Travelers Share The Trip That Made Them Think, 'I Made A Huge Mistake Coming Here!'

Travelers Share The Trip That Made Them Think, 'I Made A Huge Mistake Coming Here!'

So many times we go on a trip full of excitement and ready for adventure. Usually, it works out in our favor and we have a great vacation. However, there are other times when things don't exactly go according to plan. We find ourselves in locations that make us uncomfortable, grossed out, offended, and sometimes even scared. Luckily, there are people out there willing to share their horrible travel-gone-wrong experiences, so we don't have to make the same mistakes they did.


64. We're Not Jammin'

Jamaica. I'm from St.Louis and I'm generally used to crime and the general level of awareness required to avoid it. Jamaica was downright scary. Stayed in a 4-star hotel and the maintenance crew tried to shake me down for a "tip" because I got into the elevator. The locals on the beach selling jewelry eyeing every single bag and pocket. The "shopping centers" that were fenced off with armed guards. Never going back.


63. Toilets Are A Luxury

Bangkok, Thailand. I never realized how spoiled I was using a modern toilet until I had to squat and poop in a hole in the ground. Upon walking into a stall I thought someone had stolen the toilet...until it was the exact same way in every single place in most of Bangkok.


62. Shaken Down In Prague

When I was in Prague some dude pulled a kitchen knife on me at around 2 PM in front of a supermarket. Talked to him in english and he replied in czech before we switched to somewhat sign language.

His friend came by who spoke a little english and I cleared up the confusion that was going on. He asked me if I had some smokes for them and I had, so I gave them 1 each and smoked with them in front of the supermarket.

Scary at first but in the end I had a good time. The others in my group nearly soiled their pants though.


61. Carry A Pharmacy With You

Visiting parents in Florida right now from Calgary, Alberta Canada. Son has croup, my wife is sick. Had to visit the ER and get medicine. Luckily we have extended coverage but I have to submit receipts later, but keep getting shot down by pediatricians down here because we 'don't have health insurance'. Had to pay $200 out of pocket for common antibiotics/steroids and got grilled by the hospital so they can find us if we 'don't pay up.'

Good luck with your healthcare system America.



60. So Rude!

I travelled across Europe. Because of this experience, I don't think that I'm ever leaving North America again.

Everyone was so RUDE. The only ones who were friendly were only that way to my American cousin because he was from New York and therefore "cool" (despite being a douchebag).

Paris was especially bad. When I asked for help from a worker in a metro station, he laughed at me because I was Canadian but couldn't speak French, and then started imitating my accent as a way to mock it. Seriously.

The only remotely nice people I met were people in Sweden who were recent immigrants. Friendly!

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59. They're Watching You

I was really scared when I visited Morocco. For some reason the men would follow me in big crowds, trying to touch me. They'd leave their stores so they could follow me, and would yell to other men who would join in. My friends had to surround me like body guards and we finally decided it would be safest if I stayed inside the rest of the trip. I spent hours in a cafe where every man in there would just stare at me. I felt like I was going to be kidnapped or something. Also it wasn't how I was dressed, since I purposely dressed conservatively.

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58. They Don't Live To Serve

Been living in Ukraine for the past couple of years, and while most everything here is pretty good, if not better than the states, the service industry still drives me nuts. You can expect to wait for over an hour for something like a pizza sometimes. Waiters/waitresses are generally super rude and look at you like an idiot if you ask them for anything extra/to change something in an order. Being an American where when you go the restaurant you're always right, getting used to this extreme opposite is rough.

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57. Things Got Real

I'm no seasoned traveler, but I've been to a few places. I think Kenya was hard on me. Nothing really happened, but outside of the capital it's just depressing shanty-towns as far as the eye can see. No infrastructure. Dirt roads. People with obviously untreated medical conditions, many of which would have been trivial to treat in the West. Real desperation and a real understanding of how easy our lives are compared to these people.

Yeah, a french storekeep being not American-level nice is challenging for some, but I suggest some of you go somewhere poor because you'll come back with a new perspective and stuff like storekeepers being rude won't bother you ever again.

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56. The Mistake That Ruined The Trip

Lima, Peru- I did my research on a hotel before arriving. My husband and I travel cheaply, so only locally run hotels for us. Found a place online with good reviews, book it, get the address, take a taxi there. Well, no one speaks English. Not a problem, my husband and I speak pretty decent Spanish between the two of us. Staff acts like they can't understand us. I know they have to be able to understand a least a little of what we are saying. The staff is so unfriendly and unwilling to try with us (I experienced this a lot in Lima). They act like they don't know what I am talking about regarding the reservation, but we finally pay and get shown to our room.

Now, I've stayed in some crappy hotel rooms. My standards are very low. But this was the worst of the worst. Not only was it dirty and sparse with broken fixtures in the bathroom and an uncomfortable bed (beeen there, done that), but it has high windows that open to the hallway with no shades. That means it's light in the room ALL THE TIME. I mean, bright. It was like being in a prison. My husband begged me just to leave even though we paid, but I'm stubborn. I didn't want to admit defeat. So, we took a bunch of sleeping pills and slept over 12 hours or something. It felt like a suicide pact. It was a very bizarre and horrible experience. And, turns out if was the wrong damn hotel! There are 2 hotels with almost the same name and I got directions for the wrong one.


