Close Encounter With an Angel
I have seen so many articles here about Thai women, good and bad, that I am compelled to add my own account of a meeting with a Thai girl. It is a true story. I will never forget her. Neither, perhaps, will you.
In December of 2008, I vacationed in Bangkok with my former Chinese girlfriend and her college-aged daughter. We stayed in the Chaophya Park Hotel in the north of the city which was within walking distance of the Ratchadapisek subway station. It was my first trip to Thailand and I was enchanted with the colorful ambiance and the laid-back culture.
On the day in question we set off in the brightness of the late morning to visit Central World for an afternoon of shopping. We got a taxi at the hotel and gave directions to the driver. He took us some place with dirty air and said, "There you are."
It was true. Wherever you go, there you are. But when we got out we found we were not at Central World. This happens in Bangkok.
We hailed another taxi. He drove us further into the city. I followed our progress on a map this time; no more wide eyed tourist me! Traffic got thick and as we were stalled in the curb lane he told us, "There you are."
I guess they teach them that in taxi driver school. We climbed out, paid the driver and gawked around for the Central World. The driver was pointing ahead, so we walked until we came to a largish department store. Thinking that this must be it (it wasn't), we went inside.
Now nothing is quite so boring for me as looking at clothing with two Chinese girls, or even three Chinese girls. So we agreed to meet in the department store's restaurant in two hours, and I set off to look at guy things. When the time came to meet the girls I asked for directions to the restaurant. I was told there were restaurants on the 7th, 5th, 3rd, and second floors as well as the basement. Where to go? Since it was time to meet them, and I hate being late, I attempted a phone call to my girlfriend. Unfortunately my phone was out of money. It seems 100 baht doesn't last too long.
Off I went to find a 7 Eleven. In many Thai cities, you can stand in front of a 7 Eleven and see another one not far away. There was one across the street. I bought a load card and entered it into my phone. But Murphy was watching me that day because that was the time my battery chose to expire. I had brilliantly left my charger in a Pattaya hotel room.
Across the street I went again in search of a phone battery and a charger. I walked past the department store and continued in the direction I assumed to be north in the hope of finding a phone store. On the way I found the real World Center. It is huge. According to Wikipedia it is the third largest shopping center in the world! After walking for what seemed miles inside the shopping center, I finally found a battery for my phone as well as a charger.
Happy to be back in communication again, I called the girls. They didn't answer. Neither of their phones picked up. I was quite late for our rendezvous, but with no hope of finding them, I decided to go back to the hotel and wait for them to arrive. There was a handy skytrain station just outside so I made my way there.
Thai people must like standing in line because there were two separate lines to enjoy in the skytrain station. The first line was for the purpose of obtaining change. The second line was to put the coins into a machine that would dispense the ticket. As I approached the ticket vending machine in the second line, I saw a map of the transit system. It was clear and colorful except for one thing. I could not discern my own location on the map. I was in the Siam station, but I did not know its name.
When, as a traveler, I find myself in difficulty, I have a strategy that always seems to work. I find a pretty girl and ask for help. This practice has provided me with pleasant traveling companions on several occasions. Murphy was watching someone else apparently because what should I find directly in front of me in line but a pretty girl. She seemed in her early twenties with long rich black hair and wide black eyes.
I said, "Excuse me. Can you tell me where we are on this map?"
She countered, "Where do you want to go?"
I named my hotel. She asked if I had their card. Since I always always carry the card of the hotel where I am staying, I handed it over. She called my hotel and talked to someone there for about a minute. Then she said to me, "I will take you to your hotel."
I could not believe my good luck! I had found an angel of mercy! We bought our tickets, but she would not permit me to pay for hers. We found seats and began to talk. She worked in a bank. No, she didn't like it much. She carried a textbook for the Danish language. She had an internet boyfriend in Denmark. She hoped to go there.
We came to a station and she directed us off the train. She said we had to walk a bit to get to the subway. At the subway station she again did not allow me to buy her ticket. We rode the subway and continued our chat. She was in every way the sweet smiling Thai girl I had come to appreciate. I was wondering what the catch was. Did she want something from me?
We came to the subway station that was familiar to me and got off the train together. I could see the hotel against the dusky sky as we walked toward it. I could have said goodbye to her there, but I was enjoying her company too much. At the hotel driveway she stopped and said (wait for it!), "There you are!"
This was the moment of truth. This was the denouement, the time when I would discover why this lovely creature had taken so much time out of her day, spending her own money to help a stranger back to his hotel. I thanked her and asked, thinking I might give her money or buy her dinner, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
She smiled graciously, "You are a foreigner. I am Thai people. I just want you to enjoy our country."