If you saw my last blog post, you’ll have read about our top 10 fave highlights from our 3 month trip to South East Asia. But with ups, there are downs. It’s called balance, right? We’ve had some pretty incredible moments during our trip, but we’ve had some pretty HORRIFIC ones too. And since I’m all about being real witchyu, here are our top 10 (or should I say 10 worst) horror stories from our grand adventure.
1. Cockroaches in Bali
Ahhh Bali, the stunning, luxurious destination where renting a private villa will cost you less than date night with your boo. You can imagine our excitement when we arrived at the private villa we booked for a few nights in Seminyak. Gated property with a private pool, an outdoor living space, a private house with a master bedroom and ensuite bathroom. Oh and the bathroom was gorgeous: it was indoor for once, so that meant no bugs or geckos could interrupt my shower time, it was a large space with stone brick walls, a big rainfall shower head and a bed of riverstone rock for a shower floor. Stunning right? Well. Only for a short time.
Later that evening, when I opened the bathroom door to take a shower, a little baby cockroach scurried away into the bed of riverstone rocks before Kev came running in with a shoe in each hand, ready to tackle it like the hero he is. Naturally, he smashed his shoes around a bit on the river rock to draw it back out, but when that didn’t happen, he decided he’d ant spray the riverstone to make sure it was dead and wouldn’t pop back out during my shower. OH BUT THEN THE HORROR.
The ant spray didn’t kill the baby cockroach. Instead, IT’S WHOLE FAMILY CAME OUT OF THE WOODWORK. Literally, and I kid you not, like 30 of them came out of the floor. And not just baby ones. MASSIVE adult cockroaches the size of your index, middle, and ring fingers put together. Go ahead, put your fingers together and just gasp with me here. THEY WERE HUGE. But I shouldn’t be the one complaining, because Kevin was the one who went all Tony Montana in there and spent over an hour murdering those suckers, yelling profanities and smashing his shoes all over the floor. And those things do NOT die easily! You know in Mario Kart, when you slip on a banana peel and you spin out of control for a bit? That’s what happens when you smash a cockroach with your shoe. You simply stun them momentarily and they spin out of control until they come to their senses and continue being gross.
We checked out early.
2. Stranded in El Nido
I wrote a full blog post on this here. If you don’t want to read through the whole thing, the gist is: we chartered a private boat to take us from one island to another, the boat sank in the middle of the ocean that morning, they sent another boat to come get us, it ended up being a fishing boat, we almost died and were then stranded on the island of El Nido. The end. JK you’ll have to read the full post to find out how it ends.
3. Mystery meat in El Nido
I’m still not even entirely sure what authentic Filipino cuisine is because the islands we visited in the Philippines were infested with westernized restaurants: Italian food, Indian food, Chinese food, everything BUT Filipino food. Anyway, we found a cute little food cart selling what looked like DELICIOUS drool-worthy shawarma type wraps.
We stood in the busy touristy streets, devouring our tasty wraps like savages - wrap filling dripping onto the ground, meat falling out of our wraps.
There’s no shortage of stray dogs in the Philippines, and they all, one-by-one, walked up to us, sniffing the wrap contents we dropped on the ground. But they all also, one-by-one, just sniffed and then kept on walking by? I’M SORRY BUT WHY WON’T STARVING HOMELESS DOGS EAT THE FOOD WE’RE EATING?
It’s no secret that dogs and cats are regularly eaten in the Philippines. Obviously that’s something we tried to actively avoid. But who knows what we ate that day. We did pay for it in food poisoning though.
4. Witching hour in the Cameron Highlands
If any of you ever plan on travelling to Malaysia, LISTEN TO ME. Skip the Cameron Highlands. Or at the very most, spend only a single day there, and make sure you leave by nightfall.
The Cameron Highlands is one of the highest points in Malaysia, which makes the environment perfect for farming. They’ve got bee farms, tea farms, lavender farms, strawberry farms, literally all sorts of farms here. But they’re also all within a 5 minute walk of each other and take a day to see them all. For whatever poor planning reason, we spent four nights here. FOUR NIGHTS. And every night like clockwork, the sun would set behind the green mountains, darkness would consume the sky, the air would become chilling, a misty fog would roll into town from behind the hills, and the beatles came out. And I don’t mean The Beatles like “all you need is love”, I mean giant ass black beatles with cream bellies and wings that span the length of a grown adult man’s hand. Needless to say, we spent the evenings here Netflixing in the safety of our hotel room.
Oh and did I mention that in the Cameron Highlands, there’s an abundance of empty circus tents filled with clown statues and merry go rounds (that are still spinning btw), broken twitching lights, and eerie untuned carnival music, with not a single soul in sight? Hey Stephen King, if you need a location for your next movie, I think I’ve found it.
5. Our luggage held ransom in Hue
We took a motorbike from Hoi An to Hue. I’d say the 7 hour, 130 km scenic drive through the Hai Van Pass (via beaches and mountains) was worth the 3 empty tanks of gas, flat tire, dead battery, smashed phone screen (by an 18 wheeler btw), sore butt cheeks, facial sunburns, aggressive argument with the tour company, and having our luggage held ransom, was worth it.
That wasn’t sarcastic, I promise.
The ride itself was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been able to experience. However, the bike company we had to deal with could have been far better.
As in, they could have given us some gas in our tank.
And maybe given us a bike that had a working speedometer.
And a working gas meter.
And a working battery.
And maybe not tell us that one full tank of gas would get us to our destination if it doesn’t actually (remember: our gas gauge didn’t work).
