There Are Some Crazy-Ass Backpackers Out There.

“Stupid tourists”. Ever wonder why locals everywhere make fun of tourists?  Wonder no more.

Just for fun, I asked travelers in /r/backpacking, a subreddit for backpackering wanderers, to give me a brief statement about their travels (and yes, I know “backpackering” isn’t a real word).

Specifically, I asked “Briefly, tell your #1 craziest experience while wandering the globe”.

The responses were a combination of great, surprising,  and horrific. I then asked the same question in other travel subs, facebook travel threads, other travel-related forums, and amongst friends.  In all fairness, they aren’t all “stupid tourists”.  Some of them just ended up in crazy or interesting situations…

So let me quickly say thank you to all of the many anonymous contributors to this post.

Here is a compilation of some of the unbelievable and ridiculous situations that backpackers have gotten themselves into, in no particular order:

  • “I was shot at by cattle raiders in the bush of Kenya who mistook us for local police – didn’t get hit but had to crawl back to the car in cover of darkness”
  • “Got into a fight with 6 guys at once in the central square of Brussels when they tried to rob me.  I won… drunk strength is an impressive thing”flipflops
  • “Got robbed in Bangkok… by the police.”
  • “Missed a flight from Ams to Seoul and had to wait 3 days for the next one (FREE fix up and reroute from Korean Air, have flown with them ever since!). Ended up sneaking onto and sleeping on the roof of Schipol airport because we had no money.”
  • “I witnessed the start of a riot, thinking it was a play”
  • “I almost got stabbed by a Wakhi horseman in the mountains of Afghanistan when he reneged and I refused to pay his extortionate prices”
  • “Vomited [on] by a little girl on the bus in India”
  • “Crossing between two islands in San Blas, Panama, in a dugout canoe. Open ocean, 1 hr crossing.  No phone, radio, lights, anything. Canoe took on water.  A lot of waterbackpackernarrow.  Top of the boat was less than 6 inches from capsizing.  1-2 meter waves the entire time. The local boat driver said it would be fine. It wasn’t. Closest I’ve ever come to dying.”
  • “Amsterdam, old celebrity photographer, Horror movie scene, shitton of cats, scary Christmas tree, photographer may have been a pedophile”
  • “Buying hash in a tiny village in the Philippines and having to wait in a gangster’s living room listening to the Beatles while (what I assume was) one of the guards cleaned a machete in the corner.”
  • “Tubing in Vang Vieng, start early to get drunk and then go down the river drinking more and more, then try to finish the river with a tube not a tuk tuk”
  • “Almost got caught by Russian cops in Moscow for smoking weed in the street. People actually spend years in jail for that shit.”
  • “Went out clubbing in Lisbon with two girls, one of them decided to stay out after we came back. A few hours later she burst into the room balling her eyes out, saying she had just been held up by two children with machetes who made her walk to an ATM and withdraw all her money. She ended up giving them around 3k AUD.”
  • fuck“2 crazy ladies bribed some corrupt Bolivian cops to run me out of a small town.”
  • “Traveling just after a surgery, ending up with an open stitch on my neck in a hostel, getting a tuk tuk in a new country while traveling solo – direct to the hotel emergency room!”
  • “I was hiking through Lencois Maranhenses in Brazil. It’s a desert were lagoons fill the void in between the sand dunes. Really beautiful. I went to take a dip in one of the lagoons but then realised there was already somebody in that lagoon. It was an old couple ‘roasting the broomstick’, very passionately and enthusiastically. I guess the surroundings got the better of them… They didn’t see me. Or if they did it didn’t stop them anyway!”
  • “Ooooh, easy one! Being rescued by a hot Venetian fireman on his fireboat!… It was lovely/embarrassing. He actually had to hack down my broken hotel room door.”
  • “Shit. Shit everywhere. Oh man the fucking smell of the shit was unbebinocularsarable oh man I can’t go back there oh fuck man”
  • “I wanted to go to this park, and all the taxis made me pay way to much, and nobody spoke english.  Before i knew it, a police officer told me to get into the car. I then got a private police escort to the park hahaha… Ended up making propaganda for the local police station on national news, in CHINA. Aka; millions of people saw a 4 minute news piece of a very awkwardly stumbling around Dutch girl
