In a world full of negative media and the tendency for a depressing spiral of doom and gloom to emerge after the Christmas period, it is important to expose yourself to a little positivity every now and again.

If there’s anything that makes us Travelettes feel happier about life, it’s reading about travel. So what better way to spread some cheer than by reading some uplifting short stories about kindness experienced abroad?

Here, 5 bloggers: Myself, Alessa from Alessa’s Discoveries, Emma from Small Footprints Big Adventures, Fatima from Blogs By Fa and Inga from Eccentric Traveler reminisce on the times strangers have shown kindness that have shaped our travels and provided us with memories that we will simply never forget.

We hope that they make you as warm and fuzzy inside as they did for us!

 

Indian Strangers: A Family That I Never Thought I Would Have

    –    by Alessa’s Discoveries

When I decided to book a one-way ticket to India, my emotions were all over the place. I was excited. Terrified. Intrigued. I was going to stay with a girl from India I had met years ago in Italy. But it turned out she wouldn’t be there when my boyfriend and I would come to India. Nevertheless, for her it was crystal clear, we were still going to stay with her family. I was surprised. I never really got to know her during our studies. I hadn’t seen her in 5 years. And now we were going to live with her family who are complete strangers? Little did we know about that wave of kindness that was awaiting us.

We were invited into their house over a bed of roses, through a pathway of candles and welcomed with a dot on our foreheads. From then on, we became part of the family. They cooked us three vegan meals a day, showed us all there is to see in New Delhi and taught us all about their Sikh religion and Indian culture. After 5 incredible days, they waved us goodbye as we were embarking on our own adventure. An adventure that would turn out rather short.

After spending a day at the most beautiful monument I’ve ever seen – the Taj Mahal, I started feeling extremely nauseous. From there, the downwards spiral started. The train to Jaipur on the next day, stopped moving. For 6 hours we were stuck in a hot, smelly compartment. That meant holding whatever was supposed to come out, in. One of the worst travel experiences of my life. When we finally got to Jaipur, I was in no state to get myself anywhere. I dragged myself through the sticky train station. Full of people. Monkeys jumping from one place to another. Other travellers bowing over to let out whatever their stomach didn’t deal well with. Three days of hell in my hotel were about to follow.

The moment my new Indian family found out about this, they reminded me that I can ALWAYS come ‘home’. That ‘my’ bed was always free. After feeling completely overwhelmed with the new culture and the horror my body had gone through, I decided it was a good idea to take up the offer. Worried about not having seen enough of India’s North, the family first nursed me back to health. They then went on a three-day trip with us to the Pakistani border. There they showed us the prestigious Golden Temple, one of the most visited places on earth. They organised for us to stay in a ‘hotel’ dedicated to all the Sikhs visiting the temple. Probably no foreigner EVER set foot in that hotel. It was the most incredible travel experience. All created by 3 strangers that invited us into their home and treated us like their family.

Without them, we would’ve never seen this side of India. A side that is overwhelming, magical and full of kindness.

Follow Alessa’s Discoveries on Instagram

 

A Special Visit to the Hundertwasser House

  – by the Eccentric Traveler

When I visited Vienna last spring with my aunt, I absolutely loved the beautiful architecture and the philosophy behind the Hundertwasser House.

The vision of the artist Hundertwasser was to create a house in harmony between humans and nature. It is a colourful residential house, with a special shape, no straight lines, and over 200 trees on the balconies and terraces.

I had planned to visit “Kunst und Café” coffeehouse on the ground floor. They show a film where Hundertwasser leads you through the inside of the building. But when we arrived, the café was closed. I felt disappointed that I wouldn’t get the chance to see it this time. I told my aunt, “I wish that we meet someone that will invite us inside.” Even though I knew it is very unlikely, I still hoped for it.

After looking around the area, we had become hungry. Not ready to leave this magical area yet, we decided to have dinner at a Terrace café, which is part of the Hundertwasser House. It felt perfect on this warm spring day. The café was not busy, and I started chatting with the waiter. I expressed my amazement with the architecture of this building.  I told him how curious I was to see the inside, and asked if that was possible. He told me that since it is a residential house, it is very rare to get to visit inside. “It is only possible if you know someone that lives there”, he told me smiling.

