Just ask. It’s quickly becoming one of our top travel philosophies. We’re a little embarrassed that it took us this long to figure it out. Maybe it’s because we’re polite Canadians, or maybe it’s just our introverted personalities, but we never want to feel like we’re putting someone out.
From asking where the crackers are at a new grocery store to asking our boss for help communicating with Chinese people, when it came to making requests, we were overcome with discomfort and fear. We worried we’d be seen as inconvenient and incapable.
The same was true when it came to travelling. When you’re in a new country, trying to figure out how to get around, you’re bound to need some help. Maybe it was seeing other travellers asking for directions, or out of sheer necessity and desire for ease that made us change, but we’re quickly becoming more comfortable with soliciting help and advice from those around us.
Today for example, we had to get to our out-of-the-way hotel for a one-night stay before a very early morning flight. Google Maps told us it would take two buses, and a very roundabout route to get to this place. But instead of surrendering ourselves to two hours of unnecessary travel, we just asked our tour guide from Ha Long Bay how close to the hotel he could get us. He wasn’t able to take us door to door, but he took us to the nearest bus stop.
Once on the bus, we checked in with the driver who pulled over in-between stops to let us off as close to the hotel as necessary. And yes, the stop was on the side of the highway, but c’est la vie. We’ll take a free ten minute walk over any other method of transport.
Not only did we save a couple bus fares, but we got an hour of our day back as well.
So what did we learn? That most people will absolutely help you out. And if they can’t, they’ll offer some kind of alternative. PLUS, they probably won’t be put out by being asked (we wouldn’t, and we’re not that important anyway!)
This new philosophy has helped us get in between cities, get air flowing into our musty hostel room, and find the cheapest (and most delicious) chau lao in Hoi An.
Moral of the story: Life opens up when you do. So get out there and get asking.
Check out our most recent post from Southeast Asia about Ha Long Bay.