Story 1 Isolation in Bali
I was in Bali ............... and wanting to find where the beautiful rice paddy fields are in the local area. On walking into a local shop, I found a postcard with a picture of the rice fields on it and asked where might I find this area.
I ended up in the store for about 3 hours chatting away as usual. The whole family joined in maybe 5 generations in all, whereupon out came dinner and after a few slurps of delicious beverage, it was clear, no one had a clue where this area was.
Turned out the fields where less than 3 kilometres away.
There are many morals to this story but the main point was that this family was born bred and lived solely within the confines of the shop and immediate vicinity. They hadn't stepped outside their safety/comfort zone, although I must say they were the most wonderful, caring, nurturing and giving family I've met for a long time and perfectly happy with their lot. They through safety have isolated themselves to their own little world and I agree this is fine for some but not for all.
Story 2 Start small and work up
Having done a little camping as a child many moons ago and really not knowing anything about the nuts and bolts of what it really is all about. On arrival to Australia I thought it prudent to acquire a tent to go outback, like you do. I set out on a mission to buy my first tent and found a sale bargain of $10 for a two person tent. There you have it and some six years later I had the chance to try out my new tent on a kayaking adventure with my good ole mate Phil and one other.
I have to say the kayaking part was full on and ended up being a story in itself but out came the $10 dollar tent on the trip and I was really expecting to find a small tarp and a couple of poles to keep the tarp off.
Well I was more than pleasantly surprised that the tent in fact was excellent and even had a porch front.
So I guess what I am saying and the moral of this story being, it is easily affordable for almost anyone to getoutgotravelling with even the smallest and cheapest equipment out there.
Story 3 Barron Falls washout
My first trip to the Barron Falls North East Qld and I was excited to see the beautiful falls I had been hearing about whilst in Cairns. Now it's hard to put into perspective but imagine a waterfall, in all its glory. The rumble in the distance before you even get there. You can feel the vibrations through the ground up through your body to your chest and as you turn the last corner, Wow! and words cannot begin to explain the beauty, expanse of water and sound that echo's around you.
Having experienced this, I wanted my children to have the same pleasure and experience. So off we set same time, same week and month the following year. Up we trekked along the approaching path. I remember keep saying to my sons, wait till you get round the next corner you will start to hear the noise. Closer and closer we got and I'm thinking I was sure this path wasn't this long! When we happened across the exact same spot. A massive wall of boulders with not so much as a fingers width of water trickling between the cracks and crevices.
Moral of this one! Everywhere can be different at any time depending on so many variables. So don't be put off by other peoples experiences.
Story 4 Kho Chang Paradise for $1.40 a night
On my trip around Asia for three months I came across the beautiful Island of Kho Chang, North east of the Gulf of Thailand. Thoroughly recommend the White Sand Beach area by the way.
The local accommodation was fair in price but strolling round and popping in some of the smaller establishments, I managed to secure a beautiful beach hut right on the beach, with all the mod cons for approx $1.40 a night. Yes you saw correct a $1.40 per night and I had a two course meal with drink for $0.40 cents.
Now I'm not saying that's the norm when travelling but there are deals about that you can negotiate for yourself.
Main moral for this story is:- Do some work and reap the benefits.
Story 5 Vanuatu as it is, warts and all
We wanted to go somewhere fairly secluded and rustic but a little more up market than some and found what we thought would be perfect, only to read a review saying they wouldn't recommend this place for all the tea in china.
On reading further it was very apparent the reviewer had thought this place to be a 5 star complex and wasn't happy with cracks in the crazy paving pointing, that the alang alang roofing was not painted inside and that the outside toilet had a bug in the sink. All the things that actually authenticated the place.
We booked and was pleasantly surprised how great it was.
Story 6 Step out of your box in Mauritius
On the 2nd last day of a seven day trip in Mauritius, sitting at a table for the usual sunset meal with conversation flowing on all the things done so far. A lovely mature couple leaned over and asked, "How long have you been here, you seem to have done so much?"
It turned out they had spent most of the time in the hotel, too worried about venturing away and that they had overheard our wonderful experience of a dolphin trip. The lovely lady of the couple had never seen a dolphin and would love to do the trip but only if we came with them. It was their last day tomorrow and so off we went the very next day.
