On my recent trip to Thailand I was struck by the generosity and gratitude of the people. Really, the overall happiness. It is a struggling country in many respects, currently in the midst of tremendous political unrest. Yet, despite this, the average citizen seems completely content, almost strikingly so. On several occasions I had to stop and confront my own confusion. Were these people really extending such kindness to people they didn’t know, without the desire for anything in return? After a somewhat ill fated bus ride to the rural area of Koh Sam Roi Yot, we were dropped off on stretch of road that seemed to be particularly deserted. Suddenly we found ourselves at the mercy of the only other person around, a man who ran a small food cart, and did not speak a word of English.
After much discussion about the meaning of the word “taxi” we were informed through hand gestures and sad expressions that there were none. Suddenly, a family (complete with a grandma and a several infant children) pulled over and motioned for us to get in. We spent the next half an hour going back and forth charades style, trying to tell them where we were staying. For anyone who has been to New York City, you know, this is a LONG time to be discussing directions. But they never seemed annoyed or at all inconvenienced.
This family drove us around for over an hour, stopping every ten minutes or so to check their maps and converse amongst themselves. I realized while I watched them that if we didn’t find the hotel we would be staying with them. These people had in essence adopted us. It was amazing to me, and yet I didn’t think it should seem as amazing as it did.
In a fabulous joint effort on behalf of the family, they delivered us safely to our hotel, woke up the manager, discussed the situation and got him to take us to our room. After a series of thumbs up and other various universal signs to let them know we were safe and would be alright, we said an awkward goodbye. This exchange was something I will never forget, sure we had only known these people for a few hours, but they were genuinely worried about our well-being. Why? That is probably a question they themselves would never think to ask.