A long time ago, in a continent far far away, I was travelling around Australia with two friends when I decided to go my own way and take a sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands. It wasn’t that we’d fallen out, but one had to work in Sydney and the other had a flight to catch, and I was determined not to let their plans stop me from seeing everything the Gold Coast had to offer.

Note: Traveling around Australia? Find the guide to the 3 best hostels in Sydney here. Here you find the 3 best hostels in Melbourne.

And so I signed up to the first catamaran cruise I could find and rocked up on the morning of the tour with only a crate of beers for company. I figured this would be the best way to make friends.

Everyone on the boat, except me, was with a group of buddies, and – not wanting to foist myself on anyone – I started the trip casually taking photos of the gorgeous turquoise seascapes, rather than risk being labelled the weird hanger-on guy.

Any external stimuli was a great excuse to occupy myself, and seeing a lush island crop up behind us I walked to the back of the boat to get my shot. If only there was something to lean on I thought… and hey presto I spied a metal box with a lovely slanting lid perfect for steadying my forearms on. Only the metal box was not a container: it was a lit barbecue that had been heating up all morning, ready to cook lunch.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a round of tasty kangaroo burgers that got burned, but the flesh on my arms.

Screaming in pain I (obviously) removed my arms immediately.

“My god that f@#€ing hurt!”

The worst thing though was that, to begin with at least, no marks appeared on my skin and no one took me seriously when I said I was in a huge pain. The captain of the ship was reluctant to use the limited water supply to allay the damage, and I didn’t have any friends even just to sympathise with me.

“In short I sat on deck, suffering in silence, trying not to cry.”

Eventually my arms started to turn purple and people started to take my injuries seriously at last.

My awesome Ninja-style bandages - a great ice-breaker if you are looking for one!

One girl, learning of my wounds, offered me a special cream she had for burns. It turned out she was from Beckenham… a small town in South London that just happens to be where I was born!

What a co-incidence, to meet here, on a boat, pretty much in the exact opposite corner of the world from where we both grew up. I’m not sure what I was pleased with – the medical treatment she offered me, or just the fact that I now had a new friend and a shoulder to cry on!

In the end, after a bit of treatment – and a few beers – the pain dulled enough that I was able to enjoy the astonishing beauty of the Whitsundays and have fun with all the cool people I did eventually get talking to on the boat. Although the burns actually got infected when I went swimming in the tropical sea, I did at least get some professional medical attention a few day’s later, and some awesome Ninja-style bandages.

My awesome Ninja-style bandages - a great ice-breaker if you are looking for one!

My awesome Ninja-style bandages – a great ice-breaker if you are looking for one!

It’s not the conventional way to meet people, and I don’t really recommend it.

But it just goes to show that even burning your arms on a barbecue can become part of your travel adventure, part of your story, and can turn out ok in the end.

– – –

This Short Travel Story was sent to us by Duncan. Duncan is a world-traveler and chief-editor of one of the top 100 travel blogs in the world, Urbantravelblog.com

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