Sunday, February 20, 2011

Montage Monday: The Kindness of Strangers

Hello, readers! I'm sorry I took an unexpected blog break last week but I was just feeling so overwhelmed with my job and apartment search in Hong Kong (as you could probably tell from my last two blog posts!) that I just needed to take at least one thing off my plate. I wish it didn't have to be blogging but there you have it. Good news though, during my blog break, I managed to find an apartment and (half) move into it! Exciting, exciting!

Anyway, now I'm back and it's time for another Montage Monday where I revisit travel memories from the past. Last Montage Monday, I featured meeting old friends in new places. This week, I'm featuring strangers I've met during my travels who showed me kindness in the most unexpected ways.

First things first; my mom is going to kill me but yes, I talk to strangers! It's just, you know, one of those things you do when you travel. And truth be told, talking to strangers have (mostly) proven to be great experiences for me and only reaffirms my belief in the general goodness of human beings.

Strangers to the rescue in India
Matt and I got to taste the good and the bad of India, all within minutes of each other on this train. Matt and I had boarded a train, having absolutely no idea which car we were supposed to be on. We had purchased the cheapest tickets we could buy so we were pretty excited to discover that we had boarded onto a very plush and air conditioned car. What luck! Unfortunately, the Indian businessmen in the same car made sure that we didn't stay there for very long. They literally forced us out of the car, bags and all! As the next car was completely packed, we ended up sitting in the middle between the cars, where we met these lovely two gentlemen who were appalled at how we had been treated. We got into a nice conversation with them and when we got off at our stop, the two gentlemen treated us to lunch! They also invited us to their home but as we had another train to catch, we were not able to accept their offer.

Not a shortage of socks in Istanbul
I was out exploring Istanbul just a few days after moving there when I found myself caught in the rain. Unfortunately, my shoes and socks became thoroughly soaked and my feet were about ready to fall off. Shoko and I stopped by this Turkish lamp shop to admire the gorgeous hanging lamps when the men working in the store noticed the state of my feet. They immediately brought me a pair of brand new socks from behind the counter and insisted that I accept them, free of charge! Grateful, I slipped my feet into the dry socks and thanked them. For the rest of the six months that I lived in Istanbul, whenever I walked past the Grand Bazaar, I always made sure that I stopped by to chat with these nice guys!

Milania approves of Kathyann's home-cooked feast
My friend, Milania, and I met Kathyann at a restaurant on the beach. We had asked Kathyann for directions to a waterfall and she insisted that she and her family take us there! Then Kathyann insisted that we come to her house for lunch afterwards! Incredible! Milania and I offered to buy the groceries and set off for the local market. We dropped off the groceries with Kathyann later that afternoon and made plans to meet the following day. Milania and I could not believe the feast that Kathyann had cooked up for us! Pumpkin squash, rice, callaloo vegetables, Caribbean chicken... It was definitely the best meal I had in Grenada and Kathyann's children were so adorable! My afternoon with Kathyann's family is one of my favorite memories from my trip to Grenada.

Have you ever experienced unexpected kindness from a total stranger?

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. One of the real rewards of travel is learning that people wherever you find yourself are overwhelmingly good. They will often go out of their way to help strangers and a chance encounter can leave a stronger more lasting impression than whatever it was that you came to that place to see.

    Had a similar experience myself on my first backpacking trip and I still remember the generosity shown to me, almost 25 years later (God I'm old!!)

    Good post Connie.

  2. @Andy Jarosz I definitely agree with you that the interactions with people while on a trip are far more permanent than the actual sights. AND you should be proud of having been traveling for so long! 25 years is impressive.

  3. I think it's essential when traveling to "talk to strangers." That's how I've met some of my best friends and some of the kindest people I've ever met in life. Great post!

  4. Love those moments when you're away, thinking you're on your own and then without asking, someone steps up and lends a hand. Yay!

  5. I agree, without talking to strangers you could miss out so many great places or things to see! And if you travel solo, like I mostly do, I have to talk to strangers even if I would not like to!

  6. @Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Oh definitely! In fact, there's a friend of mine out here in Hong Kong on business and he announced that he "doesn't talk to strangers". He was serious too. I couldn't believe it! How do you meet people and make friends then???

    @acceleratedstall It's wonderful, isn't it, how someone can completely change the course of your day, just by simply giving you a smile and a minute of their time. Those certainly are the best travel moments.

  7. @crazy sexy fun traveler I was just thinking how I always end up traveling in a large group when I go on "solo trips". It is nice to make friends with people you normally wouldn't associate with and I think that's what travel does. It forces you outside your own comfort zone, even if it's just for a short period of time.

  8. thanks for the props! and yes, talking to strangers is one of the best way to get to know a place. as long as you remain smart, ppl can usually tell if that stranger is being dodgy. but kathyan was def someone who was so genuine. remember she even took us the waterfalls? :) and that meal was so delicious!! i know we'll always cherish her!

  9. How lovely to meet such fine people on your travels. :-) Yes, I've had many occasions where total strangers treated me with kindness. One stands out: I was flying home on Air Pacific when I got terribly, terribly ill, kept going unconscious, could hardly breathe. When I came to my hair was braided so it would stay out of my face, hands gently held my head so it wouldn't flop over while I was rolled out in a wheelchair, and they hummed softly and prayed for me. Such amazingly lovely people. :-)

  10. @milania dela cruz, md. We should go back and visit Kathyann! That would be so much fun! Maybe this time I will do the Seven Sisters jump!

    @RamblingTart Oh no! Being sick and traveling alone is probably one of the worst things that could happen. I'm glad to hear that you had such nice people helping you out!

  11. I hear so many great things about this place so will definitely have to put it on my travel wishlist.


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