Things I Wouldn’t Do a Second Time!

Howdy all! You know, there are things we did, things we wish we did but never did, things we’d like to do but probably will never do, and then we have the things on today’s list – things that I have done which in retrospect I wish I hadn’t and will never do again. You know I think back through all my adventures and I think I can honestly say there isn’t a country I wouldn’t return to. A city? Less sure. But when travelling there are things I have done, I have chosen to do, that in retrospect were either ill-advised or I think there was an ethical problem with doing. So today I’m going to talk about three instances where I either learnt my lesson, or I realised after the fact that what I did wasn’t a good thing to do.

  • Plough through a curry when I didn’t know what was in it.

So okay. I was in Bangladesh and one day I went to a little curry house where no English was spoken or on the menu. I was with a group of friends and we ploughed into the curry. It turned out that there were peanuts – to which I was allergic – in the curry and in the end one of the friends had to administer my epipen and I was rushed to hospital.

Dhaka

The thing is, my allergy plan is to slowly eat stuff I am unsure of. Instead I didn’t, thinking the tingling was because the curry was spicy. And what followed was my most serious anaphylactic experience in my life. This is not just a case of lesson learnt, but also I realised that if I had approached the situation with more caution it wouldn’t have happened. And this is important because I didn’t just put my life in danger, I caused a great deal of anxiety for those I was with and that wasn’t fair on them. I found out later the person who administered my shot of adrenalin (the Epipen) in fact knew someone who had died from anaphylaxis. Before my incident. When my family heard, they freaked out too. When you have a serious health issue, it’s not just you you have to think of.

  •  Go somewhere without a return flight
Interesting round about in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Which I did back in 2006. I went to West Africa with connections to the UK. The plan was to live and work in the UK, which never happened because I got malaria pretty bad and in the end returned home. But because of the nature of the trip, I felt a return flight was not needed. But in the case of returning home early, the only tine that’s really happened to me, well, I had nothing booked and needed a last minute return from Burkina Faso to Melbourne.

It wasn’t hard to get a ticket, and it wasn’t overly expensive to be honest, however, I didn’t have the money and so I relied on my parents to pay for it which wasn’t fair. On top of that if the return leg HAD been booked, well, travel insurance would have covered it all, but in this instance I think they may have covered flying Ouagadougou to Paris, but certainly not Paris to Melbourne. And was over $1000 for that leg of the flight. It may seem like a great idea to have an open-ended itinerary and no flight home, you may feel a great sense of ‘freedom’, but often it’s little more to pay for a return flight than a one way flight and that return flight you can usually change the dates of as suits. And the result is peace of mind for every one. Even if you think you’ll be more than a year. If it’s a points booking you can often, depending on your airline, keep pushing flights back for well over a year.

  • Ride elephants
Me, 1999, on an elephant

I rode an elephant on one of those famous treks from Chiang Mai, Thailand back in 1999. It was a great experience in many ways, but for me, not for the elephant. And I was young and naïve and didn’t realise until a year or two ago that the process of ‘breaking in’ young elephants to train them to carry humans is apparently cruel and basically torture. It’s even called ‘breaking the spirit’ according to some critics. Which makes it a lot different from riding a horse. On top of that I can’t imagine having a wooden platform strapped to your back with people on it is any fun for the elephant. Such beautiful animals, I genuinely feel sorry I ever rode one.

  • Going to ‘Tiger Kingdom’

Another Chiang Mai experience, I feel even worse about this one because I should have known better. Despite what the people who work there tell you, that the tigers are treated kindly and are trained to be ‘tame’, I should have thought about it and realised straight away that this couldn’t be true.

Regardless of WHY tigers at Tiger Kingdom are so chill you can pose with them, they are wild animals kept in cages for the purpose of making money. It seems most likely they are drugged. Even if they weren’t, well, it’s still not right. These are beautiful, endangered creatures, large and capable to rip you apart. And they deserve dignity. And by going there and standing and sitting and squatting for photographs, I denied them this. I really REALLY encourage you if you are in Chiang Mai to NOT go there, and to NOT ride an elephant either. Please. I am literally ashamed that I was so ‘wowed’ by the idea that I did it. I’m going to swear. I was a fucking dickhead.

