3rd of July 2020, Valencia, Spain. It is summer, it is the time of the year again, where we sweat without doing anything, we suffer from the overwhelming summer heat, we miss the rain, that we hated so much at the beginning of this year – again we are in the Valencian summer time.

I have been living here for almost 14 years. Time passes by quickly and so did the last year as well. I’m sitting in my friend’s garden with a cold coffee in hand and the sound of wind chimes for company. It is a magical place. Out of the city, surrounded by nature I feel so far away from everything.
I was sitting here uncountable times, so many dinners, parties and conversations, I almost feel that nothing has ever changed, but yet, everything is different since the last year.

One year ago on the same day, I was not even close to this place nor to my friends or family.
After an intense year in 2018 I decided to make some changes in my life. I quit my job and left for an extended trip solo for the first time. In June I went to Thailand and volunteered 3 weeks in a school in Chai Nat. It was an extraordinary experience that I enjoyed very much.
After Chai Nat I headed to volunteer in an hostel in Kachanaburi, in the west of Bangkok. As I learnt some months later, it should have been a turning point in my trip and also in my life.

The first day of my stay in the hostel recovering from a long trip. In the heat and humidity of the Thai summer the company of the owner, his cousin and his friend from Czech Republic passing around some fresh beer.
The next day I got introduced to the daily tasks of the hostel. Cleaning, changing bed linen and over all being with the guests and make them feel like home – this was the spirit of this really unique small hostel in this small city.

On the same day I came across three people who would have an enormous impact on my life, more than I would have ever expected. One amongst of these three people was Lauren. 
She was a guest staying with us for quite a few days. Having traveled around Asia, she was relaxing in this friendly place and taking a break from going around a lot. 
Later in the afternoon we expected two male guests from India. My colleague was not so happy about having two Indians in the place, I was shocked about the open racism.

When they arrived I was confused to hear them speak in English with each other. One of them was not looking very Indian either – or at least that was my impression at that time. 
It didn’t take long and we were sitting outside all together with some beer and vodka, that was sponsored by my Czech colleague.
A round of beerpong and a bit of salsa dancing later, we got into conversations about life, travel, work, and politics. I found it fascinating to learn about all the places these two guys lived in and over all I was thrilled to listen to their stories of Indian society. I couldn’t imagine how it would be to live there, besides what I gathered from some movies and the typical Indian character from TV programs.
The night ended up with hand reading, a lot of laughing and some foot massage – possibly due to the excess of alcohol.

Kitri, Adi, me

The next day I headed with Kitri and Adi – the two Indians – and slight headache to the Hellfire Pass and to one of the beautiful national parks nearby. We had a blast. We talked so much about everything we experienced and lived over the last years. Both had an engaging way to speak and I enjoyed their refreshing company.

We said our goodbyes the next day and exchanged contacts. Several days later, Lauren left the hostel too, heading to her next destination. At this point in time, I had no idea on how big an influence these three would have in my life.

And of course Lauren

Sometime later, I saw all of them again, but on different occasions. It was thanks to them that I started on a new path – with a new job, a new perspective, and new projects.

I ended up with Adi in Bangkok, with Lauren in Vietnam, and with Kitri in India.

So many such wonderful instances over the last year have brought us closer together, helping string a very special friendship. All this would have never happened to me, if our paths hadn’t coincided in that small hostel in Kachanaburi, Thailand.

Today, one year later, we were all reminded of this fun night we had just one year ago in Thailand, and how many things have changed for each of us over this year – a story for another day.

Looking at the pictures of those days in the hostel and the ones we took after across different places makes me happy and grateful to have met such special people.

Isn’t it funny how one day, just some strangers can change the way you look at your life?!