My 10 Worst Travel Experiences

I have been to or lived in sixty-two countries. Most of my experiences have been wonderful and magical. There are a very few that were pretty awful:

  1. Being threatened with being tortured or shot by the army in El Salvador just after the Civil War- they had not made their mind up what to do to me. Clearly, I survived.
  2. Having my bus blown up in the Middle East two stops before mine. I still reflect carefully on life as six  on the bus lost their lives that day.
  3. My flight from Salt Lake City to San Francisco that went through multiple converging snow storms- thought I was going to die as the plane bounced and tossed and spun. People screamed and groaned and prayed. The flight steward told me it was his second worst flight ever and his coffee pot’s contents were spread across the galley. He said it was not his worst only because he had managed to sit down first. It took me two years to overcome that feeling of sheer uncontrolled panic and even today, I have this thing about small planes
  4. Falling off a temple in Angkor Watt and dislocating my shoulder. This gave me an experience of the Cambodian health system  including a very competent doctor.


    Moments before my fall.

  5. Being tossed in the surf in Sydney and, guess what, dislocating my shoulder
  6. Being seriously harassed at the US-Canadian border by a US border agent who grilled me on coming into the US as if I was some sort of criminal. he went through every piece of baggage questioning me on what appeared to me to be the most innocuous items. He was particularly suspicious that I was carrying US, Canadian, NZ and Euros ($200 in total). After what seemed like an eternity, he finally let me go.
  7. Almost getting robbed in Paris on the Metro by a group of three who followed me for several stations. In a very public interchange station, I confronted them on the platform and in loud French commanded them to leave me alone.
  8. The overnight train ride from Mandalay to Bagan in Burma. Think of a  very slow, long 7.5 hour non-airconditioned train ride which felt like it would never end. The train was full of insects and bounced up and down alarmingly. I had a drunk fellow passenger falling at my feet bagan
  9. Missing my train from Bern, Switzerland to Koln, Germany where I was saying good bye to a dear friend and travelling on to the south of France. This meant a ten hour overnight journey with three changes of train to be with her for 90 minutes
  10. A scam bus ride from the Thailand/Cambodian border to Siam Reap- slow,  much more expensive than promised and felt unsafe

What are your worst travel experiences?


  1. Mine was being told at Versailles’ admission counter that my 50 Euro note was ‘no good’ and being chased out in front of the whole line. I later asked my white friend to use the very same note to buy the ticket and guess what, no problem!

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