Richard Bangs’ World Worsts
Name Richard Bangs
Who? A legendary adventurer. He got his start as a river guide (think Mountain Sobek Travel, which he co-founded) and became an award-winning author with 19 books, hundreds of published magazine articles and numerous documentaries. If you haven’t seen him on TV, you may have heard him speak at the Smithsonian, National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club or other venues. He recently returned from filming a documentary about the Gods of Greece with an appearance by Arianna Huffington and featuring her sister Agapi Stassinopoulos. His next film, premiering July on PBS, is “Hong Kong: Quest for the Dragon” Find him online at richardbangs.com
Countries Visited About 140, give or take a territory, protectorate, department or two
1.Worst Toilet I was in Japan. They had just come out with those heated toilet seats, but I didn’t know about it and I wasn’t expecting one when I sat down. The worst part was that it was so hot I got 2nd degree burns.
2. Worst Fight I was on a book tour for my first book (back when they sent people on book tours). I was on a 12-seater from Seattle to Vancouver. The pilot started cursing. “Wouldn’t you know it, my last day on the job and the wheels won’t come down.” He had the airport foam the runway and told us to assume the crash position. The only consolation, I remember thinking, was this might help sell some books. Just before we touched down in the foam, he tried to blow out the wheels with a small explosion. It worked.
3. Worst Airport Mui Airport in Ethiopia. After a month traversing a river in Ethiopia, we ran out of food and couldn’t find the trail to Mui Airport, where they supposed had a few flights a week. We finally found it after three days of looking. We reached the airport, or the place where the airport was supposed to be. There was nothing there. We had to trek another two days to reach a real airport.
4. Worst Hotel Ghat Hotel in Libya. It’s probably called “The Ghat Hotel and Resort” or something. When I got to my room, there were so many creatures on my bed, in my sheets, it looked like the universal flea circus. Every imaginable category of competition: crawling, creeping, bouncing. The bed appeared to be moving. On a five star scale, I’d give it a negative 80.
5. Worst Border Crossing I was rafting the Euphrates river in Turkey and we didn’t know exactly where border to Syria was. We found out when we came to a bridge and saw Syrian soldiers standing on it aiming their guns down at us, saying they’d shoot if we came any closer. Fortunately, it was a fairly calm part of the river and we were able to paddle back up stream.