People

If someone asked you “what was the most memorable moment of your year in 2013”, what would you answer?  I was asked recently and had to stop and think.

What defines “most memorable” and how could I narrow that down to just one?  What makes one moment stand out among all the other moments I had during the year?  After a fairly life-changing twelve months, I realised I didn’t have just one - every moment of the year was memorable for one reason or another. 

But I did have a defining moment.  It came when I was sitting on a hotel room bed in the ugly town of Podgorica in Montenegro, eating a Snickers chocolate bar and watching very bad cable TV.  It was the last day of my solo journey and after eight months of incredible history, sights, sounds, scenery, smells and experiences, it hit me.  The most memorable part, of anywhere I had been, was the people.

Whether it was one person or several people, whether friends or total strangers, whether through bad experiences or random acts of kindness, it was the people that left an indelible mark on any moment.  Sometimes though, it was actually the absence of people that made it most special.

Realistically, I am unlikely to do much meditating with monks, snorkelling with whale sharks, climbing volcanoes or visiting genocide sites in 2014, but I know that anywhere I am, there will always be people moments that play a part in making a memorable year. 

Welcome to 2014 and may it be full of your own most memorable people moments - be they good, bad or just different.  

I share with you just a few of mine from 2013.

 On the second last day of a seven day motorbike trip in Vietnam, I was totally exhausted, covered in dust and having the worst hair day of my life.  Then they saw me.  The local tourism film crew came out of nowhere, in a one-horse town, and decided it would be good to interview me about my experiences in their country.  How could I refuse - it was such a wonderful experience to share.

On the second last day of a seven day motorbike trip in Vietnam, I was totally exhausted, covered in dust and having the worst hair day of my life.  Then they saw me.  The local tourism film crew came out of nowhere, in a one-horse town, and decided it would be good to interview me about my experiences in their country.  How could I refuse - it was such a wonderful experience to share.

 In the town of Girona in Spain, getting caught up in a parade, going with the flow and singing/dancing my way through the narrow streets with the locals following 'Los Gigantes' (the giants).  

In the town of Girona in Spain, getting caught up in a parade, going with the flow and singing/dancing my way through the narrow streets with the locals following 'Los Gigantes' (the giants).  

 In Matsuyama, Japan at a sacred pilgrimage site - watching a lady in traditional kimono.  I thought she was chanting prayers or thanks for having made it to the site.  But no, when I got closer, she was talking on her mobile phone.

In Matsuyama, Japan at a sacred pilgrimage site - watching a lady in traditional kimono.  I thought she was chanting prayers or thanks for having made it to the site.  But no, when I got closer, she was talking on her mobile phone.

 While on a day hike in Myanmar with a small group, we spent time in a village where they were making woven fans.  When no-one else was looking, she gave me a huge smile and my own fan, expecting nothing in return.  I was touched.   The people of Myanmar were so very, very special. 

While on a day hike in Myanmar with a small group, we spent time in a village where they were making woven fans.  When no-one else was looking, she gave me a huge smile and my own fan, expecting nothing in return.  I was touched.   The people of Myanmar were so very, very special. 

 This amazing war survivor in Sarajevo, Bosnia provided a tour of the city and recounted his own experiences.  His jovial spirit, friendliness and strength amazed me, but his eyes had an underlying sadness that I will never, ever forget.

This amazing war survivor in Sarajevo, Bosnia provided a tour of the city and recounted his own experiences.  His jovial spirit, friendliness and strength amazed me, but his eyes had an underlying sadness that I will never, ever forget.