55. Show Me Your Papers

I was trekking in Kazakhstan with a group. We had the wrong visas which was the trekking company's fault. The customs security threatened to deport us to Dubai because of this. Eventually they let us in on a 1 day visa but we each had to pay "bribe" the official $60. The next day we went to the embassy to see if we could get a proper visa. Nope. we had to drive 9 hours in the wrong direction to cross the border in order not to overstay the visa. Fun Times. I definitely won't be going back to Central Asia anytime soon.



54. Feeling Unsafe

I was in Guam, and I got followed back to my motel. When I told the receptionist, he said they follow most foreign women around and try to kidnap them. He told me not to leave the motel again without someone with me. He said it was very common to see them snooping around the "hotel coast", where tens of hotels line the coast line where I was. I had gone alone, and knew nobody there.


53. Turned Around On The Train

I was backpacking alone through Central Europe and I was on this train from Budapest to Ljubljana. It was over 100 degrees outside that day, and hotter on the train. During the 10 hour train ride I was dripping with sweat and becoming disoriented. No one in my train car spoke English, including the conductor. Sometimes we would stop at a station for a few minutes, and I would see people go inside to fill up their water. I never knew how long we were stopping for, and the conductor couldn't explain it to me. Finally, I just took the risk of getting stranded somewhere without my backpack and ran for it to fill up my water bottle. I decided staying on the train meant death, so it was worth the risk. It sounds overdramatic now, but it was probably the worst experience of my 6 week solo trip. If someone had just spoken English then it wouldn't have been a problem.

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52. Trapped

Wasn't a big fan of Prague. I remember hearing previously that it was one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sure, in some areas, it was quite marvelous, but in the area we were staying, there were blocks upon blocks of shops that all sold the exact same cheap, 3rd world, overpriced tourist trinkets, sold in a different currency so you would be confused as to how much you were really paying. There were entire rows of shops that all had nearly identical selections. I felt like I was in some kind of tourist trap and could never leave.

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51. They're Dangerous Animals

I was in India with my best friend and we decided to go on a camel trek in the desert. About two minutes in, my friend's camel started bucking and threw her off. She landed on her side on asphalt and couldn't move her leg. We had to drive 2 hours back to town to get to a private hospital with her conscious and feeling every bump in the very bumpy road. We finally got there and got her x-rayed. Her femur had dislocated and punched through her hipbone. They had to put her in traction, which in India, meant that they drilled a hole in her tibia and hung some weights off of it. There was no phone in her room, so I got to make all of her calls for her. Dealing with insurance trying to get a flight home was bad enough, but I also got to call and tell her mother what happened. Easily one of the top three worst days of my life. Camels are the worst.

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50. Gross Motel

A few years ago I was dating a girl who lived on the west coast (I'm from the UK), and a buddy and me flew out to visit her and some friends for a week. We decided to take a drive down the coast, from Medford down to Eugene/Eureka.

We were looking for somewhere to stop and pulled into a motel on the outskirts of town. Because we were poor students, me and my then-girlfriend got out, and had the others hide in the car (We figured we'd rent a room and the others could sneak in later to sleep) while we went to check out a room.

A huge woman in a mu-mu came out and told us that 'people usually just live here, be we have one room'. As we walked to the room, a variety of people covered in mud came out to watch us, hawk-like.

She opened the room door. Inside there was yellow, peeling linoleum on the floor, walls AND ceiling. In places it was torn. The couch was upside-down, and there was a large, reddish-brown stain on the floor in the corner, which I am still fairly certain was blood.

Our 'casual' walk back to the car, with one ear open for the sound of a weapon being loaded, was something to behold.

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49. One Man's Paradise Is Another Man's Trash Heap

Naples, Italy. It’s literally a pile of trash. Like, trash piled three-feet along every road and sidewalk. It’s just a mountain of trash. We nope-d out of there immediately and went to Sorrento.



48. Racism Taken To The Next Level

Qatar. I had a 24-hour layover in the ad-hoc Doha airport. If you're in Qatar for over 12 hours, you get a free tour of the country. At the beginning of the tour, I wasn't super aware of the class disparity, what is essentially the slavery of foreign workers and the altogether trying-too-hard nature of Doha. It's a very cool looking city, but it reminded me of something someone would build in Minecraft when they're playing on creative with no stakes. About halfway through the tour, our Bengali guide was telling us that every Qatari citizen gets a beach house and a regular house for free by the government, built by foreign workers who may or may not pass away from heat stroke (and either way who cares). Meanwhile, he lived in a tenement apartment with a lot of other people.

The tour guide was doing his best to talk about the grandeur of the city and the people, it was just pretty easy to read between the lines.

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47. Attacked By Scammers

Marrakech, Morocco. The city itself is pretty and has a bit of charm even though it feels cramped at times. But Marrakech is a tourist city and the people that live there know it.

I have never been so swamped by people trying to scam me or get me to buy stuff I said I did not want. It says something when the only times I had fun were when I left the city to visit the areas outside. I felt like a piece of bread that fell on a cockroach-infested floor.

group-of-people-in-a-street-market-2276796-300x199.jpgPhoto by Krisztina Papp from Pexels

46. Dad, Are You Just Going To Stand There?

Northern India as a woman (even with my parents and I was 16) was horrendous. This excluded where we went up near the border near Nepal, because that was beautiful and the people were more relaxed. But the rest, don't get me wrong, the ancient architecture, peacocks, and food are amazing, but men following you around in groups and taking videos and pictures of you on their phones (even with my dad there), and barely any women in the streets of towns, made me very uncomfortable. Plus a lot of the people are arrogant and think they're better than you or try to rip you off.


