Are random travel experiences dead?
A few weeks ago I read a great article about the death of random travel experiences. Wandering Earl did an incredible job of painting a vivid and realistic picture of a random experience of something that could possibly happen to you if you keep yourself open, flexible and have a willing attitude.
Unfortunately, guided by iPhones and guidebooks, these random travel experiences seem to be dwindling to a halt for many travelers.
So I wanted to share a little random travel experience that was triggered by a lack of planning, an attitude of flexibility and just taking a few steps of curiosity to see what might happen.
A Random Travel Experience in China
I was taking a leisurely bike ride though the gorgeous countryside of Yangshuo, China.
The serene Yulong River wove its way through the rugged karst mountain landscape as rice fields moseyed their way through the gorgeous valley.
That’s when we decided to stop the bikes and take a few photos of a lady who was about to wheel a gargantuan cart of rice in from the field.
We spied on her as she tied down the rice with a small piece of twine.
She smiled at us.
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That’s when the accident happened.
She hit a small bump, and the top heavy cart of rice stalks toppled over to a thump on the ground.
Ok, really about 5 bundles fell off the cart and onto the ground.
She sighed with a little chuckle, indicating that she knew it was about to happen, but was hoping it wouldn’t.
By sheer instinct I rushed over to her and started helping in anyway possible. It took a total of about 1 minute to get her bundles thrown back on top of her giant cart and she re-tied it down with twine.
Her face illuminated with happiness and she started going into an excited frenzy of speaking Chinese at the speed of light.
Neither of us couldn’t understand a thing.
Luckily, she also used some hand gestures – one of those was the universal sign of “come with me.”
We followed for a few hundred meters where she put down her cart and walked us into her home in a tiny rice farming settlement.
The home was a typical Chinese rural style dwelling; The interior of the house appeared unfinished and it was filled with minimal furnishings.
Her mother and a few other family members were relaxing and napping in the house as we walked in. They greeted us cheerfully.
At this point I still didn’t have too much of an idea of what was going to happen, or why she had invited us over to her home.
We took a seat on small wooden stools as she slipped away into the kitchen. She returned with a couple paper cups of water and a colander full of dried peanuts which she motioned for us to eat.
There was also a tray of home drying watermelon seeds that we nibbled on.
She disappeared into the kitchen once again and this time returned with bowls of home-grown rice from the field (in porridge form), a few pieces of cabbage and a small dollop of chili sauce for flavor.
It rice was cold, but it was an unadalterated taste of pure rice, served completely out of the generosity of a random lady.
I got the Mickey Mouse spoon!
We could barely make sense of each other’s words, but some forms of communication are universal.
I slipped outside the front door of the house and as I was peering at the gorgeous scenery she started filling up my camera bag with the rest of the peanuts to take home!
Though I refused, not wanting to take the peanuts from a family that didn’t have a lot – they wouldn’t let me go without them.
Backed by her kind generosity, she insisted.
Random travel experiences are still alive and thriving, we just need to be flexible and let them unravel as they are supposed to!
Have you had any recent random experiences?
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