Top 3 Weirdest Travel Experiences

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1. Posted by king_golo (Respected Member 113 posts) 38w 2 Star this if you like it!

Hi fellow travellers,

I'm into lists and thus thought it would be fun to compile some really weird travel experiences (including, if known, year and place). Here are my top 3 for a start:

1. 2008, Angkor, Cambodia: A deaf-dumb 14-year old transsexual accosted me and my wife at one of the temples of Angkor, trying to sell us a piece of paper on which he had written his name.

2. 2004, Hanoi, Vietnam: A young girl sat down next to me and said she was so happy to finally see me again. She thought I was her former best friend Jérémy from France whose contact data she lost after an argument a while before, and no matter how hard I tried to convince her that I'm in fact Golo and not Jérémy, she didn't believe me. She even started crying when I repeatedly said that I'm not the one she's looking for. It felt a bit like the Vietnamese version of hidden camera TV shows.

3. 2003, Warsaw, Poland: I was taking the overnight bus from Berlin to Tallinn (a 33-hour trip) when I woke up in the outskirts of Warsaw at about 5am only to see a giant pink tank outside the window which was the rather strange ad for a car dealer.

Well, what are your weirdest experiences? Make it 3 if you can, but any experience shared is appreciated!

2. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 840 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

I will have to think for the 2nd and 3rd but I know the first one right away.

First - 1998 - Bob and I were in Belize. We went to the zoo and then drove (rented car was a bright pink Suzuki Traker) to Placencia. When we stopped for gas, I discovered that my wallet had fallen out of my pocket when I went to the bathroom at the zoo. One of the girls at the gas station used her cell phone and called back to the zoo and someone had turned in the wallet. We didn't have enough time to drive back, so we went on down to Placencia parked in front of the co-op. We drove back to the zoo and retrieved the wallet which was completely intact with all the money still in it, and turned around to drive back down to Placencia. There was some construction along the way and a man flagged us down when we slowed up to drive through the ditches. His story was that he and his wife ran a grocery story in Placencia and he had gone to get supplies and his truck had broken down and his cell phone was dead. He said he'd seen our car parked at the co-op and he asked us to please take his daughter down to his wife and tell his uncle to come and help him with the truck. The child was about 18 months old - he gave us the diaper bag to go with her. So we did that. The child was awake, but didn't say or do anything on the trip down - she just kind of lay in my arms. As we were driving, I was trying to think -- was this some kind of scam? Would we be accused of kidnapping or had we just adopted a child? When we got to the grocery story, the mother did not seem best pleased with her husband, but she took the child.

I'm having trouble thinking of experiences which fit the description of weird rather than frightening, inconvienent, or the result of some stupidity or clumsiness on my part. Maybe this will work as #2

2000- We were on our first journey down the Intercoastal Waterway in our boat and we had anchored in front of the Castillo in St. Augustine. We got up Saturday morning and looked over at the fort. They fired a cannon at us!!!

It turns out that they do a re-enactment with women in crinolines and soldiers in uniforms and they fire rifles and the cannon as part of the re-enactment.

#3 still thinking

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2018, at 09:52 by greatgrandmaR ]

3. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1162 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

This is a good topic. Here are the three that came to me immediately. I may be able to top them eventually, but these are the ones I remember vividly. These are in no particular order. For brevity, I cut some of the nuance.

La Ceiba Honduras: I was mid twenties and bumming around CA. While sleeping over and waiting for the ferry to Utila in the morning I decided to go to what clearly was at one time a pretty happening Zona Rosa. It had fallen on hard times. I stopped in at one of the only open establishments. There was only one table. The guy at the table was an American fella named Richard. He was about fifty five and slovenly. He was seated with three women, all locals. One was on his lap. I ordered myself a beer. My Spanish was pretty weak then, I had just come from taking a course in Guat. But I understood that Richard was paying for the women to be his "friends". I sat well away from them on this patio, but I was the only other guy. It was a two for one special beer thing, so I had to beers to get through, but listening to him degrade the women in English while brokenly sweet talking them in Spanish was pretty gross. So I powered through the first one. The guy kept yelling at me to come over. Finally, I did with my second beer. I was really pumping through it though. He told me the women were with him for a visa to the States and I could have my pick. I said No Thanks. I wasn't a fan of this kind of arrangement. He told me to stay for another beer. I said no. He pressed an automatic against my head. I said I was pretty thirsty and I would have another one. He put the gun on the table in front of him and told one of the girls to go sit on my lap. I nursed that beer. Eventually, Richard had to take a piss. He picked up his gun and went to the pisser. I dropped the girl like a bad habit and leapt over the railing......

