Part of this travel blog is not just to share photos and experiences with family and friends. It also serves a way to document my experiences for myself.
I feel very compelled to write about some beautiful people I have came across in this amazing country. These people serve as a pleasant, and much needed, reminder of what humanity really can be. Like most, I often find it difficult to relate to a lot of people...especially in the States. I love America, but due to the fast pace of life (career development, family life, etc.), it's difficult for many people to just live life...just be! We, including myself, are so concerned with serving ourselves that we forget so much about life and the people we live amongst. Often I feel out of place if I have a smile on my face, or if I look someone in the eye as i pass them on the street. Many people look at me like, "Do i know that guy? Why is he looking at me with those huge eyes and a smile?" I feel so refreshed with some of the people I have encountered in Thailand, and I'm confident that they will all play a large role in my personal development.
Where to start. Well, first, Thailand is aptly known as, "The Land of Smiles". How true that is. Everyone smiles here and you can't help but feel happy when you are greeted with a beautiful smile. There are a few people who work at our hotel/apartment who are terribly sweet. Som and her mother (who live at the hotel) have the kindest demeanor and they have made our days here so much brighter. Our van driver Ya, is never without a smile. This guy spends the majority of his days driving around the island...with no complaints. I refuse to forget their kindness and sincerity
We frequently eat at a food stand around the corner from our school...nothing fancy, but amazing, cheap food served by this sweet older lady. Each plate is less than $1. Yet she still brings us fruit plates, water, and fruit smoothies...for free! Of course, we give her extra money, which she kindly refuses even though we insist. It's amazing that this lady is able to make a living, but she is..and more importantly, she does it with a beautiful smile.
Yesterday, we headed to the vegetarian festival. They were having a fire-walking ceremony at a nearby Buddhist temple. Basically, chinese monks get spiritually psyched-out and...well, they walk on fire (well, hot coals)..crazy nonetheless. After the ceremony, we grabbed some delicious food at one of the many food stalls. We had this amazing mango salad, spring rolls, and this squash with coconut. We went searching for a place to sit down at the nearby tables, when this man grabbed us by the arm and walked us to this back area. We realized that we were in the back of this kitchen..the man told us to get some plates and silverware. Then he put us in this food line, full of soups, vegetables, curry, and rice. He said, "Eat..it's free!". These people were feeding hundreds of people for free! It wasn't so much that it was free...rather, it was the fact that everyone there was so kind and generous. We sat there with some local Thais and enjoyed delicious food and great company. We left extremely full, but we also left with a overwhelming feeling of happiness in lieu of the experience we just had.
That night (which is one of the main reasons I felt compelled to write this) we encountered some incredibly kind people. We were leaving the vegetarian festival, but we couldn't track down a cab. So we decided to hitch-hike. We were about 30 minutes away from our hotel, on the other side of the island. We flagged down a truck and asked if they were going to Patong. They couldn't understand anything we were saying, other than the word Patong. It was obvious that we were looking for a ride...with a huge smile on their faces, they told us to "get in" (something like that..it was in Thai of course). We tried to hop in the back of the truck bed, when the driver told us to squeeze in up front (He already had 2 other people in his truck..presumably his family). We just assumed that he didnt want people to ride in the bed of his truck. Actually, he was offering the inside of his truck to 4 strangers, while his family members jumped in the bed of his truck! We insisted that we sit in the truck bed, but the driver insisted more (it didnt help with the language barrier). We felt extremely bad, but the driver seemed happy to grant us this huge favor. We drove off....we came to a place about 15 minutes into our drive. He said (in Thai) this is my house...as we drove by. We realized that Patong was not necessarily on his way home. We felt even worse. We finally reached our hotel about 15 minutes later. After we gave them some money and thanked them repeatedly, we walked into our hotel with the biggest smiles, as we realized that we just encountered some truly beautiful people that just enlightened our lives a bit more.
A few nights ago, we dined at a nearby restaurant that we frequent pretty much everynight...Mr Tu's. This place is great! It's a family owned, open air restaurant, that also specializes in laundry services. So, you can grab a great, cheap meal, and have your clothes washed at the same time! Considering the fact that we go to Mr. Tu's evernight, it's no surprise that we've got to know the owners and staff. Basically, the restaurant is run by Mr. Tu, his wife, and his sister. Mr. Tu's niece, who's probably 8 years old, serves as a bus-girl. On this particular night, we were fortunate enough to dine with Mr. Tu, himself. While we were sitting there, he brought his plate of sweet and sour fish and rice, pulled up a chair next to us, and began to eat. This man is so nice! After he sat his food down, he ran over to a plant next to the table, pulled a little flower off the plant and gave it to one of the girls we were eating with. Then he began to cut up pieces of his fish and place some on each of our plates! Of course we shared our food with him, but we were very impressed with his generosity. This wasn't the most memorable part of the night. The conversation is what stuck with me the most. Mr. Tu is Buddhist, and he shared with us his thoughts about life. Mr Tu explained (in broken English) that "everyone he meets adds a little more to his heart". He explained how this was such an important aspect of his life, which I found to be actually pretty simple, yet very profound at the same time.
All of these people have added so much to my experience so far...and it's only been 5 weeks
Peace, love, and smiles