They say that the best thing about traveling is that one gets to have rich and vivid encounters with all sorts of people. I could not help but agree more. For the most part, I’ve met some really amazing and kind folks which have left me with a lasting and positive impression about humanity. I’ve often found myself in situations where I had no choice but to rely on the kindness of strangers. That being said, there are also the funny and bizarre bits which I’ve often charged to experience and which I equally treasure especially when I look back on them and laugh.
Before I start to forget these laughable experiences – like I have with an overwhelming majority – I thought I’d share some here. I would love to know if any of you have experienced the same!
Can I Kiss You?
I was in Esfahan, walking by the river side when a guy came by and chatted with me. This being Iran, it’s pretty common for travelers to be waved at, greeted and even conversed with by people on the streets. By this time I was used to the standard questions – where are you from, what are you doing in Iran and what you think of Iran.
Later on he asked me if he could get a picture. “Sure” I said. Any traveler who visits Iran gets inundated with similar we-fie requests and I did not think much of it
He took out his camera phone, asked another passerby to take a picture. And that was it.
Or so I thought. A question followed, in a cold and nonchalant manner.
“Can I kiss you?” with puckered lips and all. Before I could process the question, he moved closer until he was too close for comfort. I took two steps back but didn’t realize I was already at the edge of the river bank. Guess where I ended up?
It seemed like he didn’t need me to approve.
Getting Deported Over $3
Of all my travel experiences, this must have been the moment I’m least proud of. I don’t know what I was thinking that day but I let my pettiness get the best of me.
At the Thai-Lao border, the immigration officer at the Lao side asked me for a 100 Baht entry fee.
Being an ASEAN national, I was perplexed by the existence of this fee. ASEAN nationals are supposed to be able to enter Laos without a visa and definitely without an entry fee. I looked back at my previous visit to Laos in 2010 and recalled that I did not have to pay an entry fee that time.
“I will not pay the fee” I declared.
“This is NOT the first time I’ve been to Laos. I’m not supposed to be paying such fee,” I added.
The immigration officer then coolly retorted, “you don’t pay, we cancel your entry.”
And that was that. He handed back my passport. It showed a cancellation on my entry stamp which meant that I technically got deported. For 100 Baht or $3.
The One Hour or One o’clock Dilemma
I was in a country where people could barely speak English. For a day trip to a remote town in the mountains, I had to hire a driver. I approached one who knew English and who was heavily recommended in town. Fortunately, he agreed to take us.
On the day of departure, he showed up with a lady. At first, I thought his wife was joining us for the trip.
“This is my sister,” he exclaimed. “She doesn’t know English but she’s a very good driver. She will take you to the town today.”
As I clearly had no choice in the matter, I grudgingly agreed. I was fine as long as we got there and back in one piece.
The ride itself was not too bad, save for the Middle Eastern techno that blared from the car’s sound system. My driver had the uncanny ability to sing, dance and drive all at the same time. At least I was entertained.
Once we arrived, she asked me what time I’d be back by pointing to her watch. “1 o’clock,” I said and pointed to the number on my watch.
When I got back at 1 o’clock, I caught her sulking inside the car. Apparently she interpreted that I would be back in 1 hour. Despite my attempts at explaining to her that I meant 1 o’clock, she never understood me.
And so for the entire trip back she kept on complaining in a foreign language about how I supposedly took so long to return – but she still managed to sneak in some singing and dancing to Middle Eastern techno along the way. I never heard the end of it til I alighted from the car!
What are your funniest and most bizarre travel experiences? Send them to me via the Contact form and I may include them in a future post!