2015 has been another year for the books. The first half was a struggle both to save and to stay sane. Having not travelled outside of Canada since September 2014, and not travelling outside of North America since April 2014, I was going stir crazy. But with an epic adventure on the horizon I knew I had to ride it out. So I hunkered down, worked my ass off, and tried not to be angry at the world.
It was so worth it.
In some of the best months of my life I reunited with old friends and met plenty of new ones. I discovered and explored 8 new countries and revisited 5 more resulting in a current country count of 35; not to shabby for the girl who boarded her first-ever plane only a little more than 4 years ago! Without a doubt, my four months of travel in 2015 were epic, and although they were filled with thousands of good moments there weren’t that many bad ones.
What there were many of though, were misadventures. With me at the wheel, how could there not be? And although I’m pleased to report that I missed zero planes and took all the proper trains and busses this time round (amazing- I know). I still had quite a few interesting experiences.
So this year, in my 2015 roundup, I’ve decided not to focus on the best and the worst, but rather the strangest, most embarrassing, and funniest. So here we go: Hannah’s top 5 misadventures of 2015.
1) Hannah the terrorist?
Call me crazy but I never would have thought my dirty-blonde ponytail and rugged bag with the Canadian flag classified me as a threat. Two experiences taught me otherwise.
My first was in London, on the way to Zadar. The plane was fully boarded and everyone was ready to go, but we were still on the runway. I found out why 30 minutes later when a burly security guard boarded and called out my name. Sheepishly I raised my hand and was questioned, in front of the entire plane, about my luggage and travel plans. Turns out my checked bag was (somehow) found just sitting on the runway which basically made me a bomb threat. Thankfully despite holding up an entire plane for over 30 minutes both my bag and I made it to Croatia. But that wasn’t the last.
Fast forward a few weeks to the security check at Cluj airport in Romania and I set off the alarm bells again. After just watching the guy in front of me pass through with 5(!) razor blades in his carry-on, I was pulled aside with my carry-on backpack to be swabbed and tested for explosive fluids. Not nearly as awkward as my London incident but it was still a little nerve-wracking and I got a whole lot of accusatory and concerned looks from other travellers passing by.
2) Lung Infections in Bosnia
Being the cheap, fun-loving individual that I am, I decided that 7 euro a night and a cool group of people was worth sleeping in a mouldy dorm room for. Bad life choices Hannah. What started as a bit of a cough turned into a full-blown lung infection that ended up with me needing chest x-rays and 9 antibiotics a day. Want the full story? You can find it here. Just learn from my mistake and refuse to sleep in a mouldy room.
3) Pimped out by an Irish Priest….during a wedding
I spent a week back in Galway in September, helping my friends get ready for their wedding. This involved meeting the Priest, a hilarious guy, and telling him about my travels and plans, and of course, lung infection. He questioned my destination choices, as did my roommates, but I thought nothing more of it after our conversation.
Well, it came back to bite me in the ass during the wedding ceremony. As I stood up to do a reading in front of the entire church of strangers, the Priest decided to introduce me. He called me out on being single, having strange travel plans, and told the men in the room that they should take it upon themselves to encourage me to stay in Ireland. If I could have melted into the floor, I would have.
4) Being Told I Would Die in Koh Lanta
Everyone that goes to Thailand gets a motorbike at some time or another (to make this even more embarrassing lets be honest, they are more like mopeds). Everyone except me. I tried to, I really did, but after admitting that I’d never driven one before (and being told Canadians can’t drive them-what?) I knew I was off to a bad start. Fast forward all of 5 minutes of an incredibly frustrating ‘lesson’ (translate: me trying to understand what he was saying) the rental guy YELLED at me that I would die. Yelled. To anyone that would hear. He promptly returned my passport and my money refusing to give me a real go.
I would like to semi-redeem myself but letting you all know I got an e-bike in Myanmar and clearly I am still alive.
5) This Girl Walks into a Burmese Bar…
The 5.5 hour bus ride from Bagan to Myanmar was definitely one of the most memorable bus rides in my life. Although the seats were like rocks and my butt hurt for hours afterwards, I loved driving past the tiny communities, picking up locals in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, and just bouncing down the crazy roads.
Of course with all the bouncing, my baby-bladder was fit to burst about halfway through, so when we stopped in a larger area to pick up a few more passengers I asked if there was a toilet nearby. The driver pointed me towards a couple buildings so I followed his directions and walked into the building I assumed he meant.
Pushing open the door I stopped as the room went silent. The building I picked was, seemingly, a local bar. Not only was I the only white person, I was also the only girl.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MINGALABA!” one of the men yelled, a large smile on his face.
I repeated the phrase back to him (which means hello) causing the the whole crowd to laugh at me. Feeling a little awkward, I glanced around till I found the toilet, and went to use it.
It was the most disgusting toilet I have ever, and I do mean ever, used in my life and I quickly did my business and walked back out… to a foray of camera phones snapping my picture. I stopped for a minute, smiled and waved before heading outside back to the bus. My driver did a bit of a double take as he saw me exit the bar, pointing to a different building that was clearly where actual toilets were. Oops.
And there we have it. The top of my most embarrassingly awkward but definitely funny travel moments for 2015! If you feel like sharing some of your own misadventures of the year, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Happy New Year Everyone! And here’s to another year of (mis)adventures!