  • “Err… Sex things.”
  • “Refused exit of taxi in Venezuela. Expected to be kidnapped. Saved by a Syrian black market dealer I’d met earlier.”
  • “Having a Chinese guy come out of a Chinese massage place in Yixing take pity on us wandering and lost.  He spoke no English and we spoke no Chinese, but he showed us that he wanted to help us find food. We took a leap of faith and got in his car. He drove us to a mall, took us to a Japanese restaurant, waited ’til we ordered, paid, and then left despite our protests. it was the weirdest and most amazing thing that has ever happened to us”
  • “My hostel floated away down the Amazon with my shit in it in Iquitos, Peru.”
  • “Dive buddy got us lost on a night dive in shark infested waters off the coast of Australia.”camera
  • “Someone grabbed my ass at the bus.  I grabbed his hands, raised them up and shouted ‘thanks for grabbing my ass hope you enjoyed it’ :)”
  • “I was riding around on the roof of our mini bus and there was a lion on the veldt… I probably wouldn’t have done it if I knew I was pregnant at the time…”
  • “Got bit by a snake gathering stuff for a fire, was several days canoeing away from the nearest town, got extremely delirious, almost died, got saved by a native antidote through a bamboo needle in my arm.” (Amazon Rainforest) 
  • “Walking around the red light district in Amsterdam, I run into G-Eazy and then we talk briefly.”
  • “Doing the highest potency of truffles at Vondelpark in Amsterdam, going on an adventure, ended the day on a plane to Copenhagen”
  • “Had a cab driver pull over randomly on the side of the road in Vietnam and go running into a building. Didn’t know what to think, but as I looked at the building I could make out only one word “methadone”…. Guess my cab driver was trying to kick his heroin habit, while the meter was running.”
  • sunglasses“Drugged in Budapest. Have zero clue how I got back to the hostel. Thankfully I still had my wallet. Silly tourist.”
  • “Passports stolen by children at the port in Capurgana, Colombia, only to be extorted by officials for $300, immediately followed by getting in an accident in my shuttle ride to Cartagena going 140km/hr without any seat belts, escaped unscathed.”
  • “Woke up in some unfamiliar place with Dennis the Menace dubbed in Portuguese on TV.  Turns out, I lost my phone and wallet, and for some reason was trying to break into a BMW with Spanish plates at 7 in the morning.  Luckily a local took pity of my sorry-ass state.  Since I was too drunk to remember where my hostel was, he let me crash in his guest bedroom in Portimão (different fucking city).”
  • “I stayed in a hostel in Iquitos, too! At around 3 AM the cops showed up. Someone had gotten stabbed to death literally outside the hostel. The owner was very nonchalant and said no need to worry because it was a local drug dealer, not a tourist.”
  • “Had a threesome with an American girl and a French girl in California USA”
  • “Met a guy on a plane in Australia. He wouldn’t stop talking to me and the Italian girl sitting between… We both faked napping to get him to stop as he was a bit rude and a classic one-upper and over-sharer. He found me on my train later and started showing me photos of hipassports family. Then started asking me my greatest fears. Then told me that to overcome them I should go on a date blindfolded with him. (I replied “that’s how single females get murdered”.  He said “yeah? But I wont do that.”)”
  • “After a 6 hour train ride from Athens to Thessaloniki, I get off the train and start walking toward the city center.  Right outside the entrance of the train station, a gypsy kid is naked and taking a dump on the sidewalk.  Like… why?”
  • “Chased by a taxi driver on a 1 lane road in the mountains in northern India at night.  No phone, no flashlight, totally alone.  I climbed up the rocks in the dark and hid behind trees while watching the taxi drive back and forth on this otherwise deserted road, looking for me.  I thought I was going to end up as one of those Indian rape/murder news stories.  I was saved by this old Tibetan man living in a cottage on the mountain who scolded me but walked me back to my hostel.”
