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It’s a small world! | Don't Ever Look Back

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It’s a small world!

It’s a small world!

You hear the phrase “it’s a small world” thrown around a lot. From the experiences we’ve had of seeing friends and acquaintances in the places you least expect, it’s gives you a pretty surreal feeling when you have one of these moments – a feeling that is enhanced the further you are away from home.

But what about randomly discovering about a new relative via the internet, specifically via this blog and our post A Filipino Wedding in Photos? Well that’s what happened to me this week when I discovered that Cristine, the solo traveling Filipina behind Wander to Wonder, is actually related to me!

The Discovery

On Tuesday afternoon I posted the Filipino Wedding link to our Twitter followers. Minutes later, the following tweet appeared in our timeline:

Cristinas Tweet to Us

Small world indeed!

After a conversation with Cristine on Twitter and a phone call to my mother, it turned out that Cristine’s mom Amalia was actually one of the 100 guests that attended my parents wedding in the Philippines and that she placed the wedding cord over my parents during their ceremony! In addition to that, my mom has a close relationship with Amalia who is in fact her first cousin, meaning that Cristine and I are second cousins and share the same great grandparents!

My parents and Cristinas Mom

My parents and Cristina's Mom (in blue) at the wedding!

You might assume that it’s normal for extended family to be reading our blog, but none of our family members actually knew about this site (well, until now that is!). Although our parents and close friends do know about our travel plans, we were keeping Don’t Ever Look Back a secret until our resignation notices were handed in to avoid too much information leaking out into our personal networks.

What are the chances?

It’s still quite unbelievable that Cristine managed to find me through the internet! Take these numbers/facts into consideration:

  • The population of Surigao del Norte (the province where the wedding was held and where our mom’s grew up) is approximately 400,000.
  • It might be an assumption, but not too many of those people would know someone who is traveling long-term.
  • Only 100 friends and family attended my parents wedding.
  • The tweet went out to 1,000 of our Twitter followers, of which less than 10 would have clicked through to the post.

When you take all of those numbers into account, the odds of finding a second cousin via Twitter and the Internet are minuscule! But that’s exactly what happened!

It’s fantastic to have discovered that I have a relative that shares the same passion for traveling that I do and both Amy & I are looking forward to meeting Cristine at some point during our round-the-world adventure, most likely in the Philippines!

When have you thought “it’s a small world”? Share your experiences in the comments!

Flickr Photo: stevecadman


  1. Posted May 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    that is absolutely insane! I love it when stuff like that happens, makes life just so much more amazing.
    Scott recently posted..Singing The St Louis Blues

    • Posted May 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      It was a definitely a big shock! Life throws up big surprises like this sometimes and it’s about time we got a good one! 🙂

  2. Posted May 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    WOW, that’s amazing! The power of the internet is somewhat scary… but in a good way!
    Katherina recently posted..Small is Beautiful Confession of a Food Enthusiast

    • Posted May 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh yeah, it is a little scary – you never know who’s watching you online! Haha.

  3. Idelish
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Amazing story! What a small world indeed!! I say to myself ‘what a small world!’ all the time when I am on Facebook. Someone adds me as a friend and then I find out that we’re mutual friends with a bunch of my friends! This is happening so much more often now that everyone is on Facebook!

    • Posted May 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Great example! It’s always strange when you see a new friend on Facebook has mutual friends and you just have to wonder to yourself how the hell they know each other!

  4. Posted May 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Wow – the world really is just getting smaller and smaller! Such a cool story.

    It doesn’t involve technology but I met a girl at the Indian consulate in Kathmandu in Nepal who happened to be staying at my guesthouse. We talked for five minutes one day and then I was in an off-the-beaten-track tattoo parlour (long story!) about three weeks later in Mcleod Ganj in India and guess who walked in…!!

    It gets even weirder…another three weeks after that I was in Pushkar, a town in Rajasthan, a totally different part of India and was wandering through the market and who do I see come wandering the other way?? So, so weird! Never saw her again though!
    megan recently posted..Harvest time in Bhaktapur

    • Posted May 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Wow, that’s an amazing story Megan!
      I love hearing tales like that… seeing her twice would have been strange enough but three times! And in such random places!

  5. Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve had a few small world moments, although none quite like yours! Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a former colleague about traveling and he said “you should really talk to my friend, Jodi, she has this blog Legal Nomads…” (Which I already follow closely and have exchanged emails w/ Jodi). Turns out he and Jodi worked together the summer after he and I worked together (us in Chicago and them in NYC). Then this week, I met someone at a networking event who then emailed me to introduce me to a friend of hers – when I got in touch with the friend, she said she already follows me on Twitter and reads my blog!
    Katie recently posted..My Ultimate To-Do List for Summer in Chicago

  6. Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Amazing the power of the internet, isn’t it?

    Recently I had an uncle pass away due to cancer, and I wrote a blog about how short and valuable life is and what we can learn from his passing, and out of the blue, people started emailing me from his work, old coworkers, even people that had bought stuff from my aunt off of eBay.

    It just amazes me at times the power that the internet really can hold.

    Awesome that you connected with a cousin, hopefully you all can meet up and travel some together!
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..6 Tools to Travel the World for Free

    • Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Quite amazing! It’s good that people that knew your uncle were able to connect with you via the internet… where would we be without it?!

