The Memorable Ones

You meet some real characters when you travel.  And given the breadth of locations I’ve spent time in over the last 5+ months, I have met some quite fascinating people.  Let me tell you about some of the most memorable ones.

  • I met the daughter of the artist who wrote “Champs-Élysées” (da da da da da).  Apparently Brits don’t know this song, but Americans who took French class do.
  • I met three New Zealanders who were traveling for two months together.  They were all named Jess.
  • I met a French woman who became Madagascar’s first speech therapist.
  • I met a guy who worked with my best friend’s husband at yoga class in Thailand.  And somehow we actually figured it out in the 5 minutes we talked.
  • I met a man who came to Bali to do a 40 day water-fast.  By the end, he was unable to walk and weighed 43 kilos (94 lbs), but he felt completely enlightened and wanted to rebuild his body with a healthier lifestyle.  He looked slightly chubby to me…
  • I met wild monkeys in Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali.   Greedy mo-fos.
  • I met a woman who had just walked the Camino trail across Spain.  On our overlapping day, she told me about the time she went to Base Camp at Mount Everest.
  • I met a German man who quit his 80 hour a week executive level job to make an experimental rock album with Frank Zappa’s band.  During our week of hanging out, he had been named Germany’s Best New Artist.
  • I met a Canadian girl who had a huge gash and bruise along her cheek and chin from riding on the back of a motorbike with a drunk guy.  She didn’t remember any of the crash and had been on bed rest for over a week.
  • I met a South African couple who own some of South Africa and Mozambique’s most luxurious resorts.  They offered me a job.  Maybe someday…
  • I met a man who applied to the same exact job that I was offered before deciding to travel.  Not sure how we figured that out – the company isn’t big and it wasn’t in my home town.
  • I met over 50 mosquitos when they flew into my eyes while I rode my motorbike in Bali.
  • I met a Thai fire dancer who has a German wife with two kids who he visits twice a year.  I’ve only seen him in a loin cloth though.
  • I met a woman who had home birthed her child and, in the process, lost so much blood that she thought she had died and saw angels all around her before being given a blood transfusion and surviving.
  • I met a Komodo Dragon while I was sitting and drinking coffee on the porch the other morning.  He ran away after we made eye contact.
  • I met a British man who quit his finance job to learn about the wine industry.  His daughters are entering college and he hopes to move from London to the South of France.
  • I met a Swedish man with Down’s Syndrome who comes to Thailand for one month out of the year to do free-diving, when you dive without a tank and just hold your breath.
  • I met a man who is extremely down to earth and sarcastic, even though he spends his days representing movie stars in London.
  • I’ve met three people who have almost the exact same story as I do: quit corporate job at 28+, gave up everything for an adventure – no huge sob story but a yearning for an adventure.  They are all men.  One is Australian, one is Austrian, and one is American.
  • I met a Spaniard who had to move to Brussels to find work.  Spain’s unemployment rate is close to 25% and most of the people without jobs are under 30.  His girlfriend lives in Spain and he’s been gone for over two years.
  • I met the most stunning Icelandic girl, whose dark hair makes her look like an eskimo. She had met her boyfriend, a platinum blonde British surfer, in Bali the year before.  They had been moving around the world to meet each other while she finishes university.  He has yet to enroll.
  • I met a man who is in search of the perfect piece of wood to make into a didgeridoo.
  • I met a burly Dutch woman who has a habit of trying to pick people up and shake them when she is drunk (both men and women).
  • I met an American woman who was in a relationship with a tiny Indonesian man.  She spoke little Bahasa and he spoke little English.  She plays accordion on the street for money sometimes.  She also was working on the soundtrack for a post-apocalypic zombie movie that she’d been helping friends out with for three years.  She told me she had $2 in her bank account before she boarded a flight to return to Seattle.
  • I met a handsome Kiwi who went to high school in Scotland, almost went to the pros playing rugby.  He passed up the chance for an engineering job which has required that he live in Bali, Melbourne, and Manila.
  • I met a Malaysian man who was deep into the gang culture there until his best friend was killed and he decided to get out.  He worked his butt off and got a great job, met his now wife, then attended three silent 10 day visits at an ashram in Thailand.
  • I met four Wayans, five Mades, one Komang, and three Ketuts.  These are Balinese names given in birth order from 1 to 4.  If there are more than four, they start back at Wayan again.  Many Indonesian people go by nicknames though.
  • I met lots of geckos who wanted to share my bedroom but never chip in on the room rate.
  • I met a Portuguese man who spends half of his year as a surf instructor and the half working on a ship.  He is pretty tan.
  • I met a Mario lookalike (like from the Nintendo game) at a Half Moon Party in Thailand.
  • I met a dramatic Canadian who tried to get attention from the guy she liked by walking around the hostel in see-through underwear… twice.
  • I met a Brit who, after enough wine was consumed, played us his Funeral Playlist – in which he curated his favorite songs which he wants to be played at his service after he dies.  His list included a whole range from Sigur Ros to Simply Red.  Morbid, but brilliant.
  • I met several Vietnamese street beggars who had deformities and missing limbs from Agent Orange.  I also met a lot of alarmingly fat babies, I suspect due to the same thing.
  • I met a Barbie doll look-alike from Las Vegas who (despite her heavy eyeliner, boob job, and teeny-tiny clothing) was in Bali to complete her yoga instructor training, proved to be extremely spiritual, had backpacked the Amazon jungle on her own, and said some of the most intelligent and thought-provoking statements I had heard in a very long time.  She was fascinating.
  • I met a group of wild dogs lying in the middle of the street as I was coming down a windy road in the pitch black.  They moved in time.
  • I met and surfed with a Lithuanian IT consultant today.

I wonder who I’ll meet tomorrow. IMG_9728


  1. Julie M. Messervy says:

    Wonderful post, Char! Astonishing coincidences and remarkable characters! The fact that you remember all the details is most impressive of all.


    • It was really fun to think back to all the crazy and interesting people I’ve met and to consider the situation in which we were introduced. Very fun to recall the details and to state them without judgment. Reading them all in a list format is crazy – the ages, countries, jobs, and coincidences are all over the map (literally). I’m glad you enjoyed it too!


  2. Jenn Studaker says:

    Sounds like a lot of great people! You should have made those geckos pay up!


  3. kellymullane says:

    I want to know what the Barbie doll from Vegas said that was some of the most intelligent and thought-provoking statements!


  4. Sev says:

    Thank you a lot to write something on me! I’m very touched by that and by meeting you. It was so funny, so great to exchange about our culture, our sensibility face to others. It was rich and real! Thanks again. Hope to see u somewhere else in our beautiful world.. Maybe in my country (this small Island near Madagascar) kisses,


  1. […]  One of the hard things about traveling alone is companionship.  And while it’s easy to meet some real characters when you travel. to find someone you can just take in your surroundings with, without all the extra chatter, is […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: