Travel disaster stories

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Travel disaster stories

Postby Zuleika » Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:28 pm

Out of curious morbid fascination call it what may - can we swap travel disaster stories here???


I get stuck in a cyclone in outback Western Australia. Me and my boyfriend had just made it to a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere when the cyclone struck during the night. We were sleeping(!?) in the car as there was no where else - it was very scary! We went right through the eye which is very strange. Then the next day the floods came and washed away Highway 1 both in front of us and behind us so there was no getting out - luckily our small patch of road survived but it was touch and go. We were stuck for 6 days until Australian Air rescue came and resued us in a helicopter! Scary but an adventure nevertheless!!
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby thecakeisalie » Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:20 am

Wow, quite an experience! When I read the title of this thread I was thinking more along the lines of "the video system wasn't working on my trans-Pacific flight and I couldn't find my Ipod" disaster, not "holy crap, we may not survive" disaster. Good story! But how did you contact the rescue? Or better yet, how did they find you?
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby Zuleika » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:17 pm

where next? wrote:Wow, quite an experience! When I read the title of this thread I was thinking more along the lines of "the video system wasn't working on my trans-Pacific flight and I couldn't find my Ipod" disaster, not "holy crap, we may not survive" disaster. Good story! But how did you contact the rescue? Or better yet, how did they find you?



Luckily we had made it to a roadhouse and they had satellite phone!
I have added a couple of pics - Ausralia's main Highway 1 that goes all the way round Australia - being completely destroyed, and the chopper to the rescue!

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Highway 1 - somewhere under the water!
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Rescue!
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Last edited by Zuleika on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby jimshu » Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:18 pm

Yeah, I was wondering where this thread was going to go also.Could be very interesting.Glad it turned out OK in the end Zuleika.
We have just had a flash flood disaster here in N Z.with 7 people killed.Real sad.

No real disasters for me to relate....but nearly.
Arriving in UlaanBaatar,off the Trans-Mongolian from Irkutsk,at 5.30 am, we were met by our Mongolian host families.Our party of 23 were then shown around UB for the morning , then with a full on lunch midday.The plan was to drive by hired bus to Khar Khorin, a 'few' hours drive we were told.But organisation was not a Mongolian strength, so, after visiting a farm ger camp out in the country that afternoon,many other false starts, we finally got on our bus and tookoff at 9PM at night!
So imagine travelling at night, over unsealed ,hugely potholed roads, where they existed, very few other traffic,no way of communicating if there was a smash,driver falling asleep at the wheel, passengers taking it in turns to keep him awake,the hosts telling us 'Just a few hours to go'.
A recipe for disaster!
Finally arriving at our tourist ger camp at Khar Khorin at 5.30 AM.
What fun we all had.And that was our intro to Mongolia.
But a wonderful homestay for the rest of the week.
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby jimshu » Fri May 02, 2008 7:02 pm

Well, gladly,not too many disaster tales to tell from you all.
Here's a tale that I hope proves of precautionary benefit to all.Not a disaster, but a terrifying experience for young inexperienced travellers.
Taxi scams at many airports are rife.
2 first time traveller 18 year old young English girls joined our tour in India.But arriving at Delhi airport at night, taxi touts harrassed them to take a certain taxi.The driver takes off, offers to ring their hotel to confirm their booking.Rings "them 'on his mobile, hands it over to them for them to be told 'No booking for you,sorry".The driver probably had rang his brother......
So driver then says no accommodation now in Delhi because of festival, and he will have to take them to Agra!
Off they go.2 scared girls off into the night.
So a night in Agra, then told they have to go Jaipur as no more accom in Agra because of ..you guessed it...festival!
Finally back to Delhi on the 3rd day to find their original hotel wondering where they are.
Meantime they had been coerced into handing over $650 dollars for the privelege of being highjacked!

So ...use the GAP airport transfers if in doubt.
Or check whether there is a prepaid taxi office inside the airport terminal.These taxis will be legitimate.
Or ring the hotel number yourself!
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby Zuleika » Mon May 05, 2008 6:09 pm

That reminds me of when me and a girl friend first arrived in Mumbai at around midnight with all our worldly possessions let alone all our cash! We wanted to go to Goa - only 600 Km away!! - So we went out to the taxi rank and asked around. Finally we found a chap willing too take us. It was only when we were in his taxivan going down a dark alley that we suddenly realised our folly - it was hard not to panic! How could we have been soooo stupid?!
As he pulled into a driveway we decided to make a run for it if we could - difficult with luggage.
But then, out came his wife and 4 daughters - he wanted us to meet them - he also wanted to say farewell to them as Goa is an 18 hour drive oneway and so he wouldnt be seeing them for a few days. He was lovely, took us all the way there, stopped in great (real) Indian foodstops, even helping us order. He only charged us £70 - we thought was a real bargain but would probably feed his family for a month or more.

