Earlier this week our director had told us (us being my roommate, Heather, and I) that town (where we could shop, get food, hang out by the river) was only about 2km away. Not bad, totally walkable I thought—until I saw a sign that read town was 4km away, the edge of town. Not the center where all the food carts are, but the edge of town where the police station is located.
Heather and I were hungry and bored of being stuck in our little white house with the white picket fence—so we set off for town on foot! Walking against the traffic (to be safe) on a busy road the two farangs got lots of stares; I can only imagine what the locals were snickering to each other in Thai as they zoomed by on their motorbikes—most overloaded with children and goods from the market.
Fast forward 20 or so minutes, rounding the bend just past one of the many parks that has historical ruins and big Buddhas, a woman on a motorbike says Stop! Stop! Teachas? Teachas?
Yes! Heather and I both say, confused…we are the only whities in this town but how did she know we were teachers?
I…am Ubon. Our director had told us of Ubon! She was our motorbike lady! Ubon’s English is limited and we begin conversing in a series of wild arm flails and wild gestures. This game of charades eventually led to me getting on the bike with Ubon, Heather taking a seat next to a big Buddha and Ubon and I zooming away in the sunset to go get copies of our house keys and a quick tour of Kamphaeng Phet.
This is the moment KP got so much cooler. As we drove along the Ping River I notice many sets of outdoor fitness equipment, people walking and running on the sidewalk along the river, games of tennis, hacky sack and other sports starting up and then the big market where Heather and I were told to get dinner and sit by the river to eat. Ubon was basically my new best friend.
I assumed she and I would circle back and pick Heather up and we would all go get a meal together, flailing, gesturing and pantomiming our way through the evening. However, when we got to Heather Ubon got off the bike and gestured me to get in the driver’s seat. I gave my best really? Face and quickly hopped forward. I zoomed around the parking lot once or twice before Heather hopped on.
Ubon waved goodbye as we maneuvered the bike onto the Thai road and rode away to go get some dinner by the river.
As I’ve traveled through my years I’ve learned to just go with the flow. In Chile I rarely had a clue what was going on but things worked out, people are here to help us and Ubon saw us and recognized us at the exact right time. By not being afraid, not being too nervous and just going with it I’m finding travel and life to be way more enjoyable!
The phrase in Thai Mai pen rai literally translates to not to worry or not a problem. But it’s more of a way of life here. Mai pen rai.
**Stay tuned for more on the Riverside awesomeness…I have yet to completely explore all the options of amazing things to do!