Trouble on the Road

We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

This month’s story has come from Deborah Provenzale who takes us to Thailand.
Over to Deborah Provenzale.
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13 km outside of ban rak thai
13 km outside of Ban Rak Thai

It might seem scary or intimidating to travel to far off places and interact with total strangers. They likely won’t speak the same language or share the same beliefs and perspectives. However, with all the places I’ve traveled, all the cultures I’ve experienced, and all the people I’ve met, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is this: People are people wherever you go. I’ve found this to be especially true in times of need.

One particular case was when I was traveling in Thailand for the first time in 2014. My female friend and I had spent a couple days in Chiang Mai, where we rented scooters for a 5-day road trip on the Mae Hong Son Loop. The 1,000 km loop is known for its scenic roads through the mountains of northern Thailand. However, what really makes it famous is the 1,864 curves along the steep mountain course that climb to a height of 2,500 m above sea level. Definitely not a place you want to have scooter trouble on the road.

Top of the pass where we broke down
Top of the pass where we broke down

Unfortunately, that’s just what we had. Although everything was fine on flat roads, I quickly realized that my scooter had an issue that prevented me from going more than 40 kph up hills, and we hadn’t even started up the big hills yet. We spent most of the 2nd day of our trip waiting for my scooter in the repair shop.

After lunch on the 2nd day, we continued on our way, assured that the problem was fixed. It wasn’t, but it turned out to be a minor inconvenience compared to the problem my friend’s scooter started having. Every time we stopped to take photos, if we turned off our scooters, hers was reluctant to start again, At first, it didn’t seem like such a big problem, because she was able to always get it started again after several tries. However, by the 3rd day, it was so bad that my friend didn’t want to turn off her scooter when we stopped in case it didn’t start again.

Stranded in the Middle of Nowhere

Then, the dreaded thing happened. We had just climbed a particularly steep mountain and were at the peak when my friend’s scooter completely died. We were on a road taking us to Ban Rak Thai, a remote village on the Thailand/Myanmar border. So we were nowhere near the main Mae Hong Son Loop route. In addition, because we were in such a remote area, we had no cell service… not that we had anyone we could call anyway.

Nothing but 13km of steep winding roads to ban rak thai
Nothing but 13km of steep winding roads to Ban Rak Thai

What’s worse is that the last sign we had seen said we still had 13 km to go to Ban Rak Thai. So there was basically nothing but steep, winding mountain roads between where we were stuck and where we needed to go. As if that weren’t bad enough, it was early evening and the sun was already beginning to set, and we hadn’t seen or passed any cars for kilometers. I’ll go ahead and say it – we were scared.

Our Knights on a Motorcycle

To our great relief, a motorcycle came up the hill from the way we had just come. Riding it were two young military guys wearing camouflage, likely Thai border patrol officers. We waved them down and got them to stop. Then, using sign language and silly sound effects, we tried to explain to them the problem. After several of their own attempts to get the scooter started, they realized our dire situation.

This is what’s really amazing, though. These two guys stayed with us and waited until another car came by. Thankfully, it was a full-size pickup, and the guys got them to stop. Again, we couldn’t communicate with them, so we just stood there looking pathetic while the guys talked to the nice couple in the truck. Then, they did something that completely amazed and humbled us. The three men loaded my friend’s scooter into the back of the truck.

trouble on road our wonderful rescuers loading up the scooter
Our wonderful rescuers loading up the scooter

Humbled by Kindness

The most we had hoped for was that they would maybe just give us a ride to town so we could arrange some way to get the scooter the next day. Instead, the men lifted the heavy 150cc scooter into the truck, got it all secured with cables and bungees, then told my friend to get in the back seat. Then, like a small caravan, we slowly made our way to Ban Rak Thai with the truck in the lead, the military guys in the middle and me following behind. It was a first rate rescue, and their kindness didn’t stop there.

arriving-at-the-local-repair place the family is having dinner in the background
Arriving at the local repair place the family is having dinner in the background

They delivered us directly to a local repair place where, although the man and his family were right in the middle of dinner, he stopped eating immediately and started investigating the problem. While we waited, the man’s family even offered us food if we wanted. Not wanting to impose, we graciously declined, but we were warmed by the kind gesture. In the meantime, the man who drove my friend in the truck went to the hotel nearby, where we had our room reserved, and got us checked in so we would have one less thing to deal with.

There are No Words for True Kindness

In the end, the scooter couldn’t be fixed there. The repair man helped us arrange a truck for the next day to haul both of our scooters (and us) to another town, Pai, where we could exchange them for different scooters. Wasting a day riding in a truck was probably the biggest downer of our trip, but our gratitude for the help we received kept our spirits high.

Overall, this experience just proves that no matter where you are in the world, no matter your different cultures, background, beliefs and even languages, people really are just people. None of us spoke the other’s language, yet we were able to communicate and find meaning at the most basic level – humanity.

waking-up-the-next-morning-feeling thankful to be in a beautiful place with beautiful people
Waking up the next morning feeling thankful to be in a beautiful place with beautiful people

As a gesture of thanks to the man and woman who owned the truck, my friend gave them a beautiful hand-made rug she had bought in the long-neck village where we had stopped earlier that day. No words were necessary. The tears in the woman’s eyes, that reflected the tears of gratitude in our own, said more than any words ever could. This is the true language of kindness.

