The Land of Smiles After All

March 26, 2015

in Asia, Gabrielle Fishbaine, Spring 2015, Thailand

So I’ve had several technological difficulties since living in Thailand: my phone, iPad, and MacBook all have broken…but have no fear because all of those problems have been solved and replaced with good karma.

Last weekend I ventured on my own to a tiny man-made island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River called Ko Kret, which is about 26 minutes by taxi from my apartment. On many websites Ko Kret is highlighted as the perfect quick get away from Bangkok life for those who want to be surrounded by trees and get a taste of rural living/how Thailand used to be like. I was happily surprised when I arrived and learnt that no cars could access the island except for (of course) motorbikes. Therefore, there are no streets on the island, only tiny paths that wind their way in and around the island adding to its secluded charm.

I still can’t comprehend the amount of kindness that was shown towards me on this day, but it was the turning point in my Thailand experience that opened my eyes to how kind people here truly are. Here is an excerpt from my journal once back home at my apartment after my beautiful day trip to Ko Kret:

March 23, 2015

Today I had the most incredible (solo) journey. I decided to spend the day at Ko Kret, a tiny island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River known for its intricately carved pottery and greenery. Little did I know that the island is only really open on the weekends… but pay no mind to that because the day was still filled with happiness, kindness, and adventure.

As I miraculously arrived at Ko Kret on my very own *without getting lost*, a Thai couple whom appeared to be in their early 60’s immediately approached me and asked where I was from, what I was doing on Ko Kret, etc. I had been watching the man (in a non-creepy way) since before the ferry took us across the river to the island. He stuck out amongst the other Thai people; with his 70’s style blue tinted sunglasses, black graphic tee, and Doc Martin boots. Soon enough stories were being swapped. I learnt of how he grew up in Thailand, moved to Texas knowing 0 English until he taught himself, then later moved to Denmark to get a degree in Engineering. Before I knew it, him and his wife were buying me coconut ice cream, telling me about their family (several children all of whom live in different countries), and exchanging numbers in case I ever needed anything during the remainder of my stay in Thailand. I even talked to 2 of their children on the phone–which sounds kind of creepy as I write it down, but they were just so excited to introduce me to their life and Thai lifestyle in general! Both him and his son own several “businesses”—a common answer amongst those who are well off in Thailand. Not exactly sure what those “businesses” entail, but they must be doing pretty well for themselves since they frequently travel the world and own their own ISLAND?! Which they then proceeded to invite me to this weekend even though I had told them that I was going out of the country.

I can’t imagine being a foreigner in the United States and experiencing the amount of kindness that these complete strangers had shown me.

Not as if the universe owed me any more luck/kindness today, as I was walking back home I saw the sweet little lady who owns the convenient store near Amarin (my apartment).  She was finishing her dinner and waved me over to sit down with her and later go back towards Amarin together. She then asked me if I was hungry—always—and ordered me the best plate of noodles and pork that I have had in a while. After we conversed in a mixture of broken English and gestures, as it came time to pay she refused my money and called me her “other baby” apart from her three other daughters—she “has to take care of her babies”, she said.

On days where I get (too) easily frustrated with certain things in Thailand, such as the pushy Tuk-Tuk drivers, I need to think back to this day and of the immense amount of kindness and smiles that I was shown for no reason what so ever. Maybe I am finally seeing why Thailand is called the land of smiles after all.

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