Read the paragraphs below and match them to their corresponding heading A-I. There are two headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.
A - I ate street food and drink tap water
B - I wear skimpy clothes
C - I went to places tagged with adverse travel warnings
D - I’ve climbed mountains and hiked trails solo
E - I’ve gone to strange new countries unprepared
F - I’ve gotten too drunk to remember anything
G - I’ve travelled without ANY insurance – 0 Example
H - I’ve trusted strangers with my valuables (and my life)
I - I’ve walked alone at night many times
Traveling rules I’ve broken along the way
This is a big no-no! They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t really afford to travel at all. I want it, but I haven’t really found a company that has convinced me. I’m willing to sacrifice a chunk of my hard earned savings for security. But I’m not completely sold whenever I read the fine print. For example, did you know that you’ll need to file a proper incident and police report to claim for theft or robbery? But what if you didn’t have the time for that? Also, they won't reimburse your medical bills if you’ve been found driving a motorbike without a proper licence and helmet. But the reality is, no one really cares in Indonesia where people start driving at the age of 9.
While traveling across Southeast Asia and Latin America solo, I’ve started to cross borders without a guidebook nor a hostel booking. Backpackers usually just show up to a place, walk around to find a hostel, which is what I did in Koh Chang. Unfortunately, it was Chinese New Year that weekend and everything was fully booked. I remember walking around the island with other travellers who arrived late on the ferry with me that night. Even the camping spots were bursting with tents and hammocks. After about a couple of hours of desperately searching, we found bungalows that were three times our budget, but at 1:00 am, we had to give in.
Thank goodness I’ve never had any problems with my stomach, even after traveling India where my friends remembered to brush their teeth with bottled water, yet still got the Delhi belly. I guess my digestive system is a little stronger than most. I grew up in a third world country where I eat any kind of food and drink ice from running water. Some people I’ve travelled with are so careful, they don’t even order salad because they’re not sure of the quality of water the vegetables have been washed with. So some of them just end up ordering boiled rice. Yum. I don’t know how they can pass up a delicious plate of gado-gado or a halo-halo!
Because of food of course. And because sometimes you really don’t have a choice. In Puerto Viejo, all the taxis are unmarked, dodgy looking cars. You wonder, “Which is safer? Walking in the dark by myself or taking an unmarked cab with an unidentified driver?” I don’t know! My advice, try to walk with other travellers or worst case scenario, walk really fast and try not to look like a tourist. Let the receptionist or someone in your hostel know what time you’re supposed to be back at the hostel.
It was the Yi-Peng (lantern) Festival in Chiang Mai and the whole town was in a celebratory mood. We walked to 7-11 and bought a big bottle of Chang, a brand of beer with higher alcohol percentage than what I was used to. Let’s just say, I made very bad choices that night. Never ever get too wasted to know your way home, even if you’re with friends you trust completely!
It was scorching hot in Cartagena, Colombia early in January. 32°C to be exact. So I wore my shortest shorts, my yoga top and of course, was catcalled by the locals the whole time. I tried to ignore each comment “Hola, chinita! Guapa! Vamos a mi cama!” as I tried to appreciate the colonial surroundings. But at the end of the day, I walked back to my hostel, sick to my stomach because of all the bad energy I absorbed. In these situations, either you die of heat wearing conservative attire, or just completely ignore everyone’s comments. It’s really your choice.
Hitching rides on the back of motorbikes is probably the biggest gamble I do on a regular basis. I’ve gotten in a few accidents, all in Indonesia. The worst one landed me in the ER with scrapes all over my body and a head concussion from riding with a drunk driver. I’ve learned to take my bicycle everywhere with me instead!
Photo: Adi on Love the Search
1E 2A 3I 4F 5B 6H