The moment Roya walked into my hostel room that first afternoon in Amsterdam, I could already sensed a cool, badass woman I wanted to get to know more of. She had a leather jacket on and a gorgeous red tribal scarf wrapped around her neck and a pair of boots to pair. But it was that side-shaved, upper volume haircut that got my attention… how I wished my recently trimmed short hair is as cool.

She dragged her large black luggage in, said hi and introduced herself — Roya from South Africa. I knew right there and then that we were gonna be friends. I returned her introduction and started chatting from the top of the bunk bed I was assigned to – busy sorting out receipts and other things. I, too, literally just arrived in Amsterdam and checked-in to the hostel only an hour earlier before Roya.

A South African national of Scottish and Iranian descent, Roya is a writer/music journalist who recently worked in student development at a university back home. She was going to stay for a night and before reunited with her musician husband who’s flying into Amsterdam the next day. They would then embark on a train journey to their new home for the next three years, in a different part of Netherlands, Maastricht.

She asked if I’ve made plans for the night -which I did – but I was more than happy to walk around the city with her before my meeting with Floyd and Anca later. Without proper rest, we left the hostel in about an hour after she arrived and walked aimlessly around the city centre until we found a place for her to have dinner, and I, a quick munch.

Within those short hours, I learned another thing or two about Roya. One – she’s a vegan and of the Baha’i faith. What fascinated me about her most was her multi-ethnic (and global) family – Scottish mother, Iranian father, husband from Mozambique, sister-in-law from China and of course, an even more racially mixed niece (or was it nephew?). That’s like four continents’ representatives in a family!

But there’s this warmth and sisterly trait about Roya that I find comforting. She cares. After travelling for more than 24 hours, some friendly faces, kindness and warmth of people, help a lot to ease that exhaustion even for a bit.

After the walk around the city with Roya, I went to have dinner with my two favourite people in Amsterdam — Floyd & Anca (I’ll tell a story about them in my next posts) — before going back to the hostel, ready to get some work done.

When Roya came back, she hung out with me at the common area. She made herself a bowl of healthy thing (some oats and yogurt combo thing, maybe) and got me glasses of water, reminding me to get hydrated. We didn’t talk much that night — just telling each other what we did after we part ways — my dinner and her walking adventure. I was somewhat occupied with work and had a brief to complete so she just sat next to me until she was ready to get upstairs to sleep.

The next morning, I went down to the cafeteria at about 6am to get breakfast. I’ve been awake all night working and definitely could use some freshly brewed coffee, toast and eggs. Roya was already awake at that time too. She had to check-out. I told her to look out for me when she get downstairs. “We need a proper goodbye,” I said.

I waited for Roya. She didn’t come. She must have rushed out or something. So I messaged her on DM saying I was gonna looked for her. Moments later she replied, continue being the caring Roya I’ve learned in less than 24 hours:

“Hey gal yeah I looked upstairs and downstairs for you and couldn’t find you anywhere! I left exactly the time u sent this message. We on the train to Maastricht, husband dearest is going straight to the university when we arrive. Was absolutely smashing meeting you. Keep being epic for the remainder of your trip. Will be keeping myself updated of your progress and I want to start posting on insta daily so maybe you’ll see what we up to as well. Hope u manage to get some sleep this morning! Xxxxx”

I felt a bit sad for not getting to say goodbye to Roya in person but at least there’s the message and those short hours we spent getting to know each other in Amsterdam. About an hour later, I finished my breakfast, sent out an email to the team back in KL and went upstairs to get some sleep. I need my sleep to keep being epic. Thanks for the reminder, Roya. <3

Written on October 2 at Starbucks in Amsterdam Centraal while waiting for another awesome friend whose story will be told in this #StoriesFromMyTrip series. Roya is story #1.