Strange Travel – Our Most Surreal Moments on the Road

Written By: The Planet D

Life can be pretty surreal at times. And travel is no exception to the rule. We have had some very strange travel experiences an

We seem to have some of our strangest experiences when we are on the road. Some of them are completely out of our control and we just have to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Weird Travel Stories from the Road

While some weird travel experiences were completely our own doing, others were definitely beyond our control. 

Either way, they make for some fun stories around the campfire. Here are a few of our strangest travel experiences in no particular order.

Camped in a zoo in Sudan

The infamous Red Box

We arrived in Dongola, Sudan after 6 days of cycling in the desert. 

We hadn’t showered and we were covered in dirt and sweat. We weren’t treated to luxury though, we had set up camp in an old abandoned zoo.

The zoo had high steel walls and nobody was allowed in.  It was pretty strange because we were fenced in while the town looked at us from outside.

This may sound a little odd already, but it didn’t become really strange until we all started bathing in our red supply boxes that carried our cycling gear. 

They were carried on our supply trucks and held all of our gear. someone found a hose, so we all filled up our little 100 liter boxes and took a bath.  Weird.

Showered in a Brothel in Ethiopia

Dirty in Ethiopia, We Would Shower Anywhere

Yet another African experience.  We had been cycling once again for days on end through sand. 

Once we crossed the Ethiopian border, we camped in a patch of grass which we shared with cows and donkeys.

We had to keep an eye out for cow patties and at one point I saw a cow drinking out of the bottom of one of our trucks. 

Our trucks carried our water through the desert in a big bladder underneath. They kept us alive through the unforgiving desert and here was a cow slurping from the bladder like it was sucking on its mums teet.

This may sound like a strange experience, but it didn’t get wierd until we all lined up to have a shower at the brothel next door.  We raved about how amazing it was, your standards lower a lot when you are in the desert.

The stalls were tin shacks with cement floors and cold water, but the pressure was good and we loved every minute of it. And we even sat down for a beer in the bar afterward as the “ladies and gentlemen” watched on.

Creepy Camp Site in Namibia

strange travel experiences

We approached a campsite in Namibia that completely freaked me out. I was riding alone and in the distance, I saw a scary-looking guy standing at the side of the road. 

He never moved. As I road closer, I was beginning to wonder if I should turn back.

But I was on the right route, I followed the flags set up by our expedition leaders so it had to be O.K. Right?

Then I realized that it was a statue.  I was relieved, but then again, why is a statue standing alone in the middle of the Kalahari Desert? 

I hope I didn’t make a wrong turn?

I kept riding down the long-abandoned path and more of these creepy sculptures kept popping up. 

They were set up in various strange scenes. Sitting on motorcycles, working at a wagon, and perched on go-carts and bicycles.

They had these heads that looked like pumpkins and every horror movie from my childhood flashed through my brain.

I eventually made it to camp thank God.  I was happy I was with a crowd, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night if it was only Dave and myself.

Shared a bus in Laos with a load of Lobsters

lobster in bin

This one was a pretty strange travel experience. 

We got on a bus downtown Hanoi en route to Vientiane Laos. It ended up being a 24-hour journey.

There was a handful of us waiting for the bus and we assumed that we would be picking people up at different stops along the way.

Well, we stopped alright, but instead of people, we picked up flour, rice, electronics and lobster!;

Dozens of lobsters wrapped in pretty packaging that started to” turn” in the heat as time went on joined us on the cramped bus. 

It was getting pretty ripe in there by the end and we couldn’t understand why they weren’t packed in ice. 

We actually started to wonder if we were on a bus that was smuggling stuff across the border.

Were the lobster carrying something? We’ll never know.

Being Stoned all the way Through Ethiopia

navigating roads in ethiopa
navigating the non-existent roads in Ethiopia

No, it is not what you think….

In Ethiopia, the children have an odd pastime of throwing rocks at cyclists. 

They get a kick out of using us as target practice. 

We spent 23 days in Ethiopia, and each day we could count on getting a rock whipped at our heads or sticks stuck in our spokes.  It was nuts!

Most kids carried these big staffs to herd their cattle and as we rode by, they tried to stick them in our tires to take us out. 

You may think that it was because they wanted us to stop and talk. But no, even when we stopped and shared a nice little conversation, they would hurl rocks at us as we left.  It was infuriating.

It was weird. Not a hello or even a wave,  All they said was “You, you, you” oh and “Give me my money.” 

Bed Bugs in Malaysia

We’ve had more than our share of bed bug experiences in Asia. But there was something very surreal about this bed bug experience in Malaysia.

We were in Penang, Malaysia in a highly recommended guesthouse which will remain nameless.

I was walking back to my room after a morning shower and I saw the owner, squishing these creepy creatures leaving bloody smears all over the floor.

He had a big smile on his face and kept reassuring us that we didn’t have any in our room as he banged a piece of wood and was swatting at them in the room next to ours.

I was so grossed out by the blood all over the floor and wall, that we had to get out of there.

Getting taken to the cleaners in Mexico

Diving In Cozumel, Mexico
Diving in Cozumel, Happy before we spent all that money

We had just spent a week diving in Cozumel and were about to embark on our Central American Adventure.

On the ferry from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen, we were approached by a timeshare seller.  We know all about timeshares and weren’t interested.

But they offered us $100 US Cash each to come and take a look.  We said, wow, we can go see it and make sure to say NO, collect our $200 and be on our way. 

Well we got their and the pressure was high.  They kept throwing everything our way and we kept saying no.

