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Saturday, September 29, 2007


Why Thailand?

On my first weekend back in Thailand I arranged to meet a friend and spend a day visiting Koh Kret, an island in the Chao Phraya River. I had been to Koh Kret once before a few years back. On that occasion I was taken by friends in a car. This time I travelled alone on a public bus.

Tong told me how to ask in Thai for my fare (easy) and then how to ask to be put off at the right stop for Koh Kret (more complex). When I asked the conductor for my fare she could not understand me and another passenger interpreted for us. I decided there was no point in putting the second request to her.

I sat on the back seat and towards the end of the journey the conductor came back and tried to ask me where I wanted to go but we could not understand each other very well. She went and got another passenger who came back to my seat and said, in English, 'Where do you want to go?' Between the two of them they made sure I got off at the right stop and had directions to the ferry wharf. They could have left me to my own devices but that is not the way of Thai people.

The next day I wandered down the street to a stall selling BBQ chicken. I ordered in Thai and the two stall holders chatted away to me in Thai while I was waiting for my order. Half of what they said I could not understand but that seemed irrelevant to them. When they became busy with another customer a young woman waiting for her food said, in English, 'Where do you come from?' Once again a conversation ensued. I don't think there was any purpose in either conversation except it was a pleasant way to spend a little time. This is what commonly happens in Thailand.

Another afternoon I got off the BTS Skytrain at Ari station where I was to meet my friends. I was feeling a little peckish so stopped at a stall to buy a pack of cookies. They were very cleverly packed and by time I'd gone about 50 metres I had still not managed to open them. I stopped to give the challenge a better look. I was thinking of returning to the stall when the young woman from the stall turned up beside me and opened them for me. She had noticed I was having trouble and had left her stall unattended while she came to help me.

Perhaps as single incidents none of these is a big deal. However, I include them here because in Thailand this sort of thing happens all the time. These simple incidents are examples of the friendliness and helpfulness that is so common in Thailand—the land of smiles.

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Photos of my visit to Koh Kret and Bangkok can been seen on my flickr pages, follow the links on the sidebar.
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