probably due to the continent’s key religious based principle of karma, throughout our travels in asia we never felt unsafe, scammed or threatened (well, except for a couple times in india when dozens of men would surround me in an instant – but other than that, never). in fact, it was quite the opposite. on a daily basis, we found ourselves on both ends of the good karma principle.
the karma concept is simple: the intent and actions of a person influence the future of that individual. good intent and deeds contribute to good fortune and future happiness; whereas bad intent or doing bad deeds will result in suffering.
every day we were assisted by locals and other travelers who didn’t have any obligation to help us – but did. perhaps it was because of the countless times danny pulled over to help struggling motorbikers, me helping a mom on a ferry who was struggling to shade her baby while carrying groceries or us randomly picking up the bar tab for fellow travelers… we’ll never really know. but i’m gonna believe those karma points had something to do with our longterm safety and regular support from complete strangers.
we kept note of some of those small, random encounters that felt huge in real time. the doers may not even remember these moments, but that’s what makes them even sweeter. these “insignificant” acts were done by people without wanting personal gain – the ultimate in the karma code. and unbeknownst to them, they left us with a lasting positive impression of their country, culture, travel and humanity’s inherent good.
+ the women at the photocopy store in vientiane, laos who called the indian embassay to get directions & attempt to translate details for us. and then she realized we were really up against a tough deadline and gave us our color photo copies for free — and wished us luck.
+ our guesthouse owner in sapa, vietnam who could tell danny wasn’t feeling well and personally walked us to a local pharmacy to translate and make sure danny got the necessary medicine at a fair price.
+ the chinese woman on our overnight train in india who saw me fumbling with my sleep sack and blanket and proceeded to tuck me into my bunk.
+ the old thai woman who smiled and shared her peanuts with us during the long ferry ride to koh jum island.
+ the australian guy who sensed our tension in the bali airport and checked to make sure we had the exit fee – if not, he had us covered.
+ the cambodian woman who came running into the street with a new plastic bag after ours busted and water bottles went rolling everywhere.
+ the vietnamese women who gave me a little plastic ring for being such a loyal customer.
+ the japanese security guy in the tokyo airport who knew i was way over my liquid limits, but must have realized what a crime it would have been to take away mr. mosquitos 4-oz bug sprays.
+ our tuk tuk driver in phnom penh, cambodia who pulled over to buy us face masks on a particularly windy and dusty day.
+ german jenny from goa, india who shared her rum & coke with us in the india sand dunes at the border of pakistan.
+ the young cousin at our guesthouse in luang prabang, laos who proudly told us of his test scores and dreams of the future. at the end of six days and many conversations, he shook danny’s hand and told d that he’s one of his best friends.
+ the older japanese man who had no idea what we were saying, but gifted danny the hat right off his head when we pointed to it with a thumbs up.
+ the indian woman working at the indigo airline counter in varanasi, india who must have known we needed a boost and despite not paying to reserve seats, she booked us an entire row to ourselves – with a wink.
+ the new zealand couple who went back to their hotel to deliver d anti-vomiting meds after his cooking school debacle.
+ the japanese guy in tokyo who spent 15 minutes with us rushing back between the metro ticket counter and help desk to make sure we got our one-week suica card figured out.
+ the thai woman at dawn of happiness who graciously hemmed a dress for me.
+ the hundreds of locals who smiled, waved, opened doors, helped with directions, recommendations and shared their food & drink.
it’s not a novel statement, but i’m going to reiterate it: regardless of where you are, little things go a long way to unite this world of ours. go do something nice for someone else today. and don’t expect a damn thing in return.