10 months ago, i wrote an entry here about Travelling for Stories to Tell.
And a few weeks ago, i was traveling Europe and I found myself in Prague...and there is a story i'd like to share, the kind that makes my heart smile because there is kindness around.
Oh Prague! Where should I begin? Allow me to tell you a tale behind this tram ticket and how I got from the airport to my accommodation in Prague last night and I’m still smiling because of the goodness of people here!
My hostel sent me a detailed instruction of how to get there from the airport. My flight landed at 8pm last night and the last airport express (AE) bus is at 9pm. By the time I got out it’s already around 8:30pm and I followed the sign for bus, but I couldn’t find AE so I thought I must be at the wrong stop. And I overheard an old lady telling another tourist that AE stop is in that direction, while pointing to the left. I went to check with her after the other tourist left, and she kindly told me the direction with her limited English. I appreciated that very much. I followed the crowds & finally saw the AE bus stop. I got to the bus stop 10 min before the last bus arrived. How lucky! Otherwise I could only imagine how much the taxi bill would be with a 30 min-ride into town. I paid and got on, finding myself sitting next to a lady who helped to pull a seat down for me because she saw that I had a huge luggage with me. She was nice, I thought. After a while, we got chatting and chatting during the bus ride and got along really well. She speaks 6 languages. 😳 she told me that fact about her as though it was no big deal. I was like wow!
“So it’s your first time here?” She asked me.
“And you know no one here?” She questioned.
“No I am here alone.” I confirmed. And she seemed very surprised. the conversation just went on like we have known each other forever. And the bus arrived and everyone got off.
“It was nice meeting you,” I said to her.
“It was really nice meeting you too,” she replied, offering her hand to shake mine, and added “Diana”
“Pheaktra” we smiled at each other.
“Do you know where you need to go?” She asked me, concern in her voice.
“Yes.” She smiled at my confirmation.
I took out my phone to read the instruction. It says I had to walk through a small park. Where on earth do I find a small park around here? It’s all dark at 9:30pm.
“The park is in that direction,” she told me, with her phone stuck to her ears, I think she was talking to her boyfriend cos she told me Earlier he was waiting at the station for her. And then it hit me, I didn’t realise I said it out loud. Haha. And she heard it!! So I started walking in the direction she pointed for about 1 min, when I heard footsteps behind me and a female’s voice shouting “wait wait wait”. I turned to find her catching her breath as she was running to catch up with me after she hung up her phone.
“You can’t go there from up here, there is no way you can cross.” She pointed out. Of course I wouldn’t know that.
“You have to use the underpass. I’m going there too,” she added, “I was screaming but you didn’t hear!”
“Oh my god, thank you. Sorry I didn’t hear you just now.” We both laughed. So we stood there waiting for an elevator to come. *Bing* it came.
It was so crowded and i was the last one. I could tell I wouldn’t be able to go in, with my luggage and all but she insisted that I joined her.
“No you can come in, come on, I’m not leaving you alone!” She said. Oh my god, I’m so blessed, ain’t I? The elevator refused to close, maybe the maximum weight was exceeded so the other people in the lift turned to me and shook their head. I knew that meant I had to get out. The door closed and I waved goodbye to her. But before he door fully closed, I heard her say, “I will wait for you downstairs.”
I signed okay to her, knowing she couldn’t hear me now that the elevator started moving. I thought there would only be one floor, and when I entered the lift, I saw 3 buttons. Oh shit, which floor was I supposed to meet her? And thank god! The elevator is a see-through glass so I could actually see her downstairs. I just gauged the number of floors I needed to reach her. Phew.
And as I left the elevator, she was with a man - her Boyfriend, I thought. “Hi,” i said to him.
“Hi,” he said back to me.
“My new Friend,” she said to her Boyfriend. Haha. Awww I have a new Friend! Here within the first few hours of my arrival.
“The park is this way,” they both walked with me to the park and through the park. And they showed me where the tram station is because I needed to take it to my hostel.
“You need to know where you are going cos there are 2 sides,” they advised.
“Yes I know. I’ll go and check the stations now,” I replied with a smile on my face. I swear they are soooo nice.
“Good night,” they waved goodbye as they headed the opposite directions. They both just made the cold dark night feel so warm.
So I arrived at the tram stop, I had no clue where I could get the ticket. I was dragging my luggage to check the tram number I should take. And then number 5 came, I could take that one. But I didn’t have the ticket. I stepped onto the tram the same time as a blue-eyed guy. He clearly knew I was a tourist with my big luggage and all.
We both stood on the step of the tram, when I asked him “how do I get the ticket?”
“From a machine,” he replied.
“I can’t get it directly from the driver?” I asked because I bought my AE ticket from the driver just now.
“No,” he replied, with kindness in his tone. Oh, so I got off the tram, and thought I could just have to figure out my way, not holding people back from getting onto the tram and To my ultimate surprise, he got off the tram too!! He came to stand beside me on the pavement and led me to the machine next the bench which was quite hidden in the dark that I missed it. As we made our way there, I still hadn’t recovered from my shock yet, “Oh no no no, you don’t have to get off your tram, you can get back on. I’ll be fine!” I felt really sorry at this point.
“It’s alright, I can get on any tram, don’t you worry, I have to change the tram anyway,” he explained. No no, not a fair explanation. He just did that for a stranger?
So at the machine, he asked me where I was going, “just one stop actually,” I told him.
“Good, so you can just get the cheapest ticket,” he pressed the screen for me.
“Oh no, they accept only coins?” Desperation hit me then. I don’t have KC coins. You see, I couldn’t even get any KC currencies in Singapore so I had to change it at the airport earlier at a very horrendous exchange rate but I had no choice. But all were notes, none in coins.
“Or cards,” he pointed to the credit card slot. Am I going to use my credit card for a mere KC24 transaction?
“I don’t have any coins. Do you have coins? Can I please change my notes with you?” I turned to ask him.
“You know what? Don’t worry about it. I’ll buy you this ticket.” He suggested.
“What? No no no, you can’t do that,” I refused.
“Please, it’s not expensive at all. And it saves both of the trouble,” he smiled, then I thought to myself, well it saves me the trouble, you could save yourself the trouble by not getting off that tram in the first place.
He sensed my silence and went on to say, “I need to get rid of these anyway I’m flying to China tomorrow!”
“Oh really?” I asked, “that’s nice.”
“You don’t happen to be from China, right?” He asked, smiling.
“No, I came from Singapore,” I told him.
“You know what? The conference I’m attending in China is organised by National University of Singapore.” He said.
“No way!” I exclaimed. Wow! What a coincidence! We chatted for a while and Our tram came and we got on, and chatted some more. I got off at the next stop.
“Safe flight tomorrow,” I said to him.
“Enjoy your stay here. Be careful with taxi Drivers,” he advised, to which I mmmm-ed and smiled.
My hostel is just right at the tram station. Reached. And I met 2 wonderful strangers within 30 min time span. I couldn’t believe it. So much kindness in this city. At least from what I experienced thus far!