Misadventure Monday: Earl from “Wandering Earl”

This post is part of a 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, Earl from Wandering Earl shares his tale of getting kidnapped in Bangladesh.

Earl from Wandering Earl

Tell me a little about yourself and your current trip?

At the moment I’m 35 years old and have been traveling, living, working or volunteering overseas for the past 12 years straight. Back in 1999, during my first solo backpacking trip, I decided that I wanted to travel indefinitely and so, somehow, I managed to figure out a way to make that goal a reality. My travels have included everything from backpacking to living in Mexico and Romania to working on board cruise ships, teaching English in Thailand, spending 2 years in India and traveling around countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Travel is my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The connections that I make with people around the world as well as the constant education I receive from living this lifestyle, is more than enough to convince me to keep on traveling.

Describe your travel style?

My travel style is generally budget travel but these days I rarely stay in hostel dorms, instead preferring the comfort and privacy of budget hotel rooms. Apart from that, I tend to travel quite slowly, much preferring to spend a longer time in one place than trying to cram ten cities into two weeks. And these days, my travels focus much less on the actual sights that a place has to offer and much more on meeting and interacting with as many new people as possible as well as trying to gain an understanding of what it’s actually like to live in a particular destination.

What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure? Tell me about where you were, who you were with, and what happened.

My worst misadventure was probably when I was kidnapped for three days by a gang of Bangladeshi taxi drivers in Dhaka. After ignoring all advice and wandering outside of the airport after midnight, I ended up in a taxi with five men who forced me to pay for petrol and then give them each some money. After that I was brought to a building in the middle of a slum where I was locked inside for the night. The next day I was brought to a rundown hotel and at one point, the taxi drivers tried to get me to take out money from the ATM (they were unsuccessful). In the end, I was able to escape down a back exit of the hotel when the taxi drivers told me to go to my room and grab my backpack because they were going to move me to another place. I grabbed my backpack, saw the exit and ran outside to freedom. They obviously weren’t the most skilled kidnappers in the world as they never took my backpack (which had a camera and laptop inside) and they never managed to get any money out of my bank account!

What were the negative or positive outcomes of your misadventure?

The negative outcome was that I had to fork over about $200 to these guys but the positive outcome was the fact that I had a unique adventure without getting hurt in the end. I’ll take that trade off any day!

What did you learn from this misadventure that you can share with other travelers?

I learned two main lessons. First, sometimes it is wise to follow the advice of others, especially when it involves your safety and the advice could generally be classified as common sense (i.e. don’t leave the Dhaka airport in the middle of the night when every guidebook tells you to wait inside until sunrise). Second, staying calm is always important while traveling. No matter what the situation you find yourself in, freaking out and getting upset simply won’t help. Do your best to stay calm so that you’ll have a clear mind at all times, something that will help you get out of any difficult situation as quickly as possible. Not that kidnappings happen too often!

What’s the one other lesson you’ve learned on your trip that you wish you had known before you left?

It would have been nice to know that people all over the world are basically the same. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what race or religion they are, what social class they belong to…in the end, the overwhelming majority of people just want to live a simple, peaceful life, with enough money to take care of their families and enjoy themselves as much as they can. Had I known this beforehand, I would have been immune to the influence that media has on us as they often try to paint a much different picture of certain people and cultures.

Thanks Earl for sharing!

You can check out more about Earl’s travel adventures at his blog and by following him on twitter or facebook.

If you want to read the entire story of Earl’s Kidnapping (which I think you should) you can check it out here.

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4 Responses to Misadventure Monday: Earl from “Wandering Earl”

  1. memographer says:

    Wow! Kidnapping by taxi drivers! That’s not fun. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Edna says:

    I’ve read the full version of this story on Earl’s site, and it’s a doozy! But definitely goes to show some of the best adventures come from not-so-great starts.

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