Travelers' Tales


From our December/January issue: Readers' share anecdotes from Idaho, Malaysia, China, and the Serengeti.

New Prize: $2,000 from
The prize for the best entry we get in January is $2,000 in gift certificates.

How to enter
Send your story to: or True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. To view the full contest guidelines, visit

This month's winner!
September's winner is Jennifer Hung of Brooklyn, N.Y. Her prize: a five-night trip to Egypt from Foreign Independent Tours.

On a recent trip to Alaska, I took a plane tour over the fjords. Because my mother doesn't like to fly, I went alone and got to sit up front with the pilot. I was happily snapping photos of the scenery when, to my surprise, the pilot asked to see my camera. As I passed it to him, he shifted the airplane's steering wheel over to me and told me to fly the plane! Before I could say a word in protest, he took my picture while I flew his plane, terrified, over a fjord--much to the horror of the other passengers. (Luckily, they all had a great sense of humor.) Those few minutes certainly verified every crazy story I've heard about Alaskan bush pilots.

The exit is out this door...
I had been told there were lots of great cultural sights in Malaysia, but I was most excited to see the Petronas Twin Towers. I took the elevator to the top and walked across the bridge that spans the towers. As I was looking out, I saw something fly by. I thought nothing of it until I saw it again--and this time I was positive that it was a person! I rushed over to the attendant, but before I could say anything, she said, "Don't worry if you see someone falling." I found it disconcerting that she was so nonchalant about people plummeting to their deaths, until she went on to explain that once a year, BASE jumpers are allowed to leap from atop the towers. Scott Dunlap, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Red rover, red rover, send the Purell truck right over
While in the Serengeti, my husband and I were taken to a Masai village. The men eagerly showed us their cow-dung homes and told us all about their daily lives. They also showed us how they make fire by rubbing sticks together to get a flame in dried elephant dung. Once the fire had been lit, one of the Masai picked up a fresh, wet pile of cow dung with his bare hands to smother the fire. We were saying good-bye a few minutes later when the villager who extinguished the fire grabbed my hand! The moment of contact--and my husband's laughter--was captured in this photo. I couldn't wait to get to the hand sanitizer in the van. Cynthia Thomas, Coral Springs, Fla.

Make that "disorient beach"
My husband and I brought our bathing gear on a van tour of St. Maarten, and we asked our guide to drop us off at his favorite beach. After hours of driving, he let us out at Orient Beach. I insisted on checking out the souvenir shacks before heading to the sand. We entered a shop only to find a middle-aged couple, stark naked, paying the cashier. Our guide had dropped us off at the clothing-optional side of the beach without even giving us a clue. Beverly Holladay, Virginia Beach, Va.

Or exorcise your demons
I was thrilled to attend a 50th-wedding-anniversary celebration while visiting my daughter-in-law's hometown in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. As the mariachis played, a gentleman approached me and said something in Spanish. I was so taken with the pageantry that I smiled and said, "Sí." Evidently, I'd agreed to dance with him. The band immediately struck up a lively tune, and I was pulled to the front of the crowd to perform a lively dance. Somehow I managed to get through it without tripping on my boots. Later in the day a lady speaking Spanish approached me. Having learned my lesson, I politely shook my head and said, "No." My daughter-in-law told me later that the woman was my dancing partner's wife and that she had asked me to attend church with her. Perhaps she was giving me an opportunity to redeem myself! June Landrum, Austin, Tex.

Prize Report
In September 2006, Mike Anderson won $2,000 worth of gift certificates from the New England Inns & Resorts Association for his story about a monkey biting his belly button. He and his friend Rick redeemed his prize at The Colonnade Hotel in Boston, where they also went to two Red Sox games. "The hotel's rooftop bar provided our first glimpse of Fenway Park," says Anderson. "We were even able to use the gift certificates for our bar tab!"

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