14 May, 2018

Four was recently approached by #TravelEverywhereWithLove – the world’s biggest global sculpture project, to see if we were interested in providing a permanent home for six of their iconic sculptures. The project aims to highlight that it’s more important than ever that we put our differences aside, and protect each other through love and togetherness using two unlikely friends.

Their two characters are Rabbitgirl and Dogman: two opposites coming together to become best friends and soulmates. Without a definitive race, religion, or culture, they symbolise the acceptance of all people as one. Rabbitgirl and Dogman can be seen all over the world including our London office.

In light of this, we asked staff to share a travel experience where they really connected with local people or were made to feel welcome in a community abroad. 

Take a look at some of our anecdotes below.

Piers Bracher, client services director, Four Creative 
Travelling in Thailand, we hired a jeep that broke down miles from anywhere late at night. The guy came out to fix it with all of his family on his scooter and, while he was fixing it, they cooked an amazing hot dinner by the side of the road to which they insisted we join. They didn’t speak a word of English, but it proved that true hospitality is an international language of friendship. 

Lesley Davidson, account director, Four Travel
Each year, we take a family holiday to a small village in rural France. One of the highlights is the simple pleasure of cycling every morning to the local bakery to buy bread and croissants. The baker greets us and gives our 3 year old daughter a biscuit and makes her day! We often stay to watch as he prepares batches of dough for the next bake.

Helen Coop, head of PR, Four Travel
Whilst in Jamaica for work years ago, I happened to see a guy walking in the Blue Mountains with a raffia chest on his back in the pouring rain. I said to my fabulous guide how much I liked it.  He stopped, bartered with the guy, who was walking to the nearest town to sell it, and it was mine!  It graced my living room for years and was not only a fabulous reminder of an amazing trip but made me smile thinking of how we saved that guy a long journey on foot in the rain.

Matthew Mcloughlin, senior account executive, Four Property
While at a homestay by India’s Keralan backwaters, we were taken, via canoe, along the narrow canals to experience the everyday lives of local residents – from cooking by the waterside to the washing up or yoga practices. 
Our host family in Munnar, India, took us to visit a local tribe for whom they had performed legal work and forged a close bond with. During our intimate tour around the village we were made to feel like part of the community, visiting the local school, tasting local fruits and being welcomed into family homes for team.

Debbie Hindle, managing director, Four Travel
While in Namibia I visited Penduka just outside Windhook. Simple bungalows by a river and a complex including a group of women who recycle glass beads for jewellery. In a room full of light humour and optimism I bought one of their slightly wonky dull glass green bracelets. Every time I wear it I can hear their laughter. 

Harriet Webb, account executive, Four Travel
On a road trip through the vast emptiness of central Australia, we stopped at Julia Creek – population of less than 500. A local shopkeeper introduced us to a baby kangaroo he rescued after its mother was killed in a road accident. He took a real interest in our lives in the UK, whilst showing immense pride at the town’s annual ‘Dirt n Dust’ Festival.

Rory Hall, strategic planner 
I had the pleasure of working in Madrid for a week. I got welcomed to the city by a colleague from Spain – Elena – who told me the story of the city and made me feel like a member of her family. She told me the story of the flowerbeds on the roof of the Royal Palace & the statues in the courtyard, a must-see for anyone.

Alice Hughes, marketing manager
During a volunteering project, I stayed with four friends in a Ugandan village called Bukoko with a Reverend and his wife Elizabeth. We learned the local language and were moved by how welcome the community made us feel. My highlight was when Elizabeth showed me how to cut down a matoke tree in one sweep (no matter how much I practiced, I could never do it with the same effortless grace).

Imogen Dunn, account executive, Four Change
When I went to Thailand I taught at a school where my mentor really took care of me and treated me like a daughter. She always asked about my family, what she could do to make me feel more at home and if there was any information I’d like her to translate for me for weekend trips. She helped make it a very unforgettable stay!

Zoe Poulton, senior account manager, Four Travel
I’ll never forget the impromptu performance I gave with the larger-than-life owner of a restaurant in Hanoi, ‘Mr Rice’. He asked me to sing the song ‘Fever’ and accompanied me with great gusto on his guitar. The fact he was playing a completely different tune made it even more memorable and entertaining – especially for my fellow diners!

Chris Baker, account director, Four Culture
We booked a pension in Lisbon in 2012 but were struggling to find the apartment. After walking up and down the street a few times getting quite hot and flustered the owner of a cafe came out to welcome us to the neighbourhood and ask us who we were staying with. He helped carry our bags to our door (up three flights of stairs). ‘Just let me know if you need anything else’.

Anand Subramaniam, video producer, Four Creative and Digital
The lonesome man in Villa Comunale. Completely absorbed by his paint-work on miniature wood canvases, hanging off a homemade easel. Words were not exchanged, but gestures instead. I signed for a picture and he kindly obliged. I tried to communicate my fascination of his work with smiles and more gestures. He smiled back, the humble street-painter of Sorrento, before we parted our own ways.

Emily Jones, content executive, Four Engage  
Whilst in Borneo, we spent the day at a remote beach and missed the last public bus back to the town. It was getting dark and stormy and we were a little stranded! Sensing our distress, a local woman working in the tourist kiosk gave us a lift, free of charge. We chatted about Borneo and Malaysian culture all the way back to the hostel which was almost an hour away! 

Yasmin Jensen, content manager, Four Engage 
When exploring the salt flats in Bolivia, I met 5 girls from different Central and South American countries: Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Bolivia. We discussed everything from the political landscape to whether llamas, vicunyas or alpacas were cuter (#teamalpaca).We got on so well that, a week later, I went to one of their weddings and, next year, we’ll be reuniting in Mexico!