Hello, Bonjour, Hola, G’Day, Hallo, kia Ora, Privet, Moin Moin, Shalom, Aloha…
A simple Hello begins the greeting. It starts the connection. It leads to all possibilities.
It’s this word that has created so many adventures for me during my travels. It’s the word that breaks the silence and acknowledges someone else. It forms the possibility for the next word or the next sentence. It begins the path to endless possibilities.
Below is a story of an adventure that started with a simple “hello”.
I was in Bali, Indonesia. I had just arrived in a cozy place called Ubud. Ubud is quite popular as it’s known to be an artsy community, somewhat quiet and laid-back, and it also had something I really wanted to see; the monkey forest. After being dropped off by the bus, I immediately walked around the streets looking for a cheap place to lay my head and most importantly, lay my bag. As I walked down the main strip, a young Indonesian guy told me he had a room to show me. I followed him down a tight little alley (not as scary as it sounds) which brought me to a little bed and breakfast. He showed me the room which ended up being quite nice, included breakfast, and was just $9/night. I took it.
After taking the evil bag off my back, I went for a little stroll. As I walked down the tight little alley way to get to the main street, I saw a couple walking towards me. Rather than shy away, I said Hello and they greeted me back. I then asked how they were doing and where they were from. They told me that they were from Germany and were doing a 6 month trip across SE Asia as part of a honeymoon. After some short chit chat, They asked me if I wanted to rent some bikes with them the next day and peddle ourselves around the countryside. They had planned on getting a van to take us to the top of a hill that overlooked the volcanoes, would drop us off, and we would bike back. I told them I really wanted to try the world’s most expensive coffee and they told me there was a plantation along the way. This sounded like a cool adventure so I agreed and met them the next day. We packed up our cheap little bikes into the back of a van and got a lift to the top of this hill. We then peddled down, occasionally stopping to have a look at the breathtaking scenery, visits from Indonesia children, and the occasional painter who tried to sell us his artwork.
Eventually we stumbled upon a small little farm and decided to have a look. A man came out of his house and greeted us very enthusiastically and began to show us around his little farm. By little, I mean he had 1 pig, a couple roosters, some cocoa plants, and a few other vegetables. At the end, I decided to support his business and bought some pure Indonesian Cocoa to take home with me. I also bought some dry tea. The cocoa was awesome.
Next, we arrived at a more popular coffee plantation where they make the most expensive coffee in the world. We toured around and looked at the special cats who eat coffee beans, shit them out, and are then turned into the most expensive coffee in the world. Yes, that’s right, it’s cat shit coffee. Better known as Luwak coffee. At roughly $1800 usd/pound, I was happy to pay the measly $2 they asked for a cup of the specialty coffee. I’m not a coffee connoisseur by any means so I can’t offer you much insight other than that I found it a little strong but not to bad. The rest of the “regular” coffee they harvested was free to try as well as some pure tobacco. I’m not a smoker but I gave it a try. It was better than the toxic stuff sold on the shelves. Still not my thing.
I bought a small bag of tobacco to bring home as a gift for some friends since it was the only thing I could afford. We jumped back on our bikes and headed home. Everything was going well until the German lady hit a minor speed bump and was thrown from her bike. This immediately stopped us in our tracks and halted nearby traffic. Her head began to pour blood down her face and her hand didn’t look so good either. Her husband started giving me orders and then realized he was saying them in German. He just wanted some tissues from her bag to clean up the blood. I handed him the tissues and a car stopped with a young Indonesian family who offered them a ride to the hospital. We left their bikes at the house near the accident, they jumped in the van, and I began my own solo journey back to Ubud.
I was completely lost and surrounded by people who don’t speak english. Luckily, I kind of knew how to say Ubud to people who would then point in the direction that I should go. A couple hours later and just shy of darkness, I found my way back to my little hotel.
That night, I ran into the german couple again (who were staying a few feet away from me) and went to dinner with them. The fall had given her a gash on the forehead and two broken fingers but other than that she was fine. It cost something like $300 for everything. Not bad! We laughed about it, ate some food, and caught a bus back to Kuta the next day.
Sounds like a fun and interesting adventure right?
It all started by saying hello to two people as they were about to walk past me. that’s it. The rest as they say, is history.
Whether your about to embark on your own solo journey or just looking to open up a little more to random people, start practicing now.
Next time you’re in an elevator with someone, say hello.
When you sit by someone on the bus, say hello.
When you arrive at a hostel in another country, say hello to everyone you see.
You never know what will come out of it. It might just be the adventure you were looking for.
Want a quick reference for different ways to say Hello in other languages? Check this out.
Awesome story Matt! As an introvert I often ahve diffculty connecting with people but I will admit that when I do it’s always been an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. BTW that kopi luwak is the crappiest coffee I’ve ever wanted a second cup of.
hahah You asked for a second cup? I’ll try again when I come visit you 🙂 haha…I used to always put my head down to rather than start a conversation but traveling opened me up because I was on my own. Had no choice 🙂 It worked!
Stopping by from 20sb.
What an excellent story! I’ve read about that coffee, but somehow can’t imagine trying it. 😀
hahah yes I didn’t really know about it until then. I still don’t understand who ever thought of doing that haah
Awesome story. Sometimes saying hello is all you really need to do in order to get a great adventure going.
Niall Doherty says
Love it. I’ve had some great experiences myself simply by taking a chance and saying hello to strangers. Low risk, high reward.
Thanks for sharing, Matt.
Thanks Niall. Yeah its amazing how solo travel can really open someone up to that. I never thought of myself as someone who would go on “trips” with people I didn’t know but once I started traveling alone, it was either that or be alone. Pretty much every experience turned into an awesome adventure or a great conversation.
wandering educators says
what an amazing story!! i would not have drunk the cat coffee, i think. ugh.
haha. Yeah, thats what my family says to. But I figured if people in the U.S pay $20 per cup, I should try it for $2. I had a great idea for buying a bag and reselling it back home but they already had it marked up. $1500 U.S per pound. In Indonesia!