Well the trip even exceeded our previous trip and as the sun was setting on the horizon and all the other boats had left the area, along came must be 8 pods of dolphins, maybe 50 in all. Playing, spinning, circling and swimming under the roped rigging we was sitting on. It was absolutely magical and the look on the lady's face brought shivers down my spine.
Can you believe, sadly I can't find one photo. Arghhhh! But I will never forget!
The main moral here is:- Step out of the box and never miss an opportunity!
Story 7 Lack of enthusiasm in Cambodia
When in Cambodia on a three month travelling splurge in Asia, I was on my second day at the temples of Siem Reap and still very much in awe of everything. I came across an American traveller who was on his fourth year travelling the world. We shared a moment or two in admiration of the amazing architecture, where he promptly said 'Yeah it's not as good and the Inca temples of Pisac" with an expression of much disinterest. I realised at that moment that he had probably been travelling too much.
The moral of this story is for some, travelling constantly can sometimes make you lose your enthusiasm. This is true even for me as after a three month period on the go all the time, I found my enthusiasm was definitely less than my initial enthusiasm. Only slightly mind you but never the less it was true. I was invited later to tag along with some friends to India and decided to leave it for another time, when my excitement had returned.
Story 8 Migration consequences
In the UK during the 80's and really it's been happening since year dot. It was almost fashionable to sell up and migrate to warmer climes. Places like France, Spain, and Portugal where ideal as they weren't too far from home, which is ironical in its own way.
One thing going for them was that they had already taken a holiday to these countries before and had some knowledge of what they were going to but many made the mistake of comparing holiday life with reality. When we go on holiday we are all in a different mindset and most would think "Oh how lovely it would be to live here" not thinking of the practicalities of living in a different country with their differing cultures and language barriers. Yes wherever you travel you are welcome because of the financial reward to the local community but when you become a migrant, that's an altogether different subject.
And don't get me wrong. Many think it's the best thing they ever done but my point is many didn't and cut their losses to return back to Blighty.
Main moral of the story being:- Before you uproot your life completely, think long and hard at the consequences.
Story 9 Relocating may not be greener
A friend of mine really had enough of city life and decided to sell up and move out to the suburbs of London. Why not? All seemed very constructive and lucid at the time. Bigger house, smaller mortgage, not too far from the city for work, Safer environment for the children. And this may work for some..
In their case. They didn't like the solitude, they felt cut off and isolated. they missed what they originally thought they wouldn't which was the hustle and bustle of city life.
By the time they realised, house prices had rocketed in London where there little suburb had flattened and bottomed out and couldn't afford to move back at the level they had left.
Consequently, they moved back to a more confined property with a higher mortgage in an area less affluent area and the cycle began again.
Main moral here is, the grass may or may not be greener on the other side of the fence.
(Joke) If you sit on the fence, are you a splinter group or a pain in the butt?
Story 10 Boracay yachting with a difference
Having arrived at the beautiful Island of Boracay. A boat trip around the island was definitely on the cards. Had already got a price from our lovely accommodation for a 3 hour round trip, and venturing down the main drag of market stalls and shops I found that the local prices very reasonable.
Luckily deciding not to book just yet, I went for a stroll along the beautiful beach as far as I could go. Stumbling across the rocks I happened upon a group of local guys having their lunch on the beach. Me being me, I struck up a conversation only to find some 15mins later that one of them had a boat and he would be happy to take me round the island for next to nothing.
With nothing to lose I agreed meeting up with him the next day where he not only took me round the island but also we snorkelled together in the best place there and took me to a little known alcove where not only did we stop to relax on the golden sand but all of a sudden, down came a rope with basket and menu in it. An eatery was at the top of a cliff offering food to passers by below.
No other trip was offering this and even if they did, it was just magical to think I was the only one experiencing it.
We become great friends in such a short time and his mother made me a beautiful shell lampshade that must have taken ages to make. Obviously I couldn't enjoy all this for nothing and gave the family presents and the equivalent of the price of an excursion.
Moral if this story is, Chat to the locals, be friendly, not too suspicious and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Story 11 Little or big treats
I had an employee who we worked out hadn't had a day off work for nearly three years, including weekends and bank holidays. I called him in for a meeting and the discussion of time off came about. On probing further he told me he couldn't afford to take time off and certainly couldn't afford a holiday, having a wife and six children to feed and look after.
