Trick or Treat, Watch Out and Decide Wisely.

Trick or Treat, Watch Out and Decide Wisely. 

Trick or treat. It's Halloween, the time of year when varieties of sweet candies fill up our cabinet space. And if you are in the US, I bet you won’t be able to say no to seasonal specialities such as pumpkin spiced coffee, pumpkin cake or pumpkin pie. 

Trick or treat

Oh, yummy! But, if you are still not convinced, how about a pumpkin spiced chai latte, pumpkin beer or pumpkin ale? I must admit, before having tasted some of these, the only other form of pumpkin I really enjoyed was the sweet-and-spicy south Indian curried pumpkin.  

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Frankly speaking, Halloween is not a huge influence in the Asian part of the world, where I am from, but the tricks and treats in all forms are.

You hear this all the time – Sale, sale, sale! Prices discounted by 70%! Buy one, get two for free! Get a second at 90% discount! Hotels at slashed prices! What a treat! How many times have you said that it must be your lucky day to bump into such a blast? 

But hang on – how many more times have you felt misled afterwards …  

pumpkin treat

I am a compulsive travel site surfer. That's a red flag. Before my café-hopping days, I'd spend much of my free time searching for good travel bargains. Statistically, I am a proud winner, but with a shamefully narrow margin. Payment transfer records to Uncle AA and Uncle Malindo's websites for unutilised bookings are evidence of my poor choices. My most recent purchase was a one-year unlimited travel pass on a local carrier. My friend BE would be chuckling when she reads this, because she hinted to me to be cautious back then. Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I haven’t even considered using it – not even once. So, watch out for the treats in disguise. 

Halloween Pumpkin

Early memories. It was always during the wee hours due to lack of sleep when my mind would get hyper and go on a high. During one of those nights, I stumbled upon a combined hotel and flight deal, which I was rather pleased with. Did I wait? No. I mean, come on, it was a chance of a lifetime, right? Did I discuss it with Doc? No, good deals get snapped up fast. So, ta-da – Hainan here we come! I was super excited. This would be my first-ever trip to see the Red Dragon. 

Like an auto-replay of a YouTube clip, the hasty bookings repeated and the list increased. In case you haven’t realised, I have a soft spot for promotional travel brochures and offers in print. I'd buy the local paper just for their advertisements. As Doc would bluntly put it, I was a dream come true for the marketeers. 😉 

"So, it's Hainan, you said, 5 days, 4 nights?" 

"Yes?" I was exhilarated, I had a deal of the century up my sleeve. 

"Where did you say we were staying?" 

"Sanya. Check this out. The hotel has not one but two heated Roman baths for their guests. According to guest reviews, the massage services offered here is of exceptional quality!" Uh-oh! Wrong selling points for Doc. He disliked both. 

Doc scratched his head. “Come here.”

We both looked at our huge wall map. We would be flying into Haikou late at night, and we’d paid for cheap but grand accommodation in Sanya, which is 300 km away. Our flight out was a darn early one, at 6 am. Keep in mind, we always followed the be-at the airport-3-hours-prior-to-check-in rule. 


With punctuality in mind, I did the hour-math, which I should really have done before making this purchase. I realised it would take approximately four hours to get to the airport. That would be seven hours in total. This meant one thing. I had to forego two paid nights and two trips to the heated Roman baths. 

"Blimey Uma, how much coffee did you have when you made this reservation?" Again!

It turned out that clicking the buy button was a hasty decision. After adding the additional costs à travel visas, accommodation in Haikou and round-trip taxi charges, the wisest next option would be to say adios to this trip. Trick or treat – trick!

Next… Manila, Dumaguete and Boracay – the Malaysia Airlines deal of the year. Tickets booked for Doc and me. But hey, Uma, did you tell your travel partner about the plan? Ops, no – and another trip gone south. Trick! Trick! Trick! Silly you, don't you ever learn? 

I did learn. Although I didn't stop searching for deals, I got a lot wiser at making decisions. Who would have thought a promotional offer to Bandung would turn out to be such a humbling encounter with a breathing volcano? Treat! I read once that everyone should see the grand Angkor at least once in their lifetime, thanks to pressing the buzzer, I had one more. Treat x 2!

trick or treat

So, watch out! If you are a budget traveller like me, there is a lot of pressure to ensure your plans turn out as treats, not tricks. Anyone can buy a cheap ticket, but not everyone can put it to use. Talk to me, I will tell you more.

trick or treat

There are so many contributing factors, such as the ones I mentioned earlier; time, distance, commitment, pet sitter, health, price, dietary options – these are just a few of the deciding factors. Consider the tricks and treats carefully before making those crucial decisions. Which would you find more pleasurable?

Trick or treat, you decide, but be cautious. While deciding, remember to continue wearing a protective face mask, sanitising your hands frequently, and practising safe social distancing wherever you go. 

What I have learnt:

  1. No one forces me to choose trick or treat. How I handle it is all within my control.
  2. When faced with a trick or treat, to get the best treats, make objective decisions instead of impulsive ones. If it still turns out to be a trick, then at least you tried. 
  3. Avoid impulsive decisions. Wait a day or two. If you still feel the urge to grab that deal, then go for it. If it’s still available, it's yours. Otherwise, know that there will soon be another one. Don't panic.  
  4. It’s handy to have a map close by to see where your destination is, and how much time it will take to get there. 
  5. A calendar with time zones is essential. 
  6. Be punctual; get to the airport early, or if you’re taking a bus, don’t be late. It's no treat to keep others waiting – in fact, it's inconsiderate.
  7. Enjoy the seasonal offerings, such as pumpkin-everything and Oktfest, because these are available only for a limited time. 
  8. Avoid stocking up the cabinets with chocolates if you are not going to consume or give them away. That's a form of hoarding disorder. Just get more next Halloween.
  9. Trick or treat – smile but watch out!  
pumpkin spiced  coffee


Regardless of whether you are a business traveller or vacationer, a one-time or frequent traveller – if you travel, you are exposed to risks. It’s important to understand that some of us are easier targets than others.

Doc was a sensible traveller, while I, quite the opposite. Through Watch Out! Travel Mishaps from Reaching Delphi Travellers Alert series, I will share some of our travel misadventures with you. My aim is to create the awareness of such incidents and some useful suggestions to reduce the occurrence of unpleasant events. 

This series is dedicated to Doc - SV Narayanan, who constantly reminded me and many others to 'Watch Out!. 

 Follow Coffee Trail – Counting Stars, Reaching Delphi for travel updates and tips.


Also in the WatchOut! series:



  1. Anonymous11/04/2020

    Will keep it in mind 😀

  2. Anonymous11/08/2020

    Thanks for a humorously written educational read, Uma. Enjoyed it, whilst picking up pointers on avoiding trip-traps. Keep writing!

  3. Anonymous11/08/2020

    Thanks for a humorously written educational read, Uma. Enjoyed it, whilst picking up pointers on avoiding trip-traps. Keep writing!