Since I was a young child, the most acceptable and universal advice I received from my parents was to not speak to strangers. I was trained to believe that all strangers were dangerous and untrustworthy. Thus, I dragged this constant fear with me over the years and I became this shy and quiet person, unable to make new friends in a new environment.
But over these past few weeks, I have been brave. I have been slowly getting out of my comfort zone and making small conversations with the people around me. I like to think that strangers are just friends we haven't met.
A week ago, I had arranged to meet with a young girl from Germany who had travelled down to Melbourne for a short stay. She had read my blog not so long ago and we had kept in contact through short, sweet messages online. Along with her two friends from Japan and Korea, we explored the heart of Melbourne.
I brought them to places that I had heard of and places that I knew how to get to. Growing up in the suburbs, the city is still an unfamiliar place for me even though I go there most of the week for school.
We travelled on trams to restaurants for lunch and giggled over sweet nothings during the trip. We darted past crowds at a festival to get our faces painted and watched pretty girls dance on stage in their flamboyant, colourful dresses. The streets were hustling with people who rushed by to get to their destination. We had no destination, we were just free spirited wanderers. We stopped here and there to capture images of buildings and landscapes that I had forgotten were beautiful because I had seen them countless of times. I made a promise to myself right there to look at things as though I had never seen them before. Only then will I remember how marvellous things are to the naked eye.
mai gazing at the view
the shrine of remembrance
the view from the steps of the shrine
pretty girls lining up to go on stage
evening naps at the gardens
the city alongside the yarra river
The days fluttered by and then it was time for them to leave. I brought them to the train station and we said our goodbyes with long hugs that broke my heart. We promised to write to each other and send postcards wherever we are in the world. And then my life resumed back to normal, back to the cycle of school and sleep. My world is quiet again.
mai, lucy and mai linh at the station
I can't believe how lucky I am that I had become good friends with a couple of strangers all the way across the globe. To be able to meet with these lovely ladies from different countries, of different ages and backgrounds because of my blog still has me speechless. I feel incredibly blessed and only hope to meet more amazing individuals throughout my life.