Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Something that annoys me about NYC is how far away everything is if you don’t live in the middle of Manhattan. It’s an understatement that all New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with our transit system, the MTA. Most train lines easily connect to Manhattan, but if you need to go from Brooklyn to Queens, there are few options that won’t force you to traverse through half of Manhattan. Often times, when I’m sitting on these hour+ long train rides perhaps on my way to visit a friend in Queens, I find myself fantasizing a utopian version of New York where I can easily hitch a ride with anyone who’s already driving toward my destination.

In reality, that fantasy has no chance to ever materialize. You’d be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who would let a stranger borrow their cellphone, let alone stopping their car in the middle of traffic to pick up a stranger. Who needs to hitchhike anyway when the MTA runs 24/7 and almost gets you to your destination for $2.75 $2.90 (2024 updated pricing)?

Asians and Hitchhiking? 

Growing up as a first generation Chinese American in New York City, hitchhiking was a foreign culture in which I never thought I’d partake. The word “hitchhiking” conjures up movie scenes which span from ’80s hippies with luggage in tow like Jenny from Forrest Gump, to naive teenager who gets kidnapped sharing a cab with a stranger in Taken. No one hitchhikes in New York, and certainly not short, unintimidating Asian females like me. I recently asked my mother who grew up in Hong Kong if she’s ever hitchhiked and she told me about the time a friend pulled up in a car behind her while she was walking uphill from school and offered her a ride. That clearly doesn’t count!

A hike around Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Well, there wouldn’t be much to this blog post if I never forayed into the culture of sticking out one’s thumb. My first hitched ride was completely unplanned and happened accidentally in Slovenia while I was traveling solo. It was a cloudy late September day and I had plans to hike a trail which hugged the north side of Lake Bohinj, half an hour away from the town where I was staying. 

City life didn’t exactly prepare me well for solo hiking trips. Even though I learned from Googling that Lake Bohinj is the largest lake in Slovenia, the “hike” I had in mind was a leisurely stroll around a body of water the likes of the manmade pond in Central Park. The trail measures 12km in length and takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. A waterfall lies to the west of the lake and my plan was to catch a bus after finishing the hike at the waterfall. The receptionist at my homestay gave me a bus timetable and I headed out without checking the weather.

As soon as I arrived at the lake, it started to rain. You know how in movies, there’s always a clueless character who shows up on a nature trip wearing all the wrong things? Well, I was the star of my own movie and I had set off on this adventure donning a denim jacket, hoodie, jeggings, and suede loafers without socks. I brought less than a liter of water and no food.

Rolling with the punches

There was a cafe in front of the bus stop so I ducked in, ordered lunch and weighed my options. Returning home felt like a wasted opportunity so I decided to buy a red umbrella from the adjacent convenience store. I asked the cashier for two plastic bags and some tape to wrap them around my calves. With my legs somewhat covered, I began my hike.

Female legs with red umbrella wearing suede loafers and plastic bags wrapped around calves
My amateur hiking outfit

Random fact I learned that day: when you’re cold, you pee more. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I had to pee every five minutes. Hardly anyone was silly enough to hike the length of the lake on a rainy September day so I peed in nature without worrying much about being caught with my pants down.

The outdoor WC at Lake Bohinj
The outdoor WC at Lake Bohinj. It was between this stinky doorless outhouse or the bush.
I fell in love with this sturdy red umbrella along the hike

There were definitely highlights and happy moments along the hike. When I reached the expansive opening on the western end of the trail, I found my reward. The rain finally stopped, the clouds dispersed and sunny blue skies reflected on the surface of the lake with mountains and trees dotting the horizon. This sort of natural landscape, as featured on the main image of this post, was a view I wasn’t used to.

