My 25th birthday was one of the most spontaneous adventures I had. It was the weekend where I headed out to the airport without any idea of where I was going, aside from wanting to go somewhere and discover something! I didn’t invite my boyfriend or any of my friends, this was a trip for me. I was defiant on travelling alone, and decided to head out to Langkawi Island for a solo weekend getaway. The only problem was, I didn’t withdraw cash beforehand and my atm card didn’t work when I got there. Uh oh.
This is one of those moments where you’re glad that you’ve travelled a lot before.
My mind began to think of all the different scenarios of how I’m going to figure this out. Fortunately, I’m on Couchsurfing and had already made a connection. I had just enough credit to make one phone call. Like an angel, my host Pei picked up the phone and said “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine. I’ll come pick you up!”
An energetic, friendly, and witty Malaysian women came to my rescue. I expected her to maybe drop me off at an internet café, where I could sort this out with my banking. She insisted not to waste my time with this. So I believed her, and went with the flow knowing that I’ll be fine.
While I expected to sleep on the floor or couch since I’m a couchsurfer, what I received instead was something unexpected. I stayed at Pei’s second home which she was preparing to make into a spa retreat at the time. She called it Wu Senses, a teak wooden retreat from home. Wu senses, means awakening all five of your senses. It was difficult not to awaken my senses here.
After all, she was a spa consultant in the hospitality industry, and her home was a tranquil dream. I was surrounded by green fields and palm trees all around. I could hear birds chirping. I could smell the floral and earthy scent after a light rain.
She took me out for dinner at her friend’s Italian restaurant. It was a grand opening, and free drinks and pizza was going around the table. I gathered that Langkawi has a fun, retired expat crowd. Many of them owned a yacht, and loved to sail around the islands. They all lived in Langkawi permanently, with 10 years retirement visas granted by Malaysia. What an ideal spot to retire!
Later that night we went clubbing at Sunba Retro Bar and easily gravitated towards the people that were having the most fun: two irish lads. It’s a fact that the Irish know how to party. They were dancing like maniacs on a floor and were having so much fun to a point where they were oblivious to the people that weren’t having fun watching them. Eventually, we all got kicked out of the club.
By then it was midnight and my birthday. I spent the beginning of 25, wrestling a rowdy, drunk irish man (mental age: 6) trying to keep his seatbelt on while we dropped him off at his hotel. Pei I focused on driving, letting the other irish lad in the front seat stick his head stuck out the window like a dog. Moments later, we arrived at the Aseania resort, and dropped them off making sure they got in okay.
Whilst Pei didn’t have to give them a lift home, she did so anyways. She made me realize how lucky I was to have connected with her. This is one of those lessons I am humbled by: The kindness of strangers.
My weekend would have been drastically different without her. What I received from this kind hearted woman moved me to tears. In the end, I was very glad that I didn’t end up spending my birthday alone. What I discovered instead was a reminder that regardless of where I am, I’m never alone, and I don’t need to be. Neither do you. It comforts me knowing there will always be loving people like her in any part of the world making a positive impact on another stranger’s day. That’s what I always realize from travelling. That’s what I will always remember from the kindness of strangers and love from Langkawi.