I said you must be able to afford a holiday with all the money I pay you and jokingly said it's all that money your spending on cigarettes. He argued that his cigarettes didn't cost that much and we proceeded to actually cost out his spending on this only. Not only was I shocked but he too was shocked and quickly worked out that he could afford two international holidays a year with his whole family. With the sudden realisation of what his family had been missing out on, apart from him being able to be at home more, he through his packet in the bin and never smoked again.
Moral of this one:- Individually, things seem cheap.
Story 12 Exit plan from Stuttgart
Many moons ago I decided to work overseas as a carpenter, with the enticement of higher wages and experience. To shorten this a little bit on arriving in Stuttgart, the particular contract had already been completed and I was stuck with half a dozen others, out on a limb, with now job, little to no money and a bag of tools. Deciding to all go out that night and splash what little cash we had left, we all turned up at the embassy the following morning demanding to be taken home, (and I really believe some of us expected to go back in style) lol. Our advice was now our country had joined the EU Common Market, our only choice we had was to find ourselves jobs and sleep on park benches. It took 3 days to scrounge enough money to get home including becoming stowaways onboard ship.
Moral of the story. Nothing's changed much in all those years. You are pretty much on your own, so plan for exit. Also Embassy's can offer guidance, checkout our section on Embassy's.
Story 13 Culture differences world over
I had been in one of my most favourite cities in the world Tokyo not one day and was busy in the heart of it all, soaking up the atmosphere and it was beer o'clock early evening.
On entering the crowded establishment, I headed for the bar to order a nice cold Asahi. Being a tall 5 feet 8 inch gentleman lol, I manage to get to the front quite easily. Noticing a lady was trying to get served, I assisted in her service before mine and thought nothing of it. She thanked me and off she went into the crowds.
Drinking my beer at the bar a local guy came up to me and thanked me for my kindness to his friend and asked me to join them both. I politely refused and carried on enjoying my beer. A polite tap on the back from another couple of smiling locals asking me to join their crowd. Making it hard to refuse, I was carried over to the corner where a local student class was celebrating with their lecturers.
To cut this story very short, I ended up chatting away for over two hours and noticed a westerner trying to join in the fun and seemed to be snubbed as he worked his way around the group socialising. He finally made his way over to me and promptly asked me how long have I been in the country, where upon I answered, this morning I arrived from Australia. He looked at me oddly and told me that he had been in Japan for 2 months and never managed to strike up a conversation with any of the locals.
Moral of the story is, all cultures are different. In this particular case it is better to be introduced, rather than introduce yourself. Try not to be too intrusive and you also don't need to try so hard.
Story 14 Inquisitive in Thailand
On the way back from a local waterfall in Ko Pha Ngan, I decided to hike down the mountain from the falls village into town instead of taking the bus down. What a pleasant hike and surprise from the meandering stream caused from the falls carving its way down the mountainside and away from the crowds.
Half way down I noticed a local lady cooking her meal on the side of the road outside her house and as I passed the smells from the steaming pots overcome me to ask what she was cooking. Within five minutes I was sitting in her own built house overlooking the stream, chatting away with her and her three cats and before I knew it her best friend appeared and both invited me to stay for eats. How could I refuse.
Her friend popped out for a moment then all of a sudden the whole family ascended from nowhere. Over two hours later, it was hard to leave but I made my apologies and set off again down the mountain, belly full, slightly inebriated and full of the stories we all shared.
Moral of this story is, had I not have been inquisitive I would never have met such a lovely family, or see such beautiful views not seen from the road.
Story 15 First time flying Balearics
My first trip by plane was when I was 18 years old and with my then girlfriend, we went over to Minorca for our first airline trip together.
Our flight over happened to be one of the worst fights I have ever been on in my life and I've been on a few flights in my time, some 45 per year at one point.
For two weeks I agonised over flying home as I thought all flights where the same. Not telling my then girlfriend of my anxiousness, I seriously was thinking of leaving her to come home by boat.
On the return day, I plucked up enough courage to get myself into the plane and held on for dear life, only to find that obviously flights aren't like the one we had the miss fortune of being on two weeks before.
Moral of this story is that 99% of travel is usually fairly smooth 99% of your journey. Flight in particular, is reported as the safest form of transport and even with the news you here of disasters, in general you have more chance of ceasing to exist in your own kitchen.
Story 16 DJ going on holiday
Just a brief story where a Disc Jockey back in the UK years ago, talked of an impending vacation over the radio, only to find on his return he had been burgled.
