Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Worst thing that's happened to you whilst travelling?

Gadling recently had a post in which they discussed author Chuck Thompson's new book Smile While You're Lying. As part of their post they invited people to write in with tales of the worst things that had happened to them whilst travelling. Like most travellers I've had a few things happen to me on my travels so I though I'd post one of my horror stories. Technically I wasn't travelling but was actually working in Indonesia, in any case I think that the story holds up. What tempted me to write in was that they were offering 5 free books to the best "worst thing thats happened to you" travel stories.
Today I received an email saying I've won the book. So I've decided to repost my exact post from that site here. The details are mostly true although I will admit to being slightly hazy about the actual timing of the events. They're close enought to accurate anyway.

Lets see ...the time I got pulled over at gun point travelling in the back of a strangers car whilst crossing the Guatemalan border into Honduras ... nope

The time I walked through the flooded streets of Calcutta and a rat thought I was an escape raft ... nope

How about the time I worked in Indonesia managing a remote resort .. ah yes ..that one

I managed this remote resort on the island of Java. The country was in upheaval, students had recently been shot on the streets of Jakarta and my security manager came into see me.

"Pak", he says. "Bad news. The local people they not like the resort making money on their land. They coming tomorrow to burn it down".

"ok", says I, attempting to be calm. "time to put our contingency plans into gear". Thinking all along how absurd it was that I had contingency plans, for rioting villagers, ready to go.

12 hours later our guests had been relocated along with non emergency personnel

18 hours later the local military had set up barbed wire outside the resort entrance. Their Sergeant was setting their lines of fire. This was most definitely not part of the contingency plan which consisted mostly of getting the hell out of there just after our guests had buggered off.

18 hours and 2 minutes later I was furiously trying to find a solution and panicking at the sight of armed men playing with their weapons.

20 hours later the owners of the resort finally send a delegation down from Jakarta.

22 hours later the Jakarta delegation pays off the local Kepala Desa (Village Headman) and he persuades his villagers we're good people after all.

2 days later I visit the village with food and gifts. They invite me in for lunch. Nice people..I should go back some time.