Contents: Travel Stories
Lived by Thanos Travels:
- Three-on-One street fight! (Antananarivo, Madagascar)
- Aggressive pickpockets! (Rio Carnival, Brazil)
- A slap on the face! (Ulan Bator, Mongolia)
- Robbed by a kid! (Havana, Cuba)
- When a taxi driver almost drove us off a highway bridge and then scammed me! (Mumbai, India)
Lived by other world travellers:
- Brutal attack while fishing! (Ooty, India)
- Attacked for iPad in the middle of the day! (Antananarivo, Madagascar)
- Attacked by three in the middle of the day! (Libreville, Gabon)
Three-on-One street fight! lived by Thanos Travels (Antananarivo, Madagascar)
 I had just arrived at the hotel from the airport at Antananarivo and was looking forward to having a nice dinner at Café de la Gare in the centre of the city. The restaurant was not more than 600m away from the hotel, but it was 8:30 in the evening and about 150m of the way were dark. Surely enough, as I was walking through the dark part, a young man in his mid twenties ran, jumped on me from behind and choked me with his arm. Naively, my first thought was “is he playing?” but luckily my body had already shaken off the guy and my hand was, to my surprise, clumsily punching him on the face! At the same time two more guys attacked, one of whom was already spraying my face with a pepper spray. Their aim was not to hurt me, as they had no weapons, but to steal my small backpack. In the brawl of the ensuing 5-6 minutes I fell on the ground a couple of times, lost my glasses and out of balance kicked and punched all over the place. At some point, a group of men appeared from the darkness and started shouting to the aggressors. My “saviours”, seemingly a group of pimps, drug dealers and other people of the night, looked more dangerous than my attackers. I took advantage of the pause, put my backpack firmly on my back and walked away with an eye on my back.
And if you are thinking, “why on earth were you carrying your backpack in the night at a place like that?” well, you are right!
Aggressive pickpockets! lived by Thanos Travels (Rio Carnival, Brazil)
 First day in Rio, in time for the carnival! A Brazilian friend and me were walking in a relatively narrow street, half of which was occupied by the carnival vehicles, while the other half was overflown by the festive crowds. At some point, I felt a hand trying to open one of my trousers’ side pockets. I pushed it away, but then more hands started going aggressively after all my pockets, while I was fighting to keep them away. I still do not know how many people were involved. Eventually one of them managed to get into the pocket where I had my sunscreen (I guess they thought the bulge was a wallet or a camera), and all the contents of my pocket flew in the air! With one hand I tried to pick up my things and with the other, I was blindly elbowing anybody from the crowd within range.
This experience ruined a bit the nice feeling I had about the carnival and made me more touchy. Two days later, as we were walking around another crowded carnival street, I felt a hand pushing the same side-pocket, grabbed the hand violently and twisted it, almost broke it, to realise in shame that it was just someone trying to prevent me from hitting a merchant bench.
A slap on the face! lived by Thanos Travels (Ulan Bator, Mongolia)
 Mongolia has to-date been my favourite motorbike adventure, 3500km most of which off-road from the Gobi desert to the frozen Lake Khvosol in the north. However the trip had a strange start to it.
It was the middle of the day and I was just standing on the pavement of the main road in Ulan Bator, trying to get something from inside my backpack, when I felt a hard slap on my face! I looked up and I saw three men probably in their early twenties. My first thought was that they wanted to pick up a fight in order to steal my backpack, so I quickly zipped it closed and secured it on my back, while at the same time keeping an eye on the three men. More confident now, I locked eyes with the guy who had hit me trying to figure out if they were carrying any guns or knives, and imagining how I was going to defend if they attacked. My thoughts and I guess my face expression was principally one of surprise. Strangely however, the guy who hit me looked as surprised as I was about what had happened. For the next 5 minutes or so, we simply stood there at the pavement, staring at each other wearing these ridiculous half-surprised, half-aggressive expressions, while his two friends were playing with their mobile phones.
And then they left. Why? I still do not know!
Robbed by a kid! lived by Thanos Travels (Havana, Cuba)
 Havana, especially the centre, is normally very safe for tourists, as there is a lot of police. However, their presence did not seem to discourage a thirteen-year-old guy!
My travel companion, a male friend even taller than me, and two British ladies were walking on a well-lit road towards the central square. We were no more than 100 meters away from the square when, with the corner of my eye, I saw the handbag of the girl walking next to me fall on the ground. I turned and saw a young boy, not more than thirteen, pick up the bag from the ground and start running away. All four of us stood there frozen for a while before realising what had just happened. The boy had apparently approached us from behind stealthily and had cut the strap of the bag.
Our British friend, the owner of the bag was mostly concerned about her phone loss rather than anything else, as it contained all her business contacts, and there was no backup. So, we called the phone and to our surprise, the new “owner” picked it up! The person talking to us sounded older than the person who had stolen the bag. We negotiated to pay him 300 USD in order to get the phone back. He agreed to do the transaction at the main square, a week later, when we would return to Havana. He was supposed to meet the two girls only.
A week later, back in Havana, we arranged for the two girls to stand and wait at the agreed meeting point, while my friend and myself (by then, I had a broken toe from playing beach-volley ☺ ) were watching from a short distance, hidden, to make sure we can quickly intervene if things went wrong. We waited for a long time, but the guy did not show up! We tried calling, but he never picked it up again! Seems the new owner did not have the same irrational courage as the rogue thirteen-year-old boy who had robbed us.
