Travel regrets? We’ve had a few
‘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.
NO LOVE LOST IN TOKYO
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’
CASHLESS IN COPENHAGEN
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.
L AID - UP IN LANGKAWI
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