My diary Down Under – Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City – Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne

Kindness is everywhere.

When the time comes, you can’t eat money.

Everything is relative, and the world is not that flat.

 

I booked the ticket to Melbourne out of a spur of the moment – Air Asia sent me their daily deal alert and round trip to Melbourne or Sydney was only less than 400 bucks, American bucks, which was insanely cheap. The travel time was around end of April, beginning of May, which was perfect too. It coincided with the Reunion Holiday in Vietnam – the only time during the year when we could have more than 2 consecutive days of vacation and not obliged to stay home. So boom, within 10 minutes, I booked 2 tickets to Melbourne, 6 months in advance.

So no, nothing was particularly special. I printed the booking, took a taxi to the Tan Son Nhat airport, checked in. No checked baggages. I was going to wander for half a month in Australian late autumn/early winter with 5 kilograms of clothes, no big deal! The flight to Malaysia was boring too. Airplane took off, I dozed off, airplane landed, I opened my eyes, and here I was, in Kuala Lumpur, boring booming capital city of Malaysia.

Nothing would be worth mentioning besides the fact that I didn’t have any ringits – the Malaysian currency. I was starving. I needed food. Yeah, I had some Australian dollars and US dollars, pretty big bills, but only 1 MYR left from my trip to KL years ago. And my HSBC card decided to choose this exact moment to be not working (the card chip had been temperamental for quite a while, but I delayed getting it replaced, thinking I would change my bank soon anyway). Oh well !!

I explained to the cashier that I only had 100 dollar bills, and I only needed 5 to buy 1 fried rice dish for my 2-hour layover here, as a reason for her to try my card again. It still didn’t work. Great! Now I had to buy MYR. Maybe I could ask the exchange counter to give me 95 bucks and 20 MYR. If not possible, I would just have to accept the truth that I was going to either hold a bunch of unused MYR or lose quite some money due to exchange rate differences within 1 minute. If only I could eat money.

But miracles come when you least expect it. I was waiting mindlessly to exchange some MYR, while a gentleman with an European accent tapped on my shoulder and kindly handed me a roll of 1 MYR.

“I am leaving the country in 1 hour too, and I have some spare cash I am not going to use. Please take it and buy some meal.”

My jaw dropped. He repeated what he just said. Ok, I heard guy, nice guy, I just couldn’t understand or believe what was going on. How did you know I needed Malaysian money? And what did I do to deserve this kindness from a total stranger?

“Thank you so much.”

I could finally utter some words after a few moments of awe.

“No problem. Just buy some meal.”

I took the roll of cash. Did I feel like a beggar? No, I didn’t ask him for anything. I had money too, quite a lot in fact – 3000 dollars in form of 30 fucking 100-dollar bills, full credit limit on my non-swipable credit card, and a few extra hundreds bucks in my domestic credit cards, just none of them was usable in this situation. The world, we thought so interconnected and global, didn’t seem to be so international suddenly.

Now with the dish of chicken fried rice, sitting warmly (and fully) at a table, I realized he was behind me in line when I ordered food. He must have witnessed how my card didn’t work and how I explained I didn’t want to get MYR.

With a filled stomach, I boarded the night flight cruising in the air from KL to Melbourne, knowing it was already tomorrow in Melbourne.

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