‘Faces of Thailand’ is a guest post by my cousin, Ron Clinkenbeard. It is the conclusion (and perhaps the highlight) of his series on Thailand. I hope you will enjoy this final chapter as much as I have!
Traveling with expectations and then having them exceeded or unfulfilled is the primary thing I enjoy about travel. I have found that my expectations are usually exceeded. On my jaunt to Thailand, it was the ironic observations – people with so much less than I have that are so happy and so content. I was told that you can identify the poor people by them not having shoes. Daily Per capita income in Thailand is only $15. ‘Faces of Thailand’ is my offering to you — that you might see the value, pleasure and joy inherent in person to person contact across culture.
As I indicated in Thailand: Chiang Mai Adventure, I accompanied my sister and her husband to Thailand to visit a Thai exchange student, ‘First’, whom they had hosted four years earlier as a junior in high school. We spent time in Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Bangkok, and these are the people who made it especially meaningful. These were the person-to-person connections I enjoyed, sometimes simply the response to asking, “May I take your photo?”
Faces of Phuket
This is First and his parents, My and Nok. Nok is assistant chief of police in Phuket, and as you can see, he was amazed and delighted when my brother-in-law Jim gave him a Seattle Police Force cap. While I was in Phuket, I was treated like royalty because of our connections with First and his family!
I met Oy on the Patong beachfront. He is a tuk-tuk driver and was offering to take me on a city tour. I admired his shirt and coaxed him into joining me for a selfie. I saw him later in the day almost 20 miles away while he was taking some Finnish customers on that city tour I declined.
Faces of Kanchanaburi
In Kanchanabura, I met Ning and her cat “Chicken”. Ning was a helper to her mother who ran a food stall by the train station at the River Kwai. The violinist was, of course, playing the theme music from “Bridge on the River Kwai”. And the young soldier trainees? Thailand has a modified form of universal military service. The young woman in the center was the only one that spoke with me and introduced herself with an English name of “Spy”.
Faces of Phang Nga Bay
I met Mohammed and Naha on my boat excursion. They were newleyweds from Giza. We talked with each other for a long time and exchanged contact information. They had wanted to honeymoon in the United States — Hawaii or Las Vegas, but it was too expensive. I have remained in touch with them and am delighted to report that they now have a son, Omar, born 9 months later!
Faces of Chiang Mai
This man had gone to Australia for chef and restaurant business training. He visited with us at our table long enough for us to find out that he had twins celebrating their first birthday…and he brought them out for us to meet them.
Mr. Singhut gave us some insight into Thai economics when he drove us around Chiang Mai for almost 3 hours which cost us 300 baht total (that’s about $9.00 USD). I suspect that received some commission for delivering us to several businesses demonstrating local crafts and selling wares.
Via sign language, we established that she did not know that Starbucks was a coffee company.
Faces of Bangkok
On my first full day in Bangkok I had been walking for four hours and was ready to sit and hungry enough to eat. This shop was in a small alley and when I saw the sign and this woman sitting by the entrance, I simply asked, “Are you the Queen?” When she answered yes to that question and yes to my follow-up: “Is it delicious?”, I stopped for lunch. The food was so good, that I took Linda and Jim to eat there after they arrived three days later.
This gentleman was a retired rail worker and as a benefit he was able to ride the train at no cost, which he did almost every day! He proudly showed me his worker ID and a photo of himself in his uniform.
Grandfather was coaching his grandson in saying, “hello”! And these two enterprising young ladies thought that I looked like a good candidate to buy a condo in a new development being built in Bangkok.
Meeting the people of Thailand and interacting with them in their every day settings was much more satisfying than just being a tourist. Hopefully, you have enjoyed meeting some of the wonderful people I met. And perhaps you will be more inspired to search out the story behind the faces wherever you travel!
If you’d like to follow Ron’s adventures in Thailand, please see:
Please share this post so others can enjoy it, too!