  • “Vondelpark is amazing! Spent quite a bit of time there.  I was naïve and ate a space cake before I hopped on a train to Antwerp.  Never had a worse panic attack in my life than I had at Amsterdam Central Station.  Then I got berated in Dutch by the ticket officer for not having my rail pass filled out properly.  I couldn’t even speak or write it was so ridiculous.  She saw my passport eventually and then just laughed and said “I see you enjoyed Amsterdam, ja?”flipflops
  • “I was on a mountain bike expedition across part of Mexico… Our SAG van broke an axle on a terrible mountain road (the name of the road translated to ‘the grade of the bloodstain’).  We had to ditch the van and ride/camp the next 10 days with only what we could carry.”
  • “I was invited to meet the head of a monastery in Myanmar (Burma).  I’ve been a casual Buddhist for many years and this was a big deal for me.  We talked for awhile, and tea was brought in.  I started to drink the tea but it was too hot and I instinctively spit it out, all over his bamboo mat, spilling most of the cup in the process. The head monk was very gracious, but I was completely embarrassed.”
  • “After 3 of us negotiated cab fare to the airport in Istanbul,  we got in.  The cabby told us to wait and he disappeared.  When he returned, he handed my friend in the front seat a live bird, said nothing, and started driving.”
  • “Went looking for weed in Albania…  [We encountered] a big guy with lots of gold on him, obviously a big local dealer… We arrived at the outskirts of the city and [the guy] went to get the weed somewhere. When he came back, he was carrying an enormous bag with something like 100 grams inside. We thought we would get part of it, but he passed us the whole bag… The dealer told us he wanted 2000 lek… which is about 14 €! We tried to get half the weed for 1000 lek, and finally he said we could take it all for 1000… We smoked a LOT but still left most buried in the city park before departing for the border.”
  • “Police in Thailand helping me hitch a hike and sending away con people who wanted to charge me.”
  • “Went into a bar in Istanbul and noticed no one was in there… Decided to leave because it was sketchy.  As I tried to leave, an employee grabbed my arm and tried to charge me 50 Lira for sitting down.  I attempted to pull away but he squeezed my arm harder.  I had a few drinks in my system, so I was getting pretty angry and feeling courageous.  I took out my wallet and found the smallest Turkish coin I had, which was .05 Lira, looked him in the eyes and dropped the coin on the ground before pushing him aside and walking out. As soon as I was out, there was a fight across the street at another bar. One man had a knife and was about to stab the other guy, but he ran away.”
  • “I had just arrived in Bangkok… I ended up being the official interpreter of a poor Argentinian man who had been robbed of everything and hit on his forehead.  The guy spoke no English and was so desperate… I felt pity for him.  I had to write the official statement too, because the police officers could not write in English.”
  • “In Armenian villages you can just knock on any door and do the sign for sleeping and say “homestay ” and they’ll either let you in, or point to someone’s backpackernarrowhouse… Stayed in this one guy’s house not far from the border of Nagorno Karabakh and on the last day I asked him (somehow) if he would drive me to Stepanakert… We agreed on a price and jumped in, next thing you know he whips out this massive rifle and throws it in the car.  By this point I’m shitting myself, thinking I’m going to die in some Armenian ditch. Turns out the gun wasn’t for me…”
  • “I was in Mexico City for Independence Day and got to enjoy the craziness.  Then back at the hostel, I started making out with a guy who followed me into my dorm room.  I passed out, and he got so mad… I guess…. he took a giant shit on the floor. He also shit on his brand new iPhone.  Everyone had to change dorm rooms due to the stench. I felt horrible.”
  • “…Next thing we know there is a helicopter arriving… Out jumps a guy dressed in a panda costume.  We’re eating freshly caught crab and drinking with a man in a panda costume dancing on a private beach.”
  • “Very wasted, got into a fight with some guys on their own turf in Marmaris.  Woke up in some demolished crack den, wearing nothing but my tank top, with absolutely no idea how or when I got there.  Scared out of my fucking mind, first thing I did was call my doctor girlfriend and asked, hypothetically, of course, if I’d feel any pain in my ass in the morning if I’d been raped the night before.  She said I would, but I didn’t, so [we] never spoke of it again.”binoculars
