Have the locals helped you when you've been lost etc? Are there differences in the ways people help in different countries?
I've been walking around Helsinki, Finland these last few days and have gotten lost, or more like have had problems in finding my way around. I've been standing around with a map and quite surely looking positively puzzled, but no on has come to help me on their on. The locals do help me when I go straight to them and ask them, even if they don't always speak english. Sometimes people have adviced me to the wrong direction, but all in all they've been quite nice. What's your experience? Do people behave differently in different countries regarding travellers needing help? Are there places where people are more willing to help travellers? And perhabs places where people refuse to help?
I find people in Indonesia generally very helpful. While mum was freaking out at Jakarta Airport as we were pushed along with a swarm of people asking me if i knew where i was going a helpful man asked Surabaya? and when i said no Padang pointed to another conga line of people. This is pretty usual for Indo airports especially ones like Mingankabau and Makassar where the non asian person is a minority. Ive been picked up by dive operators drivers who speak no english at airports, driven for three hours into the hills then down to a beach and just dropped off. A local family having a picnic and a swim called me over and while only one spoke any english they were really awesome people and fed me and kept me entertained assuring me that soon enough a boat would arrive, it did.
Recently when we were in Berlin we had so many people coming up and offering to assist us. Every single time we took out our map to get oriented someone would stop and ask if we were lost and if they could provide directions. One guy walked with us two blocks to make certain we turned on the correct street because he could not remember the name of it.
In Asia, people are always helpful....often times they are hoping for a tip but are so friendly and helpful. Can't blame them for trying to earn a living.
We always found locals very helpful when hitching lifts to places... sure some wanted a bit of money towards the fuel which is fair enough but one man went over and above.. he drove us about 2 hours to the next town, wanted no money and even drove around until we managed to find a place to stay, this was in Laos.
We always loved it when asking directions in various countries from Brazil through to Indonesia.. lots of people do want to help but have that random arm waving movement in no direction whatsoever leaving you no clearer on where you are supposed to be going! 10 out of 10 for enthuiasum though!
Stayed 3 months in Spain -- mainly in Madrid -- and found locals ever ready to help , and literally walk the extra mile for and WITH you. Hardly an English word spoken, but this lady walked with me to a church I was looking for. Another time, I was looking "lost" searching for the platform to take train back and this gentleman simply asked "Madrid?" and pointed me to the right platform. Aaah, there is certainly no shortage of good people in this world!
Now, I'm reminded of the random kindness of this stranger in Nanjing when I had this freak-ish accident. I wasn't just lost, I was literally bleeding for someone to at least help me get to the nearest hospital in a place where English is hardly spoken. Bless this young man for coming to my aid!
Misadventure in Nanjing, China (2007)
[Edited: 2012 Nov 22 12:14 - liliram:99705 ]
We have some very good friends who were traveling in Japan and asked for directions. A nice lady helped them and they set off. A minute or two later they lady who gave them the directions came running up behind them all out of breath as she was trying to catch up with them.
She realized she had given inaccurate instructions and did not want them to get lost. She took them to their location.
They had a nice chat with some universal sign language along the way.
Once again proving that people are good.
[Edited: 2012 Nov 23 00:17 - D MJ Binkley:42569 ]
I wonder if being travellers makes us more likely to help travellers? I picked up a young guy obviously from germany by the way he was dressed holding a map looking bewildered and drove him to a roadhouse where he would get a ride and always ask bewildered looking people if i can help them...I do think i may do it more now since I started travelling again.
Cindy, we agree with that.
We have found in the poorer 3rd world countries people have approached us first to assist us in time of need. However, in the 1st world countries, if you ask for assistance they are generally very forthcoming and helpful. Likewise when we are travelling in remote areas and you see someone walking along the side of the road, with nothing around you, we at first are hesitant to offer a lift (especially when they are carrying a panga or machete!) But when you do stop to offer them a lift they are eternally grateful and usually very concerned that they will be dirtying or damaging your vehicle. I always say what goes around..comes around!
we encountered endless examples of kindness and help but there is one that will always make us laugh...we hitched in Paraguay with another traveler between the Mennonites colonies in Chaco region and one very elderly looking lady, obviously annoyed by the way we put our thumbs up, finally approached us and taught us how to catch a ride.... we learnt that they have a different system of waving hand and the car stopped immediately after we tried it (we stood there for like 15-20 min before she told us the trick).... it was hilarious but we could not have been more grateful ;-)