I get chills just thinking about it. Travellers share the chilling details of the one trip that still haunts them. Content had been edited for clarity.
“I was traveling by train for a trip that took 30 hours.
I boarded the train and it was a three-tier A.C. compartment, but quite empty since the train had recently started and very few people knew about it.
There was this man who was about 40 years old who had taken a seat in front of me and asked me if I was alone. I replied in the affirmative and went back to my book. He then told me he was like my father and that I needed not to worry about traveling alone. I smiled but did not reply.
Next, he offered me a few pastries he was carrying. I declined because I never eat anything offered by strangers. Anywhere. He got offended and asked me to have at least one. I declined politely and told him I was quite full. He told me I was being arrogant. I ignored him.
Later, he commented on the book I was reading, and handed me another book. He claimed his book was better. I told him not to bother me.
He said, ‘I am like your father and you should listen to me, for your own safety.’
Me- ‘Sir you are not my father. Please stop disturbing me.’
Him- ‘You are such an arrogant girl.’
I ignored him, yet again.
Later I went to a different coach and found a young couple who were traveling to the same place as me. I told them about my predicament and all of us went to the train conductor and requested him to provide a seat next to them. He obliged.
At night, when I was sleeping, near the couple’s seat, the aforementioned man came there, woke me up, and asked me to come back to my seat. He said he was worried about me.
I lost it. In a loud voice, I told him I was going to call the train conductor and police if he didn’t move. The man and his wife who had helped me also woke up and asked him to leave. He said he was my guardian and was just taking care of me. It was only when some other passengers gathered around, did he leave.
I didn’t sleep the entire night. I didn’t dare to go to the bathroom and sat upright at the slightest noise. Later, I called home to ask my dad to come to pick me up in the morning. The train usually reached in the wee hours of the morning, so I would take a shared rickshaw to reach home. That day, I was scared.
The last I saw him was when my dad was escorting me out of the station.
All crime patrol episodes just flashed in front of my eyes.”
” It happened around August 2005 in the John F Kennedy airport in New York.
I was coming back from Las Vegas, where I attended the Black Hat conference, followed by DEF CON XIII. Fun times. After Vegas, I spent a few days in New York City before flying back to Tel Aviv. I was four and a half years into what ended up being a decade-long military service in Isreal Defence Forces Military Intelligence. There was a reason I’m bringing up my military service. Wait for it.
Anyways, after a few days in New York City, I packed up my suitcase and backpack, called a cab, and made my way to the John F. Kennedy airport.
When I got to JFK, I immediately checked in my suitcase and proceeded to security. The line was long and slow, so I decided to hit the bathroom before taking it. In the bathroom, I realized it was quite cold in the airport, so I opened my bag to take out a light sweater I packed just in case.
As I was pulling the sweater out of my bag, I heard the very distinct sound of a small, metallic object hitting the bathroom stall floor. Then another one. Then another one.
I knew that sound. Shoot. This couldn’t be good. Then, I looked down and saw what it was.
Yes. It turned out there were several M16 rounds in my backpack. Why? About a week before I traveled to Vegas, I was on a routine security mission as part of my military service. During the mission, some of the ammo probably made it into my bag. Another possibility was this was a silly prank by some of my friends.
Regardless of how the ammo got there, here I was, in a JFK bathroom stall, with a backpack, that, while not being full of ammo, contained a nonzero number of very real, very live assault bullets. Oh, my bananas! This was only a few years after 9/11 and I had already started imagining the nightmare, not to mention the nonzero probing I had already undergone if airport security discovered their bullets.
Since I wasn’t going to bet I had gotten lucky a fourth time, I had to get rid of them. But how? I couldn’t just get out of the booth, go to the closest trash can, and dump them. What if people saw me? Also, what if people didn’t see me but a janitor or someone discovered the bullets? I didn’t want to be responsible for an airport panic. Not good karma.
So I stayed in the bathroom stall. And flushed the bullets one by one. It took forever, because bullets, probably because of their mass and density, took quite a long time to flush.
After demilitarizing my bag, I went through security and got back home safely. Phew!”
Dinner And A Show
“I ate dinner with a murderer.
See, I traveled for a living. I went all over the world, though mostly I traveled domestically in the United States. I checked into my hotel and was delighted to find it had a decent restaurant/bar in the lobby. Sure, they were overpriced, but the convenience can be worth it if the food itself was decent.
I went down and sat at the bar, one seat removed from a man. He was a tad older than me, muscular, and rough around the edges. And, this struck me almost right away. He had a duffle bag at his feet. Most people would have left a bag like that in their room.
