LOST & LONELY IN LAOS
Tasmin Waby Destination editor for Australia and the Pacific @aladyonaboat
While travelling 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 realised the nearest accommodation was 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 pitch black 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 towards 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 relieved by the kindness of this stranger that I actually started laughing out loud, then he did too. When he got me to a hostel, he banged on the door until someone came out. It was a small gesture, but the lesson has stayed with me on my travels since then. And every time I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve done the same for other lost travellers – paying it forward.