Travel re­grets? We’ve had a few

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Contents -

‘My eyes were squeezed shut for 75 per cent of the en­su­ing un­con­trolled gal­lop’

Whether it’s an ill-ad­vised ho­tel choice, hir­ing an in­ept tour guide or try­ing month-old ‘freshly caught oys­ters’, one poor de­ci­sion can ruin a great des­ti­na­tion for you. We’ve asked Lonely Planet staff to re­live their travel woes, and what they’d do dif­fer­ently if they went back for an­other go. A HAIR- RAIS­ING HORSE­BACK TOUR IN HON­DURAS

I signed up for a rid­ing tour of the coun­try­side near Copán Ruinas against my bet­ter judge­ment: I dis­trust horses. I asked for a nag, a plod­der, a lag­gard – the slower the bet­ter. Alas, my meek-look­ing pinto bolted within min­utes of me clam­ber­ing onto its back. So much for ap­pre­ci­at­ing my sur­round­ings. I didn’t see any mem­bers of my tour party for the next hour; didn’t see much at all, in fact, as my eyes were squeezed shut for 75 per cent of the en­su­ing un­con­trolled gal­lop. Which is a shame be­cause, as I later dis­cov­ered, the coun­try­side is beau­ti­ful. By the time the foam­ing beast fi­nally tired of my ter­ror and re­turned from whence it came, with me cling­ing half-on, half-off the sad­dle as it trot­ted into the sta­ble yard, I had lost my pre­cious Til­ley hat, not to men­tion my dig­nity. And very nearly my wits. Car­los, my guide, chuck­led, shook his head and said: ‘This lit­tle one has a fiery tem­per, no?’ I could have punched him, but he had a gun. NEXT TIME I’D… take a two-footed tour. Of the many modes of trans­port avail­able to trav­ellers, my con­sid­ered opin­ion is that noth­ing beats a walk.


My now-hus­band and I vis­ited Tokyo, where a friend kindly let us crash on his fu­ton. One night, we de­cided to tick off some clas­sic Ja­panese ex­pe­ri­ences. Af­ter sushi and saké, vend­ing ma­chine beers and karaoke bar cock­tails, we spon­ta­neously checked in at a love ho­tel, hav­ing heard of their play­ful, kitsch de­signs. Roam­ing the Shibuya dis­trict, we dis­cov­ered most had no room at the inn, but even­tu­ally found a va­cancy. Af­ter post­ing a credit card through a hatch we were buzzed in by an un­seen pro­pri­etor, but soon dis­cov­ered there was no love in this ho­tel. The cramped, grey room was boil­ing hot and stank of cig­a­rettes. A plas­tic sheet lurked un­der ny­lon bed linens. Drink­ing water came from a vend­ing ma­chine in the cor­ri­dor, where we would cross paths with furtive busi­ness­men, suits in dis­ar­ray. One plas­tic rose in a bed­side vase was the only nod to ro­mance, and our stay cost a for­tune. NEXT TIME I’D… re­search the best op­tions – and save money by opt­ing for a ‘rest’ stay of a few hours, rather than an overnight.

‘It wasn’t un­til evening that I star ted to feel a chill creep up on me’


As a poor MA stu­dent, I used a whole term’s fi­nan­cial aid on a trip with my best friend to not-so-cheap Copen­hagen. First, his cam­era got stolen in the rail­way sta­tion. We were so broke we avoided Scandi-cool cafés and craft beer, in­stead fill­ing up at a grim Chi­nese buf­fet. We skipped Rosen­borg Slot and didn’t buy tick­ets to the Tivoli Gar­dens. Worst of all, we couch­surfed in a flat where the host came home late and had very loud drug-fu­elled sex in a room next to ours, the only thing sep­a­rat­ing us be­ing a grotty old sheet strung up as a ‘door’. We ducked out at dawn, wan­dered the streets aim­lessly and slept the fi­nal night on the air­port floor. NEXT TIME I’D… go back with enough cash to en­joy Copen­hagen’s beau­ti­ful sights and have a proper Scan­di­na­vian cof­fee. And a ho­tel room.


With a copy of Michael Palin’s Half­way to Hol­ly­wood tucked un­der one arm and a fold­ing chair in the other, I strolled out from my hut on the Malaysian is­land of Langkawi. The beach was al­most empty, and the sky was cloud­less. ‘Right,’ I thought. ‘Page one.’ There I was, chortling away, when I re­alised just how hot it was – and that I’d been sit­ting in the sun all morn­ing. With no shade. And no water. ‘Is this bad?’ I thought to my­self. ‘Prob­a­bly,’ I de­cided. It wasn’t un­til the evening that I started to feel a chill creep up on me, a pre­lude to the worst heat­stroke I’ve ever had; the fever left me bed-bound, forc­ing me to drink ap­prox­i­mately 37 litres of water a day and pour roughly the same on my head. Plans to see Langkawi Sky Bridge, the ma­jes­tic 12-me­tre statue of an ea­gle tak­ing flight at Dataran Lang, and the bound-to-bethrilling-be­cause-I-love-aquar­i­ums aquar­ium were put on hold. As soon as I stopped vom­it­ing, it was time to leave. NEXT TIME I’D… prob­a­bly not sit on the beach all morn­ing with­out any water or shade. In fact, I’d just stay in­side.

Orla Thomas Lonely Planet mag­a­zine Fea­tures Ed­i­tor @Or­laThomas

Me­gan Eaves Lonely Planet’s Des­ti­na­tion Ed­i­tor for North Asia @ megoizzy

Si­mon Hoskins Brand Copy­writer @si­mon.hoskins

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