On the way to BsAs from Mendoza Argentina: I was on a double decker bus. I was about 40. While getting on the lower tier of the bus (Steerage, really)I had met an older woman who seemed a little altered. She had been dropped off by a man in his fifties, who, through the window, I could see fairly SKIPPED back to his car after he got her up the steps. She was seated in front of me, but her seat was over the wheel well, so she had a step and a half up to her seat. She couldn't manage it, so I leapt up to help. She slapped my hands away (while using those hands.. to get up, I note) and called me Chavo, which I take to mean silly naughty boy. She looked back at me balefully through the crack in the seats a number of times during our trip... If you have ever taken that bus ride, you'll know there's not a thing to see out the window.....Eventually, I fell asleep.........A while later I awoke to find the bus had stopped in the middle of nowhere. The old woman was squalling in the bathroom. I got up to see what was going on. The woman had locked herself in the bathroom and couldn't figure out the latch. The driver and swamper had gotten out their kit of tools but found nothing to open the door. That kid included a wood hand saw, an over-sized crescent wrench and a ballpean hammer. I always travel with a multitool. I looked at the door and could see it was pretty simple to open, like an airplane WC door. I told the woman to relax. She heard my voice and started pushing on the door, yelling at me in rapid fire Spanish. She had decided I did this to her on purpose. Her pushing made it difficult to get a hold on the secret latch behind the lock sign. I told her to shut up for a second. She stopped. I popped the door. She flew out of the bathroom in a rage. She turned, saw me, and reached up and cuffed me one. She stormed back to her seat and flew into it,with no help needed. No one said anything. A woman who was with me at the door patted my arm once. The Driver and swamper put their awesome tool kit away, and we continued on.

Venice Italy: I had been convinced to go back to Venice by a work buddy who really wanted to see it. I know the place to be just too busy for me. I was early 30s, but my buddy was late twenties, and still hopeful about the ladies. He convinced me to go to this piazza music fest, where he went off to dance and I moved around slowly, being careful not to accidentally turn too quickly in the crush of people and knock someone out. The festival was surrounded by local cops who all had little machine guns on their chests. MP5s maybe? Whatever. Anyway, while walking around, I stepped on a wallet. I reached down and picked it up. It had a lot of lira in it, but I didn't investigate the wallet because I couldn't speak Spanish, and if someone caught me looking through the wallet I couldn't explain what I was doing with it. I shoved the wallet in my pocket, trying to think of the right thing to do: As I saw it, my choices were 1.) Hold up the wallet and yell "Anyone lose a wallet?" Seemed risky 2.) Drop the wallet back on the ground. Seemed to be chancy that someone else would be as concerned as me 3.) Wait til the morning and turn the wallet in to a police station or something. That left me with the responsibility for longer than I wanted 4.) Go up to the armed cops and give it to them. That seemed to tick all the boxes.....So I went up to a guy with a fancier outfit than the others. I already had the wallet out, so there was no reaching for anything. I talked to the cop in English, which of course he wouldn't understand. I went through a narrated pantomime of the situation. and then held out the wallet. The guy chuckled. He called another guy over. The first guy gestured that I explain again. I did the same pantomime, now pretty sure that I was just being somebody's amusement. I held out the wallet. They both laughed. The first guy took the wallet from me, opened it, and saw the money. He immediately and cavalierly took the money out, divided it more or less equally, handed half to his buddy and shoved the wallet in his pocket. Then he shooed me away. Lesson Learned.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2018, at 14:30 by Piecar ]

4. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 845 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

Many years ago during one of the various Haitian revolutions, I was playing in an orchestra in Port-au-Prince and a friend and I took a tap-tap up to Petionville for lunch and shopping. She loves to talk politics and is pretty loud at times so going home she started a discussion in the very crowded tap-tap. I looked past her to notice a very large Haitian policeman with an even larger gun sitting one person away from her, swatted her arm and pointed to the large gun and made a face. She turned green and stopped talking. She was as quiet as I've ever heard her the entire rest of the way down to Port-au-Prince.