New guests had arrived and our waiter went to welcome them. He then returned to us and said “well, I actually live in this building. I will finish work in about 30 minutes. If you would like to wait, I can show you a bit inside.” We were delighted. A moment later he gave us a sign to follow him to the entrance. It felt like a dream. Walking up the stairs I admired how colourful it was. At the same time, I was impressed by how many details there were inside as on the outside. He took us to a beautiful roof garden, full of trees and greenery.

This was one of many roof gardens. He took us higher up.  When we entered the top terrace, we were lucky to get a beautiful sunset view over Vienna. We got to visit all the common rooms and the different viewpoints. He told us about the history of the house, and how he is one of the oldest resident living in the building. He emigrated to Austria from Iraq about 25 years ago and felt very happy living in this building.

When we left, we were even more charmed by the Hundertwasser House. We thanked our new friend for taking the time to show us around. We exchanged name cards and told him that we would love to show him a special place in Iceland if he comes and visits. I was on cloud nine on my way back the metro station, extremely thankful for this special experience.

Follow Eccentric Traveler on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtJvZYql4Nz/

 

Making Friends for Life in Chiang Mai

  – by Small Footprints Big Adventures

My family and I travelled through South East Asia for four months a little over a year ago. One of our favourite places was Chiang Mai in Thailand, where we experienced many small acts of kindness. A local teacher struck up a conversation with us as we explored one day, and he was lovely and helpful and friendly. Little things like that still stay with us now.

We found a homestay-type accommodation through AirBnB with a lovely family in Chiang Mai. Jet, Pitcha and their son Shira hosted us for a week in a small townhouse joined to theirs, and we really enjoyed getting to know them. My kids loved playing with Shira too; even though they couldn’t talk together, they still had a great time!

Throughout our stay, Jet and Pitcha were very helpful with recommending places to visit, and dropping us off whenever they could. On our last night, they offered to take us up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a magnificent temple at the top of a mountain. It was amazing to explore the complex, and we were lucky to see the monks perform a short ceremony while we were there. It is also the best place to view Chiang Mai at night, as you can see the whole city’s lights twinkling down below.

Later, Pitcha and Jet took us out for dinner at one of their favourite restaurants, ordered for us and taught us the proper way to eat Northern Thai food. We hadn’t been doing it right, so it was great to learn from them!

And before we left the next morning they also took us to an excellent local market selling food and beautiful clothing. It was packed as the food was amazing: it’s an insider’s secret that we were fortunate to experience.

We have remained friends with Jet and Pitcha and keep in contact online. We hope to see them again one day, either in Australia or back in Thailand. And that week staying with them was a such a lovely week which we’ll always remember. Their friendliness and willingness to go above and beyond simply hosting us enabled us to make a real connection, and have a wonderful time in Chiang Mai.

Follow Small Footprints Big Adventures on Instagram or Facebook

View this post on Instagram

These three had such fun together! Language was no barrier. Shira really loved Dante and wanted to sit with him all the time and keep playing with him all day. Dante and Allegra loved him too! We were sorry to say goodbye. . (First two photos courtesy of Jey Engine) . . . #smallfootprintsbigadventures #worldschooling #letthemplay #travelwithkids #kidswhotravel #familyadventures #familytravelblog #familytravel #familytravelbloggers #worldschooler #worldschooling #kidsplay #boyswillbeboys #kidscanttravel #differentculturesameworld #weareone #humanrace #oneracehuman #oneracehumanrace #nobarriers #learnfromthem #itsakidslife #lpkids #magicofchildhood #kidsknowbest #kidsforreal #simplychildren #sayyestoadventure

A post shared by Sustainable family travel (@smallfootprintsbigadventures) on

 

Birdseye Brasilia

by Travelling Tam

It was 2015 and I was travelling Brazil with a British friend who I had met in Malaysia a few months prior. We decided to stay in a hostel in Rio and this is where we met Souza, a Brazilian man in his 50s who was just about to run a local marathon. We instantly had a connection with him – he was full of childish, life-loving energy and had a great sense of humour.

