It was past midnight when my friend and I checked into our hostel in Xian, China. We walked into our four-bed dorm to find our roommate was already sound asleep. We quietly maneuvered over her belongings to our beds. There were backpacks, textbooks and shoes scattered on the floor, clothing hung up on hooks, paper and color pencils on the table. Does this girl live here? Looks more like her bedroom.
We were debating whether if we should shower or not. If we unpack our belongings, we will sure wake the girl up. But we really could use a shower, especially after the overnight train ride. Before we made a decision, Jennifer had woken up.
“Oh, hi! You guys are so late. I thought no one was going to be here tonight. I had the whole room to myself for the whole week.”
For the next half an hour, Jennifer continued talking to us while still tucked in her bed, like we were her old roommates. She seemed very happy to finally have someone to talk to.
Jennifer is from Malaysia. She was studying for a semester in China at that time and before heading back home she decided to do some traveling. It was strange how we clicked almost immediately and talked like long lost friends. For some reason, I bond with all the Malaysians.
What made this girl so special is her caring and motherly nature. She loves looking after people, maybe because of the fact that she always does things for her parents and three sisters back home. Even though she is not the oldest child, she takes care of her siblings like a mother – she cooks and cleans for them when she is home. She also loves helping people, even strangers. She accompanied an American tourist around town to look for a part for his camera. How many people do you know would do that?
So naturally she wanted to take care of me and my friend too, for those two short days we spent together. She encouraged us not to buy bottled water and drink boiled water instead. I was surprised to wake up one morning with glasses of cooled down water from the kettle that she prepared for us to fill into our water bottle!
She also expressed her concern about me traveling alone because I look “so gentle and weak.” I was hearing this from a girl that’s smaller than me and 12 years younger than me! I should be the one worrying about her. When I told her that, she replied, “But I have a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I can protect myself and run away if I am in trouble.”
Oh….I see. 🙂
We had fun traveling by bus to see the Terracotta soldiers, eating together and doing silly things at our hostel at night, such as having her show us some of her Martial Arts moves.
My friend and I were still in bed when she checked out early in the morning. She left us another surprise – a farewell note written with her fancy markers and some sweets.
It is really about the people you meet along the way…We live our lives, separated by the Pacific Ocean, but we continue to keep in touch the past five years. We even had two short reunions since then.