Well folks, have you ever done something and looked back and thought ‘I really shouldn’t have’? I would love to hear your stories, if only to make me feel ever so slightly less guilty (lol). Thanks for reading, take care, and May the Journey Never End!

30 thoughts on “Things I Wouldn’t Do a Second Time!

  1. I still feel bad about riding an elephant in Thailand. It was included on a package to visit caves in Pai, we didn’t want to do it but ended up going along with the group. Didn’t visit the Tigers though. This post is a great idea, I could come up with a different long list!

  2. I rode a camel in Morocco, and while I don’t have any evidence to confirm this, I’m sure that the ethics of training these animals to carry humans is more than questionable…it was definitely an experience, but also one I wouldn’t do again (plus, it wasn’t a very comfortable ride). That said, I wouldn’t choose to ride elephants or stand near drugged tigers, even if given the opportunity to do so.

    1. camels … i dont know. I think they use elephants in more humane ways to shift things in Thailand, the real issue is the damage and pain from the seats on top, whereas camel saddles fit a lot better. but if we stop at camel riding, well what about horses?
      when you extrapolate it all, the ethics of everything we do can get pretty messy in regards to treatment of animals. thanks for commenting!

  3. Great post idea. Flyng to New York in October without booking a hotel, I had no idea how popular musicals were at that time. Driving too long distances, Toronto-Boston (900 km) or Luxembourg-Berlin (800 km) for long weekends; in the end I didn’t see much, too exhausted, not to mention the risks on the road. Ethically, I should not have accepted the tuktuk driver offer to shoot live ammunition in a Cambodian army camp. It was only when I got there that I refused to pay because I could not take pictures.

    1. yeah i had the opportunity to shoot a kalishinikov in Pakistan but refused. Just shooting bullets out to no where. Didnt see what I would gain from it. 900km is a long way to drive for a 3 day getaway. u would need a full day to go one way.

  4. I wouldn’t go to Tiger Kingdom in Phuket again. I did the medium sized ones. The tigers are drugged and the photos are ridiculous. It is an interesting subject though. Do we stop zoos and aquariums? Hard to know where the line is. Abusing tigers and elephants is definitely wrong.

  5. Thanks for sharing this list. It’s always good to learn from our choices and mistakes and to share them so others can learn from them as well.

  6. ThingsHelenLoves

    Great post, experience shapes us I suppose! I did the stupid thing when I was younger (much much younger!) of travelling with no insurance , a tight budget and next to no back up fund. By grace of god nothing much really went wrong and I made it home in one piece. As the mother of a young adult who has been off round India and across Europe, the idea of her doing the same fills me with dread.

  7. BBQboy

    We all do things when we’re younger that we end up regretting Andy. At the time we just didn’t know better. Like you I rode an elephant (didn’t know at the end that it was a bad thing to do). Wore shorts once on a Malaysian airlines flight and the lady who was sitting next to me asked to be seated somewhere else (maybe she got scared by all my sexiness 🙂 ). Got really, really drunk once in Bangkok and spent a night getting lap dances in a strip joint. I was in there a few hours before I realized all the girls were in fact ladyboys.

    Don’t you feel better now?

  8. Loved this blog post! I think even acknowledging now that some of the things you did in the past were wrong is already a huge step, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it! These are actually great lessons too! Now I can’t really think of something travel-related that I wish I hadn’t done in the past, and many things that I experienced and felt terrible for in the past, are now great stories, like the time I was working as a freelancer when I was in Russia for a month and my laptop broke down so I had to work from a shady internet cafe surrounded by Russian guys playing Call of Duty all day… 😂

  9. I too regret riding an elephant in Chaing Mai. It was years ago. The place was presented as eco-friendly, and they had us feed the elephants and join them washing in the river, but thinking back, I didn’t know what all was involved in making them do these things. Live and learn.

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