding…seems like it was well worth the laugh and memories in the end 🙂

  26. Rose

    I was teaching a class of grade-school girls in Macau, and took them on a shopping excursion. It was incredible because the McDonald’s there was SO out of reach for them financially and I got to completely spoil them! Anyway, I was walking with them and started to whistle. A look of horror came across their faces but they were too respectful to say anything – later I found out that only prostitutes whistled. HA!

  27. Ana

    In Japan me and my boyfriend decided we wanted to spend the night at Shirakawa-go, for a real traditional feeling of the village. We were staying in Osaka, so we prepared the travelling this way: Osaka, Tokyo, Shirakawa.
    The thing is, Shirakawa (instead of Shirakawa-go) is a city near Fukujima, and pretty fast to reach from Tokyo. Shirakawa-go, where we wanted to go, is in in the alps, and can only be reached by local bus from Takayama. You have to go first by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya, then by a local train to Takayama, then by bus to Shirakawa-go. The thing is, there aren’t as much trains and buses as expected, since these cities are smaller.
    For some reason we were lucky and discovered this when in Tokyo, and realised it would be a huge trip for a day (at least we wouldn’t go for the wrong shirakawa). We had already had payed for the hotel – and it was not cheap, since it included an onsen in the mountains, the great hoba miso breakfast, and the best suite (the only available that week). It was a 200€ suite, so we REALLY couldn’t miss it!
    Because of my stress of realizing we were traveling by the clock I started to be really upset, because my boyfriend was looking at some magazines and food at a store in the train platform, and we had only one minute to get inside the shinkansen to Nagoya. I called him so much and made us run so much that we got the train that was there 1 minute before – yes, one minute difference. In Portugal, where I live, minutes aren’t a detail like in Japan. I never thought the same platform would have 2 trains for the same place at different speeds with one minute difference! So instead of 1 hour or so we took 3. We got the wrong train. The right one was ONE minute after.
    While I was on the train I got really paranoid, thinking we would never make it on time to Nagoya, to be able to get the last train to takayama and still get a night bus!
    So I started making plans on how to rent a car, but I gave up on that idea simply because I read on one of our guides that only the European driving license wouldn’t be enough. But I really really wanted to rent a car.
    I don’t know how, but we made it to the last train and to the last bus!!!
    The last bus was at 7, that is dark in the night in japan. When we were finally relaxed in the bus we started looking at the roads and signs and SNOW and realized how stupid was my idea of renting a car!!!
    The village is in the alps, with snow (I never drove with snow) but most of all I CANNOT read Japanese! I couldn’t see which of the signs pointed shirakawa-go, I could not even understand which signs were for traffic or naming cities! I didn’t have GPS, so basically If I had got the car I would have driven around like an idiot. Oh and I can’t drive a car on the left, never done it! I was so lucky to have my boyfriend with me, all the stupid things we passed were my idea, and all because I was so stressed trying to make us there on time. Instead of helping I was doing the opposite.
    When we were finally relaxed on the bus and we started to look closely at the traffic signs we didn’t need to speak, we just looked at each other and laugh, because we had the same thought at the same time – what a crazy idea, wanting to take a car to the Japanese alps at night without beeing able to READ the traffic signs!
    When finally in safety we got to shirakawa-go and understand it was such a traditional village deep in the snow, that the outside was not enlightened, so we could not find out wich of the little wooden houses was our hotel. There we were, lost in the snow, finally in shirakawa-go, but not knowing where to go!!!
    The bus driver saw us confused, so he politely asked a passenger to guide us (the driver couldn’t speak English, but Japanese are so clever and concerned that he decided to solve our problem just by the look of our faces). He asked the only other passenger in the bus to point us the house, in Japanese. We were LUCKY that there was another passenger that KNEW the hotel!
    In the ‘unlucky’ we were actually very lucky and in the end we laughed a lot. But it wasn’t over…
    The next day we had a great day, the onsen, the view, the food… and at 4:45, when planing for a last bath in the onsen before leaving, we found out at the hotel that the last bus to leave was at 4:50 and not at 7 because it was a holliday! AGAIN RUN RUN RUN!!! And uuuuufffff, we did it! I Never runned so much! My boifriend runs faster than me so I would scream: don’t waaait for me, goooo! Stop that buuuus!
    Oh, and because I was preparing to get in the onsen when my boyfriend found out that the last train was only in 5 minutes, I had to pack everything really fast in the onsen! There was a wet nacked girl -poooor girl, oh my god – preparing to get dress and she was using the same locker than me. I got inside the dressing room and sreamed: SUMIMASEN, SUMIMASEN, LATE BUSO LATE BUSO!!! – I don’t know if she got it, but she gave me space to pack and leave before getting to her towel to get dress… she was really nice and understanding. Poor girl!… Waiting there, all wet!!!
    But we had more japanese adventures – we lost a mobile in a bus and it came back, and we lost our documents in a shinkansen and they came back.
    But those are other stories. We don’t stop saying – we were so lucky that our first big adventure was in Japan, where everyone is so nice… These adventures in other countries wouldn’t be fun!
    When going to shirakawa-GO (always search with the GO) prepare well the schedule!

