Travel exposes you to the strangest things – apart from discovering wonderful cultural diversity, behavioral differences, and contrary thought processes – one is also exposed to a range of novel and sometimes surprising situations. Take for example when I was in Cardiff a few years ago, and after ordering a Whiskey and Soda in a pub with my friends, I was told ‘You’re Indian, you don’t drink whiskey!’
Or another time when I was in Goa with my ex-boyfriend. We had just had a beer and then he said the weirdest thing he’s ever said to me. Nope, I can’t tell you what it is; I haven’t told anyone. But I am going to hang it over his head forever. Wink wink!
Well, there are funnier, bizarre or downright weird experiences that travelers have faced while passing through different countries. Let’s start with boobs for example. Amy from Two Drifters will tell you more.
“Are those real?” Regarding my boobs.
This was said to me in 2011 in Galway, Ireland, in a very cool music venue called Roisin Dubh (which I’d highly recommend). The young Irish bloke who said it was clearly quite inebriated as he stopped me in the stairwell. He wasn’t unfriendly, however, but it was quite silly and unexpected, a bit weird too. And what’s more, my boobs are not even that big!!!
Follow Amy on Instagram at TwoDriftersXO
Becky from Becky the Traveller had somewhat of a different experience. Let’s hear it.
What’s my age?
My last trip to Belize, I turned the big 40. I’ve always stayed in hostels and generally hung out with younger travellers, mainly because there aren’t any older ones. Ha ha! I’d been travelling with a girl from Canada who was 33 (she did have a very young face). Well I wasn’t too bothered about being the oldest until one of the ladies in the hostel asked me. ‘Are you her mum?’ Major complex issues followed and more face cream applied!!
Follow Becky on Instagram at Becky The Traveller
Take a turn, and you meet other types of people, the ones that find you fascinating. Paroma from Year of The Monkey recaps.
This was when I was returning from Chicago to Minneapolis and my seat was next to this middle-aged guy. He was extremely besotted with me (I don’t know why, I am not the bewitching kind by any stretch of imagination), and constantly tried talking with me. At one point he said something which I will remember my entire life and which still gives me the creeps. It went like this “You are so cute! You are like a tiny puppy I want to take home to”. Ewwww! Bizarre!
Follow Paroma on Instagram at Yrofthemonkey
And then there’s the other end of the spectrum, the ones with a one-track mind. Let Rosie from ClubElseWhere tell you about it.
Pick up lines
You hear the strangest things while travelling, some good some bad. In certain places, catcalling is particularly irksome. I bought some food from a street vendor in Bocas Del Toro, Panama and while handing me my change he said, “Seriously, whenever you are ready for it, just call me” while looking down at his nether region. Nauseatingly, he also licked his lips while eyeing me up and down. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Another fabulous catcalling experience one London afternoon was from a polite gentleman who asked what time I would like to be in his bed that evening. My refusal to answer his question irritated him and resulted in him yelling out “Well fuck off then, you’re not that fine anyway”. Whoever said chivalry was dead?
Follow Rosie on Instagram at TheBeachBell
Talking about chivalry, Sarah from The Winged Fork encountered something akin to it in Kenya and Israel.
My first trip to Kenya in 2011 and I was travelling with my driver guide from Mount Kenya back to Nairobi. We made a pit stop at one of the local Masai Curio shops enroute just to stretch our legs. After browsing through the shop and buying a few items I headed back to the minivan. Peter my driver was still in the store. While I was waiting outside the van a local guy started chatting. He asked where I was from and what I was doing there and told me about a local village in the vicinity that he came from. The next thing I know, he was asking me if I would be willing to stay back and marry him! That was a first!
Another year, on the last day on an official trip to Jerusalem, Israel, I decided to head to the Old City to do some shopping. I entered through the Jaffa gate and stepped into one of the stores and bought a few bracelets of the Star of David, the menorah, some olive wood doves. While there I was chatting with the store owner who told me he was not from Israel, but from Jordan, and was only working there. I told him I was always interested in visiting Jordan but hadn’t had the chance to visit yet, which is when he asked me if I had a boyfriend and if I would be willing to stay in Israel and get married. It did come as a surprise, but that wasn’t the first time 😉
Follow Sarah on Facebook at TheWingedFork
Okay, not so weird. Maybe he just wanted a beautiful wife. Lien from Get Lost Abroad tells of a similar experience in Tanzania.
