Travelers' Tales From our April issue: Readers share anecdotes about a language mix-up in Puerto Vallarta, twitching food in Cambodia, no-star toilets in China, a curious monkey in Barbados, and more. Budget Travel Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009, 12:00 AM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Travelers' Tales

From our April issue: Readers share anecdotes about a language mix-up in Puerto Vallarta, twitching food in Cambodia, no-star toilets in China, a curious monkey in Barbados, and more.

On second thought, we'll take those Italian chips
On second thought, we'll take those Italian chips (Courtesy Adam Lempel, Chesterfield, N.H.)

New Prize
The best response we receive between April 18, 2009, and May 10, 2009, wins a four-night trip for four people to the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in Coronado, Calif., courtesy of Loews. The prize includes one bay-view room, breakfast daily, and activities like dive-in movies and bay-side marshmallow roasts. For more info: 800/815-6397,

How to enter E-mail us at or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. For a complete rundown of the contest guidelines, please see

Trip Winner April's winner is Jim Barnett of Brookhaven, Miss. His prize is two nights in Puerto Rico for two people, plus dinner and a spa treatment, courtesy of Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa.

Two friends and I decided to drive from Dallas to check out a lake in Mexico that was known for its bass. After crossing the border in the dark, we got quite lost, and as we were driving through a village, a policeman stopped us. Realizing that none of us spoke Spanish, he had me, the driver, walk with him about two blocks to the jail. When he got out the keys and opened a cell, I thought, This is it. Imagine my surprise when a prisoner came out and said, "May I help you?" The policeman temporarily released the man so he could help us get to the lake. The prisoner—who said he had been locked up after a car accident even though he was innocent—joined us for two great days of fishing and good food. Then we returned him to custody. Viva Mexico!

A nice clear lip gloss might be a better look for him
During our 10th-anniversary trip to Ubud, Bali, the staff at our villa offered to photograph me and my husband in traditional Balinese wedding attire. On a sweltering afternoon, I allowed myself to be slathered in heavy makeup and wrapped in yards of sarongs and sashes. For a plus-size woman, this was no easy feat, and the attendants used dozens of safety pins to keep everything in place. My extremely introverted husband was mortified when they beckoned for him. It took plenty of coaxing, but he finally relented. Erin Tapken, Marion, Iowa

Are neck skirts the new look?
After visiting London, I flew to Florence to study abroad. I checked two large bags and was left with my purse and a carry-on. At security, I was told my carry-on was too big and that I couldn't bring it. I was about to miss my flight, so I had to think fast. I stepped out of line, opened the bag, and put on every last article of clothing—four shirts, two sweaters, two jackets, and finally two skirts, which I draped around my neck. To pass through the metal detector, I had to take off my shoes, jackets, sweaters, and neck skirts...and then put them all back on again. But it worked! Hannah Welch, Los Angeles, Calif.

At least he was listening While on vacation at a resort, my husband and I went to the buffet for lunch. After making my choices, I sat down and resumed our conversation where I had left off. I finally looked up from my plate, only to realize that the man at the table was not my husband! My companion was staring at me, dumbfounded, and then we both burst out laughing. As for my husband, he had been sitting one table over, watching the whole thing. For the rest of the week, every time the man saw me, he waved and called out, "Hi, honey!" Grace Kapelanski, Palos Park, Ill.

Maybe start with a teacup I traveled to Malawi to visit a friend. Her village was remote, and we had to haul water from the village well to her house. I usually spilled half of mine en route and was amazed by how gracefully the local women and girls carried the bucket without spilling a drop. They made it look so effortless that I decided to try their method. I started by practicing with an empty bucket. Once I got to the well, I filled my container half full before hefting it. All eyes were on me, but I made it just a few steps before giving up. In the end, I had to ask a girl half my age to carry my bucket for me. Sarah Ruttan, Tucson, Ariz.

And we always thought one star was the lowest My family traveled through China, and instead of booking fancy hotels, we wanted to stay in smaller, more authentic places in the oldest parts of each town. All of our many guides, however, were star-minded, proudly pointing out every five-star hotel that we passed along the way. On the road to Lijiang, our guide and our driver conferred and selected a restaurant for lunch. It was a great meal. Afterward, we asked about the bathrooms. The guide went to check with the owners and came back to tell us, "Toilets are no star." He certainly was right about that: The so-called toilets were just open trenches next to the pigsty. Judith Capen, Washington, D.C.

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