  28. Jub

    In Sri Lanka at a buffet, got a piece of bread from basket. Nibbling away at it wondering why it was so hard…..few minutes later a waiter comes over and says “you realize that’s a plastic decoration yea?”. Very embarrassing, didn’t eat to much tho 🙂

  29. Liana

    Read this at the office and couldn’t stop laughing… “this is how I eat mangoes.” I’ll have to try that next time!

  30. Pingback: Pre-Travel Tips

  31. Kim

    Don’t worry. In the West you’re legally allowed about 2 insects per litre of chocolate. Just happens. Honey can be antiseptic and the sugar content alone would have killed anything. Probably the safest food to try…unlike the rat. 🙂

  32. Chris Healy

    “This is how I eat mangos,” hahaha I started cracking up.

    I had so many dumbest moments during my trip around the world last year I couldn’t begin to remember them all. The winner probably would have to be learning that I needed a visa to enter Bolivia…two hours before my flight left for said country.

    You know what though? It worked out. It usually does. I made it home, I’m alive, and I have experiences, memories and lessons learned that will last a lifetime.

    Thanks for sharing, EARL, travel on.

  33. Zara @ Backpack ME

    Very entertaining post! 😀
    Well, I’d have to say one of my dumbest moments while traveling was showing up to the airport in La Paz, Bolivia.. to take a flight to Mexico City. When we showed up to the airport and couldn’t find the Aeromexico check-in counter we asked the ladies in the info counter where we’d have to go… “There is no Aeromexico in this airport. Wait! Actually… there’s no direct flights to Mexico either! Are you sure your ticket is right?!” There we we in Bolivia, with a flight departing from the other La Paz in Mexico itself!!! And all those weeks we were so thrilled that we had scored the best rate ever for a flight of such distance!! 😛

  34. Blake Clark

    It was my first trip to Europe – make that my first trip out of the US – and my sixteen-year-old self thought he was perfectly confident in his ability to navigate. My entire extended family and I had just completed an Eastern European cruise and we were now en route from Hanover to Berlin. Rail map in hand, I was counting the number of stops until our station. Three, two, one more to go…the stations were coming every twenty minutes or so. We at last came to a stop; “This must be it,” I announced. We had been on the train far too long and I was afraid of overshooting the station.

    Although I am now fluent in German, at that time I only knew how to say “Aufwiedersehen”. The conductor announced the stop in German and I decided this was the place all fifteen of us including my eighty-year-old grandmother needed to get off. We began disembarking. Suddenly we began to receive a few strange glances from passengers. A woman started to speak to me in German. I just shook my head in confusion as I desperately tried to distinguish anything she said.

    Suddenly, the doors around us began to shut – half of the family was on the platform, the other half still feverishly shoving bags toward the door. My mother started yelling “Let us out, we have to get off!” in a manner that would have made anyone think that someone was about to die! The doors flew back open and she practically shoved my grandmother onto the platform and the rest of our party disembarked. By this time, everyone in the train-car was staring us down.

    The train sped away and we had all successfully gotten off…and found ourselves on a desolate single platform in the middle of a forest in Germany. No Berlin skyline, no urban noise. When I finally found an official who spoke English I learned that we were actual forty kilometers from Berlin. In a town of one-thousand people. Eventually we boarded another train and all was well, but it had to have been one of the most stressful travel experiences of my now somewhat season travel-life, and a lesson in travel humility.

  35. Sean

    I had just finished checking out the more run down spot of the great wall of China mentioned in the lonely planet, with a couple of guys i had met at the hostel.

    On the walk back from the wall to the bus pickup point, we passed by an old farmer. I can’t remember how we got on to the topic (both my memory and my Mandarin are limited), but it turns out he produced honey. He looked like he had had a hard working life so I thought it would be a nice charitable idea to offer to pay to try some of his honey.

    So we followed him down to his hut where he had a vat of honey and looked in. There were a couple of ants floating around in it so immediately i started kind of regretting my offer, but the old man was so happy and proud that I daren’t back out.

    My backpacking friends started having a nice old grin at my quandry.

    Furthermore the old man found me a ‘cup’ to pour the honey into. The cup was an old dirty plastic coke bottle cut in half.

    My backpacking friends were really grinning now as my kindly offer was now turning into one of those game show dares.

