Travelling is a Lot of Fun – Until it isn’t…


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The world of Social Media is flooded with cool travel pictures from across the world. Pictures that make you want to want to pack your bags right away and get into that gorgeous beach to watch the sun go down, trek through the meadows and jungles to reach the supposedly secluded mountain peak, dive into deep blue pools at the base of the tallest plunge waterfall, bungee jump off the highest cliff, or simply stare at the milky-way dazzling in the middle of the night. While many of these may be slightly exaggerated, they aren’t false. Travel does lead to such unique wonderful experiences creating a lifetime of beautiful memories.

However, not everything about travel is hunky dory, not all travel memories are fun. There are tonnes of unpleasant things that happen during travels, more so when on offbeat, adventurous, and budget travels. Nobody talks about them, they are things best forgotten. Afterall, we tend to remember all good things from the past rather than the not so good things. It’s not uncommon to deal with things like falling sick, unclean toilets, long waits at transits, cancelled or missed flights or trains, undesirable fellow passengers, getting injured, sudden political unrest, delayed or lost luggage, no mobile network, the list can go on and on. Any one of these or a combination of few has the potential to completely mar a travel experience.

Despite being an avid traveler, I have had several situations where travel felt no less than a torture. Here I share three of those.

Chemical Burns

Yes, you read that right! It was peak monsoon during the month of October and I was in Goa during an extended weekend with a friend and my sister. We were at Palolem beach in South Goa on a day when the rains poured incessantly. Not to be perturbed by the dismal weather, we set out walking along a lonely stretch of the beach towards a point where the sea meets the backwaters.

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Pic 1: Palolem Beach on a rainy October day

After an enjoyable ride in a boat through the mangroves in the backwaters, we were walking back when we spotted a series of colourful boats set in a row towards the periphery of the beach. Drawn towards them, we went and happily perched on the boats oblivious of the fact that those boats were coated with some chemical that contained acid. The boats were kept there for drying. There was no warning sign anywhere.

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Pic 2: The attractive colourful boats at Palolem Beach

After a few minutes, we felt a sticky substance on our back. My sister immediately went to the resort we were staying at and changed into a fresh set of clothes. I didn’t. Being completely drenched, I thought I would dip myself into the seawater and get rid of the sticky substance. I felt some discomfort on my back but didn’t pay any heed to it. It wasn’t until midnight that my sister and I discovered we had blisters all over our buttocks and in certain areas on our thighs. My condition was far worse that hers.

Coming back to Bangalore was a pain that I am never going to forget. It took me nearly two weeks to heal and the treatment had to be done with utmost care as chemical burns can easily get infected.

Allergic Reaction

This happened to me on two different occasions. The first time in Kanyakumari when I did not know I was allergic to certain types of seafood, including prawns. I gorged on a plateful of prawns and had a lot more than I usually do. The others thought the prawns weren’t cooked well enough. I had their share too!

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Pic 3: Viveknanda Rock at Kanyakumari, where Swami Vivekananda had meditated for three days.

When in the ferry towards Vivekananda Rock, I started wheezing. Thinking that the cold wind of the sea was getting into me, I didn’t bother much. Once in Vivekananda Rock, my face swelled beyond recognition forcing us to get back to mainland immediately. A few doses of Avil, an anti-allergic tablet, helped arrest the situation. I spent the rest of the holiday with a swollen face with eyes that were nearly shut.

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Pic 4: Notice my swollen face (right)

Another time, while returning from a trek, I was bitten by certain insects leading to a severe allergic reaction. This time, I had an Anaphylactic Shock – a life-threatening situation – and had to be rushed to the hospital ICU immediately. It’s by God’s grace that I am here today to tell the story. [More on that story here.]

Marooned in a Beach and then Getting Lost in a Jungle in the Dark

It was about 7 years back when I was visiting Gokarna with a bunch of friends. At that time Gokarna was relatively unknown and didn’t get many visitors. We had hired two autos to go to a place called, Paradise Beach. We had no clue where this beach was or if such a beach even existed. There was no Google Maps, no smart phones.