  7. Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    That is so crazy cool! You just never know…and amazing too that you are both into travel! That is just awesome. And the pictures are just great…I know I thanked you before for sharing your pictures, but they really are wonderful!
    Stephanie recently posted..Rhythm At Sunset- The Drum Circle

    • Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      It totally is cool, huh?! 🙂

      Thanks for the kudos on the photos, I wish I could accept them but credit has gotta go to my parents wedding photographers!

  8. Posted May 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Hello Cuz! 🙂
    There are so many travel blogs out there, and I like so many but usually have no time to read everything. I am still amazed until now. With my stay in Chiang Mai, I actually got to meet bloggers whose stuff I read, so that itself was kind of awesome already. But to meet a cousin, and one who loves travel at that, is really quite cool and wonderful!

    Hope to meet you soon!
    Cristine Tabing recently posted..Snapshot weekly- Mt Pinatubo crater lake

    • Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi cuz!

      As I wrote in the post, the chances of you clicking that link and finding that post were pretty tiny so it’s amazing that you did! Chiang Mai is very much on our itinerary for our round-the-world trip and we’re looking forward to connecting with other bloggers all around the world!

      But you’re right – for both of us to love travel, to blog, and to connect online is very cool. If my mom has any doubts about me traveling, I can just point to you and say that you did it successfully hehe. Look forward to meeting you in the next 12 months we hope!

    • Posted May 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      Oh wow, and here I am thinking I could point to you, too, when my mom start nagging me about her misgivings about me traveling. 😉
      Cristine Tabing recently posted..Snapshot Weekly- Children in Luang Prabang- Laos

  9. Posted May 20, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    As you say, considering you’ve only got 1000 followers (which is small considering Twitter has 300,000,000 accounts) the chances of your cousin finding you is unbelievable! I really do love the internet for things like this!

    I think my weirdest explain was in the first leg of my Asian journey last year. On my flight to Tokyo (which required a change in Hong Kong) I got put next to an absolute *insert swear word* (who’s breath smelt even with his mouth closed) who proceeded to tell me that I would hate Tokyo. Funnily enough, we didn’t talk for the rest of the flight and he got off at Hong Kong. When I ended up in HK 10 days later, I went to the Rugby Sevens final and who should be the ‘bouncer’ at one of the drinks stalls? Yes, smelly breath man!
    Not only that but on the first day of visiting HK, I ended up going to The Peak and saw two people from my flight to HK (from Bangkok) who were also travelling alone. £ of us in the same place? Awesome!
    Toni recently posted..6 ways to tell you’ve been travelling for a while…

    • Posted May 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Yep, the chances are tiny! Then the next day I found out that the US Green Card lottery is being redrawn… hmm, maybe it’s a sign? Haha.

      We’ve had a few similar experiences to that as well – sometimes it seems like you always see the people from your flights no matter where you are!

  10. Posted May 21, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    That’s so crazy! haha very small world..
    I’ve actually been debating this myself lately (about telling friends an family about my new blog..) but, can I ask why you decided not to tell them?
    Seattle Dredge recently posted..5 Reasons to Stay at an Airport Hotel

    • Posted May 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      There’s many reasons we haven’t told them yet – mostly because our round-the-world trip is still a secret from my work so the less people locally who know about it the better (then again, after this experience, who knows who’s reading!).

      We’ll definitely tell them about it when the time is right though. After all, the more readers/followers, the better. 🙂

  11. Posted May 22, 2011 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Oh wow! That IS crazy! First when I read the post’s title, I thought that maybe you bumped into a traveler who lived in the same area as you, knew a friend or a friend or something but not this! But yeah, it’s pretty awesome and comforting 🙂
    Leanne recently posted..Exploring Bratislava- Slovakia

  12. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Crazy indeed. Reminds me of the Six degrees of separation theory. It’s on Wikipedia, basically says that any two people in the world can be connected by a maximum of 6 links. Links being acquaintances.
    Mike Lenzen recently posted..Why Ashley Wants to Travel

  13. Posted May 24, 2011 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    That’s a very cool story! My fiance and I experienced this small world phenomenon when we were living in France for a year. We went to the Olympics in Torino and met a fellow Canadian who was studing in Germany. We sat together to watch our women’s hockey team win gold and hung out after the game. We expected to never see her again. A few months later we went out to a pub and who walks in but our friend from the Olympics. Showed us how small the world, or at least Europe, really is.
    Carolyn recently posted..Drinking up Korean culture

  14. Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Wow, who would have thought! But definitely, the wonders of the internet and the presence of FIlipinos practically anywhere, it’s not hard to find a relative! Who knows we might be 16th degree cousin or something. 😛

    • Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Haha after this experience, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit mate!

  15. Posted May 29, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    You sometimes hear these crazy stories about a small world, this is definitely one of them 🙂 A few years ago when I was in Australia I met a guy who told me he met an old schoolfriend from Europe that he last saw when he was round 12 or so. They never talked again since they changed schools, and then meeting each other in Australia… It’s really a small world sometimes 🙂
    Tijmen recently posted..Interview with Megan from OnMyWayRTW

    • Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Wow, the chances of that are pretty remote – especially considering how big Australia is! Love it!

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