  • “Being charged $1500 for a little bit of coke from Colombian drug dealers, who originally told me it would be $60.  They let me pay by credit card to the bar I was at.  I then disputed the charge.”
  • “Was traveling in Mexico and we were stopped and searched by the Federales during a time of serious tension between the US and Mexico. (An American narcotics agent had just disappeared…). I was changing clothes in the back of the van when they pulled up, so I was naked the whole time they interrogated us. I understood the crude comments they were making about me. They tore the van apart. They got a call and took off, leaving all of our stuff scattered on the ground.”
  • “I was walking with my friends down a touristy street in Istanbul and taking lots of pictures.  There was a charming storefront with antiques that caught my eye.  I snapped a photo of the storefront.  A moment later, the store owner came out and grabbed my wrist, shouting, “thief, thief”.  He tried to rip the camera out of my hands but was unsuccessful because the camera strap was wrapped around my arm.  The two guys I was with quickly ripped his hands off of me and forced him to back away from me.  As my friends pulled me away, I kept shouting at him “You don’t touch me!”  Lots of witnesses. I deleted the photo, seemed like the right thing to do.”
  • “I was with a group of friends on a bus in Bolivia.  One idiot in the group managed to really piss off driver.  So he pulled off and dropped us at a smallfuck police station in the middle of nowhere.  The cops searched all our stuff for illegal contraband.  There wasn’t any.  Then one officer said ‘I’m writing you up for marijuana.  You’re going to jail’.  Um… what?! ‘But we don’t have anything’, we protested.  ‘But I say you do’.  Well, fuck.  ‘Unless you give me 5000 Bolivianos, and we call it a day’.  Well, fuck.  What could we do? Between the 5 of us we had about 3000 bs.  The officers happily accepted.  Then they became our ‘friends’, talked about football, and gave us a ride to the bus stop.”
  • “I was in Barcelona with some friends.  One night we just decided not to have dinner in a restaurant because we weren’t that hungry.  So we went to the supermarket and bought stuff like soda and crisps, and decided to sit in the middle of nowhere to eat (down the street). Fun, no rules, you know! One Korean old man walked by and tried to give us money… He thought we were homeless”
  • “Got my phone stolen right out of my pocket on the subway in New Delhi. I realized it was gone when I got off. So for some unknown reason, I decided to hop back on to look for it. A stranger pointed to the friend of the guy who took it (I didn’t know it was a duel theft at this time). He was young (early 20s) with a red jacket and a scar running down one of his eyes. I confronted him and started patting him down. The same stranger then told me, “grab him. Don’t let go.”cameraSo, I grab the back of his jacket. Shit hits the fan.Begin angry mob. Hindi starts flying everywhere like a piñata exploded. Cricketbats start hitting the guy, open handed smacks from strangers. And there’s me, little white boy shitting his pants. Adrenaline and panic flood over me. I just want my phone, man. Not this…

    Fast forward 3 or 4 hours and we’re at the police station. The thief’s friend is on the ground crying and bloody, apologizing to me on his knees. He’s grabbing both of his ear lobes (Indian apology, I was told). I just want my phone, man…

    Eventually, the other friend came back for him, so to speak. He threw a black plastic bag at the police station and ran away. The officer brings the bag into the room with the kid still on the floor. He plops the bag in front of me, opens it, and pulls out my phone from a bag filled with curry.

    “Is this yours?”

    ‘HOLY SHIT’ “Yeah, let me unlock it.”

    I wipe off the curry. It still fucking works.

    The officer then throws the bag of curry at the kid on the ground. As he did this, I assume what he said in Hindi was, “eat it.”

    So me and a couple other officers watch this kid eat curry off the dirty ground in silence. They even gave him a spoon.”


3 thoughts on “There Are Some Crazy-Ass Backpackers Out There.

  1. There seems to be an obvious theme of tourists wasted on one substance or another. Easy targets. I hope none of these storylines happened to you Rachel.

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