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Pic 5: The so called ‘Paradise Beach’

The auto drivers duped us and took us through a jungle dropping us in some isolated place far away from civilization saying that was Paradise Beach. We could see no beach but could hear sounds of waves crashing somewhere down the hill. We climbed down the hill maneuvering tall bushes only to find ourselves on huge boulders amidst thousands of crabs.

One of us was smart enough to note down the auto driver’s phone number. Or else, I have no idea how we would get out of that place. Now, why the auto driver’s left us at an isolated place is anybody’s guess!

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Pic 6: The trail through the jungle, clicked during the day, where we got lost at night.

On the way back, it had gotten completely dark. We had to make our way down a hillock following a trail through a jungle for a distance of about 2 Km. to reach Kudle Beach, where our resort was located. No motor vehicles could pass through that part and it had to be traversed on foot. We weren’t prepared for the dark and didn’t have torches.

All we had in the group of seven of us was two working phones, the batteries of which were nearly draining. The rest of the phones were completely out of charge. The friend leading the group down took a wrong turn and we soon realized we were lost in the middle of the jungle. To make matters worse, the two working phones went out of battery. After panicking for a while, we had no choice but to carry on walking following the sound of the waves. Once again it was by God’s grace that we made it alive to our resort in pitch darkness.

Would you like to share your not so good travel memory(s)?

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

32 thoughts on “Travelling is a Lot of Fun – Until it isn’t…”

  1. Oh boy…you have had more than your share of travelers’ nightmares! I remember the horrifying one of the anaphylactic shock – it was, what, 2 years back? It’s heartening to read only delightful travelogues since then – and may they continue to be so!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Minor incidents keep happening like prolonged hours of wakefulness, lack of sleep, stress of not missing a flight etc….and I do have a history of missing or wrongly booked flights 😀
      Yes, it’s been two years since the Anaphylactic Shock incident.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that could be true as the chemical as per locals is to prevent rusting and they had said it contains acid. Actually, they never said Sulphuric acid. Don’t know what made me write that. I should correct it 🙂
      Thank you for reading Narendra and also pointing out the chemical name. I had never bothered to find out what it could have been.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually I missed out unsaid the thought that made me write it – getting to know the chemical could make treatment of an injury quicker and more effective. But anyways this was a story long past and I hope it didn’t scar badly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve had some really bad times. Mine are no worse (yet) than the usual run bad allergies, catching a flu, missing flights, leech bites, walking into quicksand, and so on. No chemical burns like yours, fortunately. That sounded really awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leech bites I’ve had too and quicksand my sister walked into :D….the chemical burn has been the worst so far…
      Thank you for reading and also sharing some things you have experienced.

      Like

  3. Wow! Those are tough.
    Our bad trips were usually the result of the flu or something like that. Once a plane failed to arrive and a group of us missed our ship, but even that turned out well. When we caught up with the ship, the group had bonded, and we are still in touch with some of our fellow passengers years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that sounds like a bad experience that was good to have 🙂
      Connecting with fellow travelers and keeping those connections beyond the travel is one of the most interesting perks of traveling.
      Thank you for reading, Ralie!

      Like

  4. OMG! these are scary Neel and lot happened out there. Me so far lucky nothing serious so far. But I can sense the seriousness here and we often ignore the importance of being safe in our travel.
    But I have seen worst things happening to people, once in Goa beach, I saw a newlywed couple in water, within minutes saw the man swept away by the huge wave. Yes, the whole thing can go down in a fraction of second! But then we have to learn and be careful and understand that we are in a foreign location. Even a simple thing can become a serious issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I stay away from randomly parked boats now in any sea beach that I visit 😀
      What you describe here is the worst kind of thing to happen when you are on a holiday, it’s completely unthinkable. Whenever we hear such stories, we feel bad for a while and then it’s like it has happened to someone else, as if it can never happen to us, which is so far from the truth. Sometimes, even if you are cautious you cannot rule out destiny. Say like a natural disaster is not in our control.

