Whoever came up with the phrase stranger danger must not have met the people we’ve met throughout our travels. Before I go any further, I’d just like to state a disclaimer here: I’m not, in any way, condoning the act of irresponsibly befriending a suspicious-looking stranger, but I’m all for letting your guard down once in a while and realizing that not everyone in the universe is out to get you. I’ve ran across (and chatted with) several strangers throughout my travels and these experiences turn out to be the most memorable; they’re always the ones I recall when I’m telling stories regarding a particular place.
Foo the taxi driver
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Claire and I foolishly thought we could walk the entire way to the Bird Park from our hostel, located close to Petaling Street. After walking on Jalan Sultan Hishamudin with the afternoon sun glaring on our backs and sweating buckets, we realized this may not be the best idea after all. Or maybe it was my constant complaining that finally had Claire surrendering to the thought of taking a cab… except there was none to be seen around us. So we kept walking until we passed the National Textile Museum, where there was a lone cab, with its driver out and about, busily checking the engine. We asked him to take us to the Bird Park, bargained, and settled on a price. He was an elderly Chinese gentleman and his name, as we later discovered, is Foo. At 78 years old, he was a fearless driver, weaving in and out of traffic all the while giving us an explanation of the monuments we pass by on our way to the park. He told us about his family, asked us what we think of Kuala Lumpur, and whether or not we have enjoyed the city thus far. Somewhere along the way, the topic of airports came up in our conversation. We were scheduled to catch a 6AM flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi the next morning, which means that we have to be at the airport by 5AM at the latest, which then translates to the dreaded truth of waking up at the ungodly hour of 3AM (all in the name of a cheap airline ticket!). Foo gave us his business card, set the price at 100RM, and told us to look around and compare prices. If, at the end of the day, we decided to go with him, he told us to give him a call by 7PM at the latest, so he can get home and sleep early. We weighed our options and eventually called him when we got back to our hostel. He showed up promptly at 4AM the next morning, drove us through the sleepy suburban highways of Kuala Lumpur, and sent us off at the airport with a couple of oranges, one for each of us. They were for best wishes and safe travels, he said.