Five of My Most Unrepeatable Travel Experiences

As winter was drawing to an end during a rather gloomy February evening, I was doing what I do best  – procrastinating in a feeble attempt to avoid sorting out the kitchen, distracting myself from the Alpine-sized ironing pile and using Twitter as a nifty little distraction.

Using technology to hide from reality
Using technology to hide from reality

I had just published a post about an experience I had in Marrakech. It generated a few giggles amongst bloggers, which gave me a warm gooey core, since “funny” is not something I’d ever dream of putting on my CV. Then, during the midst of some Twitter banter, I was asked if I would go through it again. After a moment of indecision, I concluded I probably would not, carelessly joking that things you would never do again would make for a great link up one day. And thus this month’s theme was born.

Many of us have no hesitation in bellowing out our praise for that breathtaking destination, that iconic hotel or that memorable tour. But hands up, how many of you have actually posted about that awful hostel, that Bangkok ladyboy you nearly went home with (don’t worry Mum and Dad, not me!) or that time you got the runs eating crushed ice from a street cart in India? (If you think the last one sounds like madness, Pumpkin actually did this and from the vile description of what followed, I can only assume then got cholera.)

Our treasure troves of travel memories would be uncomfortably lacklustre if they weren’t interspersed with a few cringe worthy stories and with that in mind, I’m dishing the dirt on a few of mine with a frank admission of the sentiments they became affiliated with.

Five Unrepeatable Travel Experiences

Activity: The Moroccan Hammam

Setiment: (MAJOR) Embarrassment

I’ve written an entire post on this so I won’t dwell on it too much here but suffice to say that spending one’s birthday virtually stark-naked whilst being scrubbed down by two strangers in a poorly lit room, all the while feeling flushed and woozy from being cocooned in giant cloud of steam is not my definition of relaxation. Rosa Bonheur Hammam MarrakechMy skin may have felt softer than a baby’s bottom by the time the sun had retired and the soothing Argan oil did have a way of erasing away my stresses but I was always the girl who would hide in the corner of the changing room at school and until I can wear a few more clothes in a Hammam, I’ll be steering clear.hammam spa products Rosa Bonheur Marrakech

Activity: Going on a boat in pitch black skies and torrential rain

Sentiment: Marital discord

We’d been married just over six months when we arrived in the intriguing and lush island of Borneo. After a few days of beach luxury at the Shangri La in Kota Kinabalu, we were eager to delve into Borneo’s remote nature locations with a river safari and overnight stay along the Kinabatangan river. On our tour were a delightful British couple, married for over thirty years and despite this age difference, the four of us gelled rather well.Kinabatangan river cruise views As night time approached, we had one remaining activity scheduled – a boat trip to see fireflies. With the monsoon rains rapidly gathering momentum, we were given the option to go ahead but warned it was highly unlikely they would be seen. The violent shards of rain were pounding the river voraciously and the sky was that disconcerting shade of black, where even the contours of your loved ones are difficult to decipher. We wouldn’t go. It was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned and the other lady in our group agreed. It seemed dark and a little intimidating with nothing to gain in return but unfortunately, a misplaced streak of adventure in our husbands robbed them of all sense and they were determined to go ahead.Kinabatangan river safari

Equipped with three decades of marriage, my respective fellow pained wife stood by her decision and went back to the peaceful oasis of the lodge to enjoy a spot of reading to the cathartic sound of rainfall. But marred by the infatuation of a newlywed, I resisted my instincts and joined the men. We got drenched, I felt scared and unsurprisingly, no fireflies graced our presence. Upon returning to our room, Pumpkin got a royal nagging but with a few years of marriage now under my belt, next time I will leave him to his own devices!

Activity: Swimming up close to a venomous sea snake

Sentiment: Ignorance

Those of you who have kindly been reading my posts for a while may know that I find snorkelling utterly enchanting. Snorkelling in the Maldives has probably been my marine-life travel highlight but seeing a new creature gliding through the ocean, wherever that may be, always heightens that sense of discovery. When a black and white banded sea snake was pointed out to me during a recent snorkel trip in Koh Lanta, I was dumbfounded.Scubafish snorkel trip Koh LantaI swum up in curiosity but our ancient camera wouldn’t focus and I was determined to capture at least one good photograph. I swam closer and clicked away and only when I resurfaced was I enlightened about my madness. Apparently sea snakes are amongst the most venomous creatures in the ocean and whilst they are unlikely to attack unless provoked, you would be in rather a pickle if they did.