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Deborah Provenzale is an American expat living in Taiwan since 2011. On her blog, www.101ColoredDoors.com, she shares her adventures in traveling and her experience as an expat with advice and tips for others who want to travel more or also become expats.

Deborah is a certified Lifestyle Coach, helping people have the courage to step out of their comfort zones and try the things they’ve been wanting to do. She believes that it’s never too late to try something new, and that the time to get started is today.

You may want to read some of the earlier posts on the same theme.
Kindness on the Road
Surviving America
Good deed not dead!
Lost and found

If you have been helped by someone during your travels and want to share your story with the world, feel free to connect with me in comments section.

67 thoughts on “Trouble on the Road

  1. That’s a beautiful story Deborah. These are the incidents which make us believe in miracles and that we can find angels on the road too. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks so much, Nisha. Yes, I agree that incidents like these really prove that there are miracles and angels wherever we go. Hopefully it inspires others to have the courage to travel more and not worry too much about all the potential problems. There will always be someone there to help. Good people are everywhere. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful story!! You hear about so many bad things all the time, it’s really heartwarming to read about people being willing to go out of their way for others in need. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Hi Patricia, you’re so welcome! I’m very happy to share this experience, because yes, it’s good to know how kind people really are no matter where you go. It’s really too bad that the bad experiences are so often what people share or remember. There is so much more good in the world, and I want everyone to see it. <3

    1. Jen, yes, you are so right. The guys really went above and beyond. My friend and I never could have even imagined that we would be met with so much kindness. It is something I will always remember and cherish.

    1. It’s really nice to know that there are such good and wonderful people in our world, isn’t it? It inspires me to also look for opportunities to help others in their time of need. Thanks for your nice comment, Katie. I’m happy this article could give you a reminder of the good in the world. 🙂

  3. That is such a touching story. I would have been so scared too. And to not speak the language and have so many people helping…that’s just the best kind of people you can possibly be around. Gives me faith in humanity once again!

    1. You echoed my feelings, exactly, Jessica. My friend and I were really scared, at first, that we might have to spend the night on a remote mountain top in a country where we didn’t speak or understand the language. Those people were such a blessing, and the experience was incredibly humbling to be treated with such kindness and generosity. It restores my faith in humanity too!

  4. There are so many such wonderful stories, which will touch your heart.

    On our recent trip chasing fall colors, we stopped a lot while driving up the mountains, to cool off the engine. And a bunch of people just stopped to ask if everything was all right.

    1. I agree, Alok. Kindness on the Road stories really are so wonderful and heart-touching. Even at times when there isn’t a problem, as in your case when you were just stopped to cool the engine, it’s nice to know that people still care enough to show concern and offer help. It makes it feel like our world isn’t so big after all, and we are all looking out for each other.

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your motorbike troubles, but very relieved you found help! Something very similar happened to us in Laos on the way back to Thakhek from Konglor Cave. We were walking the bike to wherever the nearest town was and a local family stopped and helped us get our bike fixed. It’s times like this that really show that there is kindness all over the world. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story of kindness!

    1. Wow, Megan, it’s wonderful to hear that you also experienced the same level of kindness. These situations can be a bit scary and overwhelming, but just like you said, it’s times like these that we can see that kindness exists all over the world. Thanks for sharing your experience, too, and I’m happy you also were able to get help.

  6. This sounds like my worst nightmare. I am so glad you found good samaritans to help you out. That was so lucky. It’s great to know there are still good people in the world, and it’s important that we all remember to pay it forward both when we are traveling and at home. We never know when we will need someone else kindness.

    1. Haha Stephanie, yes, before we had help, I agree that it was one of my worst nightmares too. Thankfully the story ended in a positive way with such kind people. You really made the right point – the importance of remembering these experiences and being sure to pay them forward while traveling and at home. I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t have said it better.

    1. Yes, Shrinidhi, that’s good to hear that you didn’t have any scooter issues in Bali. It’s important to always be as careful as we can and take nothing for granted, but it’s also a relief to know that good people are out there who are willing to help a stranger in need. The beauty of a place is what makes us want to visit it, but it’s the humanity that makes us fall in love with the place.

  7. These kinds of stories are why I feel like I’m never too scared of traveling to new places. I truly believe people are inherently kind, and the more I travel, the more this rings true. Kindness really is a universal language.

    I’ll never forget my friend’s flip-flops breaking right after we told a tuk-tuk driver no in Cambodia. He actually offered her his own sandals even though we’d just rejected him!

    1. Yes, Samantha, I whole-heartedly agree and feel exactly the same way! I have a lot of faith in the inherent goodness of people, and I have also experienced what you said about seeing this more, the more I travel. You’re so right that kindness is a universal language. I feel like it’s the one thing that really connects all of us, no matter how different we are… and your story about the tuk-tuk driver melted my heart. Thanks for sharing.

