My 11 Most Memorable Travel Misfortune, Part 1

Travelling isn’t always glamorous.

If you travel frequently, you’ll soon realize that things which could go wrong, will go wrong. But that’s just the reality of life. And every single time it happens, it shapes you up to be a stronger person and better problem-solver.

This time, I’m gonna share with you the 11 times it gets ugly for me. I’ve learned to laugh these off and hopefully you’ll learn how NOT to travel from my experience.

1. Toasted in Greece

The Story

I was happily exploring the beautiful summer Greece in the iconic Cyclades islands. When I first hunted for postcard-beauty spots Mykonos, everything’s still fine.

By the end of my day at the hyper-romantic Paros, my face started to feel like it’s burning. I started rummaging my sister’s collection of aloe vera face mask and the desperate move saved me for another day.

But after my epic 8-hour hiking in Santorini, my face has turned not just from yellow to burning red. It’s practically, as my colleagues called me when I first went back to office, chao ta (a.k.a. black like burnt food).

How I Survived

The rice has become porridge, what else could I do other than an ounce of self-acceptance and stubbornness not to remove my spectacles/clothes in public so that nobody can see that my skin has 2 colors??!!! My multi-colored skin doesn’t fade until 2 months later.

The Lesson

Keep rubbing your whole body with sunscreen. There’s never too much lotion when we’re talking about Mediterranean sun.

2. Sprained Arm in Oslo

The Story

It was the first day of my 1 Month in Europe mini-sabbatical. I was excited to see SO MUCH SNOW for the first time.

When I finally reached the majestic Royal Palace, I couldn’t stop re-adjusting my angles to get that perfect shot of the palace surrounded by white snow. I saw a thick white patch and I was like “c’mon, there’s nothing wrong with fluffy white snow” but then KA-POW, turned out it’s slippery and I fell down at the cold hard ice.

So much for photography… my arms hurt like mad every time I lift them up to snap a shot. I didn’t recover until half a month later.

How I Survived

Arms hurt. Don’t care. Photographer gonna keep on photographing. I even managed to photograph the elusive Northern Lights.

The Lesson

Ice is not snow. Snow is not ice. Don’t let your excitement make you forget these kindergarden basics.

3. Train to Nowhere

The Story

Just one day after the sprained arm incident, I took a scenic train to Bergen. Beautiful white-covered landscapes kept me entertain until the train suddenly lost power supply and it halted in the middle of nowhere (which I learned later is called Haugastøl).

It’s classic Arctic wilderness when you’re surrounded by a desert of complete white with no houses or visible landmarks around. To my horror, we were also informed that the train couldn’t continue at all and the remaining trains for the day had even been cancelled!

How I Survived

Thank God we’re talking about Norway, one of the world’s least corrupted countries. The train operator kindly chartered a bus and it quickly turned into a cool adventure through Northern Europe’s highest mountain and two gigantic fjords.

The Lesson

When traveling to a place with potentially bad weather, budget extra time to allow some margin of error. Norway is notorious for strong weather during the winter. In fact, I had another train halt during my Trondheim-Bodø leg. And another one again when my Tromsø-Narvik bus had to be changed 3 times (!) because the vehicle couldn’t continue.

4. Stuck in an Elevator

The Story

It’s a double whammy. After the train incident, I finally reached Bergen 3.5 hours later than I was supposed to, only to find that my guesthouse elevator is spoiled. The reception is closed and the stairs are already locked. Can I find a bed for the night?

How I Survived

I made probably, like, 5-6 calls. To the guesthouse owner, to the elevator-maker company, to the property technicians, and God knows who else I called before finally reaching somebody who can come in the next 20 minutes. While waiting, I sat down at the elevator and started biting my whale burger. Eating is my religion.

The Lesson

Freaking calm down and start plotting your solutions one thing at a time.

5. Food Can Kill

The Story

I was having a late lunch at this nice buffet restaurant in Copenhagen. There were plenty selections of fancy gourmet meat, and being a true carnivore, I started sampling everything one by one. I mean… I’m super hungry at the time and I know how to handle meat buffet. Right?

Huge mistake. I laid down like 3 plates of meat. Some of the meat are unbelievably thick and is a nightmare to swallow. And there’s this soft minced meat-like stuff which looks innocent, but they secretly filled you up real fast. And then there’s this waitress looking curiously at my way. Whoops!

How I Survived

I had a Mr. Bean moment! I started stuffing LOTS of meat into my oral cavity and excused myself to the bathroom. I began covering the meat under innocent-looking veggies and breads. And then I started separating the remaining meat into several plates so that the leftover look smaller. When the waitress finally look the other way, I sneaked out like a hurricane.

The Lesson

Don’t be greedy. Take things one plate at a time.

More travel misfortune stories:
My 11 Most Memorable Travel Misfortune (Part 2)
When Travel Goes Wrong


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