    But the old guy was so happy I just couldn’t bring myself to break his heart, so with lots of grimacing i managed to have a good few sips of the honey.

    My backpacking friends were almost in hysterics at this point but I managed to get through without dis-heartening the farmer, and possibly i helped seed an idea that he developed into a boutique business.

    My backpacking friends though REALLY enjoyed themselves for the rest of the walk back to the bus.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sean – Seems as if you survived and now you have such a tale. Well done for sticking with it and making the man happy!

  36. Maria

    I’ve had many embarrassing and stupid moments while travelling, but here is one of the most memorable ones. This happened when I was in Goa with my friends (we’re all from Finland) a few years back. Two of my friends went into a shop while me and one of my friends stayed outside the shop. One salesperson was inside the shop showing my friends the stuff they had there. Outside my friend was sitting on the doorstep and I was standing. Then another worker of the shop came outside and he tried to tell us something but he didn’t speak any English. So he just pointed to a large laminated piece of paper he had on his hand and then he motioned towards the doorstep. I thought he asked me to sit and wanted me to sit on the paper sheet so my pants would stay clean. I thought that was very nice and I walked towards the man, took the paper sheet, placed it on the doorstep and sat down. But when I was just about to sit, the man took the paper away from under my butt and I landed on the bare doorstep. I was confused and the sales person put the paper sheet in front us. We realized it was a spread of a Finnish newspaper. The spread had an article about Goa and there was a picture and a story about the man’s shop, the one which was right behind us. I was mortified and I couldn’t stop laughing. I had totally misinterpreted the situation and tried to sit on his precious article! When the other worker also came outside, the man who had been outside the whole time told him something in Hindi and the other guy burst out laughing. I don’t know any Hindi but I knew for sure what he told the other guy who had missed the whole thing…

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Maria – That’s a great tale, especially when it ends in laughter! And I’m impressed with your interpretation of the man’s actions. That would be very nice indeed for someone to offer paper to sit on!

  37. Si @ Man vs World

    Holy crap! That rat story is going to stay with me for a couple of days, I think. My stomach curdled as I read about the maggots! Haha. My dumbest moment was going hungover to a Spanish train station and having my bag stolen right from under me.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Si – That can happen…and I think I would rather a stolen backpack than having to go through the rat/maggot incident again!

  38. M

    Here goes.. While in Ecuador I was having a feminine issue due to all the heat and humidity. I told the wife of the family I was staying with that I needed to go to the pharmacy. They went for me and brought me back what I assumed was acidophilus. I had taken it before at home and thought they looked kinda big but we had big multivitamins so what the heck…

    Well it turns out that after three days of taking them.. It wasn’t any better..
    The wife asked me how I was feeling and I said it’s not working, she asked if i used them. I said I took them every day.. turns out they were going in the wrong end.. my stomach was a little upset but luckily it wasn’t poisonous.

    I broke down and bought the old fashioned remedy at an american style drug store and felt more at ease.. it made for a good story and still gets told when I see my old friends.

  39. Jake

    i have many dumb travel to stories to tell.. but will limit my story to just one. hahaha. last summer i was in central america. this particular day i was taking a bus from copan honduras to tegucigalpa. i arrived to the bus station that morning to buy my ticket. however.. while waiting for my bus i was too busy reading my book to actually board my bus. luckily there was a second bus to my destination and i was able to catch that one. ended up arriving to capital city after nitefall. luckily found hotel okay and no more major errors on that day.

  40. Barbara

    Well at least they made for a funny story afterwards…not so funny when stupid things first happen. I’ve taken the wrong subway a couple of times, ended up in the wrong location and felt pretty stupid myself. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that to anyone before though. Oh, well, it was for a good cause. Stay safe and happy travels!

  41. Lindy

    Wow, that’s quite the list..! My biggest stupidity it definitely not bringing my passport to the airport.
    I was young, about to fly without my parents and my mum insisted on having a copy of my passport. I scanned it and emailed it to her the evening before, right after checking off everything of my perfect checklist.

    We left from my parents’ house the next morning, and my mum kept asking if I was sure I had everything, wanted me to show her I had packed my passport. My response was something like “mum, do you think I’m THAT stupid?! Of course I packed my passport!” which technically, I did before I had to scan it.

    We then left for the airport, went to check in, pulled out our tickets and ehh only 1 passport – my boyfriend’s.

    1. Russ

      short of not taking my passport to the airport i did manage to take mine… and then check it on to the flight in my checked baggage!


  42. Ben

    Thanks for sharing!! I’ve been there, only on my end I missed a few trains in a row.

    I can’t believe your boyfriend left without you, but then again you have a wonderful story to share because of it. Are you still in contact with the friendly guy?

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