Sure, we’ve been scammed (sometimes due to our own ignorance or gullibility). We’ve grown wiser with these not-so-nice experiences.
But recently, while wintering in Thailand, we’ve discovered a welcome trait.
The motorcycle caper
It was Valentine’s Day and we chose to treat ourselves to a non-Thai restaurant for a change in taste. Little Paris, a small bistro---ten-minute walk from our condo---may be French in name and menu but its staff is Thai. And rightly so.
Our French meal in Thailand did not disappoint. Sipping fine French wine, we dined on tender filet of beef, finishing with an ice cream dessert laced generously with a vodka sauce. With spirits high, appetites satiated, we began to thread our way back.
As usual, the street was choked with traffic: open back taxis, motorcycles, cars, bicycles, vendors, people, dogs, children, even horses. All vying for space along the route.
Halfway home, my husband stopped. Gasped.
“My backpack! Left it at the restaurant! We have to go back!”
Just as we turned to return, a motorbike left the road and stopped in front of us. “You forgot your backpack,” our waitress said, handing it over with a smile. With open mouths of astonishment, we barely had time to utter thank you before she was back on her motorbike, heading back to the restaurant to serve more customers.
Sunglasses, especially the more expensive brands that offer better eye protection, are a must in Thailand.
Unfortunately, I have a nasty habit of misplacing glasses of any kind. Often, I find them perched on top of my head, or dangling, folded, from a blouse pocket, or carefully placed in the exterior pocket of my backpack that I carry everywhere.
On this occasion, we were in a nearby mall. While my husband renewed our cellphone contract, I wandered off to sniff out any bargains.
Of course, when it came time to leave, I couldn’t find my sunglasses. Retraced my steps here, there and everywhere. Nothing.
Where could I find a duplicate pair at a reasonable price? Impossible.
Without any expectation---and as a last resort---I approached the customer service counter. English is not the first language of those working this space. I could tell the clerk was baffled as I motioned with my fingers making round circles in front of my eyes. Am sure she thought I was a nut case and wondered how to handle this crazy farang.
She mimicked me, round finger circles in front of her eyes.
A lightbulb went on…she smiled (beautifully). Opened a counter drawer. Withdrew my Maui Jim glasses. “This?” she waved in front of me.
“Oh, yes, thank you!” I gushed. “Where did you find them?”
“Few minutes ago. Someone turn them in.”
She took my picture wearing my sunglasses. I guess for security reasons. In case some other wild looking farang came looking for the same pair.
With some anticipation, we hired a taxi to take us to see a special breakfast prepared for rescued elephants. The occasion: Chang Thai Day (Day of the Elephants), March 13, when Thailand honours its hardworking large mammals.
We watched these great beasts dive into a banquet of freshly cut fruits and vegetables with great gusto, obviously enjoying each bite of watermelon, corn, mango, pineapple and more.
Later that afternoon came a soft knock on our door. It was the young man on the desk downstairs. Holding out my cellphone, he said, ‘taxi man brought it.’
We were aghast. I didn’t realize my cellphone was missing!
Quickly we walked to the taxi stand. To thank him, yes, but to give a small reward.
The Hua Hin main beach is 4 km of clean, white sand. Perfect for walking barefoot. Perfect starting point for frolicking in the warm saltwater seas of the Gulf of Thailand.
But where to put your ‘things’? You know, those accoutrements we drag along…like hats, sarongs, sandals, purses, tee-shirts, small change (to buy fruit from the fruit lady), lotions, reading books….
From three years’ experience, we can honestly say: leave them on the beach without fear. What’s yours, stays yours. Even friends and acquaintances agree: your belongings on the beach are safe.
With the spread of the coronavirus in Thailand earlier in the season, many tourists, especially those from China, were not allowed in Thailand. In turn, the businessman, retailer, restauranteur: each suffers from lack of business.
But their misfortune has not translated into taking advantage of people like me.
I honour their honesty. I wish them a quick recovery.