45. All About The Hustle

Havana, Cuba.  Whatever romantic ideas I had about communism, Che, Fidel, etc. got a nice little rude awakening. Most restaurants are empty, most stores are empty. The streets are empty. Outside of the main plazas, it's like someone abandoned the city a long time ago. Everyone was desperate trying to hustle me, and some succeeded.

If you go there, go with cash and be firm with hustlers. They are small-time hustlers though. They just want a few dollars.

I went there for two days thinking $200 would be enough, but it was gone in a day. They have two types of currencies: the peso for locals and the CUC for foreigners. The exchange rate for dollar-CUC is insane.

So, $200 was gone in a day. I was like "no problem, I'll go to the ATM." Well, the adventure in Cuba began at that point. There are few ATMs, and the ATMs only worked with cards with a Visa logo. I used my last $50 to call Citibank and confirm this.

 44. The Dirty Nile

My aunt loved Egypt and its culture until she visited there. I don't think she did a lot of research beforehand. She told me how people constantly asked her for money. Also, she would see people pooping in the Nile and then a few yards down drinking from it. She said she would never go back, and toned down the Egyptian decor in her house.

sam-balye-1377048-unsplash-300x208.jpgPhoto by Sam Balye on Unsplash

43. Getting Into A Stolen Taxi

Honduras. My girlfriend and I got into a "taxi," but looking back it was probably someone who had stolen the taxi or worse. In the footwell in the rear of the car were lots of spent bullet casings. When the driver was fighting for position in the six lanes of traffic (on a two-lane street), he was shouting out the window at his rival traffic fighters and holding up bullets and shouting more.  Very Grand Theft Auto.


42. Civilians With More Weapons Than The Army

I spent six months working in Saltillo, Mexico, during the peak of the Zetas and Gulf Gang wars. If the weapon toting guards at the airport were not enough culture shock, my experience leaving the airport really opened my eyes to what I had gotten myself into.

I was picked up at the airport by a local co-worker. We turned out of the airport and came to a stop next to a truck with 10-15 guys wearing full body armor, armed with a wide variety of weapons.

"Is that the Mexican army?" I asked.  The driver, chuckling, responded, "They are way too well-equipped to be the Mexican army."


41. The Creepiest Beach Of All Time

Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I thought I was going to a cool beach town. Turns out it's the epicenter of the criminal industry in Cambodia. Tons of old German guys were walking around looking super shady. The beaches were littered with trash. I give it a zero out of ten.

40. A City Without A Soul

Calgary, Canada. There is nowhere I've ever been that is as soulless, dull, and depressing as Calgary. It's a tiny city center in the midst of an enormous sprawl rivaling the greater Toronto area, you can't get anywhere without a car because the public transit is awful (and horrifyingly expensive— a month pass there for bus and light rail is over $100! In Montreal, it's around $80, but you get bus and metro that run a lot more often). All there is to do is go to malls and try to find interesting places, but Inglewood (one of the neater neighborhoods) is tiny and expensive. Plus, due to the oil boom, everything is massively overpriced and there's a lack of affordable housing. I hate Calgary so much.

39. Harsh Rules, Bro

Saudi Arabia. I'd been working there for 18 months. The place is horrible. The racism and treatment of foreign workers is deplorable. And a Saudi is always right. He crashes into you in a car, and it's your fault. Their driving, in general, is dangerous and almost terrifying. Their treatment of women, in general, is wrong. The no drinking is a ridiculous rule. I respect their right to their religion, but to outright ban drinking is ridiculous. Their way of 'management' in business is Victorian and doesn't function in today's society. Censoring the internet so forcefully is ridiculous. The food is terrible, everywhere. I dislike it wholeheartedly.

38. Apparently Not A Safe Place For Women

Nairobi, Kenya. I ended up on a stopover with a group of women (I'm female). We all had stuff stolen, all blatantly overcharged, all experienced abuse, and all ended up staying in one room while random men were coming into the rooms. I should point out that all of these men had keys for these rooms, so the hotel was involved. Finally, we all confronted the manager in his office and refused to let him out or his friends in to help him. We managed to get all our drinks and food refunded. What a weird feeling, as he was actually scared. Obviously, he couldn't see us shaking. The following day, we were forced under duress to put all our remaining currency into "charity" bins at the airport. Never again.

37. The Land Of Groping

Cordoba, Argentina. I was stranded there for a week due to a bus strike. My friends and I (all young women) were harassed by the local men every time we stepped outside. There were packs of wild dogs everywhere, dirty streets, lots of clubs and bars, but as women, you were guaranteed to be harassed at all of them. I tried to go on a hike at one point, but an old lady stopped us because people had been disappearing on that trail. We ended up staying in our hostel most of the time.

36. Gritty SoCal

Honestly, my biggest let-down was Hollywood, California. It was seedy. The whole place was just this false, sickening, soulless mess. I stayed in a gritty hostel, I slept clutching my possessions, and I got up and went to the bus station as early as I could. My only memory of LA was just wanting to be anywhere else. I hated everything about the city.

35. Cultural Landmarks Hidden By Grime And Bad Manners

When we landed in Beijing, the first thing I saw was the airport public toilet with poop all over the toilet itself (someone had obviously squatted over it and went to the bathroom all down the tank). It was disgusting. Beijing has some amazing cultural landmarks, but beyond that, the city was filthy and filled with rude people. The men would blatantly stare down at me. People would shove into you and cut in lines.