Tanzanian Marriage Proposal
An African guy approached me in Tanzania in the market and said I was beautiful (so far nothing special). He kept following me and he said he was really sure he wanted to marry me. I asked him to leave me alone and he said “Okay, I will sell my farm and go to the bank to request a loan so that I have enough money to maintain our future family”. Euhm okay, nice to meet you too 😉
Follow Lien on Facebook at Get Lost Abroad
This is one for the books. Stina retells her somewhat bizarre experience after returning from a backpacking trip.
All in a backpack
I recently got back from travelling around South America with my friend. We gave away all of our possessions before we left and literally had our whole lives (everything we had kept) in our backpacks. When we were checking into hostels or attending events and were asked for a “home address” we were often laughing and saying “we don’t have one?” We would be asked “where do you live?” And we would reply “in our backpacks” it became a little (well received) joke.
When I got back to the States I went to the bank. At the time I was just staying with a friend while I decided where to travel next. The bank teller asked me to confirm my home address, and I said “Oh, it’s changed from the one on the file”… he said “Oh, where do you live right now”. And on impulse I said “Out of my backpack”. He looked slightly taken aback and concerned, and leant forward discreetly whispering to me “Are you homeless?” It made me laugh so hard I felt sorry for the poor guy until I explained what I meant and he laughed too…
Follow Stina on Instagram at 100and1huskies
And then there’s the ‘Murder-she-wrote’ type of experience that Daniela from The Lost Romanian will tell you about.
“I hate people”
I took a bus from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago de Chile, crossing the Andes. A few adventures on the way, many hours delay, and I made a new friend. He was staying at a hostel in Santiago, very close to mine, so we agreed to meet the next day for a free city tour. We met and enjoyed a nice tour. At the end of it, we were a group of random travelers who decided to continue to walk together and have some drinks after. Nothing uncommon so far. I laughed a lot, I was very relaxed and totally enjoying the experience. It was already late when my “neighbor” and I took a long walk back to our hostels. He suggested to not take the main road, as we’ve already been there, but the small, little-illuminated streets. I thought it was a good idea.
At some point, he told me that he was having fun until I decided (for the both of us) to join those people. He didn’t like them at all. He then went on with details, and confessing he hates people, in general. I was very surprised. I asked, “Do you hate me?” He then replied “No!” and probably realized this was going the wrong way. He didn’t seem the aggressive type though.
I concluded he just had a bad day and was a bit angry. The other day, we met again at a hostel social event. We chatted for a bit, while he and his roommates were complaining about a noisy guy. He reminded me in a small voice, “You know I hate people”. I didn’t know how to react to it, just nodded.
Those moments were so weird to creepy. Otherwise, he looks like a cutie, and he’s a school teacher 🙂
Follow Daniela on Instagram at The Lost Romanian
Talking about unforgettable experiences, Karin from Girl Astray probably had the most bizarre one.
“I am a terrorist!”
How often do you meet a terrorist? Perhaps more often than you think. While traveling in Turkey I have occasionally come across people sympathizing with violent acts of the Kurdish Workers Party – PKK, however, this particular encounter was a lot more intense than I would have liked. It was a rainy day when we hailed down a white Fiat with a grey-haired man behind the steering wheel.
“I am a terrorist,” he said. “I am from the PKK!”
We just carefully nod our heads, knowing we are not the target group of these people.
Suddenly, the man sharply turns the wheel and crashes against the guardrail. We slide on the wet tarmac and within seconds, my body flies out through the trunk, taking me closer towards the most dangerous moment of my life.
“I am a terrorist.”
I can still hear the sound of the car crash in my ears…
Follow Karin on Instagram at Girl Astray
And then there’s Moshe, The Top Ten Traveler‘s story that seems like it was written for a horror movie.
A Town in the Dark
We made our way to Killington, Vermont, after a long day of travel. It was already late after sunset, and when we arrived at this town, we found it completely dark. No streetlights, no lights from the houses, and we could barely see any other car on the roads. It was weird but we thought it is a habit of this place, maybe people were saving power. We used our GPS to locate the hotel, but we took the wrong turn into a dirt road in the woods. It was all dark, there was no one around and we were driving slowly in the woods. Suddenly, two lights turned on and we saw a truck standing in front of us. Horror movie scene #1. Some of us were stressfully laughing but others started making weird noises of fear. We turned back to the main street, just to discover that the hotel was right there, on the other side of the road.
