An Ode to the People I Have Met Travelling
I see quite a lot of these kinds of posts and I planned to do something a little different. I was just going to write a dispassionate list of all the people I have met travelling. I thought it’d be funny but then I realised A.) It would be incredibly boring to write, let alone read and B.) I can’t really remember people’s names, so the list would be like this: Guy with weird hat, nice Canadian couple, old guy who hung out at the hostel all the time in Kuching. It also seems a bit weird to write about people you keep in touch with on Facebook etc so I thought I’d write about some of the interesting locals I’ve met along the way.
The Captain’s daughter
I’ve never seen a kid work so hard. I was on a trip to Inle Lake in Burma, on a boat that took on a lot of water. The Captain’s daughter, who looked about 5 years old, was charged with constantly bailing it out and I’m glad she was there. She was on her school holidays and her Dad always took her on the boat trips when she was free. She had a lot of fun and I remember thinking what a great life she must have. She didn’t speak English at all but she loved interacting with the tourists on the boat, and she seemed to know all the local workers at the stops along the way. She wore what looked like a wedding dress and it was a really weird site seeing this immaculately dressed little kid sitting at the back of an old boat scooping out water with a dirty bucket.
This guy is a born salesman. He ran a fish spa business in Siem Reap, Cambodia, but I’m sure he will be rich one day. He asked the familiar question: Where are you from? He then proceeded to rattle off more New Zealand pop-culture references than I had heard of (there was one about blowing on a pie…) and his English was almost perfect. I paid $3 for the fish spa, which included a free beer, and had a great conversation about life in Siem Reap. His dream is to eventually own his own fish spa business and then move on to bigger and better things. There seems to be a lot of desperation about sellers in this part of the world. They’ll bug you and hassle you for that extra dollar or just be so insincere and annoying that people end up having to be rude to them. John Fishman wasn’t like that at all. While I was having the fish massage he would try and get people passing by to come over, often rattling off a few lines in their language and having a bit of a joke, but never pushy or annoying. There must be huge opportunities in developing countries like Cambodia to make money and move up in the world and I’m sure this guy will do just that.
A man named Boner
Apparently it’s his real name! He was kind of dating an Irish girl I got talking to in a hostel in Phnom Pehn, and so we all went out drinking and eating a few times. A couple of days later he took us, and another Irish guy, to a guesthouse his friend had just opened in Sihnoukville. It was the last guesthouse on Otres Beach, which is the furthest beach from town, and it was such a peaceful and relaxing place. He was a tuk-tuk driver and up until then I’d been very weary of them; they always seemed keen to rip people off and were just insistent and annoying, but Boner was one of the good ones.
The kid who tried to scam me
I had just finished visiting a temple outside of Mandalay, Burma. I stepped outside to collect my shoes but they were gone, replaced by a little kid shouting at me in Burmese. He had moved my shoes and offered me the kind service of bringing them back to me if I gave him a dollar. That wasn’t going to happen, so I walked over and got them myself. Some of his friends appeared and they just sat down around me. Maybe they sensed I quite like kids (and I didn’t get too angry when he tried to scam me), so when they saw my camera they decided to give up the scam and take some photos. They had a great time taking photos of each other and didn’t once mention money again. It’s sometimes easy to forget that children who try to sell you things, scam you or just beg (it happens a lot in Southeast Asia) are just kids and they are much more interested in having a bit of fun than money.
There are plenty more interesting locals I’ve met along the way. It’s great meeting other travellers but you really get a sense of the spirit of a country when you hang out with the locals.
Who are some of the interesting locals you have met travelling? Let me know!
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