I thought this would be a fun post to write as I know from my own and other traveller’s experiences, everyone has a few horror stories from the road. As great as it is hearing about other peoples adventures and the amazing things they've seen, generally it is also pretty interesting to hear about when it all went wrong. I myself have been fairly lucky in that my ‘horrific’ experiences are simply now an amusing story so I thought it would be interesting to share a few and see if anyone else had experienced similar things on their travels.
The first ‘horror story’ that springs to mind is from my visit to the Philippines back in 2013. This was my first experience of a Southeast Asian country but thanks to my sister’s previous travel experience I expected things to be much more laid back than home and for people not to be as hot on their health and safety. Although I came expecting this to be the case, it still came as a bit of a shock during one trip we took.
The weather had been pretty terrible for the entirety of our trip, we were only getting glimpses of sunshine here and there. After arriving in El Nido on the island of Palawan we decided to risk taking an island hopping tour and just pray that the weather would hold out for it. The hotel assured us if the weather was too bad we would not go out and we would be fully refunded so thought it was worth a shot. We were pretty relieved on the morning of the trip to find it wasn’t raining! It was a little overcast but didn’t look too bad so the trip was all set to go ahead.
The tour was just for the four of us so we didn’t need to have a large boat so we went in one of the traditional filipino boats. It was a pretty small wooden boat which I assumed they used pretty regularly so would be up for the journey. The weather held out for our first few stops. It was still pretty overcast but we got a teeny bit of sun on our first stop and the islands and lagoons we were stopping at were so beautiful I wasn’t too concerned about the clouds. We made it past lunch time before the weather started to turn.
After eating lunch on one island our next stop was to head over to a large lagoon to go for a snorkel but on the way over it started to rain. Obviously this wouldn’t normally matter when you’re only jumping in the water anyway, but it started raining pretty heavy and there was nowhere on the tiny boat to hide our bags or cover ourselves. By the time we arrived we were freezing. Our tour guide asked if we wanted to stay or leave and we all decided it would be a better idea to head back before the rain really started to come down.
As it turned out this was the right thing to do, but the journey home was absolutely horrendous. As it turned out our tiny boat that I had hoped would at least be sturdy enough for the trip, was not. Making our way back in the pouring rain (tropical rain may I add) the boat’s engine decided to keep cutting out, leaving us at the total mercy of the increasing waves. One of our tour guides, I also noticed, was bucketing out water every time the engine cut out. The waves were getting bigger, the rain harder and the engine was cutting out more frequently, and we still couldn’t see land coming any closer. When thunder and lightning started it was so much more terrifying.
We were all trying to keep our spirits up and somehow managed to laugh off the situation, although to be honest it was probably a situation where if I didn’t laugh I would have cried. Although we weren’t in too much real danger, we were surrounded by islands and had life vests, it still felt pretty terrifying and we were all so relieved when we finally saw land up ahead. The hellish journey wasn’t quite over though once we had spotted land, it turned out the boat couldn’t pull up to the beach as the tide had gone out and exposed shallow rocks that the boat could not go over. We ended up stopping 100m from the beach so had to wade the rest of the way back. That wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been for all the sharp rocks and risk of treading on sea urchins.
We were all so grateful when we finally made it back to land and amazed to be in one piece. Looking back now it’s a funny story to tell, but at the time it was an absolute nightmare! I’ve heard a lot of other interesting horror stories from various people on my travels and I have a fair few myself, so I have decided to continue writing posts like this every now and again to share them. If any of you have had any horror stories on the road I’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment, especially if you’ve had a similar experience!