A common theme I hear from travellers is how busy and stressful travelling can be. It seems we get so caught up in seeing the highlights of the city that we often forget to slow down and enjoy life outside of the ‘top ten’ lists. The following stories are positive encounters with locals that fellow travellers and travel bloggers have had. Hopefully, these travel stories will inspire you to look for different experiences on your next trip – regardless of whether it’s trip abroad or one closer to home!
You never know what adventures something as simple as “hello” will lead to!
Natalie from A Pair Of Traveling Pants / Instagram
While in Vietnam in 2017, my husband and I booked a stay at a guesthouse in the beach town of Nah Trang. We thought we were the only people at this guest house until we met Felix, a German firefighter from Cologne. He was on holiday in Vietnam for a month and the three of us really hit it off, talking for hours and enjoying each other’s company.
We invited Felix to join us while we went to a couple different areas in Vietnam and he came, a great addition. At the end of the trip, Felix invited us to visit him in Cologne, Germany and we took him up on the offer.
I’d never been to Cologne, I’d watched an Anthony Bourdain episode where he gushed over the kölsch beer and schweinshaxe, but that was all I knew.
Felix really pulled out the stops for us. We spent three days in town with him and he drove us out into the countryside to show us the village he’d grown up in. We got a personal tour of the firehouse he works in, including a chance to try on fire suits and get taken up in the cherry picker. He took us to his favorite beer halls and introduced us to his girlfriend, Christine, who was a delight. In the spirit of travel and new friends, we drank and drank our weight in beer.
Thanks to Felix, we got a real insider’s look at Cologne, a place that will always be special for that reason. We’re still friends with him and are currently trying to get him to come visit us in New York City.
Humanitalian from Humanitalian
I will always remember Madagascar as one the best trips I have ever done. For the beautiful beaches of the west coast. For the astonishing Tsingy. For the hundreds of giant baobabs. For the great company of my travel-friend. But also, and probably mostly, for the company of Coco, our local driver.
He picked us up in Tulear and drove all the way north to Antananarivo, following the west coast of Madagascar. Well, he did not reach the capital, but that’s coming later in the story.
I firstly have to commend him for his driving skills. The sandy tracks of that part of the island are very tricky and junctions are very difficult to recognise. It was great to have Coco leading us so that we could spend our time enjoying all the baobabs and the brousse, how the bush is called. But the best thing about Coco was his sweet attempts to make us at ease. With his poor French, he tried to explain us everything about Madagascar and the Malagasy people. And how much he knew. We ended up inviting him for every lunch, on condition that he could take us to have some good local food and we could meet local people. We had many experiences together, including nine tire changes!
One night he made an attempt to let us hook up with some Malagasy girl, thinking it was a good way to thank us! Unfortunately, the time for the goodbye arrived. We were heading to Antananarivo when the last tire broke. As it was getting dark and we had to fly out the day after, he managed to find us another driver. He had to stay with the car and find an accommodation in the village. We left him some money, a torch, a hoodie and a jacket. Once back at home, I managed to call him to say hello and he thanked us so much for all those small gifts that helped him during the night. We are now planning a second trip to Madagascar, this time on the coast south of Tulear. But one thing will remain the same: we will ask Coco to be our driver again!
Lauren from Laurens Travel Diary
I was walking along a beach in central Vietnam. The beach was quiet, the sun hot and half a dozen fishing boats bobbed by the shoreline. As I walked by, a young boy, no more than 12, popped up from sleeping on one of the boats. He seemed startled by me, but smiled and asked if I’d like some fruit. I looked over onto the deck and saw a coconut, some bananas and a pineapple sat on a cloth. It was a hot day and the idea of coconut water and fresh pineapple was appealing to me, so I climbed up onto the boat and helped the boy prepare the fruit.
He told me his name was Long and that he lived nearby but would come out here to his father’s fishing boat when he felt sad. I asked him why he felt sad today, and he answered: “my mother is angry at me for breaking a bowl.” After we’d enjoyed the fruit, I asked Long if he’d like to come to the market with me. He said he would, and so we headed to look around some of the handicrafts, where, after a while, he exclaimed: “the bowl is just like my mother’s!” I smiled at him and purchased the bowl from the woman.
I’d never seen such joy in someone’s eyes – I hope his mother was delighted when he arrived home with the bowl.
Seema from Mildly Indian
Our trip to Vietnam was a well researched one. We had a clear outline of where we wanted to go. But, somewhere along the lines, we forgot that we need to learn how to ask for vegetarian food. with the places we planned a bit way out into the villages, it was indeed quite a strain to look for a decent meal.
The back and forth trying to find something vegetarian to eat left us with a mountain of unknown leaves alone for a couple of days. Then slowly it was getting nagging as we needed to eat.
This particular day we were on a trip to explore the river caves. We were on a local bus and got off at the boating spot. As we were rowing along, our stomachs growling and we were discussing the ordeal fo finding food again. The boat lady who listening to the whole chatter and telling us to “duck” when the caves were low, suddenly said “chai”
Now, what was that?? A chai latte in the middle of the dark cave or did she want some tips for tea!!!
As we got down and tipped her. She vigorously showed eating action and said “Chai!! chai!!” again. We thanked her as we understood it was something to do with eating….and move on to find a place to eat. We decided to try our luck and said “Chai” as we were ushered in. A quick exchange of words between the ushers and they cleared a long table for us and signalled us to be seated. Then one of them came and called us… We followed a bit scared as we didn’t know what mystery we were heading to. A small room to the corner of the buffet hall was quickly opened they said “Full chai!”
We entered and gingerly opened the bowls set on the table.
Our eyes rolled out to see the array of vegetarian dishes, stirfry rice, tofu of 5 to 7 types, a myriad array of veggies. We felt like we were mythological “Bagasura”, the feasting demon. We didn’t mind missing our immediate bus. We were so thankful to see some wonderful food.
We thank the boat lady every time we mention Vietnam and spread the word “Chai” all along. Hope you have some wonderful interactions along with your travels too. It makes them not only memorable but humbling to know people all around are lovely and compassionate.
I hope you enjoyed this collection of travel stories from around the world. If you did enjoy them, I hope you will take a look at their websites for more great stories and travel information.
If you have a story that you would like to contribute please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org