What do you hear when you turn on a news channel on TV? Reports about politics, violence, fraud, natural disasters, accidents, robbery etc. Sadly bad news sells better hence the news channels are full of it. Actually, no wonder that after watching that kind of news constantly, some might think that the world is an awful and dangerous place where everybody wants to hurt or trick you.
We rarely hear about everyday heroes or average people who do good things to strangers because it feels right. That just doesn’t bring enough ratings. It’s not revealing that there are good and bad people everywhere, it’s just a matter how you perceive the world. During my travels I’ve encountered lots of kindness from locals or fellow travellers which ended up in funny situations.
The journey from Boracay, a small island in the Philippines to Manila airport is quite an adventure with several stages. It looks more or less like that: tuck-tuck from hotel to Boracay ferry station -> ferry from Boracay to San Jose on Mindoro island -> bus from south Mindoro to Puerto Galera in the North -> ferry to Batangas on Luzon island -> bus to Manila airport. All together around an 26 hour journey, yeah manageable. After reaching San Jose, I found a group of travelers who rented a bus that was going to Puerto Galera. Asked if I can contribute and go with them. They agreed and you won’t believe, they were four guys from Sweden. Two of them were paramedics, one anesthesiologist and one firefighter. I’m like, really?! So if something happens I’m covered with the best help there is. Cool, we were on the road with around 250 km to go. Was convinced that I’ll reach the ferry station in three hours or so… nope, it took more than that.
The bus suddenly broke on the outskirts from Puerto Galera, it was dark already and I didn’t have any accommodation. Luckily I noticed a sign that said, rooms for rent. Not thinking much, I went to the direction the sign was pointing and looked for the reception. There was none. Went to the pool bar instead and asked for the reception. The bartender told me that they don’t have one but pointed at the hotel owner who was sitting at one of the tables. OOOOOKKKKK… went over and started the conversation.
– Hi, I’m Alice and looking for a room for one night as I need to catch the ferry to Batangas in the morning.
– Sorry, we don’t rent for one night, minimum a month.
Fab, that means I’ll have to sleep on the beach again… oh well. Then something odd happened. The hotel owner gave the guy who was sitting next to him a nudge and said
– Hey man, you have a spare guest room she could sleep over at your place
I’ve looked at the guy with big eyes and a jaw drop… in response I’ve heard
– Don’t worry I won’t rape you
Though OK, it’s either this or sleeping at the beach again… my spidey senses stayed calm, no red alert was flashing in my head, so I thanked him for the kind offer and agreed to have a sleep over at his house. It turned out that the guy moved over to the Philippines from the Netherlands for his retirement. We drank a couple of beers at the bar exchanging travel stories. After, he showed me to the guest room. All was fine. In the morning, the nice man made coffee and escorted me to the ferry station, explaining which bus to take in Batangas that goes directly to the Manila airport. As I’m writing this post it means that I’ve made it safely to Manila and then home. Not sure why but on my travels I’m always lucky to meet fabulous people from the Netherlands, Sweden or Germany.
Giant Panda Surprise
Always wanted to see giant pandas, the best place to do that is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in Chengdu. Before covid took over the world went to China to see a couple of places including pandas in Chengdu. It wasn’t difficult to get there, a metro ride and a long walk… Imagine I didn’t get lost on the way 😀 probably because there were signs every 10 meters saying – Panda Breeding Base this way. Got there and was astonished as the pandas were super cute and the centre was quite impressive. It’s not like a zoo with small cages where the animals are held captive, it’s a huge area where the pandas can hang out – that’s the proper expression for it as they sit or sleep most of the time.
After four hours of sightseeing I wanted to walk back to the metro station but before I’ve sat down at the entrance gate for a smoke. Suddenly a guy approached me and asked where I’m from. Said that from Poland and came here for holiday. He seemed nice so we continued chatting. After a couple of minutes he asked how I got to the Panda Breeding Base, I said that I walked from the metro station. At this moment he looked at me with astonishment asking, why didn’t I take a taxi as it’s quite a distance to walk. Well, I don’t speak mandarin and don’t have wechat pay hence don’t have all the useful apps, was my reply. The guy was even more astonished and made a decision that he will order the taxi for me so that I can comfortably get to the metro station. Asked how much I owe him for the ride. He didn’t want money, he only asked if I have Polish coins as he collects coins from different countries. Ofcoz I had some left. After explaining how much each coin is worth in juan the taxi arrived and the last thing I heard from the nice man was: welcome to China, please come back. I definitely will as soon as the world returns to normal again.
Pena Palace Encounter
Portugal is beautiful all year round especially in January, when the weather is mild and perfect for sightseeing. It’s a short train ride from Lisbon to Sintra, so I went to see the cartoon-like Pena Palace with its surrounding gardens. Drawback was that beginning January there were some covid restrictions in Portugal and all sights were closing at 1.00 pm. When I finished with the palace sightseeing it was already 12.30 pm… hmmm 30 min for seeing a garden that can be compared to the size of Liechtenstein, yeap definitely not enough time. Think I will get lost somewhere on the garden paths. Guess what! I did get lost 😀 Around 2.30 pm when I was close to the park’s exit, a security guard spotted me and said that the park is closed and what am I doing here in the first place…
Well, officer I got lost, sorry!!! but I’m leaving right now 😛 After leaving the garden, I’ve ordered an Uber to take me downhill to the train station in Sintra. Something was off… the app suggested the car will arrive after 7 minutes. It didn’t. 20 min, nothing, 30 min, nothing, 45 min nothing.
Suddenly I saw a car coming, unfortunately it wasn’t my Uber driver. It was a small Citoen with young and smiling people. They stopped and said hi. It turned out they wanted to see the palace as well, only weren’t aware it’s closed. I’ve asked if they can kindly give me a riddle back to the town as my Uber is 50 min late. It wasn’t a problem for them and sure, hope in, they said. The funniest part is that from the bushes came out a couple that was looking for a way back to Sintra and got lost in the forest…
Geez coincidence after coincidence. Guess what? The young people offered to give them a ride as well. Now imagine a small Citroen with six people’s insight. That definitely wasn’t legal but we at least made it to the trainstation without any major issues and everybody had a good laugh. Best thing is, the couple was from Italy and coming July they booked a trip to Krakow… wonder who will be their special VIP city guide… any ideas 😉
Those are just a couple of situations I had, not to mention random questions from locals if I needed help coz I looked lost or being offered a bottle of water from a complete stranger at an airport after I was sweating and breathing as hell after running through the whole terminal to catch my flight. You get kindness for kindness, so the next time when you’re at your favourite coffee shop smile at the barista and ask him/her – how are you? You will be surprised with the reaction. From my personal feeling, when you receive kindness, be grateful for it and if you have a chance, give it back. So the next time in your hometown when you see somebody who looks lost, ask if you can help and if everything is OK.