4 Downright Crazy Stories From Traveling Abroad
With my future travel plans at an all time halt, life has had me thinking back on all the amazing trips I’ve taken and all the beautiful places I’ve seen, and some of the downright crazy and somewhat unbelievable things that I have encountered along the way. From near death experiences to seriously bizarre situations I have found myself in, here are a few fun and strange stories from my memory bank. I don’t recommend trying any of these things.
- The time my airplane almost crashed
So while the odds of actually dying in an airplane crash are fairly rare (about 1 in 11 million-ish) the odds of near death experiences while traveling by air are likely much higher, but no less scary. When I tell people this story they look at me with disbelief but I swear it is 100% legit.
It all began the morning of what was meant to be a very short and uneventful day of travel. I was headed to Phoenix, AZ from Calgary, AB with my boyfriend at the time, which is typically around a 3 hour flight. We woke up early, got to the airport on time, checked in with no issues and headed straight for the airport lounge for a bite to eat and the classic good morning airport beer. Everything was super normal. We boarded on time, he sat in the exit row and I was seated about 6 rows behind him. At that time I still loved flying. I was a seasoned traveler having backpacked a few times throughout places as far away from home as South East Asia, so sitting alone on a 3 hour flight really didn’t bother me. We were about 30 minutes away from descending into Phoenix Sky Harbor when when all of a sudden the plane hit some pretty rough turbulence and I felt us drop. I have flown through thunderstorms before and dealt with turbulence but this felt different. I’m not an expert, so I can’t say for sure how far we dropped but it was enough for people to notice. Immediate panic set in from the nervous flyer seated next to me with her hands gripping the arm rests. I had only spoken to her enough throughout the flight to know that she wasn’t a fan of flying, so you can probably imagine her reaction. That sort of energy in that sort of situation is contagious, so I started panicking. I immediately noticed that the flight attendants were acting super weird and pacing up and down the aisles when the seatbelt sign was turned on. Suddenly the pilot came on the overhead speaker and told us that there was something smoking in the cockpit and that we would be making an emergency landing in Salt Lake City. Then, the flight attendants began coaching passengers on how to prepare and brace ourselves for a crash landing. This was all happening very quickly but I can still remember it so vividly. Amid the chaos I looked over to my right and there was a father with an infant baby in the row across from ours. One of the flight attendants was leaning over the mans seat while showing him how to brace himself with the baby in his lap. Sheer terror had set in at this point. I always look back on this memory and think of that TV show LOST, except we’d have been splattered all over Utah rather than in the North Pacific Ocean. Complete strangers were holding hands and seeing their lives flash before them. I was trying to get a glimpse of my boyfriend thinking it would be my last but I wasn’t able to see over the seat in front of me so the nervous flyer and I, and the elderly lady beside me gripped hands and we all went very quiet. After what felt like an hour long free fall out of the sky, the pilot was eventually able to regain control and landed us safely on the ground in Salt Lake City where we were greeted on the tarmac by 6 or 7 different ambulances and police cars with their lights flashing. After we had landed safely we were ushered off the plane and ended up stranded in the Salt Lake City airport for approximately 10 hours because the airline we were on didn’t fly out of that airport so they had to send us a new aircraft. After all was said and done, the airline offered us a $300 voucher for our troubles. Seriously.
2. The time I got chased by a bear
So this happened to me not while abroad per se, but while I was visiting some friends at their cabin during the summertime in British Columbia which is the most western province in Canada and is located next to my home province of Alberta. The two provinces share the rocky mountains. Anyone who has been to, or is familiar with BC probably knows that the province is well known for 2 things; its beauty and its wildlife.