After his marathon, Souza insisted we come to stay with him in Brasilia with his family. We had no plans, so we said decided to take him up on it. A few days later we booked a flight, not knowing that hanging out with him would provide one of the most incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I’ve ever had.

As we touched down to Brasilia airport, Souza picked us up and told us we were going to his work to meet his colleagues. We were quite surprised as it was late, but we obliged. As he drove us through security barriers and check points, we subsequently found out he was part of the military police as a helicopter engineer. What a cool job! He bought us dinner that we enjoyed with his colleagues, sharing laughter in a slightly incoherent mixture of Portuguese and English. It was such an enjoyable evening but it was far from over – Souza said he had a surprise for us.

Taking us outside, he lead us to the helicopters. Some we sat in and got pictures of, some me admired just from the outside. It was amazing to be in a space where no other tourist would be allowed. We really felt like VIPs!!

Then, Souza passed us headsets and beckoned us to a large helicopter out on the tarmac. Yep, we were taking a ride! Gob-smacked, we jumped in completely ecstatic. We were going to see Brasilia from above by night and for me, fly in a helicopter for the very first time!

Before we knew it, the helicopter lurched up and the world below us disappeared as we shot off into the distance. The motion and shock was making me feel light-headed but I was utterly glued to the windows. We circled the city centre as they pointed out various landmarks and stories of crimes that had been carried out in different places. We circled the world’s largest stadium as they shone the police spotlight so we could see straight into it. We saw the police chase and then arrest a man for stealing a car, an experience that had my heart pounding from start to finish. It did not feel real. Half an hour later, we returned to the base, completely in shock that we had just been allowed to join a helicopter ride with the military police, all purely thanks to their kindness.

The days following we stayed with Souza and his family, joining family gatherings and parties where we were welcomed like their own family. We were taken door to door to places tourists often miss and to restaurants and bars only the locals go. When we departed ways, we couldn’t thank him enough and swore we’d meet again.

Years later when both my friend and I were back in the UK, we got a message from Souza saying he was flying to Germany to run the Iron Man so we instantly booked flights. After all, we owed him for some of our most precious memories of Brazil. Germany won’t be the last meet up either – see you next time Souza!

Follow me, Travelling Tam on Instagram or Twitter

 

The Netherlands: The Country Where I Left My Heart

   – By Blogs by Fa

Soon after getting married and moving to Dubai with my husband, we often used to plan our trips abroad and one of the most memorable ones was our trip to Amsterdam in June 2013. We did see the city on our own the first day, but we also decided to get the tour tickets from a local tour operator and they were absolutely brilliant as we got to see and experience lots of different things just within a day!

During the tour, we visited the Dutch museum, Volendum cheese factory, a local shoe factory and also got to see Merkel through the ferry as well as the amazing windmills and colourful Dutch houses. However, since it was a long day, we had to stop for a lunch break before heading to our next tourist destination. Since our last destination before the break was the Volendum Cheese Factory, we got to taste different varieties of cheese after a short demonstration of how cheese is made and that made us even hungrier! Just opposite the the factory were various ice-cream shops and eateries and so we decided to eat something and sit for some time until our tour resumed.

Since we weren’t aware we’d be stopping for a lunch break, I had kept a couple of tins of tuna and some bread in my backpack to prepare a quick sandwich for the time when hunger strikes. Soon after finding ourselves a bench near the river, my husband and I took out our lunch and after struggling to open the tin of tuna for some good 5 minutes, a very sweet local lady sitting just opposite our bench, who was enjoying a hot drink with her partner, came to us and opened the tin for us just within seconds. I believe she had been observing us since the time we started our unsuccessful venture of opening the tin, but this gesture of kindness we experienced from a local while in Amsterdam not just made memorable, but it also left a very positive impact of the country and the people on our minds.

Follow Blogs by Fa on InstagramFacebook or Twitter 

https://www.instagram.com/p/-RbMlQE_QQ/

What has been your most memorable gesture of kindness experience on your travels?