Wednesday, October 22, 2014

People I Meet

  • The gentleman whose extra bus ticket I purchased in Geiranger to head up to Mt Dalsnibba.  It was a bit of a race to get seats and he sternly sat in the middle of the first row to hold one for me.  Told me later he was prepared to tell people I was his wife should he be challenged.  I think he was in his 70s.  From Mexico and was encouraging me to practice my Spanish with him.  Very successful business man who had been retired for over 30 years.  Has 3 children and from the way he spoke about them, can very easily feel the depth of love he has for them.  One lives in Paris, one in Canada and one in the States.  All of them educated abroad.  He has had some operations to remove cancerous growths from his lungs and the remaining few have been somewhat controlled.  His wife decided not to embark on the bus ride as she is afraid of heights.  Why meeting him has stayed with me is because he continues to not let life stop him.  He is more curious than ever.  Wanted to know if I've seen a polar bear in person yet.  He has driven across the States 4 times in an RV (which he loves) and once with his son who accompanied him on his motorbike.  While we were waiting for the bus to leave, there was a scene just outside where an RV and a motorcyclist were side by side and he quickly snapped a photo so he could send it to his son because it reminded him of their trip together.  The way he spoke about the families his children stayed with on their various school exchanges.  How when those families visit, they call him Dad, just like his kids.  It was very touching to hear these stories and feel the depth and warmth of his emotion.  It was like receiving a hug.  His family is so very fortunate to have him.
  • The couple I met in the last hour of the 2nd day of the Halong Bay cruise.  Because I joined this 1 day group as the new person, I didn't know anyone.  To get away from everyone else for a bit, I braved it on the upper deck where it was really sunny and hot.  They were thinking the same thing.  When I said hello to them, I immediately caught their accent.  Turns out they were from Norway and Sweden respectively but own an apartment a couple hours outside of Bangkok.  After being forced to endure my loving Norway speech, we chatted about their travels and experiences and shortly parted ways.  A couple of days later in Hanoi, myself and a couple from the UK were walking around with our guide on a 4 hour street food tour.  All of a sudden I heard my name.  Remember the video I posted a while back about crossing the street in Hanoi?  Well, the city is that loud all day.  So we all stopped and looked around and couldn't see who it was.  Then we heard it again, and again.  The wife of the couple in my group started pointing and it was the Norwegian - Swedish couple calling down from the balcony of their hotel!  Earlier, just when the tour was about to start, the Austrian girl I met before I left for Halong Bay came running out of the same hotel.  Turns out she did find where I was staying after all and booked herself in as she had told me the place she had was horrible.  So the tour guide (who has now become a friend) thought I knew "everyone" in Hanoi.  When you think of the population density of that city, what are the chances?
  • CEO of a biotech company.  Very soft spoken guy.  We met while trying to use one of those check in machines at Dubai airport to do our obligatory passport scans.  He was hoping I knew some kind of special trick to make it work, but I didn't.  We laughed about how not modern the airport procedures were compared to how the city would like to portray itself.  It had been a while since we both had to line up for a counter at an airport.  He is actually quite well known in his field and knows some seriously adventurous people.  Spent our 3 hour pre-flight wait in a lounge chatting and eating.  Asked for my email and send a newspaper article of how he and his future wife met.  Fascinating story.  Both of them very highly skilled.  Emotional guy as well.  He was quite moved by my stories of Cambodia as his company is getting involved with technology that has played a pivotal role in helping reduce human trafficking. 
  • My local shawarma spot in Deira, Pakistani owner.  A couple of the young men that worked there remembered me after only one visit.  Unbelievable considering how busy they are and how many guys work there.  There is free delivery with orders so there is always a flurry of in and out, motorbikes back and forth.  I was "the girl from Canada" to the one cook and "sister" to another fellow.  The one would hold his right hand over his heart when greeting me.  Because I had recently read a couple of books set in Muslim culture, those gestures surprised me and didn't surprise me, if you know what I mean.  
  • The Swiss backpacker (late 20s/early 30s) I sat beside on the flight from Ilulissat to Reykjavik.  Talked a lot due to being pumped up on Red Bull and cigarettes and was flirty.  He did have a serious side (was Swiss after all...) and we had a good conversation about the career he left behind when his engagement got cancelled by his fiancee.  That was 1 1/2 years ago and having traveled all that time since, was ready to go back home and re-integrate into society.  We were analyzing my approach to life and coming up with ways of optimizing it even more.  I appreciated his input.  I think he thought I was playing "hard to get" and didn't believe D was going to be really waiting for me at the airport as he knew I had an apartment rented in Reykjavik and he didn't have reservations at the hostel yet...I hadn't filled D in on all this prior to him noticing a stern look from a stranger and wondering what that was about. 
  • A guy from Toronto (early 30s) who let me go ahead of him at the hotel washroom/change area the arrival morning in Sapa.  Really Friendly and was disappointed we weren't in the same trekking group.  Couldn't get over that half way around the world, he managed to find someone from a similar place.  I later realized he thought I was there on the same package trip organized by the youth hostel he has staying at in Hanoi.  I thought he was staying at the same hotel whose facilities we were using.  In Vietnam, all sorts of organizational confusion exist.  When in reality he was doing a home stay and I was coming back to the hotel and we weren't hiking the same routes either day but did end up at the same lunch spot once.  While he was trying to sort all that out and communicating it to me, all I was trying to do is get changed and ready as I knew what I was supposed to be doing.  At lunch, I deliberately sat far away when I noticed his buddy elbow him and gesture at me which made me immediately think "Are we in high school?".  He did come over and asked me how my morning went and if I was staying overnight and that he'll see me later.  There was nothing inappropriate there and he did eventually figure it out the following day.  When I told D after the first night, his reaction was "Are you Not wearing your ring???!!!", "What is it with those Toronto guys?!" and "I am going to get a T-shirt made for you that says 'Ask me about my Husband'...".  
  • All this solo traveling and observing has made me aware of how easy it is to get swept up in all of it.  I never had the experience of backpacking through SE Asia, Europe or South America and getting involved in the culture that comes with hosteling.  I can see just how intense it can be emotionally and how the set up of limited time in places and nothing to really worry about outside of finding places to go, eat and party at, can be conducive to frequent hookups.  I'm part of a Sorority so I'm no stranger to partying etc.  But to be thousands of miles away from home for a longish period of time...That's much different.  Couldn't help but think of how I would feel as a parent knowing my teenage or 20s daughter was embarking on such an adventure.  Would hope that she would have grown to be strong enough in her Self to make sound judgements.  Even though I am quite independent and would want them to be as well, I think it would be tough to let go having a tiny idea of what they would be walking into. 


  1. Sometimes the people you meet along the way can be half the fun. I'm always amazed how many people travel with their headphones on, not making eye contact, and just zoned out in their own little world. They don't realize what they are missing.

    1. Agreed. Although I too, have been that person zoned out with headphones on. Sometimes I do need to insulate myself from the world for a bit. However, I am attracted by certain peoples' energies and will sense it enough to stop, look up when I'm in the presence of someone who is calm, grounded, peaceful, vibrant, sharp.