He started up a conversation with me, and I was nearly always willing to engage with people if I was sitting by myself at a bar.
We shot the breeze. He asked what brought me to the bar. I said I was just relaxing with a nice meal before having to start work the next day.
‘I can’t bring myself to eat,’ he said.
‘Why not?’ I asked.
‘Well, I just killed a man a few hours ago and I can’t get the image out of my head.’
I don’t remember what I said at this point. He was clearly unnerved. Unsettled. I wasn’t positive he was telling the truth, yet. But he was obviously agitated. Probably, I think I uttered something clever, like, ‘Oh?’
He weaved in and out of the conversation. He gave me bits and pieces. He said he knew the police would catch up with him, and he was just trying to keep ahead of them.
The waitress overheard our conversation, I think. The man noticed her lingering. He went off on her and told her to mind her own business. She said she was just cleaning, and ‘didn’t hear anything.’
Then, like I was in a poorly written melodrama, the news (which had been playing the whole time) switched to a story about a shooting/homicide that took place about 30 minutes from us.
The minute it came on, he pointed and said, ‘Look. It’s what I was telling you about and now they’re finally talking about it.’
He then gestured to the duffle bag and told me the weapon was in it. He said it had been his friend, but his friend had done him wrong. So he shot him.
I was trained in situational awareness with my company. Maybe not well-trained enough. I mean, I did sit down one seat from him. But, I already knew where the exits were and who was around me. I sized him up. Whether he had really killed anyone. He was not stable. In a situation like this, you needed to be ready to fight or flee. Hiding was out of the question.
Fleeing also was a long shot, should the situation turn violent. Assuming he had a weapon on him, it was a long path straight path to any exit. If he decided he wished he hadn’t confided in me, it would be easy to shoot me dead. If it came to it, fighting was my only option, and I didn’t like my chances against him.
I kept things light, waiting for the food I had already ordered. I felt it would be too obvious that I was getting away from him to ask for the food to go at that point. I wanted to seem interested, but not too interested in what he had to say. I ate, skipped dessert, and paid my bill.
When I got up, he shook my hand and said, ‘I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. No reason to say anything beyond that to anyone.’
I agreed and thanked him for an interesting conversation.
After that, I walked toward the lobby entrance, and noted hotel security sitting just around the corner. I considered and rejected the idea of informing them. I didn’t want weapons drawn around anyone, and didn’t think security was equipped.
What happened next solidified the truth of the matter. I went up the elevator and looked up the news story. There had been a hotline number. I called it and someone had got me in touch with the county sheriff from the city it had taken place in. The dispatcher listened to my story in a bored voice until he asked me to describe the man. No details had been given in the news story.
After I described him, the dispatcher perked up. He put me on hold and a minute later he had someone else on the line with me. I gave the details again. They said they would pass it on to the local police department. Ten minutes later, they called me back and I gave my report again. I let them know the bar/restaurant closed soon and they should get there quickly if they wanted a chance to apprehend the guy.
A part of me felt bad. Our handshake seemed like the confidence of sorts. I was also, oddly, more frightened calling the police than I had been during the dinner. Maybe it was the adrenaline. But, I didn’t know if he was staying there or not. If he was, and he noticed the police coming and they didn’t take him in, chances were he would associate their arrival with telling me. And I knew he had already killed a friend for a perceived act of betrayal.
I let work know about it. They had me in a different hotel the next day.”
“When I was ten and my sister was twelve, we traveled as unaccompanied minors on the People’s Express airlines. We’d done this a lot, traveling between parents. My dad got us to the gate, waited until we got on, and watched the plane roll off before he headed to the car and started his three-hour drive back home. What he didn’t know was, that the plane never took off.
It was Christmas Eve at Reagan National Airport and it was snowing. There was one delay and then another and another. After almost two hours after leaving the gate, the pilot got on the loudspeaker and told us that, unfortunately, we were not going to be leaving. He laughed and said how our congressmen needed their sleep and no planes were allowed to take off after curfew. We went back to the gate and everybody got off, and that was when the stewardesses and the checkout counter attendants informed us that, as unaccompanied minors, we were not their problem.
Imagine that. They wouldn’t budge, and two little kids were left to fend for themselves on a snowy night in a strange city in an airport that was closing down for the night. A man got on the loudspeaker and informed everyone the doors would be closing and any stranded passengers needed to make arrangements to be elsewhere for the night.