And maybe when we asked them for a small reimbursement to compensate for the visit we had with the mechanic…
who didn’t speak a word of English,
but that luckily ran a shop across the highway where our bike broke down
to strip the bike down to its bare bones,
replace the dead battery,
and flat tire,
and charged us the same amount of money it costed to rent the bike,
MAYBE the tour company could have apologized for giving us such a shitty bike instead of holding our luggage ransom when all we wanted to do was to talk to the owner of the company before giving them the keys back.
6. Bitten by a monkey in Bali
I naively made Kev buy some baby bananas to feed to the cute little monkeys before entering the Sacred Monkey Forest in Bali. Guess what. THEY AIN’T THAT CUTE. AND THEY AIN’T THAT LITTLE EITHER.
If you don’t know, the Sacred Monkey Forest is a sanctuary for a shit ton of forest monkeys. Baby monkeys, mama monkeys, old af monkeys - they’re all over the place. And I kid you not, there’s like thousands of them. EVERY. WHERE. Sounds cool at first right? And it was cool, don’t get me wrong, but right at the entrance of the forest, AFTER having paid our entrance fee, I grabbed a baby banana from Kev’s pocket and held it out as an offering to a wee little monkey in front of me. The larger, more selfish monkey behind me decided THAT banana was his. So instead of asking politely, he jumped onto my arm, literally grabbed my hand with its two little paws and just CHOMPED down on my flesh. Shocked, I flung him off (having still held onto the banana cus well, it’s mine). There were a few seconds where we just stared into each other’s eyes like “bitch did you just do that”, before he leaped back onto me, this time biting down harder on the same hand. At this point, the baby banana was no longer worth it, so I once again violently shook the monkey off of me and lost my banana.
Remember when I said this happened at the entrance into the sanctuary after JUST having bought our entry fee? Well I nervously spent the next hour or so walking through the forest, dodging any furry creature that ran by.
Ps. Don’t worry, I didn’t contract rabies otherwise I’d have grown a tail by now.
7. Bitten by a bug in Phnom Penh
My right eye swelled shut. Lost my depth perception. Tripped over street curbs. It was lovely, really. Not to mention my dad had sent me an article about a Canadian girl who travelled to Cambodia, got sick, visited a doctor, got prescriptions, then died shortly after. Obviously I put up a fight when Kevin forced me to go to the doctor. NO WAY AM I TAKING MEDS IN CAMBODIA, I’LL GO BLIND AND DIE. But I sort of already was blind and Kev was getting tired of having to maneuver me through Cambodian traffic in dirt roads. Don’t worry, it was a happy ending - a few eye drops later and I was good as new.
8. Stung by jellyfish in El Nido
“You might feel some jellyfish stings but they’re not poisonous, so you don’t have to worry about them. Just watch out for the sharks” they said. LOL they thought they were so funny. We didn’t go far enough to see sharks but there were jellyfish! And a lot of ‘em. They were about the size of a timbit and super clear looking, so you could juuust barely make out the outline of them when they were right in front of your snorkeling mask. And oh yes, they definitely stung. Felt more like irritating pinches, but after a while you just get annoyed enough to get out of the water.
9. Agent Orange in Cu Chi
We visited the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum and learned A LOT about the Vietnam War. They talked about this thing called Agent Orange - have you heard of it? It’s some chemicals the Americans unleashed on a large part of Vietnam that was meant as a poison to destroy their crops so they can’t eat and also to drive the Vietcong out of hiding and into the open to fight. The chemical ended up really messing with people, like intense skin burns, caused cancer to both Vietnamese and American soldiers and kids were born without eyeballs or without certain limbs, sometimes muscles didn't fully develop so they can’t walk properly - really gruesome stuff. So when we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the tour guide was explaining a bit about Agent Orange and says that they still have some remnants of it at the Cu Chi Tunnels and a lot near the Danang airport, which is the airport we literally just flew into the day before. So Kevin and I freaked a bit thinking WTF? How can they have a tourist attraction that can potentially harm people?
So we asked him about it, but there was a big language barrier. When we asked “so there’s still Agent Orange at the Cu Chi Tunnels?” He said “Yes of course, it’ll take at least another 300 years before it’s completely gone”. WTF? We asked if it was safe and he said “Yes it’s safe, it’s all in the ground, it doesn’t affect the environment anymore, only humans”. WHAT. I think he meant it’s been passed down to people through birth? And not through food? I have no idea. But then he said “Don’t worry about Agent Orange, you should be worried about bombs and landmines”. OH OKAY THANKS.
10. Driving a motorbike in Vietnam
There are 92 million people in Vietnam and 45 million motorbikes. It’s totally normal for a family of 4 or 5 to be on a single motorbike. Dad driving the bike, two infants behind him and mom on the back. None of which are wearing helmets. It’s also totally normal for motorbikes to be carrying goods that make up 5 times the size of the bike. Oh and also normal for there to be 89 bikes across a 2 lane road.
Can you imagine driving in it?! We drove from Hoi An to Hue on a motorbike and although most of the route was pretty easy going, on a wide open highway, following the coast line of a stretched beach or deep valley, when we got into Hue, it was ultimate chaos. Honking, yelling, screaming, people using their feet to push off nearby bikes when we’re stopped at a light, because everyone’s so close that there’s more bike than there is ground. I can’t even begin to explain how chaotic it is. All I can do is leave this right here:
Our 10 “worst” stories aren’t actually THAT bad. TBH, they’ve turned into comical stories to retell and I wouldn’t change any part of our trip for the world. These moments may not be incredible, but there’s no one else I’d rather experience them with. After all, it’s about perspective and making the most out of your situation, right?