I learned a very good and valuable lesson here regarding safety. I was lucky.
But i also learned that there actually are some very good kind people - if you are lucky enough to come across them from the scammers.
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby JacJacJackie » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:58 am

I hear so many taxi scams - scary!
mine is a funny travel disaster which also involves Mongolia-
after a few "ceremonial Chiggis Khan" vodkas and playing Uno card games by torchlight near the Russian border, I went for a quick visit to the "ladies" (ie over the other side of a fence that stopped yaks wandering into the camp) - Daddy Yak wasnt too pleased so I had to make an unplanned exit, yelping and running with jeans around ankles pursued by a bellowing yak, jumping the fence, only to blunder into the wrong ger (they all look the same!) and promptly fall asleep.
I wake up a few hours later to find a small Korean man asleep also in my ger - sleeping on the frozen ground (only 1 small wooden bed)- and realised Not Only was I in the wrong ger- but had taken this man's only bed! Imagine his surprise to find a 5ft11" white female crashed out in his ger - making him sleep on the ground 'cos he didn't wanto wake me :( so I snuck out - hurdling the small Korean man on the floor, found my ger & my female travel companions were like: "he-llllooo!3am- where have you been??!" and I replied "I don't know where I was! Somehow I managed to wake up in the wrong ger!! *oops* " good conversation over fermented yak porridge the next morning :)
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby jimshu » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:12 pm

RAFLMAO!!! :lol:
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby JaliscoJudy » Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:48 pm

I've never experienced a true travel disaster, i.e., where people got hurt or the trip was ruined, but there have been some near misses. Last fall my husband, Allen, and I were in Quito, Ecuador and hurried to board a very crowded electric trolley. I made it in fine, but the door closed on Allen's neck. That's right, his head was inside the trolley but his feet were still on the platform. All the passengers started shouting at the driver and those closest to Allen tried in vain to pry open the doors. Even with everyone screaming, the driver would not open the doors and I was sure he was going to pull away. Yikes! :shock:

Disaster was averted when the driver finally decided to open the doors but as Allen started to step into the car, the driver pulled up the ramp that bridged the gap between the station and the trolley car and closed the doors again. Ha. Ha. :twisted:

I shouted to Allen that I'd meet him at the next stop (we hadn't considered in advance what we'd do if we became separated). Then, for some unknown reason, the driver extended the ramp, opened the doors and let Allen board.

So, make sure your partner's life insurance is paid up and have an agreement of where to meet if you become separated before you board the trolleys in Quito. :)
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby jimshu » Sat Sep 27, 2008 4:23 pm

Sounds like the couple we met on the tour down from Phnom Pehn down to Saigon.
We last saw him on the back of a motorbike, trying to find his partner...who was on the pillion of another,they had been separated in the hordes of motorbikes in Chau Doc,......and her driver could speak no English.... and she did not know which hotel they were heading for.......

:roll: :roll: :roll:
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby GregWTravels » Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:40 am

I have two good stories which have entertained the masses at cocktail parties.

The first was in La Paz, Bolivia. I flew in from Buenos Aires. My plan had been to hang around for a couple days, then travel overland to Cusco and go and see Machu Pichu. Unfortunately, I was feeling bad as soon as I arrived and I never really adjusted to the altitude. After 3 days it was obvious I was getting worse - finding it hard to breathe, losing concentration skills, lethargic all the time. I decided to take the bus out to Chile the next day and skip Machu Pichu.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of gun fire! Turns out 7000 striking police officers clashed with the army, and a fire fight had broken out. The entire city was shut down, and soon the violent protests spread to other cities. I tried calling the Canadian embassy, but they were closed due to the unrest. Just when you really need your embassy, they close! I was just stuck in my hotel.

Around 3 o'clock things seemed to quiet down (at least in La Paz. In other cities the rioting continued). I ventured out to find some water and food. Most stores were still closed, but a few were open and I was able to buy some peaches and 4 liters of water. Walking back to my hotel it was interesting to watch the people of La Paz on the streets. Some young boys were playing soccer on a street that was normally bustling with traffic, groups of people were having casual discussions on street corners, a young couple walked by my hand in hand. Less than 3 hours ago armed combatants had been running down these streets, and now people used them so casually.

That was the most amazing thing about the whole "siege" incident was how incredibly boring and un-scary it was. There was nothing to do but wait, so you waited. There was nothing you could do, so you didn't worry. And now that it was over, the people of La Paz got back at living their lives. Maybe the Bolivians are more practiced at it, but I wonder what Toronto would be like 4 hours after tanks were called in to crush an armed rebellion.

It took me a couple more days due to the backlog of passengers, but I eventually got out of La Paz and down to the rich oxygen environment (and sunny beach) of Arica, Chile.

More details, for those interested, on my blog at http://gregwtravels.travellerspoint.com/26/

Not learning my lesson regarding altitude, I decided a few years later to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The first 3 days of the climb was fine, but on the fourth day things didn't go well. I really started to feel the altitude and started to lose my balance. My breathing became shallow and phlemy.