34. The Waiting

Disney World with my grandkids. I practically grew up there but hadn't been in over 20 years. I had no idea it would be nothing but a huge traffic jam of strollers and screaming children.

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33. Not Worth The Crowds

We just visited Rome last week, and I was very surprised at the number of people trying to swindle tourists. Even if you indicated you weren't interested, they were still scarily persistent, and I was constantly afraid we'd get pick-pocketed or mugged. I've been to several big European cities in the past, and Rome was completely on another level for people vulturing tourists.

32. Like LA Vomited On NYC

Sao Paulo, Brazil is only worth visiting as a layover hub or if you know people who live there. Admittedly, I never went to Rio, and some issues may be amplified there, but at least there are beaches and vistas to temper the drabness. Sao Paulo is quite awful and I can't think of another non-third world city I'd consider worse. Anthony Bourdain described it perfectly: "It's like LA vomited on NYC." The traffic is apocalyptic and public transport is surprisingly lackluster for such a large city. People spend most of their time hustling and in traffic, just to lock themselves away in their gated apartment complexes as a reward at the end of the day. Why gated? The crime, of course. Almost everyone has a story of being mugged. And it's so, so expensive. I live in Switzerland and I found prices for most things to be surprisingly high even by my standards. I don't know how the locals afford it.


31. A Cold Welcome

Back during the Cold War my uncles were traveling around Europe by train. From what my mom told me, they fell asleep and the train personnel didn't notice them and they ended up in a Soviet run country. Apparently getting them out was scary.


30. There Are Worse Things Than The Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda. I went last year for work and was there for about a week. Due to the nature of my job, I saw most of the country (it’s small), ate at a lot of different places, interacted with most of the culture. In short, I really do feel like I got a pretty accurate survey of the place. While it is pretty there, I found it to be nothing more than a boring watering hole for rich British tourists. There is literally nothing to do on that island except drink and eat sub-par, overpriced food. Their only industry is tourism. There was also a really obvious divide between white people (usually the managers or bosses) and black people (usually the laborers or hourly employees). I know you could say the same about some parts of America, but it was uncomfortably stark in Bermuda. It just felt like a bunch of rich white British tourists being waited on hand and foot by underpaid locals.

29. Keep Your Valuables In Close

Belize City. I got off the cruise and decided with my husband that we wanted to actually see the city, not just the tourist-centered port area. We went out, got a cab.

The driver proceeded to take us around the scariest city we'd ever seen (which I know says a lot about how scary our choices get, but then my husband has seen a lot of former Soviet block countries, and he is on the same page with me). Anyway, the fear-factor might have been amplified by the fact that our driver was taking us to all these places that he hangs out, like a convenience store where we each bought a beer, made sure the lids were still sealed, and then we held onto them in case we had to use them.

I've never been more concerned for my personal safety and the potential of being mugged or taken hostage like I was in Belize City.

Seriously, stay in the tourist area.


28. Don't Go To Istanbul Without Your Husband

Istanbul, Turkey. I'm a female, and I went there with female friends. I never felt so uncomfortable in my life just walking down a street, and I won't event mention using public transportation. I didn't wear anything revealing or "inviting" in any way (not that I think that any kind of clothes should be considered an invitation), but the comments, random men hugging me and touching me made me feel really uncomfortable and insecure. I would like to visit again because I think it's a beautiful place, but this time with my husband.

27. It Should Be Called Boring, Mississippi

Tunica, Mississippi. I went with my fiancés family about five years ago when I was too young to gamble and agreed to watch his little brother for some of the time when the little kids' camp was closed. That part was fine, but literally, the only things to do there are gamble, eat at the disgusting buffet, golf (which I don't do), or swim in the small pool. I've never been so bored in my life. The only non-casino food was a fast food joint 30 minutes away. So when everyone was at the casino gambling and his little brother was in the daycare, I was alone in the hotel.

We went to eat at the buffet one night. It was Paula Deen themed. I got food poisoning. NEVER AGAIN.

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26. Watch Out For The Peeping Toms

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My sister had just moved there and I flew out to visit. She's an eternal optimist so she had really nice things to say. There was a fifty-story empty apartment building being constructed across the street from her apartment building, essentially just a shell with window holes, and one night I stood looking out from her thirtieth-floor balcony window to the surrounding area, whereupon I noticed lights on at the very much under-construction complex. Floor after floor of randomly lit rooms, with silhouettes of men staring out the windows. That's when it hit me: they were voyeurs breaking into construction sites to watch people in our apartment building who left their windows open at night. As I asked my sister, "Sis, do you leave your blinds open at night?" I pointed directly at a man at eye level across the street, who immediately ducked down and turned off the light to the room he was occupying, resurfacing two floors up to stare out of a darker-lit room. Once her roommate woke up seemingly having been assaulted at some other construction site, she decided to get out of there once and for all.

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25. A Lonely Venice Hater

Venice, Italy. I’m probably alone with this opinion, but this city just did everything possible to make me never want to visit it again. Everywhere I went there was an endless amount of people. I didn’t expect the streets (or walkways) to be empty, but in comparison to other Italian cities, there were so full. This feeling was probably induced by me carrying my DSLR camera and being afraid the whole time that someone would try to steal it. I wasn’t alone with that feeling, so some of my schoolmates and I walked in formation the whole time.

