Riding on Generosity: Kata, Thailand

On our final day in Kata my brother-in-law, Samuel, suggested that we go elephant trekking, as they regretted missing out on their previous trip the year before. Excited at the idea (and the price which totalled in at about £16) I skipped down to the local store which had an ATM to get some cash out to fund our adventure. To my absolute dismay, the machine ate my card! I went inside the store and was greeted by a small, short-haired Thai lady probably in her 20s. She only understood very little of what I was trying to explain and I only know a couple of Thai words and so like any good British tourist I spoke slower and louder! She initially asked me to call my bank, but I tried to explain that my phone had no battery and that I had no Thai roaming allowance to make calls, but she said some stuff in Thai and asked me for my passport. I guessed she wanted me to prove I was who I said I was so she could give me my card back, so I ran back to the hotel, briefly explained the situation to my wife, Millie, and then ran back to the store with my passport in hand. 

As I approached the store I could see the girl getting on a motorbike and looking like she was going to head off! So I ran up to her and tried to find out where she was going and what I was supposed to do with my passport. She signalled for me to get on the back of the motorbike and in the midst of not really understanding anything else I got on the back without too much thinking. We rode for a few minutes through a relatively familiar part of town. She was going at quite a speed and I suddenly realised I didn’t have a helmet on and felt very unstable on the rickety motorbike! A few more minutes passed and we entered into, for me, unchartered territory with lots more traffic, all sorts of huts and roadside stalls and even more speed!

Eventually we stopped and she signalled for me to follow her. We went into a phone shop, which was disguised as a Hello Kitty merch store, where I had to show the owner my phone. He pulled out a phone charger, took it out of its packet, plugged it in to check it worked and then handed it over. My motorbike lady paid him and off we went again, this time to a Thai bank branch. By this time I had no idea where we were, having completely lost my bearings and didn’t even know the name of the town I was in! We went in and the lady spoke with one of the workers. Finally, a different bank worker came out and I was able to explain the situation – she spoke English! My chauffeur waved and walked out before I could find out where she was going but the English speaking lady assured me she would be back. After discussing various options we concluded that I wasn’t able to get my card back until the following Tuesday when I would have had already returned to Singapore and so I was left to wait outside the bank in hope that my motorcycling friend would return.

Thankfully she did, and had picked up her groceries, hanging a plastic bag from each side of the handlebar. I hopped on the back of her motorbike and we sped off back to Kata. She took me to the front of my hotel and placed the newly bought phone charger in my hand. She repeated the words “for telephone” a few times and I thanked her many times for the gift, ironically wishing I had my bank card to buy her something to show my gratitude. Had I had my card, I would not have been on the receiving end of her wonderful generosity. 

Over our time in Kata, I was led to believe that many of the Thai people would have gone out of their way to help me that day. The Thai people are all so generous and look to help when and where they can. It was one of those experiences I will never forget, and one I have tried to repeat for others in the hope that I too may spread the love!

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