The price kept going down and down and then they finally said that they would give it to us for $1000 and upgrade us to the level where we can get African safaris and luxury tours for cheap cheap cheap. 

We gave in and bought it.  Right after I freaked out and wanted my money back to no avail.

We did get our $200 though and they agreed to put us up in their luxury resort for a week in Playa Del Carmen.

It was beautiful and we were pampered staying in this incredible hotel.  We had just come from an all-inclusive dive resort and this one made that one look like a Days Inn. So we figured it all evened out in the end.

$800 bucks for a week at a luxury resort. Why is this surreal, we were supposed to be backpacking in Mexico and should have been roughing it in Tulum by now. Instead, we had white robes and slippers and were sitting by the pool bar.

We cut almost a month of travel off of our trip because of that resort, but we still talk about how nice it was and to this day, we still get emails from that vacation club offering us great discounts. 

They do have great discounts admittedly, maybe one day we will take them up on it.

Another Brothel in the Ukraine

hotel in the ukraine group

We were tired, it was the middle of the night and we need a places to sleep. We never could seem to find a hotel in Ukraine. Even when we had the address, we just drove around in circles looking for it to no avail.

We were driving from England to Mongolia on the Mongol Rally and my teammate Sherry refused to crash in the car another night.

We had been driving a lonely road when suddenly we saw lights. It looked like a castle was lit up on the side of the road so we pulled in.

It looked like a hotel, but when Dave, Sherry and another team from the Mongol Rally went in to ask about prices, the owner wanted nothing to do with us. Sherry kept telling them, we don’t care about the price, we just want to sleep.

I was waiting in the car by myself and a beautiful tall woman walked by dressed in an old fashioned flight attendent’s uniform. That’s when I knew something we strange. I followed her inside and saw a bunch of women peeking from behind curtains laughing while Sherry was desparately begging for a room.

The owner had a gun holster on his belt and Dave and the other guys said, “we gotta get out of here.’

When we finally talked Sherry out of leaving, she replied, “I don’t care if it’s a brothel, I just want a bed tonight!”

Aw, the things you’ll put up with during long term travels.

Shopping in Hoi An

what to do in vietnam | hoi an tailors

It doesn’t sound very strange, but in Vietnam, Hoi An is famous for its designer suits and cocktail dresses tailor made for a steal.

We told everyone that we were never going to buy clothes in Hoi An. We just wanted to see the town and the sights around it. 

However, when we were approached on the street we thought we would be nice and humorous the sweet lady and go to her shop. We ended up spending a good chunk of our travel budget on suits, dresses,  silk shirts, pants, and skirts we bought it all.

We stressed about our purchases that night and reprimanded ourselves thoroughly. When we went back the next day to pick up all of our clothes, we loved them so much, we bought more!! 

That night again, we kicked ourselves again and again.

Coasting Down Bokor Hill

strange travel bokor hill
Before we had to coast down the mountain of Bokor Hill, Cambodia

Bokor Hill is a popular tourist destination in Cambodia. We hired a truck to take us up the mountain. 

At the top we visited an abandoned casino. It was another creepy place that is said to be haunted. 

I don’t know what it is like today, but back then we just walked through dark hallways and looked at the abandoned hall.

It was a little unsettling. But the view was beautiful. I think it is turned it into a big resort now, I am glad I saw it when it was all run down and abandoned makes for a better story. 

Oh wait, that’s not the strange part yet.

Our truck broke down at the top of the mountain, so we all had to pile into the back and coast our way down.  Daylight turned to night, and we huddled in the back of the truck clinging to cliffs as we silently coasted down the road hoping they had the strength to turn the steering wheel.

The whole truck was dead, so we put our lives in their hands.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

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Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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8 thoughts on “Strange Travel – Our Most Surreal Moments on the Road”

  1. hi nice,but im already visit there,now im planning to visit rather than Cambodia or Vietnam next 2 months, does anyone know how to apply visa? I’m google around and came across, does anyone try this website before? Is it reliable?

    • Hi Sally, we got our Visa at the border when entering from Thailand. You should be able to get it either from your home country or at the embassy at a bordering country like Vietnam, Thailand or Laos. I don’t know anything about the website you mentioned. Good luck though.

  2. It’s the sharing of fun personal stories like this one that make this blog stand out. It’s great to read such stories when sitting at home, because it feels like I’m travelling wiht you. Would love to take a supply box bat together lol
    .-= Alyssa @ Femita´s last blog ..The World’s Most Unique and Unusual Hotels – Have A Memorable Stay! =-.

  3. That is so funny! I said the exact same thing before we got to Hoi An. People kept talking about the amazing clothes and shopping, and I kept thinking “what a joke”. I don’t care about clothes anyways, and I certainly have no need for any custom-made clothing. Besides, there are more important things to see and do when you are in Vietnam. Shopping??? What a waste of time.

    Sure enough, we ended up with a very beautiful and cheap tailor-made wardrobe! I haven’t even worn some of the things, but it was a really fun experience!!! Hoi An can rope in even the most anti-shopper!

  4. I loved Cozumel we went there thanks to our Royal Holiday membership points and had a really nice stay at a luxury hotel called Park Royal, we will remember it forever.

  5. Your clothes shopping story just makes me more excited to go there and get myself some custom fit clothing for amazing prices. Especially pants/shorts as I have the hardest time finding any that fit me perfectly.

    How long did your items last for?

  6. Hmmm reading this before I am off to bed. I wonder what kind of dreams Ill get some of these stories like the hunted house are like bed time ghost stories.
    $250 for all that I would have done it and never think about regrets. When it comes to silk cloths and dirt cheap prices I never think twice.
    Such a funny picture in that container.