When a taxi driver almost drove us off a highway bridge and then scammed me! lived by Thanos Travels (Mumbai, India)
 I had just arrived by train in Mumbai and wanted to take the 1-hour taxi ride to the international airport. Normally, I avoid taxi drivers who offer their services in the big stations and try to pick someone up by myself outside. That time I was too tired, so I let myself be picked up by one of the station drivers. We negotiated the price at 200 Rupees and took off. I was feeling suspicious of the guy because it was him who had picked me up, so I was not saying anything at all for about 30 minutes. But then I felt guilty and tried to make conversation.
There was some music on, chants, coming out of an iPod-like device. When I asked him about it, he looked excited and started showing me the playlists on the “iPod”. I was sitting behind the driver, so he had to literally turn and take his eyes off the road to show it to me. While he was not looking, I watched the taxi drift towards the side of the road, but in the last moment he looked ahead and the crash was avoided. Then he turned towards me again with his playlist, and the car started drifting again. At the moment we were crossing a highway bridge. As the car drifted towards the edge of the bridge, I remember thinking “surely he knows we are about to crash and he will turn NOW”, but instead the car hit the protecting side bars of the bridge. It was only after a couple of scary, stressful and noisy seconds when the car was scratching the metal of the bridge that the driver finally managed to get control of the vehicle. He did not even stop to check the car and we continued towards the airport in silence.
When we arrived, I opened the door, but the driver asked me to pay him inside the taxi because I was his “first client”. I was extremely naïve to say “why, for good luck?” and then handed him the 200 Rupees in the darkness inside the car. He immediately turned towards me and showed me I had given him 110 Rupees instead of 200. I directly knew I was being scammed, but decided not to argue over 90 Rupees (about 1.5 USD at the time) with someone who almost certainly carried at least a knife (a standard for his religion). Instead I just gave him the money and a look in disgust, and angrily walked towards the airport entrance.
Brutal attack while fishing! lived by Jure Snoj (Ooty, India)
 This story was lived by Jure Snoj, a Slovenian traveller/blogger:
“While traveling in Ooty, located in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, I decided to go on a fishing day-trip at a nearby lake.
My Indian guide (Vincent) and I took a bus and reached Kamaraj Sagar Dam, where we hooked up with another local fisherman. We changed spots a couple of times and finally reached a more isolated place. In the mean time we had been joined by three young men who watched us fish, talked to us, enthusiastically put bait on my hook, joked, laughed and cheered as we caught fish. The six of us were alone at that spot. At some point as we, the three fishermen, were facing the lake, each of the three young men stood behind each one of us and then simultaneously attacked us! The local fisherman was pushed in the water and while I struggled with my attacker, I saw Vincent, my guide, bleeding on the ground still being brutally hit with a rod. Next, the man who had attacked the local fisherman also turned against me and one of the two pulled out a knife. At that point I turned around and started to run, leaving the wounded Vincent and my backpack behind.
I immediately tried to bring some help for the guide, but it was only after a number of small adventures that I managed to reach a police station about 10km away and bring the police back to the crime scene, so as to eventually have the wounded guide transferred to a hospital. My backpack and even our fishing rods were missing. I did not manage to see Vincent again after that day, but was told that he was steadily recovering. The investigation to identify and catch the attackers is still ongoing.”
Attacked for iPad in the middle of the day! lived by River (Jiang) Yin (Antananarivo, Madagascar)
 This story was lived by River (Jiang) Yin, a Chinese female traveler:
“It was during the day and I was in the market at Antananarivo. When I was at a shop, the owner saw I had an iPad mini and warned me that I should be careful. So when I went out in the market to take photos, I was holding the iPad really hard.
A few minutes later, someone tried to grab it from me. I fought back and tried to keep it. I fell on the ground between two vegetable benches and held the iPad with both hands under my body. The man was over me and was trying to get the iPad. This must have lasted for about five minutes, during which I could see the feet of other people around me, none of whom tried to help. Then there was a noise of one or two gunshots and the man went away. Two people who claimed to be policemen came to me and asked me to follow them to the police station. I refused and started waking towards the hotel. A few minutes later I realized the two policemen (real or fake, I do not know) had been following me. When I arrived at the hotel, they talked to the receptionist and then asked me for money. I paid them 10 USD and they left. I was left with a big bump on my forehead (from the fall on the ground), while the sleeves of my shirt were torn apart.”
Attacked by three in the middle of the day! lived by D. (Libreville, Gabon)
 This story was experienced in Libreville, Gabon, by D. (requested anonymity) a quality world traveller from Belgium:
“It was 10 in the morning and I was looking to change hotels in Libreville. The Lonely Planet suggestion in a relatively safe part of the city was fully booked, but the stuff suggested checking another hotel about 30 meters away.
As I was crossing the relatively busy commercial road, three young men were crossing from the opposite direction and suddenly attacked me. Their hands tried to grab whatever items I had on me and in the struggle they pushed me to the side of the road, inside a 1-meter deep sidewalk. My head hit the wall leaving a blood mark, and my back was hurt as well. Even though there were people and open shops around, nobody answered my screams for help. The three men jumped on me and managed to grab my camera and wristwatch, while they failed to take anything from the tight pockets of my jeans. Then they simply walked away.
In the aftermath, I was surrounded by a dozen people who were consoling me, but due to the shock of the attack, I was still wandering if they would also try to rob me. I left with some scratches and a hurt back, but it could have been worse.”