Well howdy all and happy New Week! I hope you are well wherever you may be, as this corona crisis shows no signs of abating. As I write this a few days ahead of time, here in Melbourne things having been getting worse and we are all in lockdown again. Not a big change for me, as I am an ‘essential service’, and honestly still plenty of traffic and most places seems open. BUT – today’s theme has nothing to do with that! Today’s post is still travel themed – but these are things I said I would never do, or things I did once and said I would never do again, and yet I did do them (again). Did I regret doing them? Well, you’ll have to read on I guess and find out! I thought it would be a fun theme, because we all say ‘once was more than enough!’ sometimes, or we look at something and say ‘no way. Never!’ and then go back on what we said. So anyways, here, in regards to travel, are things I swore I would never do!
- Use a selfie stick
Look, long-term readers of my blog will know that I am not a fan of selfies. I remember being at KLIA2 when I first saw the selfie stick, and I genuinely couldn’t believe what I saw. I thought it was the end of civilisation, and if the last 8 or so years have proven anything, it is that I was absolutely right!
Watching people walking around everywhere at major historical sights, or train stations, airports, or art galleries like the Louvre with a stick in their hand controlling a camera or phone at the other end make’s my eyes roll so far into the back of my head I can see my brain. And now with the advent of Instagram as pretty much the number one social media platform, you can actually search online for sites around the world that are best for taking your selfies. I promise – I judge you not! Okay, totally lying there.
But. BUT. I finally saw a reason for them. It started with me needing someway to hold and point my action camera. I could stick it around corners as well, and I could turn it on me, which is something I refrained from doing but after using it for a while, and seeing a lot of YouTube travel vlogs and so on, I realise that for vlogging when you have to explain what’s going on and where you are ON SITE, it’s actually way more handy than a tripod and much more steady than trying to hold your camera at an arm’s length. Yes, I am ashamed that it’s come to this, and frankly I didn’t use it last year nearly as much as I should have, but I do see it now as a handy tool for the vlogger. However – you won’t see me spending hours posing for myself trying to get the perfect selfie any time soon, I assure you!
- Fly Lao Aviation
So, there are a few airlines across the world I wouldn’t feel exactly comfortable flying, and Lao Aviation was one of them. They had a reputation many years ago now for being one of the least safe airlines there was, and people wrote about experiences akin to travelling via cargo plane when taking Lao Aviation. The national airline of Laos.
However, since 2003 the record has been turned on its head and today they have a fairly good record indeed over the last seventeen years, bar one accident in 2013 near Pakse in the country’s south-east. I came to fly them by accident in a way too. I booked a flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang, the bestest town in South-East Asia, on Vietnam Airlines.
I only realised that it was a code share and actually operated by Lao Aviation well after I’d purchsed the ticket. This was 2011, and I was pretty much committed to taking the flight. As it was, it was perfectly fine. A shortish trip over just over an hour, a small aircraft, but definitely NOT a cargo plane!
- Fly Jetstar – Again
So yeah. Jetstar. I don’t know that I can recall a ‘problem-free’ experience with Jetstar. I know people fly them all the time and they have no issues, but every flight I can remember with them, and I’ve had a few, was delayed. It all culminated when my parents and I were flying to Hamiliton Island for my brother’s wedding some ten years ago now.
We boarded the plane and we were excited – it looked like we were going to leave on time! Too soon! We were soon all asked to leave the plane and wait as they had to do some repairs to the plane. This cost us around three hours if not more, plus the thought of travelling on a plane which might not have been 100% right.
From here I swore – no matter how good the fare, I would not be travelling Qantas’s budget airline. BUT – coming home from Japan in 2014 to live in Australia again after three years away, my wife and I ended up with a Qantas ticket with the final leg of the journey on Jetstar. But I thought that as it was international, they would be doing better.
Well, we got to Singapore Airport to find the late afternoon flight was severely delayed by some ten or more hours. They did give us a hotel for the night, but it was in town. We were bussed into town, we got to the hotel for a late dinner (8pm or so) which they did, in all fairness pay for. The new flight time was 430am. We needed to be back for a 3 hour check-in at 130am, which meant the bus for the airport would leave at 1230am.
It was a lot of fussing around to spend just over four hours at a nice hotel, where because we had to get up by 1230am we weren’t actually able to fall asleep. If they could have gotten us a bed at one of the airport hotels, that would have done the trick, there is a transit hotel at Singapore Changi Airport, but no. we were frazzled. The way the information was disseminated was appalling, we had to go searching for it and then it kept changing and it wasn’t clear. The hotel and the dinner were nice, but we couldn’t really enjoy the hotel. And then you’re stuck with a full flight with no frills in a bad state of mind.
So – I will say – I have not travelled Jetstar again, as yet.
- Return to India
So this is probably the funniest one, because after surviving India in 1999, I left the country after being scammed, an earthquake hit and I had Delhi Belly something chronic. People asked me about my experiences in India, and I was adamant ‘never again!’ and ‘once was more than enough!’
So you know, where did I find myself going a little under two years later? India of course! I think time had made me realise that there was so much that was amazing about the country, and also I had found it so challenging that I wanted to give it another go. And I did – and I loved every day of my time in 2001 Mumbai and Goa. Not only that, I have returned another two times and certainly would have no reservations about going back again and again.
It’s a challenging place to travel, and so it should be. Travel shouldn’t always be easy. What are we learning or gaining from the experience? And the people there, on the whole, are wonderful and kind. Really, it’s only those who prey on tourists you need to worry about, and the reality is there are similar touts or scammers in many countries you might visit. India is brilliant, full of colour and life and there is no doubt it is one of my absolute favourite places to travel!
- Ride a Camel
So finally, I did swear in Egypt 1999 with my mate Greg when we were constantly ‘encouraged’ by locals to ride their camels, that I would NEVER get on a camel. I mean, they aren’t the world’s most pleasant animals to be fair and they are awfully tall and I’m no fan of heights.
So, in 2004 I didn’t ride one but I did EAT camel in Iran. It was, you know, fine. Didn’t set my world on fire either, but fine.
It wasn’t until 2018, only two years, that I did finally ride a camel. To get out into the Rajasthani Desert it is common to take a camel trek, and that’s what I did on a camel called ‘Raja’. He was a big boy and the leader of the pack in many respected, we were always right at the front. This really was the only way to see the desert and spend a night in it, and I’m very glad I did it and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, although he was tall and I was a long way from the ground, which certainly was disconcerting at times. Getting on and off was also a challenge. But it’s nice to say you’ve done it!
How about you? Have you ever sworn you’d never do a certain thing, or go a certain place, and then completely change your mind? And if so, was the experience good in the end, or were you right to swear never to do it? Please do comment below – and as always, May the Journey Never End!