Our dad was long gone, it was long before cell phones, and we had no idea what to do as the adults around us yelled and badgered the counter people for accommodations and transportation. They took turns using the phones to get rides back to relatives. All we had was dad’s phone number and we knew he wasn’t home.
A guy in a uniform told us it was time to go and moved on to the next stranded traveler. A guy in a pilot’s uniform brushed us off, pointing us back to the checkout counter where a large lady was losing her mind over not seeing her babies for Christmas. Another stewardess refused to even stop. It wasn’t until a guy with a push broom worked his way by and eyed us. We had hysterics and finally curled up with our stuff to cry under a little blanket we had.
It got really quiet, just the sound of that push broom and the occasional clang of a trashcan being dumped. Then the guy with the push broom worked his way back over. He was really hard to understand because his English wasn’t good at all, but he asked us what was happening. We said our flight was canceled and he was puzzled why we hadn’t gone home. He listened to us for a while and then told us to come with him. He worked his broom and his trash to the front, found an admin and talked to them for a long time. The admin guy finally came over and talked to us. He couldn’t give us a place to stay, but he had us leave a message for our dad and stayed until our dad finally got in and called back. But he wasn’t a People’s Express guy, they were long gone, so technically we weren’t his responsibility. He wasn’t taking us anywhere even if our dad called in to pay for accommodations and he wasn’t staying the night here either. In the end, the guy with the broom said he’d be there working all night anyway, so he’d watch us as everyone else left.
He worked all night, and we slept in a cold, dark airport. The janitor guy kept checking back with his broom all night and had us right there by the front when the doors were unlocked at six. My dad came charging in to raise chaos with every airport and airline official he could corner.
It was a different world back then, that was for sure.”
The View From Up There
“I fell off an 80-meter-high waterfall.
I was 22 years when my friends and I visited Phophonyane Falls. It was an 80-meter-high waterfall in Swaziland surrounded by a beautiful nature reserve. The waterfall has some of the oldest rocks in the world, dating to three billion years.
Back then I was a student doing research for my master thesis in Cape Town. Going to the east of South Africa was one of our trips.
That particular day, there were four of us. We passed the sign that eventually took us via a slippery, bumpy road to the nature reserve. We dropped our car and decided to swim in the rock pool next to the waterfall. When one of my friends decided to get some stuff out of the car, I joined her. When we went back, I saw my friends taking pictures of each other, on the top of the waterfall. I walked towards them, climbed over a half-meter-high wall, and slipped. The water grabbed me. I heard my friends scream and I tried to grab a stone. I turned from my belly back to my butt. I was in so much pain. I was swearing and thought of my parents. I was so sad for them and finally surrendered. When hitting the bottom of the water below the waterfall I realized I was still alive. I started swimming, and climbed out of the water telling myself ‘don’t die, don’t die’. I saw my friend running down, with this scary look in his eyes. I told him I had to lie down.
It took the medical staff four hours to be at the scene because all the hospitals were closed. It took eight hours to get me to the hospital. Still, in my bikini, I heard that, except for the bruises, everything was good. My friends and I could sleep that night together in one of the rooms in the hospital. We woke up at six in the morning to have a hamburger.
Four years later, I went back together with my boyfriend to see why this accident actually happened and why I was happy to survive. When passing border security in Swaziland, I got a question from a woman about where I was going and why. I told her I was going to the Phophonyane Falls and that I fell the 80 meters down.
Her reply was, ‘Are you that girl!!!!!?’
One month ago, I went back with my friends. All the stories we heard about the people who survived and sadly died falling of this fall should be captured in a documentary.”
Lost And Found
“Imagine you were in a foreign country where barely anyone could speak English and you couldn’t speak the native language. Now you were about to leave this country and go back home. Everything seemed to be going just fine. You were at the airport four hours early and just ate some nice French pastries while browsing through Quora on your phone. Then it got boring and you decided to get back into the real world and you looked up and noticed something. Your bag with your laptop and passport was gone.
Well, that was exactly what happened to my family and me this spring break in Sevilla, Spain. We were terrified. We looked everywhere, under the chairs, in the trashcans, in the bathrooms. We knew we wouldn’t find it at any of those places but what could we do? We complained to the security but it was hard to communicate with them and they basically couldn’t do anything. We were stuck in Spain, which I honestly wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t have school the next day.
Distressed and mad, we rented a car and drove to the police station in Sevilla to file a report. All of a sudden my dad got a call. Someone found our bag on the floor on some road next to the train station. We rushed over there and got the bag back. Thank goodness we got our passports back but the thief had taken the laptops and anything valuable. The nightmare was over. Or so I thought.
