Postcards & Passports

Faces of Thailand (the stories behind the people I met)

This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019

‘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.



Father and son at the park; Mother had the same clothing too, but was too shy to join in on the picture.

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


Mohammed and Naha – newlyweds from Giza

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


Restaurant proprietor and twin sons

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 – Tuk-tuk driver

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.


Concessionarie in the Doi Inthanon National Park



What is Starbucks?

Via sign language, we established that she did not know that Starbucks was a coffee company.

Faces of Bangkok


Queen of Curry

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.


On the train

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:

Thailand: Chiang Mai Adventure

Thailand: Discovering Phuket

Bangkok: the New York City of Thailand

Please share this post so others can enjoy it, too!



23 thoughts on “Faces of Thailand (the stories behind the people I met)

  1. Pingback: Bangkok: the New York City of Thailand - Postcards & Passports

  2. Anne

    Ah love this. It is often the people we meet that make our trips. Some of my best memories are of random encounters with people who changed the whole feel of a visit.

  3. Natasha

    I can totally relate to this article as I have travelled round Thailand and your trip along with great memories are made up with the people you meet on the way.

  4. Mei from Travel with Mei and Kerstin

    What a lovely post from your cousin! Travelers tend to write about the landscapes and activities, and somehow forget about the people they meet. I’m glad to see that someone has finally blogged about the faces behind the stories! Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Paige W

    This is beautiful! I love the way that you’ve really opened up one of the true meanings of travel – the people and culture. I wrote a post about the people I met while traveling, but I love the idea of doing one from each country! So special!

  6. Stacey Billingsley

    It looks like you met some wonderful people you will never forget! It’s great that you were able to hear so many of their stories and share them. It looks like you had a great visit!

  7. Tracey

    What a lovely post! I travel a lot with my family and feel getting to know local people is the absolute best part of visiting any place. I visited Thailand with my Husband the year I was pregnant with my Son. We took a multi-city tour with a great tour company but I have to say, Chang Mai was my favorite. I feel inspired to visit again, you reminded me of the great people we met there!

  8. Karla

    This is a really lovely post, I believe that the people you meet while you travel inspire you and they also contribute a lot to your trip. They always leave an imprint on you.

  9. Barb

    Thai people are really wonderful and this comes across your photos as well. These people seem so genuine.

  10. Amelie

    The photo of the lady with the Starbuck’s t-shirt made me giggle. I saw so many t-shirts with poorly translated english messages on them in South East Asia, it would have made for a good photo series. I don’t quite know why they love having gibberish messages on their t-shirts! Funny.

  11. anto

    I love the Thai people, so colorful and friendly. I can’t wait to go back one day because my last visit was more than 10 years ago. Great and inspiring post!

  12. Dorene

    What a warm and inviting post – just like the people of Thailand. Thanks for sharing this. Love seeing the all female military trainees!

  13. Sandy N Vyjay

    Loved reading this post, so fascinating. When we travel, one of the most interesting aspects is all the people we meet in the course of the travels. It is so interesting to relate to these people and realize that people are the same everywhere,

  14. Lauren

    This is so wonderful! I loved reading little things about their lives, having these small glimpses. I find that some of the things I remember the most about traveling are the people I meet!

  15. Sia

    You’ve created such a colorful gallery of faces! So interesting especially the young military girls! It is great when things are even better than your expectations!

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