My boyfriend and I at the time (different boyfriend) were staying with some friends of ours who owned a gorgeous lake front cabin in a beautiful remote area called The Shuswap. Summertime on the Shu is sunny and hot and is usually filled with houseboats, local farmers markets, beautiful golf courses and plenty of outdoor things to do. It is where many Albertans go to vacation during the warmer months. It’s a really popular spot, however it is located in the mountains which means there is plenty of wildlife around. I have seen everything from wolves, to moose, to grizzly bears and much more throughout my years of visiting and exploring BC. This particular day also started out fairly normal as most abnormal days do. We had driven into town for lunch and afterwards decided to take our friends Shih Tzu on a walk near the waterfront which was fairly quiet that day. We were following the paths along the riverfront when out of nowhere we smelt something absolutely rancid. If you know anything about bears its that you tend to smell them before you see them. They smell disgusting… like garbage, literally. Sour, funky and gross. I had personally never smelled a bear before this day but I had heard about it from others. At first I thought maybe we were smelling a nearby dumpster but after taking a quick glimpse at our surroundings I realized that no — there were no dumpsters around, we were literally in the middle of the forest. My boyfriend and I were walking a few feet behind our friends when we first noticed the smell. The dog was walking a few yards ahead of the group. All of a sudden we hear this loud trampling sound which literally shook ground we were walking on. It sounded similar to a horse, but horses don’t usually just hang out in the forest smelling like garbage so my radar went off. My boyfriend and I looked at each other and we both took off running at the same time screaming to our friends ahead that there was a bear chasing us. If this was ever caught on camera it probably would have been hilarious to watch. Everyone began running as fast as they could to try and escape this elusive bear. Luckily it was a false charge and no one got eaten that day but it was still a pretty crazy experience. While we never actually saw the bear we were all fairly certain that’s what it was. It probably had some cubs nearby and wasn’t actually looking to hurt anyone, but rather to scare us off which worked out well in the end for the bear. I vaguely remember my boyfriend outrunning me and leaving me in the dust which I can laugh about now but I am pretty sure we fought about it later that day. Lesson learned? Don’t be the slowest runner in the group.
3. The time my best friend almost got abducted in Thailand
So this is actually pretty terrifying and I am seriously lucky that I didn’t find myself caught in a sex trafficking ring of some sort.
My girlfriend and I went backpacking through Thailand when we were 23. It was a trip I had dreamt about doing for years so by the time we actually went I was fearless. It was such an amazing experience and we lived it to the fullest rarely saying no to much. We drank, we explored, we met people from all over the world. We indulged in a full moon party except it was actually a half moon party in the jungle instead of on the beach. We island hopped and saw some pretty incredible beaches. We rented moto’s and drove throughout the mountain side on extremely sketchy roads that were definitely not safe. We put ourselves in a few compromising situations but none as scary as the time we were almost abducted. Honestly I am surprised it didn’t happen more than once. Not because Thailand is sketchy, it is a beautiful country with generous and kind people. But because we were idiots. We were literally f.e.a.r.l.e.s.s. — to the point that it terrifies me today to think about my daughter some day visiting South Eat Asia with that same mentality.
We were at the tail end of our trip and by that time it was just the two of us. For three weeks prior we had been traveling with this really cool guy we had met on the plane but we parted ways when we decided to make our way back to Bangkok for our final week and he continued on exploring the islands. It was late one night walking around Khao San Road after sipping on buckets for hours before when we stumbled upon this guy who appeared to be working at one of those Thai suit stores. It was an all men’s clothing store. You could see in through the glass from the road, there was no women’s clothing on any of the racks. I don’t exactly remember how it all happened, but I want to say that we had approached this guy, or he approached us asking for a lighter, or something trivial like that. The guy kept trying to convince us to come into his store. He was a bit overly touchy which gave us both the creeps. We were drunk, but obviously felt the red flags and had no intention of going into his sketchy suit store at 2 am. Out of nowhere he grabbed my friend by the arm and tried to bear hug her trying to push her into his shop and she started yelling at the guy to let her go. I remember standing there not knowing what to do but my fight or flight mode set in and I realized we needed to GTFO ASAP. Luckily my friend was able to break free and we both ran off with him chasing after us for a bit. Our hotel wasn’t far so we headed straight back to our room. We joked about it afterwards like it wasn’t a big deal, but now that I am older and somewhat wiser I realize how horribly wrong that could have gone for two young girls who were very drunk and very vulnerable at the time. It was a shitty way to wrap up the best month of our lives. I am just grateful that we both returned home somewhat unscathed from that trip.
