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, Shannon from A Little Adrift shares her tale of getting lost in Cambodia.Tell me a little about yourself and your current trip?
Back in 2008 I was living in Los Angeles and decided I needed a change; I needed to follow through with my dream to travel. I set off on a one-year RTW trip, and have never looked back. After that first year on the road, I slowed down a lot and stayed longer in each place. Then last October 2011, I left with my 11-year-old niece and homeschooled her from Asia for nearly seven months! That was quite a change from my normal travel routine, but was such a wonderful adventure to travel Southeast Asia with her, and see that part of the world through the eyes of an child.
Describe your travel style?
Slow and meandering would likely best describe how I travel right now. I did the fast travel, but I think anytime you hit the year mark as a traveler it necessitates that you take the entire experience a bit slower. I like to hunker down in cities, learn a bit of the local language, volunteer a bit, and find a routine for a while, before moving on and meandering to the next place that strikes a chord in me. Now I am less of a list checker (though I do check things off when I pass through!) and more about meeting new people, learning their story and finding out their perspective on the world, their unique lens through which they see life.
What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure? Tell me about where you were, who you were with, and what happened.
Getting lost is a constant misadventure for me. I thought it was something travel would help me overcome, but really it has just meant that I have been lost in nearly every city, town and place I have visited in the world. One misadventure of note would be losing my friend Laura at the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. We had ridden our bikes to the a temple, then wandered apart as we took photos and explored. By the time we realized we were no longer together, we set out on a mission (since I had the key to the bicycle lock, we had to reunite).
What should have taken maybe 20 minutes took nearly three hours and the help of the children and touts who work the temple. We had a message system, notes be passed between the children and us. It was absolutely ridiculous to be at this amazing and historic temple and completely lost inside the complex and unable to follow the map to get to each other! The kids ended up grabbing our hands (separately) and leading us to the same exit. Hours had passed, we were hungry, but we had some new small friends and ended up chatting with the whip-smart kids on the way back to our bikes!
What were the negative or positive outcomes of your misadventure?
Well, I have explored every nook and cranny of Angkor Wat several times over. And I struck up an amazing 30 minute conversation with a monk at one point in the hunt; I came across him when I was tired and frustrated and we ended up hunkered down in one of the arches discussing philosophy (hey, I was hoping Laura would walk by, so I justified the break!).
What did you learn from this misadventure that you can share with other travelers?
At the end of our misadventure, we learned to decide on a meeting point ahead of time when sightseeing with someone else! I carried this lesson over into traveling with my young niece too — she always knew where to meet if we got separated since I had scary flash-backs to the Angkor Wat debacle!
What’s the one other lesson you’ve learned on your trip that you wish you had known before you left?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. I allowed myself to freak out over planning details, friends, loneliness, travel sickness, my route, making friends, navigating new cities. We are by nature adaptive creatures, and I didn’t trust in that enough before I left. Now I trust myself and my instincts enough to (mostly) not sweat the small stuff.
Thanks Shannon for sharing!