Crazy Coincidences (And Why The World Is Small)

by Brenna Holeman
Coincidences 1

Popayan, Colombia

That’s a photo of me and my new friend Pie, from Amsterdam. We met in Cali, although, after talking about our past travels, we realised we were also in Medellin and Salento at the same time. In fact, Pie and his friend Rutger are behind Kerri and I in a photo at a football game I recently posted to my Facebook page, though we didn’t know each other at the time.

After a crazy and hilarious night in Cali, the four of us got along well and decided to head to Popayan together. Although they only had a few days there before flying back to Holland, we made the most of it – we walked around the beautiful white city, we took lots of fun photos, and we laughed a lot. Pie is an incredible photographer, and one night he was showing me a few of his photos of his extensive travels through Central and East Asia. Looking through them, I immediately stopped at the following photo. “Was that taken in Vietnam?” I asked.

 Man in Hoi An

(Photo by Pie Aerts)

“Yes, in Hoi An,” he replied. “How did you know?”

I laughed – “I would recognise that face anywhere!” Because I, too, had a photo of that same man in Hoi An, taken one year before Pie’s photo.

 Man in Hoi An 2

Hoi An, Vietnam

I remember that man well, as he sat in a boat on the river running through Hoi An, always grinning and waving when I walked past. I spent ten days there, so I saw him often – on one of my last days, I had the courage to ask him for a photo, which he happily obliged. I loved Hoi An and its delicious coffee, its cao lau, its colourful lanterns and its smiling faces, and this kind man added to my wonderful experience there. It turns out Pie felt the same.

So there you have it – a Canadian girl and a Dutch guy hanging out in Colombia with the same photo from Vietnam. The more we travel, the more we realise these coincidences are quite common; sometimes, the more we travel, the smaller the world becomes. As I was waiting for these photos to upload here in my hostel in Quito, Ecuador, I was sitting with a Danish girl I met in Salento and an Australian guy I met in Medellin, and no doubt we’ll keep running into each other again and again on this trail down South America. It’s happened to me so many times, in so many countries. We bump into familiar faces, we share the same horror stories about that train ride in India, we reminisce about that hostel in Turkey under the orange trees – talking to other travellers inevitably brings out common experiences, and more often than not there is a lot to share and laugh about, complete with knowing smiles and nods.

 Coincidences 2

Now, I have a new friend, someone I can chat with about travelling, someone I can share memories of Colombia with, someone I can look to for inspiration. And when I visit Amsterdam next year and bump into Pie and Rutger, it won’t be a coincidence at all.

What about you? Do you have any chance encounters or crazy coincidences that have happened on the road?

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Jay September 7, 2012 - 7:26 am

It is so funny how small the world is sometimes!

Just the other day, my husband, a couple of friends and I were trying to return our rental car in Brussels. We were frustrated and grumpy having driven around for over an hour trying to find a gas station but they never seemed to be where they were supposed to be. We finally found one and pulled in to a queue behind another car. When our friend went in to pay he got to chatting with the guy ahead of us who was also Canadian and also trying to find Avis to return his car. He and his wife decided to follow us and when we finally made it to our destination, we met his wife who is Norwegian and happens to be from the exact town we are currently living in!

Small world indeed!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures September 7, 2012 - 1:34 pm

What an awesome post, gave me goosebumps! These synchronicties have happened to me so many times while traveling!!!

Sarah Dobson September 7, 2012 - 8:37 pm

Wow, so amazing! That moment you saw the photo would have been awesome. The world is sooo small! You have such a great, open attitude about traveling and about life in general that there’s no way these kinds of synchronicities couldn’t fall into place!

liveletlive September 8, 2012 - 3:37 am

The world is so small but large at the sam time!

Kelly September 8, 2012 - 8:30 pm

When I was living in London I attended the wedding of a friend and distant cousin of mine. I met two of her friends who’d both grown up in a small town near mine in New Zealand. A week later my friend Melissa and I were invited to dinner and drinks at the flat of her colleague, Anna, whom I’d never met. A few hours, and a few drinks in, her flatmates come home. And as it turned out, they were the same girls I’d met at the wedding the week before. In a city of about eight million I found that very spooky. Also, a few years ago when I was hiking the Grand Canyon with a friend, he bumped into a guy from his university class somewhere along the track.

This Battered Suitcase September 9, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Jay – That’s so amazing! I love stories like that…

Andi – I’m sure they have! It’s the best…

Sarah – Thank you so much! What a nice comment…

Liveletlive – I completely agree!

Kelly – Wow, that is crazy! I can only imagine the laughter you shared that night…

That Time We Went to San Agustín, Colombia - This Battered Suitcase March 28, 2014 - 1:04 pm

[…] that lead us from Cartagena to Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona, Medellín, Guatapé, Salento, Cali, Popayán, and Silvia, our appetite for Colombia was not quite satisfied. One of us read something, or heard […]

Morning Glory: London's Early Morning Rave - This Battered Suitcase July 20, 2014 - 10:19 am

[…] just so happens that my Dutch friend Pie was in town (I first met Pie in Colombia, and we’ve since kept in touch). He had first suggested that we meet for brunch, but I invited him to the rave instead. […]


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