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25 September 2011 / leggypeggy

The power of a smile and a wave

Every now and then we get photos of the people we see. At a stop for fuel, Gary shows three Tibetan women the photo he took of them and their yaks.

All across Central Asia and now China, I’ve waved and smiled at people (especially children) on the roadside, in houses and gardens, on bicycles and motorbikes, in buses, on construction sites, in fields and in workshops—actually anywhere they are that I can catch their eye.

Good grief, we are in a gigantic orange truck, so I think an acknowledgement that we are glad to be passing through their land is worth the effort.

Most people return the gesture or at least a cheerful nod of the head. Some wave furiously and shout hellos. Mothers nudge their children and urge them to wave. Some kids even blow kisses. It doesn’t always work. Today I saw an absolutely stunning Chinese woman, who greeted my wave with the grumpiest of frowns. Talk about lips like string! Maybe her boyfriend was late picking her up?

I have theories about those who show little or no recognition. Obviously, some people just won’t respond. But for others, I think we are sometimes trundling along so quickly that they simply don’t have time to react—that their wave comes when we are 50 metres down the road. Others, I fear, may see a large looming object, but their vision may be so poor, that they have no idea who or what has passed. I see so few people wearing glasses, that this must be the case way too often.

The Fred Hollows Foundation does a lot of wonderful work bringing better eyesight to people in the Third World. If you ever have a few dollars to spare, this is a good way to spend them. See

NOTE: If you have access to Facebook, please feel free to share this post with others. I can’t get on Facebook in China, so it’s impossible for me to let people know I am adding to the blog now. Thanks.


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  1. Louise M Oliver / Sep 25 2011 10:23 am

    Hi Peggy,
    I really enjoyed this post. As you say, many people might not see you, or might think that because they don’t know you, they can’t return your greeting. I imagine that it’s entirely possible that people might think they’ve seen a big orange truck that doesn’t belong there with people waving and decide not to take any notice. Can’t get over the grumpy woman though! There’s one in every crowd. I always like to wave or smile back even if I don’t think I know the person. And thank you for giving a plug to the Fred Hollows Foundation. It does such good work. Travel safely and be good and, most importantly of all, keep having fun.

    Best wishes


  2. Sy S. / Sep 25 2011 12:58 pm

    Hello Peggy,

    Yes it is always fun to wave at people and especially young people and children. One of my fondest memories is when I was in Bali and went on a rural back road and stopped by a school. Many of the very young students came out to greet me and my other two friends… we came by motorcycle.
    I guess there were about 30 or so kids. And since they did not speak English, I was communicating with them by being like a silly clown and doing a dance or animating taking photos etc. Also, they did know how to count… so we would all count aloud 1, 2, 3… 10 and they loved it. Many local people in many countries know the word “Peace” and two fingers extended and use it! One woman was holding a very young baby (1 guess 1 year old) and when I went near to say hello… the little one started to cry… never saw a white human person (with longest blonde hair and a camera). Little things like this stick with you and make for great travel memories. Also, a similar story in the back country of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, etc.

    Thanks for continuing to post about your extra special overland travels…. and the photos…

    Sy S.


  3. leggypeggy / Sep 25 2011 4:21 pm

    Thanks Louise and Sy — the people make this trip. The scenery is pretty great too. But it is extra special when you are able to connect with the locals — even when you happen to make little kids cry, which I have done myself.


  4. neha(guddu) / Jul 28 2015 9:08 pm

    there is always a charm in being the first one to smile !!


    • leggypeggy / Jul 28 2015 9:31 pm

      What a wonderful way of expressing it. Now I’ll always try to be the first one to smile.

      Liked by 1 person

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