24. Las Vegas, Trashy? You Don't Say.

Surprisingly, Las Vegas. Yeah, the strip was cool to see with all its glitz and glamor, and I stayed at the Venetian, which was lovely and over the top, just like all the other massive hotels. But I felt like wherever I went, people were trying to take my money or take me. I’m a 21-year-old girl and I had several creepy older fellas as well as some foreign dudes try to convince me to hang out with them upstairs. One guy started to talk to me by grabbing my arm, not my favorite situation. Also, I felt like the strip was pretty trashy for the most part. There were sketchy people everywhere, and everyone was inebriated throughout the day, which I guess I get because if you’re not hammered, it’s not that exciting. Plus, Fremont Street was a major disappointing mess and made me incredibly uncomfortable.


23. Slumming It

Jakarta, Indonesia. I was a 23-year-old woman traveling solo and had been to about 30 countries at this point, including most of Southeast Asia. I never had a problem or felt remotely threatened.

On the train, the entire view for probably an entire hour was slums. I got off my train in Jakarta and immediately people start staring. Men were pressing up against me and muttering in my ear.

I went to get a taxi, and around 40 men start surrounding me yelling prices and pulling at me trying to get me in their cab. Finally, I got so overwhelmed, I just jumped into one with no idea if it was real or not. We started driving through the city in the half-open cab, and I could barely breathe with all the exhaust and smog. As soon as we passed a stand selling police uniforms, I knew this was a mistake.

22. Crime Capital Of The World

Gary, Indiana. I was driving back from Kentucky with some friends and didn't want to stop in Chicago, so I decided to take the next exit. I didn't know anything about Gary, but a police billboard was still up that said it was the crime capital of the world. The problem is that I had to stop for fuel. All four of us just stood awkwardly around the car and then two people went and paid while two people waited there. I wouldn't recommend.

21. You Call This The First World?

Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. It smells like literal human poop everywhere, and there are syringes lying on the sidewalks. My dog almost stepped on one, and I immediately went back to my truck and got right out of there. It’s no wonder they shipped all of their displaced people off to another nearby city before the Olympics came, because that sheer factor would have driven the tourists away. I’d never recommend that to anyone.

 20. A Last Resort

I went to Detroit a few years ago for two residency interviews. After driving around Detroit, I said to myself that this place would be a last resort in terms of getting into residency.

The second interview was at a very large Detroit hospital. They paid for my room at a boutique hotel. It was a nice place, but I felt like it was haunted. The place was decorated like a typical funeral parlor.

I decided to walk around and look for something to eat for dinner. I found a pizza place about one block away. I have never seen a pizza place with bullet-proof windows before. They had to put the pizza into a box, lock their side of the box, which then unlocked the box on my side, and I could slide the window up and grab my pizza. The only other place I have seen this was at the post office.

I went in the next morning to my interview, gave a minimal performance, and got out of there as fast as I could.


19. A City In Shambles

Flint, Michigan. We drove through on our way to Indiana, and wow, that place is in dire straights. The main road? It was a potted cobblestone street more akin to driving over a pile of bricks than a road. Every business along this street was closed save maybe two, and a group of day-partiers had set up chairs on the lawn of what looked like a government office.

18. Too Scared To Go Outside

Caracal, Romania. I lived there for a year and was terrified to go out the door. It honestly looks like the Cold War never ended. One time, I remember I had to pee really bad, saw a tunnel-looking thing near the sidewalk, and figured there was a restroom down there. I took one step down the stairs and saw that I was stepping on about 2000 used, dirty needles and about 500 pounds of garbage. That was scary.

17. AKA Trash Beach

Daytona Beach. It was pretty disgusting, with garbage all over the beach, people doing illegal substances in the public beach bathroom, and a really creepy guy that wouldn't stop staring at my kids. We spent ten minutes there, packed up, and left.

16. A Bad Way To Start The New Year

Times Square on New Year's Eve. I went one year when my girlfriend, her brother, and his girlfriend were visiting her dad in New Jersey. He took us to a Broadway play and a fancy sushi dinner and we parted ways with her dad and step mom so we could head over to Times Square. It was awful, terribly crowded and loud and we couldn't even get close enough to see anything. After a while we decided to just give up and we went to a Korean barbecue instead.


15. Horror Show

I accidentally wandered into a Scientology-backed psychiatry museum in LA. I knew I had to escape as soon as the video at the start of the tour began.

It's the one called Psychiatry: An Industry of Death. I was curious and took a picture of the signage outside to show to my friends for lulz later. Then a guy came out and said the free tour was starting in a minute. I had time to kill so I was like uh....sure why not. Didn't know of the Scientology affiliation until I looked it up afterward to see who funded this horror show.

karen-zhao-643916-unsplash-300x169.jpgPhoto by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

14. Angry Taxi

In terms of first impressions then Guatemala City. Airport taxi was taking me to the hostel when the driver suddenly stopped in the middle of the street and leaned on the horn in one of those annoyingly LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG honks that seems to say, "Come on, fight me." I sat up in the back to get a better look and, just over the edge of the hood, saw a woman lying on the street, on her back and in labor. A guy was standing over her helping her, but I couldn't tell if he actually knew her. He looked at driver, who waited a few more seconds before furiously yanking the wheel and whipping us around her and through the rest of the city. Driver comes to a sudden stop at a huge metal wall with concertina wire on the top. Saw a gate at the corner and realized we'd reached my hostel.

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13. Get Me Out Of Here

Cairo, during the Arab Spring.

Saw some nasty stuff and felt like I was witnessing the apocalypse.

Was lucky to get out after waiting three days in the airport for my flight to leave.

