No Ordinary Stranger

“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.”

Mark Haddon

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 ( 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.

IMG_0580 (copy)

I have met many strangers through my blogging and like my experience with Hani I feel very blessed.

About Minuscule Moments

Everybody has a DREAM. Today is the first day of the rest of my writing life. Its a lonely world out there when you are learning the craft. This year, as the same as last year, I want to finish my first children's picture book. I have learn't many wonderful lessons on this journey. You are never too old to learn.
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83 Responses to No Ordinary Stranger

  1. My guess is that Hani feels just as blessed to have encountered you and your family, Kath – what a lovely exchange you both had! I probably wasn’t the only one that wrapped up the story with a smile on my face!

  2. Sherri says:

    Oh Kath, I just read Shel’s comment above, and totally agree with all she says, you blessed one another greatly. Such encounters are what makes life so wonderful when we grasp such moments for all they are worth, as we never know when they will come again. The warmth in your heart extends to many, and we extend it right back to you. And Hani too 🙂

  3. Your post made me smile, Kath! 🙂

  4. roweeee says:

    I met and stayed with locals when I was backpacking in 1992 and it changed my holiday so much and being inside real local houses was like winning Charlie’s Golden Ticket. You can travel through a place but when you meet the locals, you experience so much more. When you are stuck, lost or in some kind of a pickle as a traveller and someone helps you, you never forget. I always get excited to meet travellers now as I can’t travel and it’s a pleasure to have people come to me.
    By the way. your daughter sounds so much like mine. Miss is studying Japan at school at the moment and loves sushi and tells me bits and pieces about Japan. The kids are away at a scout camp this weekend but when she gets back I’m going to put her only a blogger I found called Alex Hurst. Here’s a link to her guest posts and you can find more through there xx Rowena

  5. kayesims says:

    Good for you, Kath!!! I love this story.

  6. I feel the same way! What a nice story and now I know your name is Kath!

  7. What a lovely encounter, Kath! Sounds like you had a great time and learned much from one another.

    You know I feel the same way about the incredible people I’ve met through blogging (ahem, like you). I always feel like I’m hanging out with close friends around here. So neat! 🙂

  8. Aquileana says:

    Lovely story and I also have had similar feelings as to extraordinary strangers that might come across us at times…. cheers to Hani… I really liked your words and your thoughts reached me at once… thanks so much, dear Kath… sending love and best wishes. Aquileana 🐼

  9. Desi Clown says:

    I was smiling the entire time while reading your post! 🙂 That’s an amazingly kind gesture you had the courage of showing… I say ‘courage’ because most others would let small little ‘buts’ stop them from helping someone else out. I bet she felt some sort of connection with you too, hence readily agreed to accept your offer (My Hindu mind is screaming “Past life connection” right now :-p haha!) Glad you made a wonderful friend.

  10. Sara says:

    Wow, what a great story! I admire Hani for her courage to explore and I admire you to help her along the way. You’ve enriched each others lives and mine too – I have a little bit more faith in humanity, which I need desperately. Thanks for sharing this and making such a difference.

  11. Sheila says:

    Such a wonderful story and so true – we need to open up our hearts more to those who cross our paths. Too often we don’t stop and take the time to do things like this and then we’re missing out on so much. I love your picture with Hani – you both look so happy to have found each other!

  12. A truly inspirational post!

    What jumped out at me is this wonderful line you have penned, and I quote,

    “…No one is ever really a stranger if you just give them some of your time…..”

    So what is it really that stops us from ‘giving some of our time’ to a stranger?

    Is it a preoccupation with that ‘Me- Mine- Self” entity and all that it signifies…. and the need to protect that……. and somehow the belief engaging with a stranger might effect that?

    Or is it a” We versus Them” stereotypical perspective that we carry…… so the stranger out there, who is not a ‘We’ is always dangerous?


  13. I know you feel you received as much as you gave (or more) but I’m going to preempt you by disagreeing. What a wonderful story, K. You gave her the few resources you could, which were no small gifts. They only amounted to time. You also chose to sEE her on her vulnerable journey. You and the kids certainly touched her that she decided she must pay it forward.

  14. cjm76 says:

    Your kindness is extraordinary, Kath. Bless your heart ❤️

    • Not sure about kindness Carly I just put myself in her shoes remembering my travelling days on a budget or imagined my daughter travelling at that age. We meet some amazing people when we give them the time of day. Thanks for stopping by and congrats on your poem being published.

      • cjm76 says:

        Definitely kindness, Kath 🙏 So true that we have beautiful experiences with people when we engage with a smile or a few words. Some of my most meaningful exchanges have been with strangers XO

  15. Sue Slaght says:

    I love this story and want to hug you right through the screen. I admire Hani’s bravery or possibly my Mother cat instincts are revving up, one or the other. At any rate wonderful of you to show her such kindness. We have found in our travels that people, from so many countries, have been so very helpful.

  16. misifusa says:

    Oh Kath, I loved this story. What a blessing for both of you and for your children as well! I love when we connect with others in special ways. xo

  17. GirlAstray says:

    1. I like the quote.
    2. I love hitchhiking and you are like a perfect dream ride! Thumbs up! 🙂

  18. Dalo 2013 says:

    This post is a tribute to a great spirit, both yours and Hani. I do not know which one of you I admire more 🙂 The fearlessness of Hani going out on such an adventure solo ~ or the great opening of your heart/life with Hani and making what could have been a very frustrating day/event into something that is not just memorable but probably will affect Hani in a positive way throughout her own life (not to mention the great fun & example you made with your kids). Beautiful post Kath and wishing you a great week ahead.

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