I was in Guangzhou, China at a trade fair and at the end of the day I was SO tired plus I was jetlagged and just wanted to go to my hotel room and sleep.
There was a line for the Taxis (think of Disney attraction lines, like velvet ropes that zigzag through a hall) and there were like 200 people in line. I was like fuuck I don't wanna stand in line for an hour so I walked towarda the metro station (it was like a 45 min metro ride to my hotel) and then some guy walks beside me, looks both ways and says to me "private taxi?" And I was like "yes please" guy told me "wait here" took my briefcase and left and came back in a brand new honda Accord, I hop in the back and off we go..
Like three blocks from there we stopped at a red light and suddenly some guy opens the passenger door, jumps in, and takes the key off the ignition, another guy opens the driver's door grabs this dude by the shirt collar drags him out of the car a throws him on the ground, and the first guy (the guy with the key) goes around and turns on the car locks the doors and drives away with me in the back..
I was 1000% sure I was being kidnapped. In China of all places. I was like fuck fuck fuck fuck now what? My heart was at like 250 bpm. We drove in silence for like 5 mins and it felt like an hour. Then we turns at a dead end street, pulls over, turns around, looks at me, reaches for his pocket.. and whips out a badge.
He was an undercover policeman. And there was a sting to catch illegal taxis. Which ironically often kidnapped tourists. Dude takes out a video camera a makes me tell him how everything went down, hoe much I paid him etc. So in some courtroom in China there was a video of me testifying against some dude that probably went to jail thanks to me.
The policeman then went to the street waved at a taxi with his badge out and put me in the cab and told me never to take anything other than the cars that were painted like this. (This was before uber was around).
It was scary but thankfully nothing bad happened.
Was in Cambodia, group of men trying to mug me. Spot a police officer very close by. I look at him for help, he proceeds to also demand for my money.
At the time it was a bit of a prickly situation but today it makes me laugh just thinking about how I felt when I finally understood the cop was also trying to rob me.
Wife and I dined out at a remote town in Italy. Wife decided to take a short cut out of parking lot and ended up in a ditch. The only chef and waiter came out to help. Chef ended up twisting ankle badly. Waiter brought his car and tied a rope to mine to pull it out. His bumper ripped off. All the while we were communicating through gestures because I didn't speak Italian and they English.
I was in Berlin when it was a divided city. To go from West Berlin to East Berlin I, as a US citizen, went through Checkpoint Charlie. Some friends and I were meeting in East Berlin for dinner one night. We were traveling separately.
The thing to realize is that once you were on East Berlin soil, you were on your own. If there were any problems, I was told to seek help from the Russian occupiers. (The Cold War was still real, so this was just surreal) We were to have limited to no contact with the East German military or police.
So, I get through Checkpoint Charlie and walk into East German soil. I stopped at their checkpoint - it was like a little horse stall were you stood and had the Easy German military look at your passport. I handed it over. He looked at it, said something in German. I said I didn't speak German. He began accusing me of being a spy. I was escorted out of the "stall" and into a very plain holding room with a bench running the length of the room. That's all that was there. I remained standing. It was January and really cold. I wondered what my friends would do when I didn't show up as planned.
About 30 minutes later, two soldiers came into the room, handed me my passport, and let me go.
I drank a lot that night.
When I was about 10 I was at a run down French train station in the middle of nowhere, and I had to take a shit like nobody’s business. So I go to the restroom and find out that there’s no toilets, just holes in the ground. Apparently, the process for shitting in a hole in the ground is you pee first, and then poop. But being the champion that I am I decided to go for both at the same time. Ended up peeing directly into my pulled down pants and then had to sit in my own piss for a 3 hour train ride back home.
I was an hour into a 9 hour international flight. I started feeling ill and went to the lavatory. I sat in the toilet with the lid down and leaned against the sink splashing some water in my face. Next thing I knew, everything faded out.
A woke up crumpled on the floor and completely disoriented. It took me a moment to get uncontorted and to get up. I was dizzy and shivering. I looked down and I had vomited all over myself. In addition, I peed and soiled myself.
Edit: Ironically, I'm about to get on an airplane but when I land and get settled I'll describe the aftermath.
Edit: The Aftermath - once I got clarity, I really had little choice. There were no clothes in my carryon, a big mistake and one I would never make again traveling international. I had been in India, and on the last day felt a little off. After a long delay, long flight and long layover in London I was tired and my stomach was gurgling. I wasn't sick, but I didn't feel right. Then again, a few weeks in India and there were many days I went through a similar feeling and didn't get sick.