We were camped at 14,000 ft., but I didn't get any sleep. As soon as I lay down I started to cough, and it wouldn't let up at all for the entire night. Somewhere in the middle of the night, I started to hear a crackling from my lungs. 6:30am came way too soon.

The next morning, the guide listened to my chest, and decided that I should go down, as I was showing signs of having HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). It was quite a trip down, taking from 8:30 in the morning until almost 11:00 pm at night to get me down, both by me walking, being carried and even on the stretcher! No more high altitude for me.

More details of my mountain adventure can be found on my blog, if anyone is interested: GregWTravels to Kilimanjaro, and gets really sick... (http://gregwtravels.travellerspoint.com/66/)
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby MAGman » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:04 pm

One tale sticks in my mind. 2006, April. we're on a 3 week trip to Egypt. On the first day we wake up in Sharm with a planned trip to Nakari (4 1/2 hours south of Hurghada) ahead of us for a week of snorkelling, diving,boating, swimming and chilling. We had planned to use the "fast cat" ferry from Sharm to Hurghada but the sea was too rough and it was cancelled. Bummer. No alternative ferry, or fishing boat! No flights either for 2 days, can't charter a helicopter (yup we even considered that) because that's only for the president or military. The buses were rubbish and unreliable and crowded, did I mention unreliable, crowded and rubbish? So the hotel concierge and travel company rep found us a small mini bus, driver and guide for £200 to drive us 400 miles to Hurghada in 12 hours via the Suez tunnel. The ferry would have taken 90 minutes and 30 miles.
Eventually, after obtaining the necessary police permission for unscheduled tourist travel in Egypt, (read "bribe") we left Sharm. Settled down for a snooze. And ran out of petrol shortly after leaving Sharm. We're now in the Sinai desert. Our driver flags down a passing truck and we're under way again, being towed by this huge truck, with a short tow rope. Big truck, short tow rope. I move the kids to the back of the mini bus and belt them in. Tow rope snaps, twice. It's shorter now, the truck seems bigger, and closer. 9 miles later we re-fuel. Hallelujah. After passing several burned out buses in the desert. One still smouldering, we arrive in H and meet up with our (original) driver for the last stage to Nakari. We arrive at 5am, only 6 hours later than the planned scedule. The place is in darkness and all locked up so the driver sits there with his hand on the horn until someone shows up. Sorry.
A strange habit to my western mind is the Egyptian drivers reluctance to use their headlights at night. Wears out the bulbs you know! Top tip of the day for travel in Egypt; do it in the daylight. We had a brilliant holiday. I would recommend Egypt to anyone. The people, place, history and culture are fabulous.
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby Bosabum » Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

This really isn't a travel disaster, but it did happen while I was traveling. Last Feb, my house caught on fire trashing just about everything I owned. I'd just gotten off a GAP trip to Macchu Piccu and was trying to enjoy Carnival in Rio before another GAP trip which I had cancel and come back home.
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby Zuleika » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:01 am

Loving all the stories - JacJacJackie yours made me laugh so hard too!!!
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Re: Travel disaster stories

Postby marilyna » Tue Nov 18, 2008 10:41 pm

Here's my story - with a lesson to be learned...
My son (19) had been living in Thailand while his gf was teaching english. As it happens, they broke up and my son had no money. So what does he do? He calls mom. I had been wanting to visit Thailand so offered to give him some money if he showed me around.
I arrived late at night in Bangkok after many hours of travel. He was waiting at the airport. We took a cab to the Kho San Road area where he had booked a room. The room was terrible (which indicated to me that my son should never go anywhere without his mom!) so I insisted that we change hotels. We found a nice hotel (Gee mom, this shower has hot water!) for the night.
We got up early the next morning to do some site seeing. It was great. We bought a day pass on the transit system and just went everywhere. We had decided to head back to the hotel and that's when the disaster struck. My son jumped on the train, and I didn't make it on. Here I was, in Bangkok, with no Thai money, no idea where I was, how I got there or even what the name of our hotel was! There are very helpful Tourist Police in Bangkok, but unfortunately I couldn't understand a word of the officers Thailish. Panic!
Wait a minute, I still had my son's cell phone number in case the meet up at the airport didn't work out. I ended up paying way too much USD for a CD just to get some Thai change. Then had to sort out how to use the pay phone. Finally got through to my boy, who only told me to meet him at the river. That's right! I remember early in the morning we walked to the river and took a ferry. So I looked at the transit map (all in Thai) to try to sort out how to get to the river. My guess was that the blue line on the map was the river and the star was "you are here". It took a couple of transfers, but I finally made it back to the river, and there he was - waiting.
So lesson learned - always know the name of your hotel, always have some local cash and even though you have a guide, know where the hell you are!
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