by Nancy Bestor
So there I was, sitting on a curb putting a band aid on my sweaty, grimy toe. My feet, although comfortable in my Keen sandals, were tired after many days and many miles of walking the streets of Bangkok. Bob was chilling in the shade next to me, also in Keens. Before I could finish my first aide, a beautifully dressed couple approached, and asked if Bob and I would be willing to pose with them in their wedding pictures. That’s right, Bob and I are sweating in shorts and t-shirts—and don’t forget our Keen sandals—and a stunning couple in full dress and makeup want us to appear in their wedding photos. Without missing a beat, we said yes.
Their two professional photographers took at least a dozen shots of the two couples next to each other. He even had us kiss our spouses (or soon to be spouses) for a pose. We didn’t do much talking—as professional models, we took our job seriously—but the wedding couple did ask if we were from America, and told us that they had once been to San Francisco. Before our shoot was finished, we did get a photo on our camera for our memory book too. As we went on our way, the bride and groom thanked us profusely. It’s hard to believe, but they were grateful to have two sweaty Americans in their wedding photos.
And that, in a nutshell is what I love about Thailand. Yes, I love the food—boy do I love the food. And I love its sites, smells and sounds too. But without a doubt, it’s the kind, friendly Thai people that I love most.
We were in Thailand for five days, on a roundabout journey to New Zealand. This being a short visit, we decided to stick to Bangkok, and take our time exploring all its wonders. We booked lodging in an out of the way neighborhood, which required a little extra work to get to and from, but proved to be a highlight of our stay. The Siamotif Hotel is in an old wooden house and is its owner’s original family home. It is located in Thonburi, directly on the Bangkok Noi canal, which is part of the Chao Phraya River. My is the proprietor of this charming nine room hotel, which cost us about $100 per night. Although not cheap by Thai standards, the Siamotif is stunning in looks, service and accommodation, and includes a full and delicious breakfast each morning. It was perfect.But again, the best thing about our hotel was its people. My and her sister Toon (two of seven daughters in the family) treated us as if we were family members ourselves, walking us to the bus stop, telling us to be careful, worrying when I felt unwell one morning, and making certain our experiences in Bangkok were everything we wanted. Staying at the Siamotif required that we take more local transportation to get where we wanted—including ferry boats and local red truck taxi buses— but in our eyes, this only added to its charm. We were all sad to say goodbye to each other when we departed. But this experience was not unique to this Thailand trip. The last time we visited, with our young children, Thai people fawned over them and hotel proprietors were in tears when saying goodbye.
On this trip, at the bustling Chatuchak Market, I fell down. I didn’t see a large crack in the pavement and tripped. Before I could even try to get up by myself, three Thai people were kneeling down beside me, checking to make sure I was okay, and giving me their hands to help me up. Food stall workers were delighted to have foreigners eating at their shops, and enthusiastically helped us try to figure out what they were selling. People riding the local buses pointed and told us where to get off when we were going to a floating market. And Thai children were fascinated with us, smiling, waving, and high-fiving us as we walked by.These are the experiences that we will remember. People being kind and friendly with one another. Because love really does make the world go round.