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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The People You Meet On The Road


Travel LOve 21



"There was once a man who became unstuck in the world – and each person he met became a little less stuck themselves. He traveled only with himself and he was never alone." 
- Castles in the Sky, Film by Taylor Steele

I walked into the common bathroom and was fascinated by its design and how a backpackers’ dorm isn’t that bad after all. It was my first day of traveling solo, my first time staying in a dorm without knowing anyone. “Hey!” Another girl walked in and she’s my first friend on this whole backpacking trip. We decided to see the city together, and met more people and walked around the city proper after that. The next day I saw her off as she left for another town and I was preparing to leave that afternoon as well. She’s one of the people who frequently liked my travel photos in Facebook and wanted to meet again in a beach in another country. Sadly, I wasn’t headed that way. But she’ll forever hold a place in my memory as the first person I met while traveling solo. 

He takes amazing photos and he makes me laugh. We often find ourselves smoking by the stairs in our hostel overlooking the small river. He had this great idea to see the zoo and we surprisingly had fun the whole afternoon we were there. We decided to meet in another country two months after. I never really thought he was serious, or I never really thought people on the road make such plans. But as two months passed, we were talking again and planning where and when we should meet up. We never did because we didn’t think sleeper buses would involve really long travel time. We only travelled together for less than a week but he’s inspired me to take more photos and he’s the coolest guy I’ve ever met. 

I remember her smile and her lightness and her passion for travel. We never really talked that much but we exchanged lots of messages after. And I was so happy to learn that she was going to my country with her boyfriend. And she fell in love with it. She’d always give me travel tips whenever I ask for it and she continues to inspire me to see the rest of the world. 

He was the first person I got really drawn to. He stayed up with me to wait for a friend. He listened to my stories, the kind where you know that he really understands you. His life before traveling was so inspiring, one of the reasons why I got really drawn to him. He told me about living in the present and enjoying what’s only here and now. It was only a year after that I understood what he really meant. And he was such a nice guy and a gentleman. 

Meeting him was a short, funny, but really sweet moment. I was sitting on a bench and looking at one of the most romantic and beautiful sites in the world. He was the answer to an impossible wish. Yet he was there asking if we could share the bench. I can’t even remember his name anymore but I still remember how giddy I was after that. The whole thing was a bit romantic in its own way. 

I still remember and will forever cherish the old couple from Holland, in the train ride from Varanasi to Delhi, still traveling despite their age. With the old gentleman tucking in his wife as she goes to sleep. *sigh*

The first time we met he thought I was a local, such a funny memory. Nights of drinking sessions after, we found ourselves trekking the Himalayas with him. He’s crazy, but the fun kind. He’s crazy because he lives life fully, not caring what other people think. And that’s something I truly admire about him. But the sweetest thing was when he surprised me with a slice of cake on my birthday. Memories of him always remind me to live life freely and lightly. 

They were football hooligans and they intimidated me the first time I met them. But they were surprisingly nice and kind. She stands out though. She’s been through a lot in life but she has always found a way to get out of it better. She was so open to me about her past and her struggles, and that’s what I liked most about her. I appreciated the trust she had in me, a stranger she’s only met for a week. 

And there's a good friend who was crazy enough to also quit his job and travel with me for two months. We shared memories of amazing landscapes, beautiful people, stressful situations, and humbling realities. It was the start of a life-long friendship despite the distance. He would know me more than the people I was closer to before the trip. He knew when to read between the lines of my blog entries and he knew when I needed some comfort and reminding. He continues to inspire me to travel more and to pursue my passion.

She’s the nicest person I’ve ever met in my entire life, including my friends. She’s so sunny and carefree, and generous and kind. She pursues her passion and love for life. And I think it’s one of the reasons why so many people are so drawn to her and her light. I’m so lucky to have met her and spend a few days traveling with her. 

And then there was the guy who captured my heart. The guy who made me laugh, who made me so happy, and with whom I found home. You meet a lot of people on the road, but rarely would you meet someone. It may have ended but he will always be, what we had, will always be the story I was looking for and it was even better than what I hoped it would be. 

And then there was the guy who was there at both the right and wrong time. You share a few weeks together. He will make you laugh and smile again. He will spark your interest but you choose to be nonchalant about it. Part of you will enjoy those special moments together and hope that it could continue a few more days, or a few more weeks. But a part of you will discover how familiar it feels and you know that it’s not yet the time. You take what is happening right in front of you for what it is, and nothing more. But you’re thankful to discover that you will still meet people who can make you feel again. Meeting him reminded you that life should go on. 

She’s one of the best people/travel friends I’ve met on the road. Her (travel) stories always leave me at awe. She’s been to places that only a few people travel to. She’s seen the ugly side of the world we’re living in and it is her passion to tell the rest of us all about it. She’s so smart and talented. And when she said “You’re creative, I’ve seen you work” I felt so happy. I know I’ll see her again in the future and hopefully travel with her again. It’s part of my travel plans. 

She’s travelled for so many months solo. She’s gorgeous yet she doesn’t use it to her advantage unlike other girls. She’s independent and she’s tough. But what I liked most when we travelled together was her love for the isolated and remote places. Something we have in common. And her commitment to find these places and experience them fully – both the landscape and the people. I can’t wait to travel with her again. 

I’ve met a lot of fellow Asians on the road, but she’s the first ever I’ve travelled with. We spent a day together visiting sites around the city. But in the afternoon we sat by the river and found out how much we have in common. She understood what it felt like to be judged by people for deciding to quit her job(s) to travel. And how it’s all worth it because she’s happy with the life she’s living. She’s on another adventure right now and I couldn’t be happier for her. 

These are some of the people I met on the road. Most of them were traveling solo. Maybe it’s the reason why we all found each other. We travelled for different reasons and at different moments in our lives. But I know I met them at the right moment – when I needed inspiration, when I needed some craziness, when I was (ready) to fall in love, when I needed reminding, and for reasons that I only realized in retrospect. 

I learned more about life, about myself, and about the world more after meeting these people. I know they were only short moments, some of them may not even remember me anymore, most I probably will never see again, but we shared something that has made more impact in my life than most of the people I see every day. 

But what I learned most is the importance of taking chances. You will be surprised how much a chance encounter can change your life. ;)