On what planet did I think it would be a good idea to intentionally wander within inches of a snake?! beaded water sea snake 

Activity: Asking a hemiplegic man to take a photo of me

Sentiment – Humiliation

It may have been before the genre of eyesore selfie-sticks and multi-functional smart phones but long before “selfies” were credited with a name, generations of eager travellers have been turning the camera round on themselves and awkwardly turning timers on. Pumpkin and I have a vast collection of unflattering photos of nose close-ups and chopped faces from our failed attempts. Sometimes it’s just easier to ask someone if they mind photographing the two of you.Vienna Schloss Schonbrunn Christmas Market At the Vienna Chistmas Markets a couple of years ago, I sheepishly turned my head trying to spot someone within the crowds who didn’t look too grumpy, too rushed and would understand my request. After extensive dithering, I approached a man with a friendly face, arms by his side and standing casually with family. I asked whether he would possibly mind taking a photo of the two of us. He smiled understandingly, stating “sure, no problem but if you could just ask her”, pointing to his wife who was walking back towards him, before then pointing to his left arm….a left arm which was not moving, not even an inch.Vienna main Christmas marketAnd that’s when it dawned on me – it’s not that he wasn’t moving it; it was that he couldn’t move it. He had full left sided paralysis, which is not uncommon after a stroke for example. I was mortified at my actions and from the instant that the humiliating realisation of what I had just done sunk in and his wife clicked away courteously, I apologised profusely, my cheeks suffused a cherry red before speedily dashing to the exit. He laughed graciously in good spirits but this little piggy cringed all the way home. In a market full of people, I had managed to select a man who couldn’t move one arm – and as a GP at that! The shame! Needless to say, it did not take long for Pumpkin to break into fits of hysteria at my embarrassing faux pas and I was endlessly grateful for the light-hearted understanding the gentleman in question showed me.

Activity: Eating Durian

Sentiment/Symptom: Repulsion/Nausea

During our honeymoon in Zanzibar, Pumpkin and I visited a traditional spice farm. It is almost a rite of passage there, as the whole island is known for its spice exports. We were Durian virgins and left feeling a little violated. Sorry, durian-lovers.


Whilst there, we were told that the renowned fruit “tastes like heaven but smells like hell”. I am partial to most fruits and gladly handed forth my open palms when offered a taste. It was not good. It was foul in fact but to take a loathing to any form of fruit is most uncharacteristic so whilst Pumpkin feigned botox to avoid causing offence, I volunteered to try a second piece. And a third. Unfortunately, repetition was not the key to this puzzle and with each inch of Durian-laden residue melting into my tongue, the flavour only became more unpalatable. We even experimented with Durian ice cream and biscuits but this is one food item which can’t be rescued with even a sugary facade!

What have you done on your travels that you would NEVER do again?

Join us between 1st May – 7th May by adding your link below or hopping over to the blogs of Emma, Kelly or Rebecca and showing some blogger love by sharing and commenting on some of your favourite link up posts.


55 thoughts on “Five of My Most Unrepeatable Travel Experiences

  1. Oh the hammam story sounds hilarious (though) I bet it wasn’t at the time, it’s actually nice to look back on these things isn’t it and know what we wouldn’t do again now!
    Lots of love,

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 12:32 pm

      Hehe, I agree Angie! Fortunately I can now laugh about this though it was just a couple of months ago, I felt SO exposed and embarrassed! It might have been better if I had known what was coming but I always just thought a “hammam spa” experience was just a different take on a spa – I didn’t realise how much more undressing is required! 😦

  2. Sea snakes? That has been on my bucket list for years! I’m so jealous of your experience, girl! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 12:33 pm

