Although I have only been in Nakhon Sawan for three weeks, I have already experienced a sense of community that does not exist back home in the States. I don’t know if it is based on cultural differences, but people in Thailand go out of their way to help one another. At least every few days I have either heard a story about someone helping another person, or had someone offer to help me in some way.
Last year this city experienced one of the worst floods in its history. Many of the teachers who I work with had just started their first year, and had to leave the city for a month until the eight feet of water dried up. When they came back, most of the architecture in Nakhon Sawan had been damaged, and had to be either repainted or parts rebuilt. The other teachers, who had just come here to teach, ended up volunteering in their free time to help store owners fix their places up, so they could reopen for business. Unlike America, there are not relief programs that come in and deal with the aftermath of disasters, so the responsibility is on the community. Hearing how my coworkers and friends reached out to the people who live around them made me really happy to know that the people I will be spending my time here with are genuine and sincere.
Not having a motorbike in the city means that everywhere I go, unless a friend picks me up, I walk. On a hike last week, Danni and I were hiking up a steep road to a temple, which most people drive up. It was an extremly hot afternoon, but we wanted the exercise, and as we walked further up the hill the view got more and more amazing. On our way up the hill a car pulled over and offered us a ride, probably thinking we were nuts for walking to the temple. We refused, but thanked them for their offer. We have also been told that if you walk in the rain people will pull over and offer you a ride so you don’t get sick. Violence and crime are really low in this area, so the dangers of hitching in America are not really here. People are truly just offering you a ride because they want to help.
The bar that we always go to, Container, is owned by God, and he and Max, who is my age, are only two people working there that I know of. Max is, hands down, the nicest person on earth, and has the sweetest heart of all the people I’ve ever met. He is always in the best mood, and is always smiling and hugging you. He constantly offers to take me home so I don’t have to walk, or because it’s raining, and he has also showed me how to order in Thai from street vendors. Earlier this week I was at Container and I didn’t see Max, and God pointed to the back of the bar and told me Max was really sick. Max lives at Container, and I saw him lying on a mat and he looked really unwell. I knew that if I was that sick, I would not want to be in those conditions, so I had him come back to my place, where he could shower, stay in a bed, and have the air conditioning. But for me to offer my place to him, required that Danni share her room with me for the night. So I want to thank Danielle for letting me crash in her room and keep her up super late with drunk talk about things that never make sense the next day.
The next day I woke up feeling like I had drank a bit too much the night before, so I went back to my room to sleep for a little before work that afternoon. As the day progressed I got sicker and sicker, until my temperature broke 1o2 and I was sweating and shaking. It occurred to me that sleeping in the bed that Max had been in the night before, probably exposed me to the flu that he had, and because my body does have the same immunities from living in Thailand, it hit me really quickly. I spent almost the whole day sleeping, and had a hard time keeping even water down. I woke up yesterday and had to work a full day, so I took a bunch of medicine for my head and stomach. I was feeling better than the day before, so I worked a full day and then went out to dinner with some of the girls, and then went to Container, but planned on keeping it an early night. While I was at Container I started feeling sick again, and could feel my body getting hotter on the inside. I told God I wasn’t feeling well, and asked for some painkillers, but he didn’t have any. He offered to go to the store and buy some but I told him it was necessary, and that I would grab them on my way home. He then introduced me to one of his friends- this incredibly sweet Thai woman. She talked with us for a bit, offered me a ride home, and I told her not to worry about it and that I would walk in a bit. About a half hour later, as I was leaving Container, a car pulls up and it was her, and she told me to get in so she could take me home. When I got in the car she handed me a handful of things she had gone to get, that would help me feel better. This was someone I had briefly met, and really only spoken with for a few minutes.
I’ve never experienced this type of kindness back in the States. People really want to help you here. They want you to be happy; For your time to be as enjoyable as possible, and if it isn’t they find a way to help you with what you’re dealing with. This is a community where people take care of one another, and you don’t need to ask for something in return.
This is refreshing.
It’s nice to have a total stranger, through their actions, remind me of the type of person I want to be. The type of behavior I want to exhibit. I wanted the place I would be living in this year to leave its finger prints on me and shape me into becoming a better person, and I am thankful that this is where life has taken me.
And, I want to say thank you to my wonderful co-worker Arno, who traveled out of town for a few days this past week, and brought back jewelry for Danni and I. :]