I was in Alexandria (three hours away by the coast) when it started. Was having lunch by the water and then heard explosions on the main road. The police had set up barricades to stop the huge crowd from marching through the streets. They were using tear gas to try and disperse everyone but it was not working. Saw several people being beaten bloody with sticks by the cops. Because this was on the main road, which is by the water, I had to push through the crowd to get to the middle of the city where it was quiet (according to a kind stranger) and got teargassed which was awful! Found a cafe in a safe area and waited there for 5 hours until it was prayer time so I could go back to my hotel.

Had a very fitful sleep and the next morning I found a guy who was driving to Cairo so I paid him a few hundred dollars to take me to the airport. On the way there, there were tanks lined up along the highway and it was clear that the military was not messing around.

If I thought Alexandria was bad, Cairo was so much worse. It looked like the whole city was on fire and there were burnt out armored police cars and buses in the streets. We got stuck in an area the driver thought would be OK, but clearly wasn't. Saw more people clashing with the police, sporting bloody faces and ripped clothing. A few were limping and helping each other get away. It was insane. I wasn't too terrified because of the adrenaline, but that sure came afterwards.

Finally got through to the airport and managed to check in. The flight was delayed two hours, then again, then canceled until the next morning. Same thing the next day. The airport ran out of food and bottled water and the ATMs ran out of money so people couldn't buy snacks. Somehow they managed to get more food in and people were given vouchers. More planes kept landing (god knows why?) and the place was packed to the brim! I was lucky to have checked in because they shut check-in down shortly after that. Some people had to wait in the entrance area. Because of the lack of bottled water, people were drinking tap water and became sick. The bathrooms were nightmarishly filthy and some people preferred to poop in the corners of the waiting lounges.

Finally, the military let the pilots and crew through into the airport on the third day and my flight to Morocco departed. I did not smell too fresh when I landed...

randy-colas-613416-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Randy Colas on Unsplash

12. Never Go Back

San Francisco. I used to live near there and will never go back. Forget the displaced people littering the street, openly sharing needles and pooping a few feet from where they sleep. The traffic is in constant gridlock up and down insane hills. The prices are crazy high, even for California. There are no good beaches, and the weather is cold and damp. The food is good, I'll give them that, but again three times the price you could get in a nearby city.

It's just an awful, awful place to be.

Blackpool in the UK. No offense to anybody, but it was a total garbage dump. It's probably the only place I've visited and instead of wanting to make the most of it, I actually contemplated leaving ASAP. We stayed as it was only overnight when passing through to somewhere else but even the overnight was a night too long. We got up VERY early and dashed from the place as quick as humanly possible.


10. Wrong Side Of A Weapon

Most countries in Africa. I grew up in South Africa, and traveled a lot of the neighboring countries. They were beautiful, and the people were lovely. The countries were, however, largely impoverished. On the wrong side of a weapon a few times, I thought I should have stayed home. I am a very lucky man.

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9. Cambodian Nightmare

Poipet, Cambodia. It's basically an awful trap that was built to milk cash out of anyone trying to enter Cambodia by land from Bangkok. In my case, I was taking a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap en route to Angkor Wat. I got trapped in Poipet for a few hours and I can't remember a lot of angrier days in my life. It starts with sketchy quasi-legal casinos that stand in no man's land between the place where you get stamped out of Thailand and the immigration office letting you into Cambodia. Then you get to immigration and they shake you down for a bribe in order to get your visa faster. There's no queue; they'll just make you sit in the waiting room for an hour or more if you're unwilling to pay them like $10 extra. Then they force you to go to a bus depot that charges rates to Siem Reap that are probably ten times the going rate. In my case, they assured me that the bus couldn't go to the small street my hostel was on, but that they'd include a tuktuk ride with the bus fare direct to my destination. The tuktuk driver was noticeably inebriated at about noon and tried to shake me down for more money, then when I gave him a firm no because the ride was included (which he verified before we got in), he broke into our room to try to harass us into paying.


8. What Happened To My Wheels?

Cleveland, Ohio. I went in to pay for gas and came out to a rental car with no wheels on it. The cashier “didn’t see nothin' and the cameras were broke.”

7. Scary Graffiti

Crossing over into Juarez from El Paso. Well, I should back up, El Paso was that first mistake, that city is just dirty.

Now, we walked over to Juarez to simply say we went to Mexico. The scary part was the graffiti everywhere that said 'Destroy Whitey'. Immediately turned around. It took us 2 minutes to walk into Mexico and an hour to walk back into the States.

paul-murphy-508862-unsplash-300x225.jpg Photo by Paul Murphy on Unsplash

6. Bad First Impressions

Initially, Kenya. I didn't even voiced these concerns there.

When we arrived on the airport, after security, we wanted to see if we can order an Uber (yes, Nairobi has Uber) but there was no wifi from the airport, as we had hoped. There were military guys around it and one came and asked us what is the problem, seeing we walked around searching for wi-fi.

Told him we try to get a cab to the city and he said something like "You don't have an arrangement for the transportation? Big mistake" and left.

Anyway, we got in a cab and before leaving few people came around the cab and forced us to change the car and go in another one. The (new) driver told us the initial cab was driving illegally (no license) and they don't allow them to drive foreigners. Cool. We got to the hotel with no issues now.

However, the city feels very dangerous. Lots of stores and all banks have armed private militia at the entrance, with metal detectors and you get questioned before entering. Pharmacies are behind grates with secured glass. Everybody told us to do whatever we want but to not be left outside after dark. It felt dangerous. The first day was scary. People could tell we are tourists (after my skin color) and some were asking us questions or try to sell us stuff.

