I’m sad to hear about the fighting in Thailand. It looks like insurgents who’ve been involved in a decades long movement have hurt many people. We were traveling through that magical country just over a month ago.
Since we did a lot of walking and kept a minimal lifestyle, we encountered many people who live there. And we were met with such kindness. Hosts of guesthouses, restaurants, tuk tuk drivers, and the people in between went out of their way to help us. Almost always, this aid was given with a smile and grace.
We had a lot of difficult situations. There was nothing harrowing, but any time we sought help we found it there. One time we took a songtheaw, the converted pickup bus, too far. At the opposite end of Ayutthaya from our destination, with heavy packs, we jumped off the truck and walked up the road through humid ninety degree weather. It wasn’t long before a tuk tuk came up and stopped at my wave.
The middle aged driver, who wore a light green checkered shirt, sported a clean cut hair and an easy going demeanor, had never heard of the guesthouse we booked. He tried to figure it out as I showed Google map to him on my phone, something he had no experience using. Although he didn’t know exactly where it was, we determined the approximate location to be near a familiar market and hopped on to head there.
As the driver made his way, he called to find out more specifics. When we reached the final turn toward the market, he turned the opposite direction. I called out from the back, afraid that he had missed the turn. But having the sense, from my experience traveling through Thailand thus far, that the driver probably had figured something out, I looked down at my phone.
Sure enough, we were heading toward the actual destination. We ended up right in front of the guesthouse, so happy that we didn’t have to walk anymore with our loads. The driver had a quiet smile, content that he was able to help us.
I asked him how much. Normally I would have negotiated a price up front, before the ride. But in our circumstances, and feeling the generous nature of this man, I held back at the start. When I did ask, our driver didn’t hesitate.
“No, how much will you give me?” he gently answered, chuckling. I laughed. How could I beat that? He pulled us through a hard moment. I gave him more than the going rate. He smiled big and thanked me, in the Thai manner, hands together as he bowed his head. My wife and I both returned thanks, unable to express in words but sending what we could from our minds.
This sort of interaction was common in Thailand. People love being able to help you out, love seeing that what they have to offer makes your life better. I felt so comfortable making our way through this land, despite never having been here. I felt confident that whatever trouble we may find, there would be someone to help. And time after time, help was generously given.
From what I’m reading, the bombings and fire fighting occurred in tourist destinations and areas of the royal residence. It makes me concerned for everyone there, but I think especially of the people we met and with whom we shared deep connections. I hope they aren’t hurt, although I’m sure they are affected. But I can’t assume that they haven’t been injured.
I want to share more stories of Thailand through the next few weeks. Part of this is to share the excitement and wonder we felt. And as always, I want to impart the impact of travel on our wellness. Finally, I want to give the world a closer perspective of this magical place that is now in turmoil. I hope it leads to good.