We parked the car, entered the hotel, and realized there was a power outage in the whole town. A bit more calmed, we wanted to get to our rooms. Since the power was off, we were taken in the hotel’s dark and quiet hallways with only a flashlight on. Horror movie scene #2. We couldn’t leave our bags in the rooms, because the electric doors won’t lock (thank you technology), and we were then advised not to leave the hotel back to the car because bears were spotted outside. Horror movie scene #3.
Luckily, the only thing that was still working (and I have no idea how) was the big hot tub in the hotel’s back yard. We quickly changed to our bathing suits and jumped into the hot water. We spent about two hours there, until the lights came back, and our horror movie has come to its end.
Follow Moshe on Twitter at Top10Traveler
And Jub of ChurNewZealand will tell you about why you should always take precautions while hitchhiking.
Who’s giving me a ride?
As a regular hitchhiker, I wasn’t phased about getting dropped off in Tokoroa, a town that is often seen in bad light in the media. I was only 40 minutes away from the final destination, Taupo.
Yet the winter times sunset was looming in the next hour or so. Did I really want to be stuck in Tokoroa? They have no hostels.
After 15 minutes or so of waiting, a noisey blue boy racer car pulled over. Yay. The guy in the passenger wound down the window to talk.
Passenger: “Where you going, bro?”
Passenger: “Ah yea, we can take you there…how much money can you give us?”
Me: “Sorry, I’m just hitchhiking so I don’t have any money.”
**Passenger chats to driver**
Passenger: “We can take you, get in.”
Now, you should always take precautions when hitchhiking. And this is a ride most people should probably turn down, including me. But with the sunset looming, few cars on the road, and no hostels until Taupo I squeezed in behind the passnger seat. He had the seat leaning so far back his head was but sitting in my lap.
I then notice the driver clenching a pocket knife. It soon went into one of his many leather satchels. I knew I would have to be alert for this ride. Watch out for landmarks, answer questions in a neutral way, and keep questions to a minimum.
The next 40 minutes was crazy.
I was offered drugs. Well, they were a red and blue pill in a little bag.
The most harrowing moment was when we drove down a side road (is this where they dump me?) and throw another leather satchel into some bushes as they both made sure to remember exactly where the bag landed. Oh to know what was in that bag.
I learned the driver was deported back to New Zealand. Oh to know what for.
And the driver rarely had his hands on the steering wheel, regularly playing on his phone, and smoking away. This wasn’t a Tesla but the passenger happily took a hold of the steering wheel as we crossed the centre line several times.
I was super grateful to arrive in Taupo, and they even dropped me off at the hostel after asking if they wanted to stay in their empty apartment in Taupo. Why did they have an empty apartment in Taupo?
I had so many questions!
With all my built up nervous energy, the poor girl at the hostel reception at to listen to me regale the previous hour.
Leaving Taupo the next day, I was picked up by a pastor.
And Candy, the rescue dog owner at Boogie the Pug says she woke up in a deserted Chinese town to find people taking photographs of her. Did it happen that way?
Becoming a Photo Subject in China
At the age of 24, I embarked on a 6 month long trip to 10 different countries. The 6th country on my list was China, where I spent a month traveling around the country. I journeyed from South to North, visiting both big cities and smaller towns along the way. This was before smart phones, when people still relied heavily on guide books.
My Lonely Planet mentioned a small town that was virtually deserted, with only one small inn and a diminishing population. I decided to visit, and it just so happened to fall on the night before my 25th birthday. I went to the inn, which was just a husband and wife’s home with an extra room. We spent a quiet night in, as I watched the wife apply a homemade cucumber face mask and played with her puppy. The area really was deserted, with small cobblestoned streets and almost no movement.
The next morning, my 25th birthday, I awoke and decided to walk around the town before heading back to a more populated area. It was to be a calm, uneventful birthday, or so I thought.
As I walked around the town I happened upon a photography club of about 20 Chinese people. They had made the trip to the town to take photos and were shocked to find a foreigner walking around. They asked me to pose and took dozens of photos, in extreme excitement.