Moral being be aware of who you tell or who overhears conversations about impending travel.
There are many issues hear that we cover in more detail within this website.
Another great tip we always like to give when you go travelling is, try to take a couple of days off pre travel to wind down.
Story 17 Father Christmas
On a skiing trip to Andorra in the Pyrenees, I arranged to meet up with some friends for a few days of much needed skiing. As this was an impromptu trip, I couldn’t book the hotel my friends were at and booked in close by.
The morning of Ski day, I had a shave and shower and then went down for a hearty breakfast for the long day ahead.
Whilst sitting at my table, I noticed a few people gazing quiet rudely I thought and over the next half hour of buffet brekkie practically everyone was looking at me. Trying to check my nose and teeth in my spoon, I eventually gave up and went back up to my room to get my ski boots.
Looking in the mirror I finally realised what the spectacle was all about. Having shaved prior and drying my chin on the lovely new towels in my room, I saw that I had “Father Christmased” myself. By this I mean, all the new white fluff off of the new towel had all but near covered my whole chin.
I really wish I had a photo to show you but, It did look spectacular and I decided to sport my new beard up onto the piste, just for a bit of fun.
Moral of this story is twofold. Check yourselves in the mirror before you leave your room. People are too embarrassed or afraid to pull others up on their looks, although I rather think in my case, it was more of a laugh than anything else.
Story 18 River Tubing in Laos
A great buzz is to go River Tubing in Vang Vieng up in Laos. Not a cultural experience but fun none the less. This is where you hire a rubber tube and get taken up river to meander down, supposedly to take in the sites but this is more of a party river pub crawl. You can stop at the many makeshift bars along the way and basically get plastered, lol.
Lots of fun and games to be had and you are meant to be back around dusk to take your tube back and get your deposit returned. Too easy I hear you all say.
Trouble here is the deposit is negligible and everyone wants to stay at the last bar some way still to go before the town.
The local youngsters have great pleasure in grabbing your tube whilst you are busily topping up your glasses, so as to get your deposit for themselves.
Now this is all fun and no one really cares as the gentle swim back to town is lovely whilst you float down the river star gazing and if you are lucky like me, a distant thunderstorm with amazing lightening as a treat all the way home to town is all part of the fun.
The moral of the story here is though, it is easy to get carried away in the moment but more is happening around you than you think. Keep an eye on your stuff, or it might just not be there when you go to pick it up.
Story 19 Culture difference amazing
Culture is something that is hard to explain and something that needs to be experienced.
Many of our UK friends have broken the mould of repeatedly travelling to the same Spanish resorts year over and visited us in Australia after my migration. They have all told us of their amazement in the differing cultures around the world as they have had their stopover flights in Asia, South America and Northern Africa. After experiencing new, exciting and such diverse cultures, every one of them have now either widened their travel or have even immigrated.
Not one of them continues to go back to the same resort every year!
Moral of this story is no matter how wonderful you think a place is, there is always somewhere else more amazing.
Story 20 Majorca accommodates if you ask
Seriously though, you need to go through the proper channels. I went to a hotel in Majorca many moons ago. I wasn't happy with my room on arrival and promptly went down and spoke with the hotel manager who was very accommodating, resulting in a quick move to another room and had an awesome holiday.
Nearing the end of a lovely two week stay, I came across a couple who was obviously very upset with their room as they continually complained to me during the whole of my evening meal. I asked them what they had done about it, whereupon there response was "nothing!" I called over the manager, who was mortified of their disappointment and arranged for them to be relocated.
The moral of the story is, This couple had spent 10 days of disappointment out of a 14 day vacation that could have been sorted out immediately had they just expressed their concerns to the right person in the beginning.
It's not rocket science people. There will be times when nothing can be done about an issue you may have. Basically if nothing can be done then why let it spoil the rest of your travelling.
If you can do something about it then do it and move on. You may not like for example your accommodation and feel you've not got what you paid for. Always try to sort the issue at source first, then contact who booked it for you. If you have definitely had a difference to your booking which is a contract, you might have some recourse later. Find an alternative closely matching your contract and look for reimbursement when you get back rather than let it ruin your travel.
If you find yourselves trying to sleeping next to a night club. Go join in and dance the night away. You're on holiday. Either your research was rubbish or you picked the wrong destination. Don't blame the owner of the night club.