I had a bad feeling about this forest.
We’d entered it in hope of finding a hidden cave. A scribbled sign had pointed us in this direction, but it seemed that we were off course. We’d scrambled over an iron gate and walked through a field, passing an old abandoned house. Its broken windows stared back like a skull’s eyes as we hurried towards the trees.
The house was forgotten as the sun disappeared behind the forest’s thick canopy. The trees pressed in on each side, increasing the claustrophobia. This was made worse by the thick air, which carried a damp stench. Ally walked close behind me, her footsteps the only sound in here. It was like all the birds had flown away.
The dirt track continued, disappearing in places under slippery roots and wet leaves. I was starting to realise that the cave wouldn’t be found here. This was hardly a well-worn tourist track. It was barely a track at all.
We then rounded a bend, and what I saw made my heart stop.
Up ahead was a Laotian man with a gun. He stood waiting, dressed in green and clutching a rifle. A piece of metal has never looked so sinister. And he was looking right at us.
For a moment he grinned. The next instant we’d turned and were moving, the trees a blur as we headed for the light. Adrenaline replaced terror as we sprinted, unsure of his intentions but not wanting to find out. My back felt terribly exposed; I pleaded that nothing would come from that rifle.
The sun exploded in our eyes as we left the forest and passed the abandoned house, its busted door swinging in the wind. We clambered over the gate, not caring whether we were cut by the rusty edges. We kept running, until we finally felt safe again.
Nothing might’ve happened. But on the other hand, anything could’ve. We’d been very lucky.
What are some of your scariest travel experiences? Leave them in the comments below