When I first told friends and family I would be travelling to Asia alone, most responses were, “Alone? All by your self!” I reassured everyone that there would be other people travelling – I wouldn’t actually be alone. When traveling alone for an extended period of time, I think most people would search for friends during their travels. It sort of feels like kindergarten again when it was as simple as going up to another kid and saying, “Hi, my name is Yana! Do you wanna be friends?” Then you proceed through the introductory questions like, “Where are you from?” “How long have you been travelling for?” “Where are you headed next?” and even asking for travel advice! This conversation track is like the caviar of small talk. How often do you meet someone for the first time and hear their life story in 5 minutes, and then get to hear about all the amazing things they’ve done in the last week. I’ve heard the most unbelievable stories on my travels, and every place someone describes makes me want to visit.
The sad thing is that everyone comes and goes. You may only be with someone for a day until they move on to their next destination. If you’re lucky, you will really click and change your plans to go travelling with them! Even in this short amount of time, it is shocking how deep these friendships can run. You find yourself talking to complete strangers about things you haven’t even told your best friends. Sometimes I feel like I know more about this stranger I just met than some of my friends or acquaintances back home. The best part is that for every person you meet, you not only learn something new and gain perspective, but also earn another couch to surf across the world and a mate to get coffee with on your travels. Of course not every friend is as great as the next, but I have met a handful of people who I hope I will stay friends with for a long time.
I think that making friends with way can often appear insincere from an outsiders perspective, however I think it is just the opposite. From the outside, it appears that two strangers talk for a day and maybe go out to lunch and at the end of the chat they add each other on Facebook, never to meet again. On the contrary, It is completely your choice whether to get to know this stranger or keep your distance. At home you are often forced to hangout with people you dislike, and cope with coworkers in a civil way. When travelling you know that when people hangout with you they genuinely want to chat with you and get to know you. It appears that these friendships last 24 hours and if your like maybe 48 and then friendships are broken up by distance, however, I truly believe I will be friends with these people for much longer. Each new friend is a new connection, a new travel buddy, and new pin on the map of places to visit. These friends are much more than just strangers, as the sign in the lobby of this hostel says, “There are no strangers, there are just friends you haven’t met yet.”
The friendships I have made abroad, though they are brand new, feel so real and genuine. I am thankful for all the amazing people I have met on my travels. Each one has inspired me in a different way, given me new ideas for travel, and opened new doors I had never thought of before. Thank you to everyone I have met – you will always have a friend in The States!