It got better as we went and in the end I got in love with the area and I really want to go again. But that is the rest of my trip. The initial shock was great.

chuttersnap-348309-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by chuttersnap on Unsplash

5. His Heart Will Go On

I went to visit Iran for 2 months. It was an interesting experience. The air was so polluted, that I coughed non stop for 2 weeks, until my lungs got used to the smog. My cousin was in the 6th grade over there. He did homework nonstop from the time he got home, to the time he went to bed. He would then wake up in the morning, and continue doing homework until he went to school. His mom would even help him. From that day, I never complained about how much homework I had.

If you sneeze before doing anything important with anyone, forget it. Come back tomorrow. It's bad luck to do what you were planning on doing before you sneezed. The taxi driver slapped me in the face when I replied I didn't like it very much there. Hangings are very common. We were driving down a road on our way home, when we ran into a giant crowd. In front of us was a man being hung. The crowd rioted, and rocks and bricks were thrown in the air. Scary. All police carried AK-47's. No american TV. The only american thing my cousin had was the movie Titanic. I watched it everyday for 2 months.

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4. A Wrong Turn In Thailand

Thailand. First trip overseas. My girlfriend and I were in the Town/City of Ayutthaya. We had spent the morning looking at the many impressive temples, and were catching a train back to Bangkok later in the day. The Tuk Tuk drivers in Ayutthaya were particularly agressive, demanding heavily inflated fares (which is fair enough, as we were white tourists, and they need to make their living somehow). We caught a Tuk Tuk from our hotel to the train station - it was literally a 3 minute ride to the station.

10 minutes and several wrong turns later, my girlfriend and I were starting to get quite worried. The lady driving the Tuk Tuk yelled something at us, but we couldn't understand her. We figured that we were being taken to a gem shop of some description. But then, she turned onto a highway - there aren't any gem shops on the highway! We started to panic, thinking we were about to be mugged. Because we thought we were heading to the train station, we had all of our belongings with us - clothes, passports, and a few thousand dollars in Baht for the rest of the trip. Five minutes later, she pulled into a petrol station. She needed to get more petrol. That was the reason for the harrowing detour. Another quick drive, and we were back at the train station. She only charged us half the fare because of the detour.

Then, we managed to accidentally book ourselves onto a 3rd class train back to Bangkok. An equally interesting experience. Very basic wooden seats, and just holes in the sides of the train instead of windows. Every single person giving us the stink-eye because we were the only two white people on the train. We stood up, clutching our luggage the whole time.

Then, when we reached Bangkok, we got in a taxi, and headed straight to the airport for a Business Class flight to Chiang Mai. Talk about going from one extreme to the other!

All that being said, Thailand is a fantastic country, and the people are as nice as anything. I highly recommend going!

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3. Humiliating But Hilarious

This one's a bit gross, but I can laugh about it now so no big deal. I was touring Kunming, China with a friend of mine whose family was quite wealthy, (Me? I was the just daughter of a working poor family, so I had never heard of a "Gap Year," but she was my best friend and wanted me to come with her so I did.) It was a great time, particularly since we had a translator with us at all times, our own personal tour guide, and what I think was a private security guy that her dad hired to watch us. (again, her family was loaded).

China is a beautiful place, simply breathtaking temples, and natural phenomena, would absolutely LOVE to go back again and maybe see another province, but the food ... while it IS good, ehrm... oh I'll just say it, you will have non-stop diarrhea for a week straight. I don't know if it was just a different way of cooking, unsanitary, or whatever maybe just different "bugs" in China than the US, but I don't think either of us had a solid bowel movement our entire time there.

What was funny was that our guides and translators were totally cool knowing about it and casually asking about it. They apparently are used to foreigners having issues with "the runs" and treat it like it's no big deal. Seriously, our translator would usually ask us every morning when she picked us up not "Hi!" or "How did you sleep?" no... she'd say "How is your diarrhea this morning?" smiling and cheerful as ever! It was nuts!

Anyway one time when we were on the road in-between travelling from one spot to another I had to GO. Like oh jeeesus christ... I have to GO NOW EVERYTHING MUST STOP NOW I MUST GO GOD HIMSELF BETTER NOT GET IN MY WAY... that kind of "gotta go." There was nowhere to stop nearby, we were surrounded by farms and homesteads, but without hesitation the driver just pulls into the lane of some random farm and my translator dashes up to the door and explains the situation. The old woman who lived there, in so many words, said there was no way she was letting us in her house but if we wanted to I could go in her "pig house" and take a dump in one of the pig sties. At this point I'm almost doubled over in agony and I know for sure this one isn't gonna wait much longer, so I said fine! So... I make it to the pig sty, translator in tow for some reason, and we discover that the sty is a low fenced cesspool almost knee deep full of pig dung and probably some of the old lady's as well. (I'm wearing pants and flip flops, btw) My translator was so concerned about me getting filthy she told me to strip from the waist down and said she'd hold my arms while I did my business. I wasn't about to argue. So there I was, naked from the waist down, with both feet up on a low fence surrounding a pig sty leaning my bare butt sty-ward, with an almost complete stranger holding my hands while I suffered through the most embarrassingly loud and copious amount of liquid death shooting out of me for about 10 minutes. Talk about never wanting to ever look someone in the eye again. But she was totally fine with it! She was even whistling pleasantly to herself while I was birthing black demons. All in all, I learned to never take the kindness of total strangers for granted, or toilets.