I somehow communicated that it was my birthday, and they insisted on taking me to a big lunch, where they sang happy birthday in Chinese and celebrated with me. They gave me a ride to my next destination and I was off.
Another one from China. Corritta from Itzafamilything was accused of stealing her own son!
Detained for kidnapping my own son!
One of the most bizarre and things to happen to us as a traveling family was the time we were detained in Beijing for suspected “kidnapping.” Let me preface this by saying we look like two black women with a biracial baby. My wife is actually biracial, as she is Korean and Black, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at her. Our son is obviously biracial because he looks Asian. I say all of that because it is relevant to the story.
When our son was almost 5-months-old, we decided to go to Beijing. We had a great time exploring Hutongs, walking on The Great Wall of China, and eating delicious food. Upon arriving at the airport to return home to San Diego, we were stopped and questioned. I didn’t think it was a big deal until we were escorted to another room for additional questions. We figured they were going to ask us about the breast milk because I had a cooler full of recently expressed milk.
As soon as we sat, we started to be bombarded with questions about our son. We were asked where his father was? Where was he born? Who gave birth? They told us they knew he was Asian, but where is he from. We were shocked that we were being asked these questions because we showed his passport, which has a valid Chinese Visa. We showed pictures of me during my pregnancy and explained he was Korean, not Chinese.
Although we laugh about it now, at the time, it was scary because we didn’t know what they were going to do. Once we explained everything, they let us go to our gate, and we returned home with no problems. Now we keep an electronic copy of all important documentation, just in case this happens again. Now he is 2-years-old and is a traveling expert that loves flying (with his tablet), adventures, the beach, and food. If we’ve learned anything from traveling the last year and a half, it’s that anything is possible.
Follow Corritta and her family on Facebook at ItzaFamilyThing.
And Clarissa of Modern Hipster Mama got lost in Nepal with a friend!
Lost in Kathmandu!
I took a trip to Nepal with a group of friends. After a long day of sightseeing in Kathmandu, we took three different taxis on the way back to the hotel (in order to fit everyone in). We had lots of shopping souvenirs and I also had an expensive camera. My friend and I were in the last taxi and somehow got separated from the other two taxis due to traffic. That’s when we realized that our driver was simply following the other taxis, and that he had NO CLUE where to take us!
We were unable to communicate in his language and had no in-country phone service to contact our other friends. As he drove around the city to streets we had never seen before, he drove into a narrow alley and stopped. Suddenly, tons of male construction workers surrounded our car and peered in to see me and my other female friend.
We scrambled to cover our shopping purchases and my camera. That’s when I realized that I had taken a photo of the front of our hotel for the memories, and that it actually had a giant poster with its name and address! When I showed the photo to our driver, he recognized it and got us there safely. When we got out of the car, quite shaken up, we found our friends laughing and eating without much thought to our whereabouts. This story certainly taught me a lesson about overseas travel and what not to do as a young female!
Follow Clarissa in Instagram at ModernHipsterMama
And Jamie of The Daily Adventure of Me was thought to be part of a drug ring! Ever had that happen to you?
You’re part of a drug ring!
My family has been visiting Mexico yearly since I was a child. We have a driver, Daniel, that we have used the whole time. We generally like to find an adventure to experience. My story takes place well before the internet with my whole family including my 1-year-old nephew who was traveling without his parents. . We asked our driver to take us to Belize, with ideas of crystal clear water on long sandy beaches. We all knew Belize was south of Cancun but didn’t know any more than that, including Daniel. We decided to head to Belize City, knowing nothing about it.
When we reached the Belize border they wouldn’t let us through because we had a child who wasn’t ours. We ended up having to spend the night at the border so that my dad could pay off an official the next day to get into Belize. When we got to Belize City, we realized that it was not the Belize of pictures. It was an interesting multicultural city, but the water is brown and muddy and the spot we had wanted to see was far away on a peninsula.
Because of our time at the border we ended up driving our unmarked white van through the desert late at night. Suddenly we came upon a group of Federales, Mexican police, with machine guns who forced us off the road. Thank God that Daniel was with us because they thought we were there as part of a drug ring. He was able to talk us out of the terrifying situation, but it is still one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
Follow Jamie on Instagram at DailyAdventuresofMe
Have you had similar experiences? What was the weirdest or most bizarre thing someone ever said to you while travelling?
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