Then there was the time a group of us were giving a concert in Léogâne, Haiti and during a break in an evening rehearsal saw a very large tarantula. One of the macho-type trombone players decided it would be a good idea to kill it so he picked up a pretty large rock (about 8-10 inches across) and slammed it down on the huge spider. He was quite proud of himself until the rock started inching its way across the courtyard. Don't know about the trombone player, but I'm betting the tarantula is still alive.

We were with our daughters in Paris in 2009 and walking around the Latin Quarter. We arrived at the Church of Saint-Séverin and decided to go in and take some pictures of the very interesting modern stained glass windows. Both girls are avid photographers. We walked in and immediately noticed there was a body lying in state and a funeral just ending. We didn't want to interrupt and we knew it would be horrible to take pictures during a service, so we just quietly waited at the back of the church until it was all over and everyone had left. Then we took our photos and left. As we exited the church, one of the family members came over and thanked us for attending the service. I wasn't sure if he was being kind or was interested in two very attractive red-headed young women, but it was a strange experience.

5. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 840 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

I've thought of some more, that are 'interesting' but maybe not that weird.

1965 - The Antique Airplane Fly-in at Watsonville California - my husband was part of the local antique car club and they decided to supply transportation for the pilots that flew in. I wanted to take a photo for a publicity article. I went up in the tower but without going all the way up, the only window didn't have a good view of the field. So I walked around asking for a ride. One of the guys said he would take me up. He gave me a leather helmet and sat me in the front seat of a 1929 Waco and told me not to touch any of the controls (I think there were some levers under my feet). We took off, made a circle of the field - he asked if I had got the photo and I said yes so we landed. After we landed, I found out that it was the first time he had flown the plane - he had just bought it.

6. Posted by westwind57 (Full Member 77 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

In no particular order, here are a few.

Late 1990’s, Chicago O’Hare
In those years I used to travel to Chicago for work at least four times each year. Because of the Visa Waiver Program all I had to do was filling out the green landing card on board. On maybe my twentieth arrival or so, I was summoned to follow the officer to the immigration office. I spent three hours there being interrogated, with silly questions about having ever travelled to Belgium, having been involved in drugs etc. I was cleared and thought it was just a stupid incident. On the next trip exactly the same thing happened. The treatment was horrible by the way. I was cleared again of course, but with no explanation as to why this happened.
As I wanted to know what it was that triggered some red flag in their system, I went to the US consulate in Amsterdam. They apologized for not being able to give me any explanation but suggested that they could run my name etc. through the entire screening process as they would do for a long term visa. I consented.
After three weeks I was invited to come to the consulate, because they finally had some idea what happened. Apparently, a Belgian with exactly my full names was in their system, linked to a Second World War criminal. The man would have been 88 years old at that time. Was I satisfied with that crappy explanation? No, it still left me in doubt. But fortunately, the same hassle never happened anymore in any of my later trips. By the way, I was born late 1950’s!

2014, Cameroon
My brother-in-law is originally from Cameroon, and I joined him on a short trip to his hometown, Kribi, in the south of the country. On the last day, a local driver, he and myself were in a car driving back to the airport. It was getting dark, and all of a sudden we got stopped by a guy in a uniform with a large gun.
I heard the driver say “merde”, and he had to show his papers. The uniformed guy shone with a torch inside the car and saw me, a white guy. So he told me to open the window, leaned in with an angry looking face and the palm of his hand up, clearly wanting money. I had no idea whether or how much to give, and my co-travelers were just looking outside of their windows, so no advice from them either. So I asked the guy what he wanted. “Money”, he said, “I need to buy whiskey”.
I have no idea how it flashed into my head, but I told him that we did not have any whiskey. Then I told him I had a good advice for him. “Huh?”, he said. I told him that it would be much better to stop cars coming from the opposite direction, because they come from the airport, and many of them will have tax-free whiskey on board. The angry look made place for a smile from ear to ear. “Thank you”, he said, crossed the road, and started to stop cars from there.

