Shengliver’s Note: Houlin the teen met a very friendly stranger in Lanzhou.


It was a trip with my father I took to Lanzhou nearly eight years ago. I cannot remember much of the scenic spots we visited there, but a family, who were complete strangers to us, stay in my mind forever.


One day on the trip my father and I decided to make an excursion to a famous place of interest. We found ourselves in an unfamiliar area and pretty soon we had to admit that we were lost. A bit panicky, we decided that if we still could not find the place we would have to retrace our way back to the hotel. After going about the area for an hour, disoriented, we had no choice but to quit.


We stood by the road, trying to hail a taxi. No taxi came our way though. Then a car pulled by. A smiling man got out of the car and walked straight to us. He said that he was a tourist too and that he thought we had been lost judging by the way we stood by the road. He invited us to join him and travel together. “Two families will have much more fun,” he said.


At first my dad refused it. He did not trust the man. But the man insisted. After seeing his wife and son greeting us from inside the vehicle, we accepted it.


The man was great. On the way he kept talking so that we would not feel lonely. When it was lunchtime, he treated us to a meal with his family. At table we exchanged so many anecdotes with each other. As a result our journey had no lack of joy and laughter.


When we bid farewell to each other, I felt warm. I used to believe that humanity had been lost to distrust and suspicion, but after the encounter with the family I thought differently. In this cold world, I can still find a bit of warmth. A spark from a perfect stranger is all it takes to rekindle a fire and melt the indifference, making the world a cosier place.


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