This is the 20th collection of stories of Kindness on the Road. Whew! Kindness is definitely not in short supply in the world.
It’s my second month in the Philippines, after my (supposedly) long-term backpacking trip was cut short by a family emergency. Hopefully, I’ll be back on the road again before the year ends.
I’m sorely missing traveling. In the meantime, let me present four stories from travelers who have experienced kindness from strangers around the world. We have contributions from Cacinda, who met a lovely stranger on a train in Russia, and Lyndsay, whose stalker in Thailand didn’t get a chance with two strangers-turned-friends around her.
Shannon‘s story is gold; she and her partner met a Good Samaritan on the road in Bali at the time when they needed one the most. Maria, on the other hand, sent two stories. I’ve included here her short trip to Paris, together with her husband, which was both “sweet and sour.”
Read, enjoy, and regain your faith in humanity!
The Woman in the Train (Russia)
Dr. Cacinda Maloney has traveled every six weeks of her life for over 20 years. A member of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association, she blogs at Points and Travels. Follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
In 2009, I was traveling through Russia alone while my husband was working on his MBA.
That particular day, I was with the wife of one of his colleagues and we decided we would take the train to see Catherine’s Summer Palace in Pushkin. It was the dead of winter, but we didn’t care, we were adventurous!
Besides, how hard could it be? The instructions were: “To get to Pushkin from St. Petersburg, you can take a suburban train from the Vitebsk Station to Pushkin Station, and then take buses 371 or 382 to the park gates.” Seemed simple enough, right?
Things were going great, we thought, until the train started to get really packed with people, then sheep and goats…. Suddenly, we realized we were on the wrong train.
I had remembered seeing a lady reading a book with an English title, so I slowly made my way back through the crowds to where she was to find out if it was possible that she spoke English.
She did! She was so excited to “practice” her English and I was happy to meet her. She ended up getting off the train with us, changing train stations, getting on a different train, then riding the bus with us all the way to the Palace.
At first, I was suspicious, but in the end, she ended up just being nice. I wish I could have gotten her name to send her a thank you note!
Saviors in Krabi (Thailand)
Lyndsay Cabildo-Cruger, a fashion and travel blogger, is also a social media strategist and web/graphic designer. Originally from the Philippines, she’s now based in Arizona, USA. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
It was in Krabi when it happened. Leizel and I first met in Vietnam while backpacking separately and started a great bond. We decided to meet up again in Bangkok where we agreed to travel together to Krabi.
It was noon when we arrived and after a 14-hour bus ride and half hour boat ride with backpacks bigger than us, we knew we had to find a place to rest first. As we were walking down an alley, we saw a food cart.
There were two Canadian guys there eating, and they (Nick and Doug) told us how good and cheap the food was. That was enough to get our backpacks down and eat with them. We compared the hotel rates we asked from different places to theirs and soon enough we were neighbors.
After we put our bags down in our little bungalow, Leizel and I went for a walk. A Spanish dude approached us and wanted to join us walking around. As the backpacking culture is where you randomly find good people, we were clueless that this man was different.
To cut the long story short, he was a creepy guy who thought he could find every woman okay with his (sexual) harassment. Na ah! It wasn’t going to happen.
He was very aggressive and kept following me around. Once, when I was left alone, he went behind me and kissed me on my neck. I started cursing and left him, not even caring that I left our stuff behind.
I saw Leizel, and we both saw Nick and Doug. Those guys were my heroes! They asked how I was and I replied, “Oh I’m just running away from a creepy guy!”
After that, they became determined not to leave me and Leizel alone. They also called reinforcement (they had 3-4 other friends with them close by). The creepy guy didn’t want to leave me alone but I wasn’t as scared anymore with five bodyguards around.
That day was when lifelong friendships were made. Yes, the four of us are still great friends no matter where we are in the world now. Leizel is happily married and based in Denmark, Nick is engaged and based in Canada, Doug and his GF lives in the US east coast, while I’m happily married and settled in the southwest.
Kindness of a Balinese Neighbor (Indonesia)
Shannon is an American travel blogger and writer who has been traveling the world non-stop for the past 3 years. She has taught English in Asia, backpacked through Europe, and is currently living out of a van in New Zealand. She blogs at Lives Abroad. Follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
My story took place in Bali where I experienced kindness, literally on the road.
While living and working in Bali, I had made an early morning business meeting about 30 minutes from my home. When I woke up to find my motorbike tire completely flat, I started to panic, dreading the thought of canceling the meeting.
My partner drove around (just barely making it) looking for a mechanic, and he quickly found that they were all closed until later in the day. While waiting in front of one for it to open, the mechanic’s neighbor lent us his own personal motorbike.
Not a word of Balinese nor English was communicated between us, but the neighbor’s kind and trusting heart didn’t seem to care. We were in need of help and he just gave it to us, strangers he hadn’t seen before!
A Memorable Affair with Paris (France)
It was 2009, our first European trip, and we found ourselves with 6 hours to spend in Paris, of all cities, before catching the connecting flight to Barcelona.
Not wanting to waste time in a boring airport, we braved to squeeze in as much sights as we could see within a small amount of time. At the CDG information desk, we were dissuaded to pursue this plan. We did not have enough time to see the sights, they said. There is a transport strike, they added.
But we were not to be discouraged, and seeing our determination, we were given instructions on what train to take and where to get off. It was little help, though, as it was written in French.
Fortunately, we did arrive at the station where we were supposed to get off. However, my husband noticed that his wallet was missing. In the 40-minute train ride, there was a busker inside the train and he took his wallet out to get money for the busker.
Did he put his wallet back where it belonged? Did he accidentally drop it while in the process of keeping it in his backpack? Who knew?
Panic set in and we tried to locate the train that we were in and searched it and the other trains for the wallet. I even went as far as checking the trash bins. You know how pickpockets usually dump the wallets as soon as they take out all the money and whatever else they want.
However, there was no sign of his wallet whatsoever. We didn’t have cell phones then. We needed a landline to report his credit cards stolen and stop payment for everything that could be charged on the cards.
Luckily, even then, we only brought two cards while traveling — one main card and a back-up just in case. We approached a uniformed police officer and told our sob story. He took us to their office inside the train station and let us use the phone so that we could alert the credit card companies.
The policemen were very kind and comforting, even with the language barrier (kindness #1). When this was settled, we went our merry way — saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Arc de Triomphe. We bought souvenirs, had coffee, and ate several mouthwatering pastries.
On the train back to the airport, we were reading the map for the stop we were to take because the transport strike made it impossible to take a direct train to the airport. We were arguing when the lady sitting across us who was garbed elegantly spoke to us in English. She instructed us what station to stop and what train to take back to the airport (kindness #2).
Needless to say, we barely made it to our flight. Our flight was on its last boarding call when we arrived at the check-in desk. Running like Speedy Gonzales, we made it to our plane — which happened to be half-empty — and as soon as I buckled myself in my seat, the attendant asked me the question I wanted to hear all day – red or white?
It was indeed a memorable Paris fling, very short but sweet and sour.
Do you have any stories of kindness on the road? Send them to me and I’ll include them in a future post!
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