Journey to France: Day 34

A brief summary of the day before we arrived in Bandung. We were in Yogyakarta and started to find a car to hitchhike to Bandung. This was probably the first difficulty we had experienced yet. No one would stop for us, we were in a the middle of a city, it was 10kms to walk out of the city centre and 30kms to get out to the main road that would lead to Bandung. Either way it was nearly unwalkable with our backpacks and the heat. We moved from one Street to another, holding our sign the whole time and still no one stopped for us.

It was about to start raining and Clem and I were getting agitated with each other. It didn’t seem like the day was going to go well at all. It didn’t seem like we would get to Bandung.

Just as we were about to put our sign down and try to walk further out of the city, when a man in a red shirt approached us. His English wasn’t very solid so I translated. He said he saw us nearly 20 minutes or so a go on a different Street. He saw we didn’t get far and he happened to pass us again after he picked his daughters up from school.

“I want to help you”, he said. He offered to buy us train tickets to Bandung. At first we politely declined. We couldn’t accept it. And then he said we had two choices, either he takes us to a train station and buys us tickets, or he gives us money and leaves us where we were.

Neither was an option we wanted to take from a stranger. It was much too kind! It was unbelievable! Not too long ago, a lady picked us up just outside Solo. She bought us coconuts and coffee. She was meant to drop us off as far as her journey allowed, so we could continue hitchhiking to Yogyakarta. Suddenly she turned around and said she wanted to take us to a bus station instead, and to pay for our bus tickets too which she did.

In this scenario we didn’t want to take money from this really kind hearted man. So we agreed to be taken to a station. We took photos with his really sweet daughters, both gave us keychains that they had for a long time. It wasn’t a special present of any sort but just like their father’s example they wanted to give us something too. They even wrote us a little note to carry with us on our journey.

Henry bought us our tickets and took us to the train station. When he dropped us off he had some notes in his hand. He took Clément’s hand and pushed the notes into his hand. Clem said we couldn’t accept this, I mean he paid for our train tickets already. But Henry would not take no for an answer and pushed the notes into Clément hand again.

We got out of the car and kissed them goodbye. We looked at the notes he gave us. It was 100,000IDR. It made Clem feel guilty for taking that money. But that’s what kindness is isn’t it? It doesn’t stop with just one person, it is to be paid forward without the expectation of paying it forward. It must have made Henry and his family feel good to have helped us.

We would have done the same for someone else in our situation if we had the leverage to.

Today as we were lying on the floor of a Mosque in between the wedding, Clément turned to me and said the way we travelled was much better than how he previously had travelled. I asked him why he said that? We couldn’t afford accommodation and we had to also count our micro-cents each time we had to buy food, we didn’t even buy the train tickets initially as we didn’t want to spend the money in case we needed it for our travels.

He pressed his forehead close to mine and said it was because this way we met people. This way we saw more places that we wouldn’t have heard of. This way we didn’t just experience places, we really experienced human kindness.

And he was 100% right.

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