2. Baiting The Guatemalan Gang

I lived in Coban, Guatemala for about a year (a small mountain city, has one McDonalds located that the central mall, for reference). There are a few nightclubs there, one which only opens a few times a year.

The National Beer Company (Gallo) was throwing a party and decided to use this particular club, so they opened it for the weekend. The place was full of dancers, and I was there with my friend from the capital. Some guys wearing white shirts with green 3/4 length sleeves walked into the club looking pretty self-important. I asked who they were and my friend (Oscar) told me not to stare too much because they were the local gang and they would not miss an opportunity to knock the lights out of a gringo. (This is in 2008, a few years before Las Zetas took over Guatemala, and the narco-trafficking throughout the country mostly happened between smaller gangs who worked with each other and controlled specific territories).

A couple hours (and about 8 drinks) later, I really needed to relieve myself. So I walked over to the bathroom downstairs and attempted to open the door, but there was something in the way, and someone shouted "occupado," I replied that I seriously doubted that the entire bathroom was occupied and I shoved the door with all of my body weight.

I was able to squeeze my way in, but upon entering I was completely surrounded by guys in green and white shirts, I nearly soiled myself. I tried to excuse myself, but they blocked the door. The leader (I assume) asked if he could help me. I told him that no, I just needed to use the bathroom, and I didn't realized who was in there, but I would be happy to wait or use the other one.

He must of been impressed by the fact that I spoke Spanish, and my situational awareness because the mood immediately changed (his, and then that of the atmosphere in the bathroom). He started laughing and told me to call him if I ever wanted to get into anything real. (though I didn't have his number, I figured it best to just leave).

When I went back to the table Oscar asked me where I had been, and told me that I was lucky to not have been murdered in the bathroom. I thought he was joking, but, the next day, he showed me some of the gang's handy-work in the local newspaper(stabbings, shootings, murder and mayhem in general). It wasn't until that point that I realized how lucky I was that I escaped that situation, it could have ended very differently.

I stayed another 6 months after that, but was always careful to be inconspicuous and respectful, because life is cheap over there and despite what we've been told our whole lives, they are not afraid to kill an American citizen.

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1. Making It Hard To Love You, Morocco

I was definitely the most relieved to be going home after taking a day trip to Morocco (I was living in Spain at the time). We weren't sure if my friend would be able to enter with his soon-to-be expired passport, so we took the ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta, a Spanish exclave on the African coast. We got through the border with no problem, and took a taxi to the small town near the border in order to catch a bus to Tangier (this should be about an hour drive). At the bus station, a man guided us to a bus and assured us it was going to Tangier. Just to be safe, we asked a few of the other passengers in broken french, and they told us it was the bus to Tetouan. We checked with the bus driver, and he told us that they were wrong and it was going to Tangier. Before we really had time to decide what to do the bus was leaving. The bus ended up going first to Tetouan (1.5 hours to the south), then to Tangier (1.5 hours back to the north), making a giant V into the mountains instead of making the short drive along the coast. We were the only two foreigners on the bus and it actually ended up being a really pretty drive and a cool experience. When the bus dropped us off in Tangier, we slowly started to realize we were not at the bus station that was on marked in our guidebook next to the old city, but at the other main bus station on the other side of the city. After about a 2 kilometer walk across the bland ville nouvelle, we finally made it to the souk, starving and excited to try some authentic moroccan cuisine. We arrived around 3:30 or 4 and found that all of the more authentic restaurants were closed. We settled for eating at a crappy tourist restaurant and decided to just walk around for the few hours we had left until the ferry left for Spain. Walking around was nice, despite the usual Moroccan hassling and being propositioned for a sleepover by a wealthy older man (we are two gay boys), but after a bit we were definitely ready to go back. We headed to the port area, only to find out that the ferries to Algeciras depart from the new port, a 50 kilometer drive from the city. We could buy tickets to Tarifa, about 20 kilometers from our hotel, but we weren't sure if we would make it back in time to catch the last bus. There was supposedly a shuttle bus from the Tangier city center to the new port, and we spent about an hour trying to find it to no avail. The time until the last ferry was quickly ticking away, so we decided to try taking a taxi. Every taxi driver saw two desperate white boys and decided they were going to charge us over 50 euros to get there, a trip that should cost less than 10. With only an hour until the last ferry left from the old port, we decided to just get back to Spain and figure out later how we would get back to Algeciras and our hotel. We ran back to the port, bought our tickets and got to the departures area, only to sit around for the ferry which was delayed by an hour and a half. By the time the ferry got there, it was about 11 pm and I was getting really worried about what we were going to do once we got to Tarifa. I tried to get a drink to relax with my remaining dirham (moroccan currency), only to find that they didn't accept it at the bar, and their credit card machine was also not working. This was the last straw for me, and I started sobbing uncontrollably. My slightly embarrassed friend took me to a quiet corner of the ferry and tried to assure me that we would find a way back to our hotel. We pulled in to Tarifa around 12 30 am, went through customs, and when we got out of the building there was a bus parked in front. It was a free shuttle from the ferry company going to Algeciras, the city we were staying in. We were the only two taking the shuttle, and we sat in almost orgasmic state of relief and disbelief for the half hour ride in the cushioned and air-conditioned bus. Although I wasn't technically home, this was by far the most relieved I have ever felt in my life.

I have been to Morocco outside of this experience, and it is an amazing country that I would recommend to anyone. The certain set of circumstances and bad decisions on our part made this a disastrous day-trip but in hindsight it was kind of an awesome experience.

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