My Travel Fears (Including Rats, Bats and Drowning)
I hope you aren’t looking for a deep, philosophical piece about loneliness or missing out on a normal life. Those things don’t scare me; my travel fears are much more concrete…
As a kid I was always scared of mice. Maybe it’s the way they scurry, or the fact that they can get anywhere they want to, but they always stressed me out. I never saw many, but just like the show Mad Men, I saw enough to know I wasn’t a fan. Rats are just like big mice, so I guess it’s natural that I’d be scared of them as well. I’d heard horror stories of rats in beds, eating through backpacks and even on plates served as dinner.
In one year in Taiwan, six months in Southeast Asia and 20 months in Singapore I’ve probably seen about 20 of them, and each time they give me a fright and shake me up a bit. Most were spotted in Bangkok and Saigon, with Saigon being particularly infested. I could hear one clawing at the wall right next to my bed, so obviously I didn’t get much sleep that night. I had to keep on hitting the wall to scare it away; hopefully it got the message and didn’t crawl on me when I eventually slept. I have also seen them in plenty of restaurants in Saigon and Phnom Penh.
As much as I hate rats, each time I see one they lose their stigma slightly, which is probably true of all fears. Following this logic, I plan on one day visiting that crazy rat temple in India, where thousands of milk-drinking rats roam freely and have become a tourist attraction in their own right.
I was a slow learner when it came to swimming, and while I can swim comfortably now, I still have a fear of deep water. I have always thought that if I died young it’d be from drowning, so I’ve been very careful. This probably stems from seeing The Big Blue (a film about free-diving) as a child, which freaked me out.
I have never jumped off a boat, snorkeled, or done any of those seemingly fun things that people do in the water. Give me calm, clear, warm, and most importantly shallow water and I’m straight in there. As long as I can touch the bottom I’m happy. It’d be great to overcome this fear but I also don’t feel I’m missing out on too much. The one thing I wish I could have done was jump off a boat in Ha Long Bay. Maybe one day I’ll conquer this, and learning to dive would be cool, but I’m pretty happy sticking to the shallow end of the ocean for now.
And here is one travel fear I did conquer…..
I don’t think I learned much about bats at school, maybe I was absent that day, but my fear of bats stemmed from assuming that they would fly straight into me because they are blind. It took a trip to an “Indiana Jones Temple”, as described by the guy that served me lunch, to realise bats are pretty good at avoiding people, even in confined spaces. The temple is in Bagan, Burma and it requires you to crawl through cramped, hot tunnels while bats fly around your face. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them (not to mention spiders and cockroaches) and you’d think it would be an awful experience, but it was actually fun and it cured my fear of bats instantly.
Out of three travel fears I have managed to conquer one, but I have plenty of time to get around to the other two. What are your travel fears, and how do you plan to overcome them? Let me know!
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