Travel accounts always make everything look so perfect, so simple. Beautiful people in beautiful hotel rooms by beautiful beaches eating beautiful food. But I’ve quickly discovered this is all bollocks, and as wonderful, exciting, and life-changing as travelling is, it also comes with its difficulties. Things will go wrong, mistakes will be made, you’ll make a tit out of yourself from time to time, but that’s all part of the fun, right?
So I thought I’d share some of my less-than-perfect moments with you (mainly as an attempt at catharsis for me). This by no means an exhaustive list, (there’s probably a load of stuff I’ve buried deep, deep in my subconscious, and some that’s just too embarrassing/weird to share) and will no doubt continue the more I travel. Comprising mainly of anecdotes about myself in various states of nudity, and arguments with taxi drivers.
- The Awkward Moment When… my trousers split in Bangkok.
All the way along the seam of the crotch. I dread to think how long they’d been like that for; I only noticed the day after I’d been wearing them, which also happened to be the day after I walked up the hotel stairs, closely followed by the hotel receptionist. I thanked the Buddha statue in the lobby that I’d been wearing big knickers.
- The Awkward Moment When… I sweated so much I nearly blinded myself.
Trying to talk my way out of being ripped off by a pushy taxi driver in Thailand whilst sweating into my eyeballs is a task I never wish to repeat. I ended up conceding, and getting in the car just to be in the shade, eyes stinging and pockets a few thousand Baht lighter.
- The Awkward Moment When… I flashed an unsuspecting group of backpackers.
My room in Bangkok had a lovely big glass door, which opened out onto the river, facing another hostel. In my ridiculously jet-lagged state, I ended up giving the poor guys sat enjoying their dinner opposite a bit of an eyeful (and no doubt put them off their meal in the process) whilst climbing into my pyjamas after a very long day. Realising what I’d done, I dived out of view but I’m pretty sure it was all a little too late, and spent the rest of my time avoiding anyone staying there.
- The Awkward Moment When… I choked on my drink on a plane and nobody cared.
Was gasping for air for about 5 minutes. Definitely could have died.*
- The Awkward Moment When… pretty much anyone tells me their name.
How can a person be so unbelievably shit at remembering names? ‘Pal’, ‘mate’, and ‘dude’ have become my lifesavers. I thought after working in a hostel, it’d be a skill I’d improve, but alas, I’m still completely useless. I’m sorry.
- The Awkward Moment When… I got the worst burnt bum cheeks ever.
Ok maybe not the worst, but they glowed like a shiny red beacon and made sitting down fairly uncomfortable for a good few days. This happens pretty much any time I go outside without being completely covered. I love the sun but the sun just doesn’t love me.
- The Awkward Moment When… I pissed off a tuk tuk driver.
After numerous failed attempts to get me to buy elephant tours and men’s suits from his mates, he had a little strop and dumped me in the middle of nowhere, driving off before I’d even had a chance to pay (not all bad then). A similar thing happened in Marrakech, which wasn’t quite so fortuitous, although I did get a nice pair of earrings out of it.
- The Awkward Moment When… I got my phone nicked right out of my hand in Barcelona.
Don’t get your shiny new expensive smartphone out in Pickpocket Central. Especially not when in an advanced state of inebriation. Especially not whilst lost down a narrow street in El Born at god-knows-what-time-of-night. Don’t then leave your replacement phone on the street whilst distracted by ice cream. Just don’t.
- The Awkward Moment When… I had ants in my pants. Literally.
Whilst carrying big bales of grass to feed some elephants in Chiang Mai, I started to feel sharp prickles on my skin EVERYWHERE. Cue a rather snazzy dance as I got bitten to shit. I tried to remain chilled, and reckon I styled it out pretty nicely, but it’s making me itchy just thinking about it. I also have an irritating habit of sitting on ants’ nests, resulting in similarly cool moves.
- The Awkward Moment When… everyone thought I was a man.
The amount of times I got called ‘sir’ or told ‘I thought you were a man’ whilst travelling around Asia was mildly concerning. I’m going to put it down to dodgy translation and miscommunication rather than over-analysing myself, I think.
- The Awkward Moment When… I got chatted up on a nudist beach.
It was just a nice quiet beach, perfect for sunbathing in peace. Or so I thought, until I was faced, quite literally, by a wrinkly little old man wearing nothing but a pair of wraparound sunnies. Did I want to go and ‘party’ with him later? If nothing else, it served as confirmation I’d never be cut out for life of gold-digging with a sugar daddy, and was an excellent exercise in maintaining eye contact. I couldn’t help but be a little bit jealous of his all-over tan though.
Thankfully so far, nothing to disastrous has occurred but please tell me I’m not the only person that this stuff happens to… Let me know your mishaps and embarrassing moments below.
*Other plane-related larks include blacking out in a toilet cubicle at Tobago airport (the toilet bowl was so lovely and cool against my face), and almost fainting on a flight to Cyprus only to be rapidly brought-to as an air steward flung my legs over my head and stuck an oxygen mask to my face.