2008, Guangzhou, China
A weird adventure when we lost our way in our own hotel. Click here for the blog.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2018, at 22:25 by westwind57 ]

7. Posted by king_golo (Respected Member 113 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

GreatgrandmaR, very interesting story with the baby child! Even if you look like a trustworthy person, I would never ever hand over my daughter to you (she's 15 months) - I wonder what the father thought?

Piecar, I was beaten up with an umbrella once by a granny who thought I had queue-jumped onto the bus she was about to board... Must have been her! (Although my incident happened in Germany)

Beausoleil, I love your story about the tarantula!

westwind57, great idea to point the official to the other side of the road - how did you think of that so quickly?

Keep 'em coming!

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 840 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

I think he stopped us because he recognized the car rather than because I looked trustworthy.

I was driving home late at night (sometime in the 80s) coming back from the State Fair 125 miles away. I was driving a big one ton pickup full of children hauling a horse trailer, and I thought I saw someone lying in the road. I stepped hard on the brakes, causing the children to wake up and say "MOTHER", but the person disappeared. A couple of years later a drunk apparently lay down there in the road and was killed by a car. (Probably not a travel experience, but weird)

9. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 616 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

Wow I love these stories and a great question to ask. Unfortunately my stories are nowhere near as eventful but thinking back on moments I found odd, these probably rank as my weirdest (unless I remember something else).

Costa Rica 2016 Coming back from Manuel Antonio we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. It started torrential raining. As we tucked into our meals, there was this flash of light followed by a an ear piercing crack. A lightening bolt hit just outside our restaurant. There were a lot of oohs and aahhs then a second bolt hit right in front us and this time I saw it followed by another ear drum aching crack. It was like a whip but so much louder. Have to admit it was awesome to see a lightening bolt up so close. So guess what happened next? A third lightning bolt struck outside the restaurant. Suddenly people weren’t so awed and instead a little bit afraid. Everyone was turning to look at their cars parked in the pouring rain. I realised we were parked next to an electric pole I didn’t know if it would be safer staying in the building or getting out of this location. There were some more lightning bolts, though not as close but not that far away either;). When it came time to pay the bill I pulled out my credit card and the waitress said oh no the lightening wiped out their WiFi so cash only now.

Calgary Airport 2012 We were changing planes at Calgary airport and was at US border/customs, I don’t know what they call it but the man processing us asked where we were going. Because our ticket was to Newark airport I responded “Newark”
“Why are you going to that s***hole?”
Me wondering did that just happen “Ah well we’re going to New York but landing in Newark”
US Border “Ah that makes more sense”
Me feeling a little sorry for Newark “But I’m sure there are nice things in Newark too;)
US Border “No there isn’t” :(

Australia forgot date middle of nowhere NSW This one is weird and a kind of disturbing. Me and a friend are driving on this empty rural road and we see something on the side of the road that made me stop the car. We look at each other we have the same thought, we have to turn back and see if that was real. A drive way presumably to the land owner's residence had this gate that rose up to a single horizontal bar at the top, hanging off the bar by a rope tied around their necks were four decomposing dog carcasses that looked like they had been there awhile. Once authenticity was verified we hightailed it out of there.

[ Edit: Edited on 26-Mar-2018, at 07:15 by Teoni ]

10. Posted by woinparis (Inactive 145 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

Same problem with 'weird'.

Can't think of much....
Maybe the guy in Arizona at the tourist information who would refuse to give me information in English since he had decided I was a German. I told him I wasn't and he just kept giving me papers in German. That I finally put in the wastebin when leaving the office. Some people jsut know you better than yourself.

Maybe reading the story of the baby what would look like weird but was just nice was when a guy in Los Angeles seeing I was somehow lost and quite broke offered me to stay at his palce then left me a set of keys saying I'd send them back later and I could use his room and there was always a cake in the fridge since he was diabetic and needed to be sure to have sugar in case of hypoglycemia.
I never met such a trusting guy in Belgium...