Travelers' Tales

0906_truestoriesIs he copping a feel?

From our June issue: Readers share anecdotes about an overly affectionate monkey, a Polish restroom with a puke sign, a new kind of American idol, and more.

This Month's Prize
Tulum, Mexico The best response we receive between May 10, 2009, and June 25, 2009, wins a three-night trip for two people to the Blue Tulum Resort & Spa. The prize includes lodging, $500 for airfare, one massage per person, and a car rental. Estimated value is $4,000. Subject to availability, nontransferable, and nonnegotiable. Valid July 1, 2009, to Dec. 16, 2009. For more info: 866/336-2213,

How to enter: E-mail us at or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. Full guidelines: Blackout dates apply, and taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner. Contest is open to residents of the 50 United States and its territories, except Arizona.

Trip Winner June's winner is Bob Ahders of Carmichael, Calif. His prize is a seven-night trip to Turkey from Foreign Independent Tours.

Driving in the Sahara, our group was hailed by a Tuareg man who was guiding a camel train. He asked if we had anything for his inflamed leg. I had some Aleve in my backpack and started rummaging through the many Ziploc bags for it. I had sunglasses on and took awhile finding the bag of blue pills. I gave him 12, and our guide told him to take one every six hours. He thanked us and hobbled back to his camels and his wives. That night one of our group complained of a backache and asked for an Aleve. No longer wearing sunglasses, I immediately found the full bag of pain reliever. But if my bag of Aleve was full, what had I given the man? It was my other little blue pill—Viagra. His leg probably didn't improve, but maybe he was all right with that.

Is he copping a feel?
"Don't pet the monkeys!" was the order from the U.S. Navy. But in Pattaya, Thailand, my group met Tony, a monkey who came with us on a walk. He swooped down and perched on my shoulder, and hung on for our short hike. As the senior officer, I had to set an example and observe the rule, but I didn't want to upset my passenger. Then I realized who was petting whom. Mark Tade, Edwardsville, Ill.

Disclaimer: Do not try this
My wife and I purchased a rug in Turkey, and the seller put it in a black bag. When we checked in at the Athens airport at the end of the trip, the clerk asked what was in the bag. I said it was a rug, and she said, "You can't take a rug; are you sure it isn't a laptop?" I said, "No, it's a rug." Again, she said, "But you can't take a rug; are you sure it isn't a laptop?" This conversation lasted for several minutes until I took her hint and declared, "It's a laptop." At that point she said, "You are cleared to board the plane." Don Hetzler, Indianapolis, Ind.

This didn't work on our upstairs neighbors
My husband and I stayed at a B&B last fall that had paper-thin walls; each night we heard the struggles of a couple with two young kids. It seemed like they spent hours every night reprimanding the little boy, named Jason, who obviously lived for jumping on the bed. A momentary peace came when Jason said his bedtime prayers. On our last night, we heard the mother whisper that the kids seemed to be asleep; she proposed a quick glass of wine in the B&B's common room. After their door closed, the squeak of the old bed being jumped on resumed. But this time my husband boomed in his baritone voice, "Jason! This is God!" The squeaking stopped. "Jason, go to sleep!" As I put my pillow over my face to muffle my laughter, there was one final squeak and then silence. Janet Lammens, Denver, Colo.

Polish for "bon appétit"
For our final dinner in Kraków, Poland, my husband and I went to a restaurant that specialized in roast pork knuckle. My husband used the restroom, and to my surprise, when he returned he grabbed the camera and went back. I thought to myself, This can't be good. He took this picture of a sign over a sink. After a night of sampling Polish vodka, to say nothing of pork knuckle, it was clear how the sink might be necessary. Megan and Todd Henderson, Fort Collins, Colo.

Next trip: Argentina
After a day of pushing my wife around Amsterdam in a wheelchair, I was tired and hungry, and so was she. We found a nice Argentine restaurant, but when the maître d' told me the ladies' room was downstairs, I told him that wouldn't work. He said, "No problem," and picked my wife up out of the chair, carried her down the stairs, waited until she was through, and carried her back up. That's what I call service! Ted Bender, Allen, Tex.

That gesture is for your wife
At a resort in India, I had to look in the pillowcase to see if there was any pillow at all. The next day I met a cleaning lady in the hall. Language had been a barrier, so I gestured for an extra pillow by pointing at the bedroom and putting my hands together next to my head as if lying on a bed. The woman screamed, "I cleaning lady!" and ran off. My wife pointed out the obvious: "I think you just propositioned her." James Dunn, Haslett, Mich.

A new kind of American idol
After a climb on the Great Wall outside of Beijing, I stopped to rest and a young Chinese couple approached me with a camera. I thought they would ask me to take their picture, but they wanted to have their picture taken with me. Within minutes a crowd gathered. People thrust babies into my arms, grandparents flanked me, young families posed with me, and we all smiled for the camera. I was a rock star! When our Chinese guide finally cleared away the crowd, I asked her, "What just happened?" She told me that I was the incarnation of good luck. I'm heavy; that means I'm rich. After climbing on the wall, I was flushed, and the Chinese think that red complexions are beautiful. With my white hair, dimples, and blue eyes, I was the picture of good luck. Mildred Blaisdell, Clarence, N.Y.

Too bad she didn't have a son
In a village called Tagong in eastern Tibet, I stayed for a week with a farmer and his wife. I enjoyed many cups of yak-butter tea with the village women. All week, I coveted the silver earrings with coral and turquoise that they all wore. I searched all of Tagong for a pair and was so happy once I found them. When I showed the farmer's wife my earrings, she started talking loudly and smiling. I realized after much miming that they were a symbol of engagement—like a diamond ring in the U.S. I was embarrassed about my extravagant purchase, and I had to tell her that I hadn't found a husband in Tagong! Christine Sorrenti, Boston, Mass.

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