Several years ago, my now-husband, Alex, and I spent a few months sailing around Indonesia, experiencing both highs and lows (turquoise waters, freshly caught fish, and stunning sunsets) and highs and lows, including a broken engine. We were also there during Ramadan, a special time to travel to the most populous Muslim nation in the world.
At one point, covered in salt, sleep-deprived and hungry, we docked at Belitung, a small island east of Sumatra. By chance we took our boat to the island on Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, and found the white sand beaches packed with celebrating families.
Moments after we arrived, a woman grabbed our hands, smiling and speaking quickly in Bahasa. Our knowledge of the language was minimal, but its meaning was clear: we were to sit back and enjoy the holiday with her family. Plopped on a blanket, we feasted on jackfruit curry, sautéed water spinach, and the best beef rendang I've ever had.
When reflecting on your travels, it's easy to think of the times when things went wrong. The time you were robbed. The rude hotel concierge. The time, or times, in which you got horribly lost. But traveling is also an opportunity to give and connect in ways that overcome language barriers and cultural differences. This holiday season, in the spirit of gratitude, we ask travelers to share the most memorable random acts of kindness they've seen or experienced during their travels near and far.
What were the moments of good deeds that stay with you, the unexpectedly welcoming places, or the strangers or acquaintances that made your adventures easier (or, in my case, infinitely more delicious)? We will read each response and use a selection of the stories you share in a future article. We will not publish any part of your response without contacting you, verifying your information, and confirming with you. Finally, we will not share your contact information outside of the Times newsroom. Thank you.
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