Nov 2, 2023


Can you believe it

I heard a story about coincidence recently from a member in a meeting at Heart and Parcel English learning group. It is about how she bumped into a stranger who was sitting next to her on her flight home.  In the conversation, she found out that they were living five minutes away from each other in London.  In fact, the stranger was also a nanny.  And not only that, but they had been collecting children from the same school!  Every day! Can you believe it?!

Inspired by predestined

I learnt that we can also call these kinds of coincidental events “predestined”.  The story inspired me to see if I have ever had a similar event happen to me before.  A few faces appear in my head.

An adventure started

It was a summer holiday decades ago.  I joined a team of three young ladies to travel around Europe for two months.   We were all inexperienced backpackers.  But what we lacked in experience, we more than made up for in adventurous spirit. You can imagine that loads of silly and troubling things could happen during the trip.  Here is my story about a series of predestined events which would result in decades long friendship.

A Warning

It happened on the train from Paris to Nice (Southern France).   We met some backpackers on the  journey, and they warned us to be very cautious about pick-pocketing when we traveled to Rome,  as it was notorious for crimes against tourists.   We started to panic after hearing that as we were going to Rome the very next day.  We came up with an idea which was to look for some backpackers from our home  city to travel with us, but we forgot it very soon after we approached Nice Station as we were all absorbed by the breath-taking coastline and forgot the idea.   We got on another train straight away to continue our journey to Monaco (another 30-minute ride) as if we had never been warned.

a photo of the train station in NIce

Two young men

After a beautiful day out in Monaco, we returned to Nice Station in the evening to catch the night train to Rome.  We then remembered  that “outstanding task” – to find someone to travel with us.  There was not much time left before our train arrived, but we took this lapse and tried our luck, and hopefully we could find some Hong Kong backpackers who had a similar schedule to us. We split up into two teams;  one to stay and watch our backpacks, and one to go walking around the station and look.  I really couldn’t believe my eyes the moment I saw my friends coming back with two young men. Starting from that evening, they accompanied us on our journey to travel to a few more cities until the date of their scheduled flights back to home.  

A Mystery

My friends told me afterward that they would have missed out on these two men if they hadn’t been playing Chinese chess during the last round of my team checking the station.  It wasn’t until my friends saw they were playing it that they realized they were from HK. It is still a mystery to me why these men would like to “travel” with us, or actually “take care” of us as I thought we were probably a burden to them.   

What if…

We have been good friends until now.  I wouldn’t have such a wonderful friendship if no one told us how unsafe Rome was, and if they hadn’t played Chinese Chess at the station.  I would call these events predestined.   Having talked to strangers on public transport or having travelled with strangers that you met along the journey are not something uncommon, I think, but a friendship that can last more than three decades would definitely not be something that happened by chance. Without everyone’s effort, we could lose the friendship along the way.  Thank them for accompanying me on my journeys.  Because of them, they were never boring and troubling.

You can make it be

A coincidence is not meant to be a nice one, but we always can do something to make it be.  Predestined events bring people together, but it does not necessarily have a happy ending. Do you agree?  I wish yours a happy ending, too. 

Special thanks to Svetlana

At last, I would like to say thanks to Svetlana for inspiring me to reminisce about this amazing trip. I hope my story will also lead readers to some of their sweet memories.

Heart & Parcel