Hindsight is 20/20

In retrospect, I should have ended my hike there and abandoned the last leg to the waterfall. Perhaps because of my lack of outdoor experience, my brain failed to send me any warning signals. At that point, I had completely run out of water and I don’t know what possessed me to continue onward. Luckily, I came across some houses in the fields and a lady with a fluffy white dog was kind enough to refill my water bottle.

The house I passed, where I asked for a water refill.

By the time I reached the entrance to the waterfall, I was famished. I was never a spiritual person but in telling this story, I must admit that we really can’t underestimate the powers of the universe. When I needed it most, the universe saved me with the warmth of a little cafe still serving food. There was even a small fireplace heating up the dining room.

After feeding my belly and warming up enough, I made it to the underwhelming waterfall at 5:37pm according to my photo’s timestamp. I snapped a few pictures and felt ready to head home. At least the bus stop is right here, I thought to myself.

Cold and stranded

The noob that I was, I didn’t realize that late September was past the height of tourist season which meant the bus no longer stopped at the waterfall’s entrance. When I figured this out, even the owner of the cafe had gone home for the day. I was stranded in the middle of the woods on a dark two-lane road surrounded by trees.

It had started pouring again and the rain had soaked through the plastic bags around my legs. Alone on the road, as I sloshed in my drenched loafers, flashbacks of pivotal moments throughout the day replayed in my head. One step after another, I recounted all the instances in which I could have chosen a different outcome.

The almighty powers of the universe

I was in the midst of drowning in self-pity when I suddenly saw a light illuminating the road ahead of me. A car slowed down and pulled over right next to me. The driver rolled down the window and I was relieved to see two young women in the car. Xenya, the driver asked if I needed a ride. No words can aptly describe the amount of joy and relief that overcame me that very moment. I hopped in the backseat without thinking. I didn’t have to stick out my thumb, but the universe answered my silent cry for help.

And just like that…

…my adventures in hitchhiking commenced. Since my first experience hitchhiking in Slovenia, I’ve tried it a bunch more times when it felt safe and made sense to do so. I’m not reckless though, and you’ll probably never find me hitching a ride on the mean streets of New York.

Keep scrolling for some select photos and highlights of my hitchhiking adventures

Okinawa, Japan

Locationfrom Shurijo Castle to Onna
Time spent waiting16 minutes
Distance42km / 26 miles
HighlightsThe first time I actually stuck out my thumb


Locationfrom Taitung to Fenggang
Time spent waiting~35 minutes
Distance91km / 56.5 miles
HighlightsEven though Kenting, my final destination was further than my driver’s destination, he said it was 75% of the way. He dropped me off at a local county bus stop to travel the last 25% of the distance.
I just had to take this picture because these days, it didn’t happen if there’s no picture to prove it!
Locationfrom Moon Bay beach to Tainan City Center
Time spent waiting0 minutes
Distance7km / 4 miles
HighlightsMy couchsurfing host and I had too much fun swimming at the beach and missed the last bus back to the city center. The beach had emptied out but there was still one couple strolling. I approached them and asked if they would mind giving us a ride back to the city. Lo and behold, we walked to the parking lot and our ride was a 🥁🥁🥁 MASERATI!

Christmas Island, Australia

In the back of a camper van – one among many of my hitched rides on Christmas Island
Locationfrom Poonsan to Kampung
Time spent waiting~5 minutes
Distance3.5km / 2 miles
HighlightsThere’s no public transportation on Christmas Island. But it’s incredibly easy to catch a ride with locals from the top of the hill to the Flying Fish Cove. I met so many locals on Christmas Island through hitching rides up and down the hill.
That’s me next to this beauty
The family I hitched a ride with were so kind. They gave me a whaleshark-shaped USB with the video footage of our encounter.
Locationfrom Flying Fish Cove to somewhere in the Indian Ocean
Time spent waitingn/a
Duration2 hours
HighlightsThere’s nothing to lose if I just ask~
The time I hitched a boat ride on the cove less than one week on Christmas Island and got to swim with two whalesharks for free ❤️

Leave a Reply