On my blog, I focus on the good things about travel because I love travelling and I wish that more people will travel.
One of the excuses people give for not travelling is that they do not have anyone to go with.
Rubbish. If you travel alone, you can travel anytime you want.
While I love solo travelling, there are times that I wish I was traveling with someone else. These occasions are times when I did not feel safe.
I always take care to be back in my room before sundown. I feel like Cinderella with her midnight curfew, only my curfew was well earlier.
But despite all the precautions, sometimes scary situations still happen. Today, I want to share two of such tales. Thank goodness the situations were not majorly disastrous situations so you don’t have to feel too uncomfortable reading them.
Failed stalker in Istanbul
After I dropped off my mom at the Istanbul airport, I was back to being a solo traveller. This meant that there is no one to ask me if we’re walking in the right direction and that I can go wherever I want without any reason.
So I got off at the Coach Station stop on the metro. I remember seeing IKEA not far away from it. I really like visiting IKEAs of the world so I thought it was a good chance to add to my Local Things in IKEA list.
The Coach Station metro stop was a mess. It seemed like there were 50 bus companies around and each had a shop facing the metro exit.
I walked around to see where IKEA was. It looked quite far away but I decided that I should go nearer and find a path.
While I was walking, I heard someone talking really loudly. Thankfully, I have mastered the art of ignoring anyone that wasn’t talking directly to my face. Often, I see people over-react to voices on the streets and I don’t think that is very street savvy.
As I was walking to IKEA, I saw a short slim man in a blue polo shirt walking about 5 steps away from me. I thought he was heading to the same direction as I was.
I slowed down to let him walk ahead. Then, I realized that he kept looking back, as if to see where I was going.
By then, I decided that IKEA was too far and I wanted to head back. So I turned around.
Then I saw that the man turned around too. I walked faster, hoping to reach the metro station ahead of him.
While I was walking, some other person walked to me and asked me where I wanted to go.
At times like these, “nowhere” is not a good answer even if it is honest. I said “nowhere” and mimed taking photos.
The direction-giver pointed to the metro entrance and said “Metro. Metro.” I thanked him for his kindness.
I did not check if the blue-shirt follower was still with me but I suspect that seeing me talk to the direction-giver probably scared him off.
Thank you, good man.
The creepy note and persistent delivery man in Dubai
My plane arrived in Dubai quite late at about 10:30pm so I checked into my AirBnb close to midnight. The area from the metro station to the house didn’t seem like the best place since there were many men loitering.
My studio apartment entrance was in a dark lane. I had to take a lift to the house as it was above some shops.
After checking me in, my AirBnb host (a guy) left my studio apartment at past midnight. I took a shower and when I got out, I saw the note under the door.
I thought it might be from the laundry person who came by to drop off my sheets and pillow cases. However, he did not leave a company name so it was unlikely.
I sent the AirBnb host an e-mail to ask if he knows the person. The host didn’t know and said he would take care of it.
I didn’t know how he took care of it but the incident left a mark on me.
Some nights after… There was a knock on my door. I thought it might be the host but I still asked, “Who is it?”
A man whose voice I didn’t recognized said he was delivering groceries. I tensed up and went behind the door.
After the note incident, I had tied up my door knob to something sturdy with laundry string. No amount of pushing will open the door.
I stood behind the door as my heart raced. I shouted back at the “delivery man” that I DID NOT ORDER ANYTHING.
The man was persistent. He asked if my friend had ordered any. I thought it would be bad to tell him that I was alone so I said that my friend was not in.
The delivery person was silent. I was still behind the door. Then he banged the door again, saying that he was delivering cigarettes.
I was angry. I spat out, “I DO NOT SMOKE! NO ONE ORDERED ANYTHING.”
I could still hear the person behind the door. He made a call on speakerphone but no one picked up. I wondered if he was pretending to check if the phone who called for the delivery would ring in my room.
It wasn’t after a long while when he finally left. I was still in shock and e-mailed the host.
The host didn’t get back until days later since he was out of the country. He said that it was his friend who made the delivery call and said the wrong floor.
I felt really really pissed off that the person did not even bothered to give the right door number and caused me such anxiety. Still, there was nothing I could do.
I would still travel solo
Not everybody is pleased that I travel alone.
Someone once threatened me that “A girl travelling alone is not alone. She is with the Goddess of Death.” [I am sure that line was totally made up.]
Another person made a face and said, “What sort of parents let their daughter travel alone?”
Funnily, it is men who say such things to my face.
No woman has ever told me that we womenfolk should stay at home and knit. Usually, women tell me that they do not dare travel alone but they do not make threats. I give some encouragement in the form of, “Just try it.”
Despite everything, I would not give up travelling solo. It gives me peace and less anxiety when I am able to follow my own itinerary that is made up as every minute passes.
What was the scariest situation when you were travelling alone?
This post was originally published in June 2013. It has since been republished in April 2018.