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April 07, 2005

How it works in Thailand

The story goes that the people who are in real trouble after the tsunami are the Sri Lankans. The Thai people know how to take care of each other. They take each other in. In Sri Lanka, somehow it's different.

This is the kind of thing that happens here:

—I was hitching from the Vol Center to the 100 Days site a while back, and the ride that stopped was another volunteer, with a bike hanging off the back of her little Jeep/Samuri thing she was driving. She hopped out, demanding someone who speaks Thai. She had found a man at the side of the road, near his bicycle, doubled over clutching his stomach. She put him into the car and went looking for someone who could find out what was wrong with him. All she knew was that he was biking from BKK to Phuket (though he had hardly any gear).

A Thai man who was standing out front talked to the guy who was sick. After the first sentence, the man immediately reached into his back pocket and pulled out a few hundred baht and gave it to the sick man, who thanked him with Wai. Total stranger, just gave him money without even thinking about it. Everyone decided the next stop was Takua Pa hospital. The man's only English words were "Monkey Bite" as he showed scratches on his arms. He was taken to the hospital right away.

—When I had needed to go back and get my face checked, a Thai couple drove me the 40 minutes to the clinic, translated with the doctors, waited for me to get finished, and talked with the radiologist. Then drove me 40 minutes back. They wouldn't accept anything in return but a "Thank You."

—When being sent off by a Thai person, they make sure you are safely into your ride and the driver will take you to the right place, and they bully the driver into getting out and taking your bag and making triple sure you are in the right place.

—You barely have to hitch at night sometimes. Just walking along the street will cause someone to stop and ask Where You Go. In groups, alone, a Thai person will drive you a single block if they think it will help.

—Sometimes drivers will travel out of their way just to give you a ride, even though you think it's on their way. I've had plenty of people drive me up the hill to the vol center then turn around and go back where we came from.

—People will watch out for you and check on you when you are walking. Monty the tailor rides his motorbike along the Khao Lak strip on big drinking nights to give people rides back to the hotel. It's only a few blocks' walk. But he wants to help.

Posted by sedda at April 7, 2005 09:35 AM