Railay beach in Thailand, 2013 and Nick and I were hanging onto a rope in a monsoon, trying to climb up a near-vertical cliff to get to a lookout. We were soaked to the skin, sliding all over the place, trying desperately not to fall to our death.
We kept meeting a family, parents and a couple of teenage kids, in that awkward meet-someone-in-the-supermarket-and-then-keep-seeing-them-down-each-aisle way. They’d pass us, hanging onto the rope, we’d pass them hanging onto the rope, we’d all joke about how awful the conditions are and how we didn’t want to die, awkwardly stepping and clambering over each other.
A few hours later, once we’d been up to the lookout (not as impressive with monoon rain and clouds), we bumped into them again in a bar and had a bit of a chat.
“Whereabouts are you from?”
“Oh, Tara’s going there in a few months, aren’t you Tara?”
“Oh really? You must come stay with us. Here, let me give you my email address.”
And so, that’s how, about 4 months later, at the end of my 600km bike ride round Tasmania, me and the bike ended up being picked up by Margaret in Hobart.
I stayed with them for a few days, ensconsed in daily life. I went to the market, got invited on their holiday, got driven around the Cygnet look, cooked for and generally just looked after. They had the BEST shower, the comfiest bed and made my clothes clean and smell nice again.
One thing I learnt on my travels is that if someone offers you a place to stay, they mean it. They’re not just trying to be polite. Or if they are, they’ll soon learn.
I found Tasmanian folk to be the most wonderful, generous, kind people, who do so much for others and expect nothing in return. They love their island, and want everyone else to love it too. And love it I did.