Hitch hiking in Croatia

Croatia ended its daylight saving time and returned to standard time two days ago. We only realized it and its impact on us yesterday. The sky was almost dark by 5.30 pm. We were still 17 km away from our destination. The road is hilly, so we had to push our bike under the setting sun. The sun was setting fast but we were crawling due to the upslopes, not extremely steep but long, winding upslopes. Yi Xi was crying for “neh neh”, Tun Ling carried Yi Xi and walked while feeding her. Sean pushed the bike. Yi Xi refused to get back into the child seat, even though it is down slope and we could cycle. Tun Ling continued to carry Yi Xi and walked and darkness was approaching. Hitch hiking was on our mind.

Saw a lorry zoomed passed but we missed our chance to stop it. The lorry could possibly take all of us, including the bike. Some cars went by but we did not put up our hand. Heard one car coming and Tun Ling showed the hitch hiking sign. The car happened to be a pick-up stopped in front of us. The driver came down and asked if we needed any help. We told that we wanted to get to the nearest town. The driver told that the nearest town is 17 km away. There are some ups and downs which  was somewhat demoralising to hear. The driver thought that we could not make it in the dark and offered to bring Tun Ling and Yi Xi in his car. We were relieved and asked if he can take Yi Ken as well. Sean would cycle with the luggage. However, his wife and him had gone olive picking and his pick-up was full of olives. He stopped another van and asked the driver if he could take us. They were speaking in Croatian which we did not understand. The van could not take us. So, the driver and his wife moved the things from the backseat to the back to make space for Tun Ling, Yi Ken and Yi Xi. He told to bring Yi Ken and Yi Xi into the car first, so that they would not go on the road. So thoughtful of him. His wife helped to look after the kids in the car while Tun Ling helped the men with the luggage.The driver suggested that we removed our backpack and put in the trailer. He wanted to put the trailer on the back of his pick up, to make the bike lighter, so that it will be easier for Sean to cycle the hilly 17 km. We also removed all our panniers and loaded into the pick-up. The sky was dark by then. Tun Ling asked where should Sean look for us. The driver told Sean to ask people for directions to Hotel Korcula, where he would drop us and our luggage. He thought that would be a good place for us to wait as there is WiFi and we can be indoor. Yi Ken and Yi Xi were enjoying the cookies offered by the wife in the car ride. We passed Sean who went ahead first. Yi Ken saw the bicycle lights and the reflective vest in darkness and commented in Mandarin, “it is dangerous for Papa to cycle in the dark”. The driver was chatting with Tun Ling and he said that we did not looked like we have travelled for 7 months. He said that we were very organized and our luggage were well packed. It looked as if we just started travelling yesterday. When we reached Hotel Korcula, the driver asked his 17 year old son to come and unload the trailer as it is heavy. We cannot thank them enough for their help.

It was only at Hotel Korcula that we confirmed our Airbnb accommodation for the next two nights. When our Airbnb host came to pick us, he told that he has never seen such a vehicle in his life. He joked to his friend who walked by that our vehicle is from Mars and our kids can go to the Moon next time. Korcula town is full of steps and we had to climb 35 steps to get to the accommodation. The host got his friend and son to help us carry the trailer and bike up the steps. The host said that the way we travel is like how Marco Polo travelled to China. We laughed as it was believed that Marco Polo was born in Korcula. So, that was how we made it to Korcula. We had underestimated the 46.6 km between Vela Luka and Korcula. Tun Ling still commented that it is shorter than the length of Singapore.

Yesterday was the third time we hitch hiked from strangers. The first was in Rapla, Estonia where we hitch hiked for 2 km to get our hostel. We were backpacking and walking for 2 km full packed was too much for us. The second time was in Island of Pag, Croatia. Due to the strong and howling Adriatic wind (bura), which threatened to blow our loaded bike off course few times. We decided to hitch hike. Four German tourists in a car saw us and make a U turn to help us. They took Tun Ling, Yi Ken and Yi Xi while Sean cycled the last 6 km to Kolan. Seeing Sean pushing the bike against the wind, they stopped and loaded all the luggage except the trailer into the car boot. They brought us to the centre where we waited for Sean. We were very thankful to the German tourists who stopped for us.

We were extremely blessed to receive help from strangers when we needed it. In fact, we have been receiving help all the time from the people we meet. Thank you to all who have helped us in one way or the other. Without them, this journey may not be possible.

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