The Kindness Of (Almost) Strangers

By Stephen Ewashkiw | November 18, 2013

7,999 km so far.

I’ve been very fortunate with the yoga studios I have been able to teach at during our trip. The people we have met, the new friends we have made, have been overwhelmingly welcoming, generous, and kind.

A few examples:

Good Time For A Change

Today we are again the recipients of another round of generosity.

Sherri, the owner of Beijing’s Fine Yoga, where I taught when we were in BJ, has built a magnificent yoga retreat centre in the mountains of southern Hubei Province. We now find ourselves here as her guests.

The retreat is sublime. We are surrounded by a bamboo forest, sleeping in a bamboo cabin, and there are winding paths off into the ‘woods’ for us to wander along and explore.

cabin in bamboo at china yoga retreat

Little yellow lanterns light the winding staircase up to our hut.

We are practicing yoga in the tranquility of our hut, preparing for a shift in our journey as we head to Shanghai shortly, and soaking up the fresh, clean air which we have been missing for the past few weeks.

bamboo hut fine yoga retreat

The view from our bamboo hut at Fine Yoga Retreat.

Jane’s note: Now that it’s official, we can share an exciting development and crazy left turn in our plans for the rest of the year. Stephen has been offered a residency at Karma Life Yoga in Shanghai for 4 weeks, so instead of struggling through another month of unrewarding cycling, we are moving to Shanghai!

In December, we’ll head to Hong Kong for Christmas, where Stephen will be teaching some Boxing Day (Day After Christmas) classes and more. After that, we’ll resume our cycling journey south.

We have been receiving some amazing tips from lots of kind people we have never met about travel in South East Asia. We are starting to work on a loose itinerary base on these.

The Little Things

And then there is Divya, who we met today. She is one of the students here for Teacher Training.

people on path in bamboo forest

Divya and Stephen, with friends in the background, chatting on the steps at the Fine Yoga Retreat.

When we needed to book train tickets to Shanghai, the helpful staff member here ran and got Divya from her room, so she could act as a translator. She didn’t have to, she was on a break from classes, but it was incredibly helpful to us.

Once the tickets were booked she ran up to her room and came back with gifts for us. Chocolate chocolate chip cookies and an ornate bag filled with chocolates. This is a gift we can definitely get behind. She couldn’t have known that we (especially Jane) have been desperate for good chocolate since arriving in China.

This small, kind gesture of hers meant the world to us. So much so that we are considering carrying around gifts of our own to bestow upon random strangers.

Culture Shock

Some of the wonderful aspects of Chinese culture shine through in these examples. People are very generous, want to share what they have, and often give small gifts as a way of saying hello, thank you, and it was nice to meet you.

Is that a panda bear? In the bamboo forest above Fine Yoga Retreat.

Is that a panda bear? In the bamboo forest above Fine Yoga Retreat.

The past few weeks have been a challenge for both of us, and without the amazing generosity and friendly nature of the Chinese people, we probably would have high-tailed it weeks ago. Before we head to Shanghai, the largest city in the world, it is wonderful to be able to recharge in such a pristine setting.

Namaste, yo.  

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  1. Comment by Taina

    Taina November 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

    That’s great news! Good luck in Shanghai – I’m happy you guys have found a fun place to settle in for a short while. Just don’t stop blogging :).

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen November 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Don’t worry. We wouldn’t dream of stopping.

  2. Comment by Davrick

    Davrick November 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Wow, what great news! Enjoy Shanghai and Hong Kong!

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen November 20, 2013 at 6:09 am

      Thanks Davrick. Very much looking forward to living and teaching in a big city again for a bit. Thirteen classes next week!

  3. Comment by Tony Giuliano

    Tony Giuliano November 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Wonderful. Love to you both!!!!

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen November 20, 2013 at 6:08 am

      Thanks T. Back at ya!

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