This post is part of a new L’appel Du Vide feature, Misadventure Mondays. In each segment, I’ll ask one of my favorite travel bloggers to share one of their Travel Misadventures. This Monday, Hannah from Further Bound shares with us her stories of troubles in India.
Tell me a little about yourself and your current/ next trip:
I am a 32 year old graphic designer from England, in the midst of selling everything I own in preparation for a round the world adventure with my boyfriend Lee. I took on extra work to enable me to pay off my debt and save enough money to reach our RTW budget, and am now counting down the days to when I can finally quit my job and hit the road.
Our adventure begins on 30th September 2012. We will be living in Goa for the first six months but after that… who knows. One thing I am certain of is that I will be volunteering in every country we visit, and doing research in the hopes that one day I will be able to fulfil my dream of founding my own charity. Apart from that, the only plan is to not plan, and just see where life takes us.
Describe your travel style:
I am at my happiest when I am travelling, so my travel style is very relaxed. I am always so grateful to simply be out in the world living as I choose; it is the best feeling in the world. I am definitely a budget traveller, and like to try and keep my experiences as real and authentic as possible. Sometimes I love to go and be a tourist, but most of the time I love nothing more than just sitting on a beach or in a little restaurant, chatting with the locals and not worrying about whether my hair is brushed or my clothes are clean.
What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure? Tell me about where you were, who you were with, and what happened.
I have a deep and unwavering love for India. Since my first visit in 2002 I have returned six times; it is where I feel most alive. But, like any meaningful romance, my relationship with India has had its up and downs. She has tested my love on numerous occasions, and pushed my feeling to the limits. For me, India is the best and worst of everything, and the source of most of my travel troubles and triumphs. There are too many to pick one, and most of them would be too gruesome to go into detail, so here’s a brief roundup instead!
Within days of first arriving in India I found myself locked in a gift shop outside the Taj Mahal, with the owner refusing to let me out until I bought something. He clearly thought he had an easy mark with this petite blonde, but he soon realised I wasn’t going to be bullied and had to admit defeat. I emerged fuming and empty handed.
Then there was the time in Jaipur when my tuk tuk driver took me miles out into the middle of nowhere and tried to force me to buy jewellery from his friend. This time I was pretty scared as I had no idea how I would get back without him, but again my stubborn streak won and I was driven back to the city centre.
And how can I not include my troubles of the bowel movement kind?! I am certain I could win an award for the amount of times I have been ill on my travels. India gave me the worst of it though, when I contracted E. Coli, a hideous type of food poisoning passed on through human faeces.
Oh, and I got this twice.
I’ve had a frog leap from the depths of my toilet bowl onto my traumatised backside, and shared a bathroom with untold beasties and creepy crawlies. I’ve mastered the art of squatting on a rickety train winding through the Himalayas, and learnt to vomit neatly into carrier bags on buses. I’ve even gone completely the other way, and been so constipated I didn’t take a dump for 10 days. When I went to the local doctor in Goa she laughed at me and sent me to buy a DIY enema kit, which the guy I was travelling with then had to administer!
I’ve made friends with locals and shared meals I knew would make me ill. Fish curry that tasted like sewerage, both on its way down, and back up again; filthy, stagnant holy water it would have been impossible to refuse; yak butter tea I knew full well would be coming back up within hours. But what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, or at least a lot thinner!
What were the negative or positive outcomes of your misadventure?
Well, I think you can imagine the negative… I have spent a lot of time cursing India from the toilet bowl, vowing never to return. But then something always happens to remind me why I love India so much. Locals knocking on the door to bring me fresh lime juice and bottled water to ease my sickness; smiles of genuine concern and empathy; heroic strangers speeding off to the chemist to pick up medication. It almost makes the agony of being ill worth it. Almost.
What did you learn from this misadventure that you can share with other travelers?
I think the main thing is just to be prepared to take whatever misadventure your travels may throw at you, learn from them, but refuse to be put off or diminished by them in any way. One of the best things about travelling is surviving the misadventures. You realise just how strong and capable you are, and catch glimpses of the part of yourself that normally hides away down in the depths of your soul. Even though you won’t see the value of these moments at the time, when you look back you will realise they were all part of your journey. And hopefully have a good laugh about it too!
What’s the one other lesson you’ve learned on your trip that you wish you had known before you left?
Always carry ciprofloxacin. It works miracles. You can buy it over the counter very easily all over the world, which may be cheaper than paying for a prescription. Now I NEVER travel without it!
Thanks Hannah for sharing!
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