True Stories

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Proving once and for all that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction

This month's winner is Sydney Rogers of Mount Pleasant, S.C. Her prize: A nine-day safari in Kenya courtesy of 2Afrika.

Backpacking in Honduras, my fiancé, Ben, and I opted to take the train instead of a bus. To our dismay, it turned out to be a stuffy, dirty, and windowless livestock train. We arrived in Tela desperate to bathe. Our hotel advertised private showers, and our room did indeed have a shower--but the only running water was a slow trickle from the sink. We filled our empty water bottles, laughing hysterically as we rinsed ourselves in our "private shower." It was the best one we'd had in weeks!

Win a 17-Day Trip to Thailand

If your response is the best we receive before June 30, you'll win a 17-day trip to Thailand courtesy of Djoser. The prize includes round-trip airfare for one from New York or L. A. to Bangkok; accommodations in hotels, beach cabanas, and sleeper trains; airport transfers; and a guide. Valid for departures until June 1, 2006. Blackout dates apply. If 2006 prices increase, winner must pay the difference. Trips booked in high or shoulder seasons (June, July, August, December) will incur additional costs. Subject to availability, nontransferable, nonnegotiable. For more information on Djoser: 877/356-7376, How to or True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10018. Guidelines are at Sorry, we can't return photos.

Bear in mind that his left hand was pointing the wrong way

While hiking in Mexico's Baja peninsula, my girlfriend and I got lost. Christ! I said to myself. Where's the car? Reaching the top of the hill, we were amazed to behold a sight that made my earlier exclamation strangely prophetic--a giant statue of Jesus. And his right hand was pointing directly to our car. --Gene Pembroke, Lester, Pa.

Now please slap your knee

I'd always been told that the Japanese were unfailingly polite, and on my first business trip to Osaka, I found it to be true. I was giving a lecture, and because Japanese audiences are traditionally quiet, I was trying a little tongue-in-cheek humor. They seemed to heartily appreciate it. "They're understanding my humor, right?" I asked the interpreter. "Oh yes, Rick-san," she replied. "I always tell them, 'Is American joke. Please laugh.' " --Rick Tillman, Tualatin, Ore.

Rigorously translated, it means "Aussie Filthpot"

In Zanzibar, my husband and I took a spice farm tour with our Australian travel mate, Mac. The locals had been pointing and laughing at him all day, so finally he asked a worker what was so funny. "Your shirt!" she said. Mac had ruined a shirt while on safari, so he'd bought a new one at the market. It turns out that the Swahili word on the shirt, mzungu, loosely translates as "white boy tourist."--Denise Jones, Issaquah, Wash.

Fresh is good, right? 

My wife and I couldn't help noticing how everyone in New Delhi was enjoying iced fruit drinks. It was brutally hot, and even though we knew the ice was suspect, we broke down and ordered a mango drink. We started drinking on the spot. Suddenly, there was a commotion a few stalls away-a boy was screaming at a cow. He bent down and picked up his bike, which the cow had knocked over. He then knelt down and grabbed a block of ice from a pile of fresh cow manure. He wiped it down with his hands, strapped it to his bike, and delivered it to our vendor. --Alfie Blanch, Pasadena, Calif.

Then there are the ones you can't see

Thirty-five years after serving in Vietnam, I returned to visit the places I used to patrol. One day, overlooking the Cambodian border, I heard a noise on the trail leading to the road. All of a sudden, out popped this woman smuggling cigarettes across the border. It was the best laugh of the day. --Tom Layman, Petersburg, Mich.

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