After waking up, I washed and cleaned as best I could everything. It took a while, and thankfully it came out as well as I could hope. Especially since the hardest stains were on the inside of my pants (sigh). I emerged from the lavatory soaked from head to toe, probably with a thousand yard stare. I went to my seat which was on a right side aisle, grabbed a blanket and wrapped up in it as I started shivering. Instantly the person next to me hit the attendant button and requested that he and his wife be seated elsewhere since I was obviously ill. She relocated them, and the entire row was empty except for an Asian woman on the other end. She stared over several times and had a medical mask on. Poor lady. I fell asleep not long after and woke up feeling better on the inside but a wet, crusty, nasty mess otherwise. In Chicago, I switched to a flight to St. Louis which is my home airport and arrived home incredibly tired. I took a shower, slept two hours, then took my kids to Six Flags for the Halloween thing. It was the last weekend the park was open, and having been divorced in the last year, I had promised them no matter what I would take them. THAT, was the longest night of my life. But I was just tired from there, not sick.
My drink was spiked in Prague. Came to 2 hours later, walking down a road on the edge of the city. Got back to my hostel a further 2 hours later, because I had no idea where I was.
Still had my money/phone/keys, so it makes me think the drink was for someone else.
We once traveled to visit friends in Camden, New Jersey, who had their first apartment in the downtown area.
When it was time to drive home, we found that the wheels had been removed from our car and the vehicle was sitting on blocks. (Thankfully, they left the interior alone.)
Tuzla, Bosnia. 2010.
My buddy and I stopped at a restaurant near the downtown center for lunch. It's quiet and the owner took our order. While the food was being prepared, a Roma woman approached our table. She stood and slowly curled out her hand, begging for money.
If you travel in the Balkans, you get used to this. The best action is to do nothing. Say nothing. Wait for them to give up and leave. But this woman was persistent. She stood there like a statue with her palm extended as my buddy and I tried chatting in English about other things.
Then, they started gathering.
Her Roma troupe started appearing across from us, taking up seats on a far wall and slowly collecting like crows on a telephone line. The Roma woman stood stock still with palm extended. Another waiter came to our table. He saw the situation and ran inside to get the owner.
The owner, a middle aged Bosniak fella, came outside. When he saw the situation, he started calling out in Bosnian. I don't know what he said, but I think it was the Bosnian equivalent of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! Because as he called out, windows opened in apartments around the square. Middle-aged men stuck their heads out to hear the alert. Then they came running.
In under a minute, a group of Bosniak men assembled near our table. There was a lot of shouting and finger pointing toward the Roma. It was getting heated. The Roma answered back, but I could see their determination waning. The Bosniak men held firm.
Just before things got really ugly, the Roma woman walked off. Her troupe then peeled away and melted into the town square. The Bosniak men smiled with success and sat down at tables. The owner went in and came back out with free drinks for everybody.
"Sorry for trouble, all good now," he told us. We all had drinks and some laughs. But for a minute there I thought these guys (likely war veterans) were going to get really ugly with those Roma.
Having the middle seat on a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland.
My brothers and I were with our dad, driving down the Baja California peninsula to his house in Loreto, BCS. Dad and Little Bro speak NO Spanish. Twin Bro and I could usually bumble through ordering food.
We had just stopped for lunch. Dad, not understanding the menu, jerked his thumb at the table behind us and said, "I'll have what they're having!" The table behind us found this hilarious, they were laughing and yelling and one of them actually had to go outside so he could regain his composure. Little Bro started crying because they were making fun of us, everyone ordered and ate, and we got back on the road.
As we were driving through the desert, the car started acting funny. It was smoking and running rough. About 30 minutes later, the oil light came on and the smoke got heavier. About 30 minutes after that--now completely in the middle of nowhere--the engine seized up and the car died. RIP our car.
So we were out in the middle of the desert, in 100+ degree weather, with a broken car and no cell phones (because 1990s Mexico) and no emergency call boxes. We had enough water for each of us to fill up a red Solo cup. We had no snacks, Little Bro had eaten them all because he didn't like Mexican food.
We were out there for about an hour. We saw nobody. Nobody human, anyway. Vultures were circling overhead. Twin Bro thought this was hilarious, Little Bro was terrified, and I was just trying to keep everyone's shit together.
A semi truck drove past us. It pulled over, stopped, reversed...and then the two guys who were laughing at us at the restaurant hopped out! "HEY GRINGOS! You car broke!?" Twin Bro explained that yes, our car is dead, we're attempting to go to Loreto, but really anywhere with food and water and shelter would be acceptable. Since they were going to La Paz, we were right on the way!
We spent the last 6 hours or so of the trip riding in the cab of a semi, everyone all squished together, listening to the same Creedence Clearwater Revival cassette tape over and over because "Es en ingles!"
TL;DR - Car irreparably died on a road trip down Baja, in the middle of the desert on a 100-degree day. We were rescued by ridiculous truckers.
