Hi all! This is the 18th collection of stories of Kindness on the Road. Let’s keep this series going, shall we?
I’m currently in Brooklyn, New York, staying for free in the City That Never Sleeps, in exchange for catsitting. Hugging, kissing, and petting cats + free accommodation in New York — perfect, right?
It just occurred to me that prior to arriving here in the United States, I’ve heard a lot of the “unfriendliness” of New Yorkers. Of how they’re curt and snobbish, unfriendly and unhelpful. I’m glad to say that in my two+ weeks stay here, I have yet to encounter that! On the contrary, some people have been quite nice.
Case in point: I booked a free walking tour, the Bushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour, and I was the only one client. I fully expected the tour to get cancelled; with only one customer, it didn’t seem worth it for the guide to push through with it.
To my surprise, the guide met up with me as scheduled, and gave me what amounted to be a private tour for free (okay, I was expected to tip, so I did). He said that people all over the world travel to New York and it didn’t seem fair for him to cancel when it was only 2 hours of his time.
Wasn’t that nice of him?
Anyway, in this month’s collection of stories of Kindness on the Road, five travelers agree with me that kindness can be found anywhere, and at times, in unexpected places. I bring you the stories of Vanessa, Sunny, Gemma and Craig, Stuart and Eloise, and Erin, as they experienced the best of humanity at the hands of strangers in Malaysia, Mexico, Colombia, and India.
The Vendor in Kota Bharu (Malaysia)
Vanessa Workman is an American expat who has slowly embraced travel writing through her blog The Island Drum and various freelance assignments. She would love to connect with people through Twitter and Instagram.
A few years ago, in Malaysia, I was shuffling my way through my one of my first travel research assignments. My appearance was less than fabulous and my head was weary from the amount of information I’d been gathering.
I had been to Kota Bharu before, but had not found it especially welcoming. This time, however, I happened to meet a women selling fruit at the bus terminal who was keen to do a photo shoot with me. We stood in front of a bus for one of our memory shots and she suddenly grabbed my hand tightly as the photo (taken by another vendor) was snapped.
That small gesture made me immediately fall in love with Kota Bharu and the warmth of Malaysians. I’m often reminded of that moment and quietly thank her, because it was just that ‘something’ I really needed at the time.
An Unexpected Kindness in Ensenada (Mexico)
Sunny Eaton, together with her partner Karin and their dog, left a legal practice in the United States last November 2015 to pursue their dream of a Pan American overland adventure.
On our first couple of nights in Ensenada, we stayed at a hotel in order to get our bearings. A bag that was poorly secured on our roof was stolen — it contained our hammocks and a mosquito net “room” for our awning.
Fast forward a week, we were four hours south of Ensenada and the hotel manager emailed me to tell me they reviewed their security cameras, found the person who took our things, and got everything back from them!
Can you believe that? So cool!
Unparalleled Hospitality in Bogota (Colombia)
Gemma and Craig are the bloggers behind Two Scots Abroad. They packed up their past lives as teacher and tradesman to backpack the Americas and Europe for 18 months. Follow their adventures through Facebook and Twitter.
Ricardo was from Bogota, Colombia. We met him for five minutes while jumping on a boat from Taquile Island to Puno in Peru. Within those five minutes we exchanged details and in his broken English and our survival Spanish agreed to meet in Bogota. In fact, he insisted!
True to his word, a month later we arrived in Bogota and met up. We spent the day walking around the whole of Colombia’s capital city with our personal local guide. He even bought us lunch and refused payment. We were guests in his country, he stressed.
We settled on the agreement that if he made it to Scotland we would return the favour. We had the best three and half weeks in Colombia, partly down to our introduction in the country — Ricardo’s hospitality and kindness.
The Laughing Monk in McLeod Ganj (India)
Stuart and Eloise, the bloggers behind Am I Nearly There Yet?, have been traveling non-stop since early 2011. Happiness seekers and self-confessed slow travel experts, they travel wherever they want, whenever they want. They share their adventures through humor, epic photography, videos, and advice. Follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.
Back in 2012 during our year-long tour around India, we stayed up in the Himalayan town of McLeod Ganj, home of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
We were walking through the village back to our apartment with some shopping when our bag broke — food tumbled out onto the muddy path. A gigantic robed monk ran over to help us with our embarrassment, stooping down to pick up a single egg that had come loose from the pack and somehow didn’t smash.
It was a great moment, with us all laughing and enjoying the funny side of it. I asked if I could take a photo of him with the egg, and he happily said yes!
The Kind Pilot in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Erin, currently living in the United States, blogs at Traveling Thru History. She had the opportunity to spend 13 months living in SE Asia and learning all about the history and culture of that region. She uses her blog to share her experiences and what she has learned with others. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
The day after I moved to Kuala Lumpur, I had to pick my cat up at the airport and couldn’t figure out where to go to get her.
After three hours of asking people for help and nobody knowing where I was supposed to go, a pilot I’d asked for help when I first got there walked up and offered to help me. He then spent six hours driving me all over the city, translating for me and helping me through all the paperwork.
After driving me around and letting me use his phone to update my boyfriend with our progress periodically, he went out of his way to drive me to where my boyfriend was since it was getting late in the evening and he didn’t want me to get lost. He really went out of his way to help me, and I was so grateful for that!
Do you have any stories of kindness on the road? Send them to me and I’ll include them in a future post!