      Thank you Agness! The sea snake was really impressive to look at but I just didn’t realise how poisonous they are! :mrgreen:

  3. I *loved* the way you formatted this post … complete with sentiments summing up the experiences! I smiled all the way through reading this … especially at durian, which I hate! And yes, I tried several bites too … and, yup, still not a fan. At all.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 12:36 pm

      Aww thank you Jaime for your kind words! I wasn’t going to write anything about sentiments but as I was writing, I found myself reliving all those same sentiments again so thought I’d put those thoughts to good use in the post! I’m glad you feel the same way about durian! I’m a very unfussy eater so it’s really unusual for me to really dislike something but we were definitely onto a winner in those stakes with Durian :mrgreen:

  4. This was such a good read! I could see myself doing all of these things. Most of the time I feel like a magnet for embarrassing/ignorant situations. That probably says more about me as a person than it does the universe sending unfortunate incidents my way, though. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 12:57 pm

      Oh dear, I’m sure it’s just coincidence Sarah ☺ It does make me feel less like a fool though that you could also see yourself doing some of these things! Thank you so much for reading and for a lovely comment ☺

  5. Just what I needed – a good laugh! Sorry it was at your expense, but you’re right, those misadventures do make good stories!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 12:58 pm

      Haha, thanks Char! I’m glad my horror stories cheered you up!! But travel wouldn’t be quite the same without these mishaps and memories – I’m sure you must have a few stories up your sleeve too young lady! :mrgreen:

  6. LondonKiwiEmma May 1, 2015 — 9:57 pm

    I have to say, I’m glad I read about your Hamman before we were in Marrakesh – I wouldn’t have known how to react!!
    I adore the formatting of this – and also think you write with a perfect dry kind of humour – right up my street!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:01 pm

      Oh thank you Emma! That’s a lovely comment to read as I’m notoriously known for laughing at Dad jokes and can’t say I’m known for my funny streak!! But yes the hammam was quite an experience, all the more so because I too had arrived at it totally unprepared about what actually goes on in there!

  7. Ohh the durian… the down fall of so many! Hehe 🙂 Those are some absolutely fantastic stories though, even with the not so funny at the times ones, you’re lucky to have had so many amazing experiences!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:16 pm

      Thank you Jess! Yes, I think it’s important to remember that despite the mishaps and embarrassing moments, that I’m still grateful to have had a chance to have these experiences. Except the durian – don’t know if I’m all too grateful for that one 😄

  8. God I hope someone blogs about a Bangkok lady boy! I giggled all the way through this. My fave line: “marred by the infatuation of a newlywed” I don’t know why but that deserves a chortle and a half x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:20 pm

      Haha, thank you Frankie! I think a lady can make some very bad decisions when in a state of infatuation in the early stages of married life! Thankfully, I now make more sensible choices. And yes, the link up posts have been just brilliant so far though I agree, a Bangkok ladyboy related confession would perhaps complete things :mrgreen:

  9. Great thinking for this months theme! They are great things to never do again – in fact I will never go to a hammam as the thought terrifies me too! The snake, I had to scan past that at high speed – that is my WORST nightmare come true…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:22 pm

      Thank you Anna! So pleased you enjoyed the theme and I see your post also made reference to a snake too! I’d never have gone to the hammam had I known semi nudity was involved! Once I was there, there wasn’t a lot I could do but despite how nice my skin felt at the end, I really can’t see myself doing it again!

  10. I must be mad but I would actually go back to a hammam! The sea snake must have been scary, impressed that you got such a great photo though

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:26 pm

      Thank you Suze, I think the actual problem was that it wasn’t scary at all in that moment because the possibility of them being venomous totally escaped me otherwise I’d never have gone near it! I can see why you’d go back to a Hammam; once I had my robe back on, I was fine but it’s the semi – nudity in front of strangers that I simply can’t see myself dashing back for any time soon!

  11. I’m sure I could come up with a few similar stories, which are very charming btw:) but I am blessed with a short memory when it comes to regrets and embarrassments, and I don’t really want to revive it.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 1:53 pm

      Haha, I wish I was blessed with an equally short memory with some of these stories Mettte so I completely understand that ☺ Thanks so much for reading!