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      1. Very true Neel, I know you will never land on parked boats ever! 😀 Some lessons are learnt hard way! 😀
        On the serious note, yes things happen unexpectedly and we do think these things only happen to others… reality can be very harsh especially while travelling. Posts like these are a real eye-opener for us, who just fantasys for a perfect holiday adventure. Glad that you are safe and better prepared now!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Some of the travel experiences are like a bad hair day! I’m sure even a luxury traveler will have some bad experiences to share. During my foreign travel last year, we had to wait for 4 hours to check-in the hotel because there was no electricity supply. The hotel guys mentioned there are no generators because power cuts were unheard of in that city. It was a rare event. This spoild our entire day because we couldn’t go for sightseeing; ended up losing an entire day!
    Thanks for sharing these travel events which don’t really make it to the Instagram.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha Arvind! Bad hair day is a good analogy 😀
      Waiting for 4 hours to check in must have been horrible, which I assume would have happened after a very long flight. And, losing a day even worse as Travel days are more often than not planned well in advance. Social media only shows us the prettier side of travel while everyone who travels would have encountered several uncomfortable situations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. Social media is fuelling travel which many environmentalists say is creating lots of problem.
        We need to approach things in a balanced way.
        You are right, when you add buffer time at airport, flying time, immigrations, travel from airport, it is well over 12 hours. With just half day at disposal, wasting of 4 hours killed the entire day. I wish we had “Flip-stagram” to show the flip side of travel!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Many of the quiet and beautiful places are getting lost, thanks to Social media – like we had discussed, if you remember.
          Flip-stagram – hahaha, Mark Zuckerberg should know this 😉

          Like

  6. My heart goes out to you or your bad experiences. Chemical burns sound very nasty. The prawn and insect bite induced allergies can be fatal at times. I have almost stopped eating sea food, but bad experiences include check8 g into. A hotel in Munich in peak summer only to realise they didn’t have ac or fans and not being able to sleep for two nights with jet lag. Going to a village rural agrotourism program to find millions of woolybear caterpillars (those that cause intense rash and scratching if they so much as walk on your skin) all over the beds and hanging from ceilings and no where else to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh…Woolybear caterpillars in the bedroom! This is unimaginable. I am feeling creepy just by reading this. To me this seems even more terrible than staying in a room without AC. Thank you so much for reading and leaving behind your uncomfortable travel experiences.

      Like

  7. What an adventurous life, of course only when you look back, and not at that moment. Photos do make for interesting browsing, especially on Instagram, which has become a ‘Travelgram’ of sorts (and ‘Foodgram’ 😋). But then, as you said, nobody gets to know about the difficulties. It’s good that you shared a few from your ‘adventurous’ life. Keep up with your adventures, but I hope you mostly get to experience positive adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are many more Anushtup, have shared only three. The Goa chemical burn was the worst though! I’m sure everybody has their own set of not-so-pleasant travel memories. Thank you for your good wish. I am okay with any experience as long as it doesn’t risk my life, which again did happen a couple of times 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes a little difficulty can be a boon too, in the sense that it can teach us something; it can also make us meet a good helping soul who makes a lasting impression on our lives. And since you wrote this, others might read and be inspired to share theirs. Avid travellers are sure to have a lot of such experiences. And I think the Instagram experience can be really enriched if sometimes travellers write about such experiences too – all perspectives need to be covered. Of course some do write, but as you wrote, more often than not, they are just let go; but people can learn so much from such experiences as well. So it was definitely a good idea by you to cover a few negative experiences.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sometimes bitter experiences are not shared as they go to the back burner if not totally forgotten. It’s human nature to think of only the good things of the past rather than the not so good things. Sometimes maybe such experiences are best forgotten as they might be associated with certain unpleasant memories. But again sometimes people do present a rosy picture when it might have been quite the opposite.
          And, as always I appreciate your detailed responses. Many of us lack the patience, you see 😊

          Liked by 1 person

    1. We all have bitter experiences in some form or the other. We just choose not to talk about them. Some of these experiences are such that it leaves behind trails that lasts forever. Thank you, Sir for reading my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A great and honest post – social media does have a habit of glamourising everything, and travelling is definitely becoming romanticised. We have also written a post discussing travelling solo, and have acknowledged that it isn’t always picture perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. At Roots, we are enabling experiential travelling for a Modern Day Tourist. Building a community of (travel related) bloggers is one of such attempts to know about the roots of a city.

    Liked by 1 person

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