LOST & LONELY IN LAOS

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Journal - Tas­min Waby Des­ti­na­tion edi­tor for Aus­tralia and the Pa­cific @Trav­el­lingTaz

While trav­el­ing alone in Laos, I caught a mid­day bus head­ing south from the cap­i­tal Vi­en­tiane to the lesser-vis­ited city of Sa­van­nakhet. Un­for­tu­nately, the bus dropped me out­side of town in the mid­dle of the night. No one was around. I checked my map and re­al­ized the near­est ac­com­mo­da­tions were at least a mile away, so I put my back­pack on and headed east.

Street­lights are a rare treat in this part of the world and I quickly found my­self wan­der­ing down a dark sub­ur­ban road. The ter­ri­fy­ing barks of guard dogs drowned out the crick­ets that had been keep­ing my spir­its up and it wasn’t long be­fore tears were stream­ing down my face as I con­tem­plated sleep­ing in a ditch for the night.

Sud­denly, I heard the whine of a scooter com­ing straight to­ward me. I couldn’t see the rider but I ran out and flagged him down. A young man, prob­a­bly about 16 years old, pulled over look­ing very con­fused by the sight of a chubby white girl cry­ing in the mid­dle of nowhere.

I showed him my map and mo­tioned that I needed a bed. He put me on the back of his bike and we sped into town through the warm night air. I was so ut­terly relieved by the kind­ness of this stranger that I ac­tu­ally started laugh­ing out loud. And then he did too.

When he got me to a hos­tel, he banged on the door un­til some­one came out to let me in. It was a small gesture, but the les­son has stayed with me on all my trav­els since then. And every time I’ve had the op­por­tu­nity, I have done the same for other lost trav­el­ers – pay­ing it for­ward.

“Tears were stream­ing down my face as I con­tem­plated sleep­ing in a ditch for the night.”

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