“No one is ever really a stranger. We cling to the belief that we share nothing with certain people. It’s rubbish. We have almost everything in common with everyone.”
She walked through the door of the information centre on an ordinary Friday.
“Hello, can you tell me where I could get some good food?”she asked. “I feel like a burger and chips.”she said.
“Well Im afraid the Train Cafe has closed down but you could try the Pub at the end of the street.” I said.
She then went on to ask me if a bus stopped here that could take her all the way to Melbourne (around 600km away). And would they take her bike on board?
When I rang the bus company they told me they had stopped running that service. But she could get a bus, then a train if she went to the next town.
The local bus wasn’t coming for hours, I could see the frustration on her pretty young face.
Remembering my backpacking days on a shoestring budget. I decided to help. My volunteer shift was about to finish at the information centre.
“How about I take you and your bike to the next town, I have to go there anyway.” I said. Her face lit up, that is all I needed. I could see the relief and understood it well enough.
“My name is Hani.”she said.
In one car trip into town. I learned many things about Hani. She was 25, had studied chemistry and computer science. Her biggest shock about Australia was how expensive the food is. I agreed it does indeed soak up much of your holiday monies.
Hani arrived in Brisbane with her bike. Riding some of the way and catching trains and buses down the Australian coast (No small feat). I learned she had been couch surfing (https://www.couchsurfing.com). Something they never had when I was travelling. Yet if she did not have somewhere lined up to stay, she camped out under the stars. There are many free camping sites for the braver traveler. I know I could not have done this, especially on my own. I told her to be careful camping out in the bush alone. It wasn’t the snakes and spiders I worried about.
The kids thought it a big treat taking Hani into town. Especially when we made a stop at the golden Arches for the long over due burger.
My daughter has a fascination with Chinese language. To her, someone from South Korea was just as interesting. We drove to the hostel. My standards had risen over the years on accommodation. To me this hostel looked a bit shady. Hani said it would be fine. I gave her my number and told her to call me if she felt unsafe.
We decided to meet for lunch. An Aussie beach day with fish and chips on the Sunday. The kids grinned from ear to ear when Hani met them holding two giant size boxes of chocolates.
The spring weather did not disappoint. I saw a little of my young self in Hani. I felt like we had met before, she talked with the kids and played in the surf alongside my daughter and our friends. I smiled watching them. Such a beautiful sunny spring day enhanced by a stranger.
It’s funny how a total stranger can feel like an old friend. Hani you are an amazing, intelligent young women. I wish you much joy in your life, no matter where you travel. You touched our lives with your smile and sense of humour.
We will treasure our special day at Tathra beach. With one hundred and one seagulls, fighting for our lunch and a happy backpacker named Hani.
No one is ever really a stranger if you just give them some of your time.
Hani sent me a message from Melbourne. She said when she arrives back home in Seoul she will pass on our kindness to another traveller. I hope she does.
I have met many strangers through my blogging and like my experience with Hani I feel very blessed.