We were crossing the border from Malaysia to Thailand over a bridge. As we were making our way across no man's land, this local looking guy ran out of nowhere in his underpants chased by 2 guys. He got to the Malaysian side and a soldier put his hand up to say he couldn't go through. He did a U turn, dodged the 2 guys chasing him and ran to the Thai side. Again, a soldier put up his hand to stop him. He did another U turn, dodged the guys, tried to jump on a scooter, but as he was taking off, they pulled him off the scooter. He got away from them again, but was stuck on the bridge with no way out.
We got to the Thai side, checked into Thailand and to this day, still wonder how the hell he ended up almost naked, in no man's land, with 2 pissed off guys after him.
Got stuck in Sydney. Gigantic cluster of a day.
Took the rail to the airport 3 hours early to go back to US. Went to check in and realized my passport was back in the hotel. In attempt to still make flight, took a luxury cab back to hotel. Got it, and sped back. Expensive. Got back to airport, ran in, but still missed flight. Went to reschedule/reorder tickets for next available, realized my wallet was missing. Now no cash. Ran back to cab, but was already gone. Tried to call company but my world phone was running out of minutes and charge—with no credit cards or cash to recharge. Was my birthday.
Ultimately was able to reach my wife who arranged a stay at nearby hostel and rescheduled flight the next day.
Cabby ended up showing back up at the airport much later that day, and I asked if I could search cab. I ended up finding wallet in between the seat cushions. Crazy. Day.
Won a trip to the US when I was 17, a tour round Cali, grand canyon, hoover dam and some other places. on the last night the other peeps in the tour went out drinking and I couldn’t go because of local alcohol laws. I had a hotel room in a not so great part of SF (no idea where exactly). I went out for a walk by myself and got lost (this was ‘96 so no smartphones). After some wandering I noticed the buildings looked even shabbier than in the street my hotel was at, and more people were on the street. These guys all looked like gang members (I’m a whitish guy from a suburbian area in the Netherlands, and I was 17, and the LA riots were not long before that, please forgive my stereotyping) I then saw the classic movie style group of beggars/thugs huddling around a burning vat (I thought it strange because it wasn’t cold at all), looking and pointing at me, and I figured my life was over. So one of those guys approached me and asked for a cigarette. I gave him one and he was very thankful. Next thing I know I was being interviewed by five or six very smelly men, wanting to know everything about my country, specifically how we deal with poverty and racism. They were very pleasant and funny. Two of them walked me back to my hotel, saying it wasn’t safe for white people to be out here at this time. I gave them a few more cigarettes and the last few dollars I had on me as a thank you. One of them wrote down his address and told me to write, but I lost that piece of paper.
tldr; Greek street thug threatening to beat up doctor who is trying to put my sons foot back together in a hospital resembling a Russian prison....
Edit: Frankenfoot - Probably NSFW - https://imgur.com/a/Arm7D
While traveling in Greece, my son had an accident - a large boulder crushed his foot. Lots of blood, lots of broken bones. I held pressure against the wound on the way to the hospital in a shitty ambulance. It would not stop bleeding even with pressure. Finally get to the hospital, they wheel him to the most sub standard emergency room you can imagine. It was closer to a Russian prison cell than a place for medical care. Dirty, dark, multiple people laying on stretchers. They put my son between two people, one of whom looks like an enforcer for the Russian mob - BIG guy, like muscle big, not fat big, about 6 foot 6 inches. Tattoos, unhappy disposition, with cuts on his shaved head. While the doctor starts inspecting my sons foot (no pain medication, jamming his fingers in the wound and adjusting bones), Mr. Mob Enforcer starts to argue with the doctor who is working on my son. Presumably they were refusing him service and asking him to leave. In a matter of about 30 seconds the argument escalated to the point where Mr. Mob is standing over the doctor, screaming at the top of his lungs, fingers in the doctors face, being very threatening. The doctor still has my sons foot in his hands, trying to provide care. It is at that moment it becomes clear I may need to wrap my fucking arms around Mr. Mobs neck so that the doctor can continue to provide care to my son. I am just waiting for some physical contact before intervening in a situation guaranteed to not end in my favor. At the last second, a very small diminutive security guard arrives and gets involved. The look of "Oh fuck" on this guys face did not need to be translated.
Very thankfully, the guy turns around and storms out, and the Dr. goes back to working on my son.
Everything about that situation makes me sick to my stomach when I think back on it. The fear of your child being hurt, the fear of uncertain outcome, the fear of being in a situation where your child wellbeing is out of your control, the fear of putting yourself in they way of certain physical harm to protect your child. NOT F.U.N all around.
Silver lining. 3 day hospital bill, $200 USD.