Passport to Death; Dangers of travelling

As a pretty seasoned traveller I feel I have my fair share of travel  horror stories. At the time they scare the hell out of me me and shake me back to reality, a harsh reminder that the world isn’t one big carefree, fluffy cloud to bounce around.

With every adventure comes a real life danger, varying from country to country, from minor theft, car accidents, hi-jacking, kid-napping and even murder. However Although I try not to let these things stop me from living my life the way I want to, it should be said that one should at least beware of possible dangers when travelling.

I have been living in Korea for 5 months now and all anyone outside Korea ever asks is “How dangerous is life there? Are you scared of North Korea attacking?” The answer is always the same…”No”. I am more worried about the rising price of beef due to foot and mouth disease or dying in a nasty bus crash thanks to the crazy Korean bus drivers. North Korea is the least of my worries.

Last night I had a nasty experience with a Korean taxi driver. After agreeing on a fair price he then took our money, tried to drop us off in a totally different city then kept grabbing my arm and not letting me out of the taxi. It was a truly horrific experience. One of the things that got me the most was even if the police were called no doubt they would not have listened to me. I have heard horror stories of the law in Korea always taking the side of the locals over the foreigners irregardless of the truth.

I think its fair to say that every country has its problems, and often you will fins yourself in trouble in a place you least expect it. I remember getting robbed while on holiday in Cape Town when I was just 18 and was absolutely devastated. They cleared out my bank account on the FIRST day of my 6 week trip up the coast. Going through the trauma alone was even worse.

While travelling in Ethiopia 3 years ago we stayed in a hotel that ended up being one of the most disgusting, dirty and down right dangerous brothels I have ever encountered (not that encounter much brothels!!) There were used needles everywhere, the sheets were dirty, I found a rat trying to eat its way into my bag and there were used condoms strewn on the floor.

I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream but as everywhere in the city was booked up it was a last resort. I spent the night curled up in a towel shivering. Men would open my window and try to climb in while others shouted “nice body shape, how muuuch?”. It was an absolute nightmare!!

On the same trip I came down with a nasty bout of dengue fever while trekking in the mountains…becoming ill with an illness you are totally clueless to can be an absolute disaster while abroad. Always bring a first aid kit and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Due to my location the only person I could rely on was a local witch doctor who cured me with natural remedies from plants grown in the Bale mountains.

From dodgy accommodation to dodgy taxi drivers, bus crashes, theft and everything in between travelling is no walk in the park. I guess this post is to ask people to be street wise, walk away from trouble and try to stay in groups late at night. As a female, solo traveller I know there are lots of dangers but I think I am slowly learning how best to avoid them too.

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3 Comments

  1. January 16, 2011 / 8:43 pm

    Those are certainly terrifying stories.. I’ve had a couple of them, too (although I think they’re not that… scary). I got followed by someone through empty streets asking me “how much”, and not a long time ago, someone put something in my drink (in Switzerland – isn’t this supposed to be a safe country?). But besides for that, I think up to now I’ve been quite lucky…

    At least, that hostel you mention sounds like taken out of the worst of all terror movies…

    • intrepidtraveller
      January 17, 2011 / 5:43 am

      I have loads more..didn wanna scare people too much haha. I guess everyone encounters problems when travelling tho, just lil speed bumps!

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