Great story .. sounds like a perfect recipe for a Holiday !
My worst breakdown experience came compliments of a rental in Taiwan a few years ago. I could've understood the whole experience from Rent-A-Rocket but this was a late model Opel from one of the big names in the game.
I'd been there a number of times before but never seen anything but Taipei from the back of taxis and hotel limos - and it's not the greatest place in the world to breathe the air with about a million two stroke scooters darting around everywhere.
Down the other end of the island is the Seaport of Kaosiung so I thought I'd rent the little Opel and drive down there for a couple of days.
Now Taiwan is not littered with roads and the two ends of the island are separated by a fast 12 laned stretch of dead straight bitumen road where the speed limit is supposedly 110k but where everyone does heaps more and only slows down for the (frequent) toll booths.
Getting bored with the dead straight road and the fairly slow top speed of the little Opel I turned off at the first so-called scenic route to where I was going. By our standards this was a poor secondary road but it was a clear night and looked like it would be more fun than the highway.
About 40km in the Opel started to cough and splutter under even moderate accelaeration so I pulled over to have a look. Couldn't see anything immediately obvious so thought I'd do the smart thing and keep driving till I saw some signs of civilisation. Bad move. The little beastie didn't want to fire - turned over but was otherwise as dead as the Dodo bird.
No worries I thought - reach for the trusty mobile phone (which in those days was more like two house bricks) only to find there was no service. Now this part of Taiwan is pretty flat so there wasn't anything like a hill to see if I could get some mobile service and as I was younger and fitter then I decided to walk until I found some help. This didn't seem like a bad idea as I had water and cigarettes to last until I found help.
Now Taiwan is in the South China Sea which is a notorious typhoon zone during certain times of the year - and after I'd walked a couple of k's the winds sprang up and it started raining so hard I couldn't see the road I was walking on. The good side of that news was that I was drenched in about 30 seconds - after which it is impossible to get any wetter. The bad side is that I could have walked past a large town and not even seen it. Being stupid (I called it brave at the time) I continued walking for what seemed like hours in this incredible wind and rain - in reality it was probably only an hour or so but the progress was slow going. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to light a fag in that sort of rain but like any dedicated addict I managed it.
Eventualy I stumbled into a hamlet - not worthy of the name town but it had a couple of street lights and a police station (thank God for Police states). It's probably the only time in my life I've been happy to see a police uniform but my happinness turned to dismay when I realised that (like most of the country) he knew not one word of English. Now my Cantonese and Hokkien are passable but despite the similarities in sounds Mandarin might as well be gibberish to me - worse still when it was probably a local dialect spoken by the 47 local residents and understood only by their cats and dogs.
Fairly quickly got the idea that they didn't see too many white fellas in that neck of the woods as I seemed to be surrounded by most of the town in this tiny Police station in a few minutes. Someone gave me some drier clothes than mine at least and I was offered the single cell to change in. Of course no-one spoke any English so I was forced to revert to good old sign language to try and explain what happened.
Picture the scene: Dripping wet Caucasian dressed like Stan Hardy (Chinese clothes don't usually fit 6' westerners) standing in a crowded room making steering wheel gestures and going "vroom vroom" to try and explain that I has been driving. Must have looked like a reject from the Wiggles! Eventually soneone cottoned on (or at least they were making understanding type noises) as I attempted to explain that the "vroom vroom" had gone "phut". I gathered there was nothing like a mechanic or garage in the town from the shaking heads and gathered from the hand signals that there would be a bus or something in the morning. Not having any other choice I accepted the hospitality of the lock-up for the night whilst wishing I was absolutely anywhere else.
Morning arrived complete with a traditional Chinese breakfast which for those of you who haven't tried one mostly consists of things you either can't identify or which I don't eat. Don't have much choice when you are a guest so I forced as much of what I could identify down and made thanking gestures in the hope that there wouldn't be any more. Thankfully (apart from the awful green tea) there wasn't and after changing back into my own (dried and pressed - gotta' love Chinese laundries) I was shown a spot outside to wait for what I assumed would be the bus.
Never take anything for granted.
My transport turned out to be an unidentifiable vintage Toyota flat tray with a cage on the back which I was invited to get in along with the other occupants) namely one pig of the curly tailed kind and what looked roughly like a goat. Oh and about half an inch of shit.
Needless to say the ride was not exactly limo like in quality and the smell from the animals etc, soon had breakfast looking for a way out - quick.
At this point in time you could have chopped me up and fed me to the animals for all I cared - I just sat down in the shit and hoped that somewhere this nightmare was going to end.
Like all bad things it did end but not before two final pieces of irony.
The Tojo tray eventually arrived in a bigger town and took me straight to the office of the local mayor - I can only hope that he doesn't judge all Aussies by the way I must have looked to him that day - I didn't dare sit down although he offered a seat and I must have smelt lovely.
To his credit he was as polite as you always find the Taiwanese to be and after I'd been through my "vroom" and "phut" routine he took me to the local mechanic who then drove me to the Opel in his ancient tow truck.
After getting lost a couple of times we finally found the Opel up to the top of it's wheels in water on the side of the road. The mechanic made car starting gestures to me so I jumped in and turned the key .. and the bastard, mongrel, bitch of a thing started almost first kick. Talk about feeling completely and utterly stupid.
Couldn't get him to take any money for his time and trouble but his eyes lit up with the bottle of VSOP that I had in the car to use as a gift for a client.
The words I said to the rental desk clerk don't bear repeating and she probably didn't understand most of them with her badly broken English - at least I felt better for saying them