Bad Drivers, Strangers, Couch Surfing and a Little Bit of Trust

You’ve just got to have a little bit of trust in them.

Trust. It’s a beautiful and daunting concept. Hard to gain, easy to lose – isn’t that how it goes?
But, what about when you travel? Does it become a whole new concept? I think so.
Sometimes, you don’t get a choice… And sometimes, that can work out to be better than you ever imagined.

When it comes to travel, I am constantly reminded to think “You’ve just got to have a little bit of trust in them.”

And it’s true, for the most part. I don’t believe you can travel, if you are not open to trusting others.
Travelling, [especially backpacking], and trusting people work together.

I’m not suggesting you walk blindly into any situation and just hope for the best. Sometimes common sense kicks in, or maybe it’s your gut feeling that guides you, and you can tell wether it’s a situation you’re comfortable in, or if you want to get the fuck out. Sometimes you can just ‘know’ when you don’t need/want to trust, but other times… you just have to.

Like when you get into the back of a taxi, and spend the entire time with your heart beating wildly in your mouth. You don’t have a choice – if you want to cover a distance to get somewhere, then – at some point you’ll have to take transport, and trust someone to get you there safely.

Or when you check yourself into a backpacker dorm, pack your belongings into your locker and your important doccuments into your day pack… You need to be able to trust that as you sleep/shower/eat, your basic belongings ¬†will still all be there when you come back to your room.

What about when you order a meal? Your common sense and gut instinct can help you here to an extent, but other than that – you have to trust what you eat is safe enough to not have you spending the next 4 days with your head in a toilet. As travellers – we all know this is really difficult and not always possible.

And what about people? People can be so hard to trust! How do you trust that overly-smiling tuk tuk driver when he says “yes, yes, very good, very cheap, the cheapest, yes, yes, follow me, come come, I give you so cheap.?
How do you trust that weird guy in your dorm when he asks if he can borrow your lap-top for a little while?
How do you trust a stranger in a foreign country when they say “Of course, I can help, I can guide you…”
How do you trust someone who you’ve never met before, and known only for a few short minutes, with your life?
I’ve been in all of those situations, and sometimes, you just have to trust.

Sad but true, I’ve found that occasionally when people offer me something generously in a foreign country – somewhere in the back of my mind, I wonder why they would be so generous. It’s terrible to admit, but sometimes that little part of my brain telling me to be cautious starts buzzing, alerting me to the idea that “it’s too good to be true”. Is it the same for you? Sometimes, because of this, I am reminded to trust – becuase not every person is trying to take advantage of me in some way.

What about Couchsurfing? Have you ever tried that?…
Jake and I plan to couch surf in every country we visit during our trip – we’d like to do a lot of it. Not for the “saving money” side of it at all – our reason for couch surfing is to meet locals, and see a country as a traveller, rather than a tourist. Couchsurfing can help us to do that…

But, how do you trust someone you’ve never met, and agree to stay in their home, travel with them, eat with them…? There are no lockers there for your pack, no locks on your bedroom door, and you have no idea who these people are…
Yet, you click a few buttons and type a few lines, swap a few e-mails and there you go – you’ve got somewhere to stay and the possibility of a great new friendship. What a foreign concept to me, what a great one at that! You push aside all those “stranger danger” and “online safety” alarm bells ringing in your head, after years of being taught that in school, from your parents, and through the media.

Couch surfing is built on trust. Trusting your instincts, and trusting others… Thinking of strangers as friends you just haven’t met yet… And I like the concept. A lot.
There are some not so nice people in the world, true, but I think there are a lot more, a LOT more good people out there. And I want to meet some of them.
We’ve already got some couch surfing opportunities lined up, and we hope they work out for the best…

I like how travel pushes people to trust, more so than they might usually. It’s a hard concept to get my head around, but I appreciate it.
We can’t wait to travel; we can’t wait for those dingy hostels and bumpy bus rides. We can’t wait for those people we are going to meet – where ever you are. We can’t wait for our new friends, and those couches we are going to sleep on.
We’re excited to experience travel, and life, and trust is simply part of it all.

So we’re going travelling with open hearts and big smiles, and we look forward to meeting you somewhere Asia!

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Incredible, Exciting, Overwhelming, Terrifying India

India.

It’s a place I often try to imagine, but I doubt very much my imagination will prepare me for what India will throw at us in reality.

The thought of India is overwhelming for me – so much comes to mind. Where do I start?

India seems tantalising on every sensory level. It’s enticing and repulsive at the same time, and just so endlessly fascinating for me… I imagine exotic markets and bazars selling everything and anything, goats and cows wandering through busy alleyways, pots of spices, noise and beeping horns, lethal traffic and jaw-droppin architecture, bare feet and sweating skin, the smell of foods, spices and chai mixes with offensive and pungent scents, smoke and insence, light, smells, and oh so much colour…

India does so much for me, without even so much as stepping into the country. It feeds my thoughts with colour and light and life and sound, and it fills my nostrils with scents and smells; burning insence and the smells of smoke, curry and chillies. It delights my tastebuds with new culinary discoveries, and sets my mouth on fire with spices. It surrounds me with millions of people, and takes my breath away with its beauty and spirituality. It humbles me and challenges my perspectives, and it changes my view of the world…

It also terrifies me.

The idea of travelling in India is overwhelmingly frightening. With all that colour and light, people and smiles, beauty and grace, sounds and smells…there is an unknown that scares me.

I worry about our travels there; our safety and our health…I worry about our security, transport, and how we can keep our health Dheli-belly free…

We plan on being in India for three months; almost half of our travels will be in the one country. We want to see as much as we can – see the diversity of the land, and what each part has to offer. We want to see the different natural landscapes, and taste the different styles of food in the South and the North. We want to experience the different weather conditions, the different people, the cities and the towns… We want to experience India; not just tourist India, but real India.

Jake and I are scared about India, yes; no doubts. But also so unbelievably excited. We look forward to everything; this whole new world – the good, the not so good, the challenges, and sometimes…even the frightening. We’ll go with open minds and open hearts, and hopefully leave with them full. I guess thats what travel is about… and why I love it so much.

We’re not quite ready yet, but with a little bit of planning and more research, I think we’ll be almost as ready as you can be for India…

And if not… then at least we’ve got 3 weeks in Sri Lanka before hand to ‘warm us up.’

What are your thoughts on India?