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Every traveller’s worst nightmare

Stranded without your luggage overseas? Yep, that’s pretty hellish.

WHAT would you consider your worst travel nightmare? Being stranded in a foreign country after having all of your possessions stolen, or breaking your leg while showing off your best ski moves?

Rest assured, worse has likely happened to another traveller at some point. Don’t believe us? Check out this Quora discussion board where readers have dished on their worst experiences overseas — there are some doozies.

Here are some of the highlights — or rather, lowlights!

Jacek Karaszewski: “Taking antimalaria pills for the first time, then reading up on possible side effects which may include hallucinations, and waking up that night to find a dead body in your bed. Of course it turns out that this was a hallucination, but now you’re alone far away from home, you’re not sure what is real, and you can’t get off the antimalarials.”

Jon Mixon: “Nothing like travelling to another country only to have its political or economic situation s*** the bed while you are there. Bonus points if loud and angry riots get broken up by truncheon-wielding police. Extra bonus points if the police decide to use gas and rubber bullets. Unlimited bonus points if everybody decides that real bullets will ‘liven things up’.”

Ylla von Malmborg: “Arriving late at night to a city, a deserted station closing down before your eyes and the only people around laugh to your face as you beg for advice on where you are, and where to find shelter for the night.”

Ryan Chew:

• “Getting stuck at the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport during the fall of the Soviet Union. I was 10, not my fault.

• “Being interrogated at Barcelona customs for being the sole dodgy looking Chinese guy on the flight. The other Chinese guy who was rather more well-dressed gets a pass.

• “You take a taxi for a good night out in Wuxi, China. The taxi brings you to the ‘best club in town’ where you are the only customers. You order a beer. They bring you 10. And fruits. And peanuts. And women. You say no and try to leave. Angry men come out of nowhere. They demand you pay about a thousand bucks for the drinks, fruits, peanuts and women you did not ask for. You cry, kowtow, grovel and beg for your life. You give them every cent you have and leave feeling lucky to have all your limbs and extremities still attached.”

When in Wuxi, watch out ... Picture: Christian Hans

When in Wuxi, watch out ... Picture: Christian Hans

Sed Chapman:

• “Guys in balaclavas carrying automatic weapons taking a keen interest in you.

• “Waking up covered in leeches.

• “Having a grizzly bear rip your backpack to shreds trying to get at some bit of food.

“ ... Ah, to be young and have such adventures. These days, my worst nightmare would involve something untoward happening to my wife and kid.”

Andrew Wiltshire: “I was on a bus in India with a whole trekking party from my school. We were on one of those lovely twisty dirt roads with a sheer drop on one side of about 1000 feet (304 metres) ... a vehicle had had a crash and was on its side. Traffic soon built up behind us. We could not go forward and we could not go back. At this point we became aware of the smoke billowing across the scene and our guide informed us that there was a forest fire above us and it was spreading rapidly down the mountain towards us, stuck on the cliff road. As if that were not bad enough, the vehicle on its side not 50 feet away from our bus was a petrol tanker. A LEAKING petrol tanker.”

Chris Stromquist: “I took a trip to Mexico this past summer and got food poisoning for the first time. It was the worst 24 hours of my life. Be careful what you eat and drink! Make sure you always drink water out of a bottle and never, ever buy a burrito from a local carrying a cooler full of burritos just because you want to have an ‘authentic’ experience.”

Sure, they look tempting, but beware.

Sure, they look tempting, but beware.

Lalit Bhatia: “You reach Beijing Airport (at) 3.a.m and are confident that you have read enough about the ‘taxi’ scam where they charge US200 ($263) for ride worth $US25. You find the airport authorised taxi with a meter which is not tempered. You start your journey with a non English speaking driver. Soon you notice that the numbers in the meter is running faster than you anticipated but convince yourself that the meter is not displaying the fare. When you reach to the boutique hotel in the heart of city, the driver demands US300 ($394)!”

Amanda Tendler: “Getting in a fiery bus crash and escaping through the window in India on your second day? Nah ... A traveller’s worst nightmare is not being able to travel at all.”

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