  8. They really went above and beyond! The kindness here shows that there is still much hope left in our society! I’m glad it all worked out in the end.

    1. Thanks, Carmy, I’m glad it all worked out too! I have so much gratitude and appreciation for these kind strangers. Their generosity surpassed anything I could have imagined. I agree that this shows there’s still hope. At the most basic level, we really are all the same – people – and kindness to each other makes a huge and lasting impact.

  9. this experience just proves that no matter where you are in the world, no matter your different cultures, background, beliefs and even languages, people really are just people. Just say “Humanity is present everywhere like God “.

    1. Yes, Yogi Saraswat, you expressed exactly what I feel. People really are just people no matter where you go and what barriers or differences seem to exist. It’s a comforting thought, actually, to know that once you remove all the superficial things, we are all connected by the one thing that makes us all the same – our humanity. Thanks for your comment.

  10. You are so lucky that you met such nice people! I agree that there are more nice people than not – I too have met with the kindness of strangers. On the other hand, this situation could have gone scarily wrong. Glad to hear it all ended well.

  11. I totaly agree. Its true that their are wonderful people all over the world. The more we travel the more we discover and meet people from different cultures and religions. Thanks to traveling now I have friends all over the world👌. Very intersting post. Cant wait to see more.

  12. What a lovely story, thank you for sharing! Isn’t it so heartwarming to witness the kindness of strangers? A nice reminder to always share kindness and a helping hand whenever possible.

  13. Ran into few problems just like this myself and it’s true, people are just people. Sounds like you guys had a great adventure! Cool story and very uplifting. Show’s you the beauty of the human spirit 🙂

  14. “People really are just people”. Says it all really. A very humbling and heart warming post to read, and one that reminds us of the basic decency of the majority of the world’s people, which can be easy to lose sight of in these turbulent, troubled times. The travel blogging community at large needs to have more stories like this!

  15. Yep, that’s right up there with being scary. Thankfully I;ve never had anything like that happen but we are also ultra careful especially with rented stuff. SO pleased that this is a good news story and you had great people who were able to help you. What a wonderful thing to do as well to thank them. There is so much kindness in this world and yet often we are exposed to the not so kind. Great read.

  16. This is amazing. It makes me believe the word ‘Miracle’ 😀 It happened to me as well once, one of the three wheelers gave me a ride for free, thought I wrote him a thank you note at that time only.. 😀
    Thanks again for this beautiful post. Cheers 😀

  17. That is a lovely story. Rebuilds your faith in humanity. What a scary experience that turned out to be a memorable one – thanks to the two gentlemen!

  18. I had such great experiences in Thailand as well. The locals are so giving. It’s great to hear that someone else has had a great time there too. Beautiful.

  19. This is such a wonderful post – sorry to hear about your troubles on the road, but it’s so wonderful to hear that the locals were so kind to you. I agree, my travels have taught me that no matter where you are in the world, no matter your different cultures, background, beliefs and even languages, people are just people. We’re all the same, and I find that most of the time, people are very very kind and always willing to help a stranger in need.

  20. This is one of my fears on a road trip. I know I would panic if our car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Such good experiences and helpful people make traveling worthwhile.

  21. What a heart-warming story! I have read horror stories of people renting scooters in Asia and getting scammed when they broke down so it is nice to read that not all scooter stories end sadly. It is amazing how much they were able to help even with the language barrier. Glad it worked out!

  22. Oh, such nice people! What never stops amazing me is that when you are deep in trouble, there is always a good angel that appears from nowhere and helps you out. It´s incredible and perhaps I wouldn´t believe it had it not happened to me so many times! Here´s to returning that kindness to other strangers in need we meet on the road 😉

  23. Aw I loved this story and how it had a good ending. We experience the kindness acts as travelers on the road, which I love. However, the first part– getting in trouble is so scary. Happy for the good ending.

  24. What a nice series! I’ve definitely experienced the kindness of strangers. The one that stands out is when we were driving to Cinque Terre in Italy and were in a head on collision.

    I had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance and we had our dog with us. Since the driver of the car that cause the accident also had to be taken in the ambulance, my husband couldn’t bring our dog in and our car was totaled.

    A couple from Milan that had stopped when they saw the accident drove my husband and our dog to the hospital I was being taken to. They definitely didn’t have to do that.

    1. Hi Jennifer, Thank you. Would you want to participate in this series? If yes, PM me your mail-id. I’ll send you the guidelines. I will give a backlink to your blog. 🙂

    1. Would love to hear those! Would you want to participate in this series? If yes, PM me your mail-id. I’ll send you the guidelines. I will give a backlink to your blog. 🙂

  25. Awesome read. Always encouraging to read articles about kindness on the go. As a traveler, it is really uplifting to know that whatever place of earth we are, there are the same people, who can be trusted! 🙂

  26. This is an incredible story and it almost seems like fate that the military guys showed up. It’s so tough traveling in a country where you don’t speak the language and something goes wrong. You suddenly realize how crippled you are. Thankfully they were able to understand and got them the help they needed.

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