The last seven or so months of travel have had their fair share of “I haven’t seen that before” moments. Some however, have been more odd, unusual or freaky than others. Here is a list of ten of the more memorable ones:
- Whilst we were wandering through one of the ancient Plain of Jars sites in Phonsavan, Lao we heard an almighty boom that filled the air. It scared the bejesus out of us and reverberated for a long while. When we asked our tour guide what it was, he replied ever so nonchalantly that it was a bomb being detonated. Sure enough, as we looked over to some fields in the distance we could see a massive ball of smoke rising in the air. What is particularly noteworthy (aside from the fact that a bomb went off, of course) is the very blasé way in which we were informed of what it was. I guess this is a testament to the fact that there is still a massive amount of unexploded ordnance in this area of the country.
- During an otherwise quiet afternoon on the Thai island of Koh Lanta, we were suddenly thrust into the most scary moment of our lives when a tsunami siren went off and we were caught up in the mass panic of an evacuation. In the confusion I got hit by a motorcycle, broke my arm in two places and suffered from vertigo for a month afterwards due to hits to my head.
- One day driving through Italy we both heard a loud thud, and looked out the car window to see that a bird had fallen out of the sky dead next to our car. It had suffered some untoward incident as it was quite a bloody mess.
- At Genova airport in Italy I had the extreme misfortune to be locked in my toilet cubicle. After numerous attempts and several minutes of trying to unlock the lock, I began to get increasingly alarmed as the cubicle was completely enclosed except for a small gap between the base of the door and the floor. When sheer brute force proved futile – which if I am truthful, was by this stage in fact sheer panicked yanking – I resorted to getting down on the floor on my hands and knees and sticking my arm under the gap, waving it about madly yelling, “Help, help!”. An Italian lady came to my aid and easily opened the door from her side and stared at me somewhat perplexed. I babbled in English that I had tried to get out but couldn’t. I’m fairly sure she thought I was cracked.
- Whilst enjoying a pleasant afternoon stroll through our caravan park in France one afternoon, the serenity was ruined when a bird shat on my head as it flew past. What is even more funny about this incident is that it happened in a week of several bird poo attacks. In the same week, I also had my camera pooed on as I stood taking a photo; my thong got shat on; the little table we ate at got targeted and our car got a comprehensive assault. We have had no other such shit filled weeks before or since.
- One evening as we sat quietly enjoying the view from our campsite over the vineyards of Mersault in France, we heard this extremely loud noise suddenly to our right. Seemingly out of absolutely nowhere, a hot air balloon was hovering only a few metres off the ground just outside the campground. It was quite an unexpected and surprisingly thrilling sight to have sprung upon us. Clearly all our fellow campers felt the same as instantly the place was a hive of activity. People dashed to get their cameras and mobile phones to snap shots of the balloon as it drifted past us and ascended into the sky.
- Sitting at a set of traffic lights one day in France we happened to spot the most bizarre of sights. A man in his wheelchair was waiting in one of the two lanes on his side of the road amongst other vehicles. Despite the fact there were footpaths running adjacent to the road, there he was, waiting patiently with the other mobiles to take off. Well, his wasn’t exactly what I would call a “take off” when the lights did eventually change. He even had a set of blinkers set up on the rear of his wheelchair to indicate his next turns! It is worthwhile mentioning that his wheelchair was not one of those large ride-on contraptions you often see the elderly scooting around in, but a genuine small framed wheelchair. It definitely was not the kind of machine I would want to be sitting in sans crash helmet whilst trying to negotiate the traffic at a snails pace.
- France was one of those countries where the strange sights abounded. We also witnessed one early evening the locals participating in what I can only describe as boat jousting. People faced off to each other and as their boats passed each other they battled with massive jousting sticks.
- Whilst walking along the Thames in London we witnessed a massive police boat go screaming down the river with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. It was traveling so fast that it was getting airborne.
- As we walked down the street in New York a man came sauntering towards me with his black and white cat perched atop his head. It was amazing that the cat could maintain its position on his head for such a long time on this busy street, and even more amazing that the man had somehow trained him to do it. When I made stunned eye contact with the man and his living fur hat, he laughed manically at me!
After finishing this list I decided to add:
- We are now in Quito, Ecuador. It is our first full day after arriving here from North America yesterday. We are staying in a lovely guesthouse in the outskirts of the town, where I am sure we are some of the only gringos who make it out to these parts. We had planned to stay put in our guesthouse to deal with culture shock, practice our Spanish with our friendly hosts and catch up on all of our outstanding blog posts. In short, we intended it to be a time just to bunker down and also have somewhere comfortable where we can access the internet so we can plan our next moves after we return from our Galapagos trip. Not going anywhere far from our immediate surrounds was the key. However, as fate would have it, today a bus driver (apparently drunk according to Paco, our host) smashed into the telegraph pylon about 100 meters up the street from us. The power has been out most of the day and apparently this has also cut the internet. Thus, we will now be heading into town this week to upload our blog posts and do our next lot of travel research. We will go to the South American Explorers Club which is a great place where travellers can go to access information and a myriad of other services in South America. We have membership to this club due to the very thoughtful gift from some of our close friends for our engagement present.