With hindsight, near death experiences, robbings and bad decisions turn into crazy tales of adventure…survive and endure them in the moment, then dust them off and re-live them as a hero

I am currently travelling in India, sitting in a hostal lounge in Old Delhi. I have no idea what the internet will be like in any future locations so my apologies if I’m not able to fulfill my Monday email obligations for a week or two… I will make up for it when I am back and should have a short film about the journey coming soon after.

Travelling is one of those things that always looks better in hindsight. That does not mean that I do not enjoy it, quite the contrary: I have always loved the feeling of unplanned travel where the only goal is an exploration of whatever I find. What I mean by ‘better in hindsight’ is the inevitable problems, setbacks and minor crisises that can occur at any moment in an unstructured and less than 5star and unguided style of travel.

The positive side of these momentary, stomach churning (sometimes literally) and anxiety fueling events is that these are the events that turn you into the centre of attention at a dinner party. They are the stories that you will remember the most for years to come and the ones most likely to make you smile when you think back to them on a dull day when you question what you have done with your life.

I’m sure I have many of moments like this coming my way in the next few weeks – walking around Old Delhi at night could have easily become one – but I’m ready to embrace whatever comes my way: doing what needs to be done to stay safe and dragging myself out the other side with a smile (sans wallet if necessary).

So here are a few from previous travels, some more extreme than others…but all now fond memories:

1. Grumpy and unnecessarily aggressive Russians wanting to fight 1920’s style boxing in a bar in Lukla

2. Running out of daylight on my way back to my poorly chosen hostel in Inglewood, LA, and obliging in awkward conversation with a scar faced guy making enthusiastic gun signs with his hand while listening to music… Turns out he was watching a Britney Spears video (no joke)

3. Being driven the wrong way by a late night taxi driver down the backstreets of Kathmandu. After passing strong questioning by a heavily armed police check point and taking us to undeniably perfect mugging territory, we arrived at our hotel… Turns out there are a lot of one way streets in Kathmandu and sometimes the long way is the only way.

4. A casual mugging attempt in the dark streets leading back to my stereotypical ‘cheap hostel’ in Las Vegas – even equipped with a neon ‘Hostel’ sign with the ‘H’ blinking on and off. After being told “give me your camera” he seemed happy to slink back into the shadows when I politely declined. Had he given me a reason to give it to him – such as pending injury or doom – then I would have handed it over…a bit of a botched job on his part I think.

5. Arriving in Borneo without a plan or place to stay, just a desire to find the orangutan reserve and sort out the rest later. Also later being dropped beside a highway in the middle of nowhere and grabbing the first rickety bus that came past. And finally catching that free ride 3 hours into the countryside to the most awesome riverside hut (and a large population of leeches).

6. Getting drunk on $1 tequila shots on a quick jump over the boarder to Tijuana Mexico for a night out… And walking back through American customs at 2 am trying to look sober, only to be a asked by customs if I had tried the mechanical bull in one of the clubs…”yes, yes I did. Thank you and good evening”

 

So although I am not hunting for trouble and I generally accept FCO no travel guidelines, I try to be aware of anything and everything that could happen rather than what will probably happen.

Being present in the moment and knowing what is important and what isn’t is usually the key. For example: I carry a money belt (usually kept in a safe place rather than on me) that contains my passport, spare cash, insurance emergency number and a credit card. If the worst happens, I can do anything with this one small pouch, making everything else expendable.

All my clothes can go, my daily wallet can go and even (painfully) my camera is ultimately expendable… preferably without the memory card, but that can go too if it must.

Small things like this leave me open to enjoy the experience, not to worry too much and to know that in hindsight any misfortune will become part of the adventure.

Let me know your crazy travel stories on my Facebook page, I would genuinely love to hear them!

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