You see, it was my Macbook that was stolen. I did everything I could to make sure the thief could not get hold of my personal information by changing my apple ID password and erasing the laptop. Unfortunately for me, a couple of weeks later, my debit card was getting abused by a thief who kept changing his IP address. One day he was in Singapore, the next in North Carolina. I eventually just had to get a new card.
Never leave baggage unattended!”
“My friend and I, two retired college professors in our 60’s, were traveling through Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic by car. I was doing all the driving as she did not know how to drive a stick shift.
We had a wonderful time for two weeks. I had been to most of the places before, except Cesky Krumlov. From there I drove to Vienna and planned after a few days there to go on to Hungary. We were traveling freelance, generally without reservations, and ended up in a small hotel in the inner ring in Vienna. We had reservations in a few days for both the Spanish Riding School and the Vienna Boys Choir.
The next morning my friend did not feel well and decided to stay in the room. I brought her dinner. The next day was Saturday and she told me her left arm and under her chin felt numb. I told her I was calling the airport for tickets home because she was having a heart attack. She refused to go. We had paid for those special event tickets and she was going to go. I carried the bags to our car and Sunday morning I drove her right up to the door of each of those events. I then drove us back to Munich.
We could not get a plane out for two days and she absolutely refused to go to a doctor in Germany. She was no longer in pain but was very fatigued. So we stayed near the airport for a few days hoping I did not have to figure out how to get a body home.
I called my husband and he met us at the airport. He said she looked gray. She went to the doctor the next day and she had indeed had a heart attack. She had to have triple bypass surgery but was still alive ten years later. I knew I should have taken her to a doctor despite her resistance but I had no idea how to force the issue in Austria.”
“This was one incident that happened recently during late December.
We, a bunch of friends decided and I, decided to trek in ‘the Himalayas.’ So the route went from Chandigarh to Pathankot to Dalhousie. We were traveling late at night around twelve am and the bus was warm with heaters placed everywhere. Everything was alright until we reached Pathankot.
It was around three am when we got down. And dang. Little did we know it would be freezing, like ice cold. We had to wait till six am to board the next bus to Dalhousie. There weren’t any waiting rooms or dorms with heaters.
All we had was one thin layer of clothing. And our luggage. We were numb. We all placed the luggage and spread it across the platform. We got in between our baggage and we sat close, hugging each other. We even pulled out blankets and stuff.
We were literally shivering.
That night I felt that. It was possible to beat the heat. But it was extremely impossible to bear the cold.”
“About 20 years ago now, I was in Europe by myself. I rented a tiny little car in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and drove to a small town in Austria. From there I was planning to drive the following day to Bavaria to tour the castles in that area. That morning, I went downstairs to have breakfast at the small inn where I was staying and then walked to the car in the parking area. I began driving down the small, rural, two-lane highway to my destination only about a 45-minute trip up the road and that was where my memory ended.
When I next woke up a week later from a coma in a German trauma hospital in the Austrian Alps, I thought at first I had to be dead. I was alone in a strange room, and there was a window looking out to the Alps and meadows with wildflowers everywhere. I remember thinking to myself, I must be in heaven. Then I began throwing up, and absolutely was dying of thirst. All very physical sensations. The doctors and nurses came into the room then, and I knew I was not dead. I had been in a head-on collision with a German person in an accident, who had struck my car head-on nearly killing me.
In fact, I apparently died three times and was resuscitated by the paramedics after I was discovered laying in the roadway. I spent a month in a German hospital after being medi vaced to this place all the while in a coma. I was never able to this day, remember what happened to me or why. It was kind of weird waking up in a foreign country, where everyone was speaking German all by themselves. And you were totally disabled in an ICU unit, where you could not recall anything that has happened to you. There were many strange and unexplained experiences associated with this surreal situation. Too many to go into here. Just know that it was not the best vacation I ever had, for sure.”
“Back when I was in elementary school, I went on a cruise with my parents that went from Florida to Mexico, then back to Florida. My parents happened to befriend a family on the cruise. It was an Asian family, a husband, a wife, the wife’s dad, and a son. The family had booked a room with a balcony.
About five days into the trip news began to spread around the ship that something terrible happened. It wasn’t until after we got off the ship that I heard the full story. Maybe not all of it, I was still really young. The family my mom had befriended got into a really heated argument and in the middle of the night, the elder, the wife’s dad, got up on the balcony and jumped. It shock me quite a bit afterward.”