  12. Oh gosh I cringed reading that hemiplegic story, I have done similar things in the hospital though where I have just wanted to die on the spot so I guess it happens to everyone! Such a good post, it was a great read 🙂

    Ash | Liakada Travel

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:32 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who has done it Ash – I was just mortified when I realised and seriously, what were the odds?! Thank you so much as always for reading ☺

  13. travelingsaurus May 3, 2015 — 7:09 pm

    Hahaha these are fantastic!! I’m glad you are willing to share these great tales with the rest of us 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:33 pm

      Hehe, thanks Heather! It’s funny how with a bit of perspective, we can go from feeling so horrendously embarrassed or ignorant to being able to laugh about it and tell the world! I guess it’s all part of the fun of travelling ☺

  14. I like your Durian story. I’ve hosted the Malaysia booth at a couple Multicultural Fairs at my kids’ schools. At each one, I offer people a piece of Durian candy after telling them that it’s the stinkiest fruit in the world and that it tastes like it smells. I wish I had a video camera to capture all the expressions. I was kind enough to provide a rubbish can underneath the table for those who had to spit it out immediately. Surprisingly, a few kids liked it and came back for more. Or were they just pranking a friend?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:39 pm

      Haha, that’s so funny Michelle – o wonder if they were just pranking / daring each other or whether some of the kids of today really do just have very worldly palates :mrgreen: And that was really great forward thinking of you to provide a bin – I’m guessing it was just candy you were dishing out and not the actual fruit to avoid stinking out the entire school?!

  15. Aww Shikha, I was feeling every sentiment along with you in this post! Bravo for your bravery in getting a photo of the sea snake, I think I would have been swimming off very quickly in the opposite direction…

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:42 pm

      Aww thank you for empathising Polly ☺ I’d love to claim bravery but bravery would have been knowing it was highly venomous and still swimming up to it – what I put together was a careful balance of ignorance and dippiness!! Still, I think I would have totally panicked if I had known so maybe it was a blessing in disguise ☺

  16. Haha I had a giggle, I’m with Pumpkin with the ice / ice cream tummy problems – it’s totally possible! Next time you need to send Pumpkin to get the photo of the snake as payback for the fire fly incident xx
    P.S. Looking forward to visiting the hamman in Morocco in a few weeks time 😉 x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:46 pm

      Are you really doing a Hammam when you go Kelly?? Love to hear what you make of it. I was embarrassed enough at this couple’s one so Lord only knows how I’d have coped at the authentic ones where you’re starkers in front of a huge group of women!! Yes and as you can imagine, Pympkin’s incident was long before we met when he was a teenager but seriously of all the street food to eat in India?! Crushed ice from tap water all clumped together by someone’s hands?! I’d be more amazed if he hadn’t have gotten horribly unwell :mrgreen:

      1. Most likely, the hotel has a hamman and I’ve been to the public ones before in the Middle East / North Africa and it doesn’t faze me at all. G took my dad to a real locals Hamman in Turkey (no tourists go there ever!) and my dad came racing out saying oh my god i have to take my undies off, stripped off and ran back inside giggling!

        1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 8:27 am

          Haha that’s hilarious! I think my Dad would have walked out and never turned back! I wish I was a little more unfazed – perhaps a slosh of alcohol would help at times like that 😁

  17. I love the idea for this post!! I didn’t have time to join the link up, but maybe I’ll still write one of my own someday (though most of mine may have to do with food and tummy issues)! I didn’t try durian while in Singapore. The fruit was everywhere, but it smelled so bad that I didn’t try. I did however have durian ice cream and candy before and I don’t mind those. The boat ride in the storm sounds just awful, but those pictures are gorgeous!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2015 — 3:49 pm

      Aww thank you Anna, yes the Kinabatangan river was very serene and beautiful and we were lucky at least that it hadn’t rained the rest of the day so we got to enjoy it! yes, even if you can’t write it for the link up, I’d love to hear some of your tales! You’ve been on the road so long that I’m sure you have plenty more great stories we still haven’t heard! And good call on the durian – trust me, you’ve really done yourself a favour! :mrgreen:

  18. Your posts always make me giggle Shikha! There are always things that we wouldn’t do again and things so embarrassing that we’d never talk about them on the blog but I guess these experiences are all part of what makes travelling so exciting. I would probably be the same as you with the sea snake purely because of my love for animals. Not sure how you ever lived that down, asking that man to take a photo of you. Mortifying!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 8:29 am

      Aww thank you Ayla! I’m glad it got a few giggles – honestly mortifying is absolutely the right word. I just couldn’t believe that I’d asked him out of everyone there! And yes I completely agree, these are the stories you remember the most I think from travelling and it’s been great reading everyone’s collection of memories in this link up ☺

  19. You should definitely be adding ‘funny’ to your CV as all of these stories are hilarious! I love that you actually followed your husband on to the boat ride in Borneo! And can’t believe you kept swimming towards the sea snakes – though that photo does look kind of worth it! Still not tried durian myself, but I think that’s one of those things everyone has got to try at least once – at least you know not to try it again now though!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 8:32 am

      Oh thank you so much Catherine! I’m so glad you found it a funny read ☺ Looking back on that boat ride, I don’t know what I was thinking – we got on the boat in torrential rain so I don’t know if it was infatuation or utter madness!! I wouldn’t do it again that’s for sure 😁 And as glad as I was to get a good sea snake pic, there’s not a chance in hell I’d have taken it if I’d realised how poisonous they are!

  20. Hahaha, I have a similar snake story, only not in the ocean but in the Australian bush!
    I’ve been left soaked, cold, shivering, uncomfortable quite often with Chris’s wildlife photography. I just never learn and stay behind, I guess curiosity urges me to experience it all! (and moan about it after/during!)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 8:35 am

      Hehe,oh wow, I didn’t realise Chris did wildlife photography – I can imagine you’ve had to get into all sorts of exciting positions and locations for that Rachel! I did plenty of whinging myself both at the time and afterwards I can assure you 😁 And the idea of land snakes absolutely terrifies me even more for some reason, which is strange as surely it’s easier to run from one than swim?!

  21. It’s so funny how our attitudes change once we have been married for a few years!! I totally get where you are coming from with your Borneo story. This post was hilarious!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 8:47 am

      So glad you enjoyed it Carolann! Yes the love is very much still there but I no longer feel the need to get drenched in a dark river in Borneo because of it! :mrgreen: Thank you so much for reading!

  22. oh my gosh, the snake!!! never in a million years. I’ve also gone along with things because my bf has wanted to do them, and then held them against him when they were horrible.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 9:00 am

      Hehe, I’m often guilty that myself Danielle! Next time, I’ll happily just let him get on with it if that’s what he wants and I’ll stay behind! And trust me, if I’d known it’s so venomous, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near it in a million years either! Close call eh?! 😁

  23. Me and the other half keep saying about trying durian ‘cos we haven’t been brave enough. Maybe it would be best just to give it a miss lol!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 9:01 am

      Hehe, don’t subject yourself to it Keri – I highly doubt you’ll think it was worth it at the end of it….of course if you’re cross with the other half for any reason, then a piece of durian may come in handy! 😁

  24. I personally was too overwhelmed with the smell of Durian in Singapore to try it; and even though I love snorkeling too I would probably swim in the opposite direction at the mere mention of a water snake! Clearly I’m a bit of a wuss! 😛

    I experienced a Hammam in Istanbul, and though I was uncomfortable at the naked-ness of it, the worst part was that I had giant knockers in my face for half of it… OMG that Hammam Lady! Why the hell did she have to be naked too!
    But I did feel pretty great, relaxed, after; so I might just put myself through this ordeal again! But sshh.. Don’t tell anyone I said that 😛

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2015 — 9:13 am

      Haha, rather you than me Upasna!! And seriously,the lady doing the hammam was half naked too?! Omg!! Ps, I know I’m biased after writing this article but I really don’t think you missed out on much by skipping the durian! It ain’t no mango or watermelon – believe me!

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