4. The time I stayed in a haunted Spanish Villa
I know that not everyone believes in ghost stories as I too am skeptical of most. There are too many people that try to make money off of the paranormal which makes it feel lame and untrustworthy. This however is not one of those stories. This was a straight up crazy personal experience that still scares me to this day.
I was around 25 years old at the time and visiting some friends in London, England who had so generously rented a huge place for all of us to visit afterwards in Alicante, Spain. It was my first time in Europe and London blew my socks off. I fell in love with the city immediately. We saw all the sights, drank wine in the park, had all the beers in all the pubs, ate some Scotch eggs from a street vendor at an outdoor market and lived like true Londoners. We spent about 4 nights hanging out at our friends London flat located right next to the Thames river in between sight seeing and city adventures. I loved every moment! We even went on one of those double decker busses which fulfilled every Spice Girl moment I had ever dreamed of as a kid. After cruising around London, we spent the second half of our 2 week trip in Spain with the majority of our time in Alicante and a few nights spent in Ibiza for their annual opening night fiesta, a truly crazy fun time to visit the island. Ibiza was intense and Alicante was all the opposite. Chill, relaxed, amazing food and wine, going out for dinners at 10:00 pm and sunny days laid out by the pool at our Spanish villa. The villa was beautiful! It was so charming and exactly how you would imagine a Spanish villa to look like placed right on the shores of the beautiful Mediterranean sea. Original everything from the décor to the way it was built, it was absolutely lovely. At first I didn’t catch on to any weird vibes. I think I was just so excited to be there that I was completely captivated by its beauty. Around the 4th day we left Alicante and headed to Ibiza. Did some partying, hung out at a couple beach clubs and basically lived our best lives. It was when we came back to the villa that everything started feeling a little strange to me. I get goosebumps even thinking about it. We were all a little tired and a lot hungover from the opening night fiesta in Ibiza so spirits were lower (ours were anyway) but the spirits in the house were very much alive. I remember arriving back at the villa and something just not feeling right. I remember going to bed that night and I could definitely feel that something in the room was off. It was just a gut feeling that I couldn’t really put my finger on… it felt like we weren’t alone in the room. Our bedroom had two single beds that were pushed up against the wall on opposite sides of the room but that night I insisted that we pushed the beds together. I just wasn’t feeling right and wanted to be closer to my boyfriend. About midway through the night I remember having these horribly paralyzing night terrors where I couldn't seem to wake myself up which I can usually manage to do during most nightmares. In the dream I remember being held down in the bed that I was sleeping in by some type of force without a face or a body. It was so real that I swore I was actually awake and suffering from some sort of sleep paralysis. From what I can remember it was trying to tell me to leave the house while pinning me down to the bed to make its point. The figure in my dream looked like a sheer or transparent type of black fabric or something similar, that’s the best way I can describe it. When I was finally able to wake myself up from it I had tears streaming down my face. I remember getting up the next morning and knowing that whatever visited me in my dreams that night was the same eerie vibe I was feeling in the house the day before. The next night which happened to be our last night in Spain I was awoken again by the same dream with the same terror. I asked others in the house if they had felt or seen anything but apparently I was the only one who experienced it which made me doubt myself at the time, but looking back, I am fairly confident that it was a real experience which has left a very real mark on me to this day. Here is a picture of the villa we were staying in. Even looking at it now in pictures I feel like it looks haunted AF. Or maybe that’s just the trauma speaking.