Current City: New Delhi
By the time you read this post, I will have spent most of my day traveling to India–making the journey from Bangkok to Delhi and then from Delhi to Bhubaneswar. However, I have one more story to share about Thailand first…
This Past Thursday
We woke up early this morning and took a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant. The restaurant is open to the outside garden filled with ceramic statues of elephants, giraffes, dogs, children and more–all with larger-than-life smiles which light up the whole face. After breakfast, we decided to get massages (as mentioned in the last post). As I walk into my room, Allison walks out and tells me by way of introduction that our masseuse’s son is in marketing too. I can tell already Allison’s chatty southern demeanor would be the beginning of befriending locals throughout our journey. I walk in and enjoy what seemed to be somewhere between a massage and a yoga class (not a bad thing after hours on a plane and carrying luggage!).
Afterwards, the masseuse made me a hot beverage and we began to talk more about her son. We talked about living in Thailand–with her very limited English, my non-existent Thai, and universal hand gestures and nodding. By the end of my session, she had not only told me about a large open air market place, but agreed to meet us after work and take us.
She called up to our room and we met her in the lobby. She guided us expertly through the neighborhood, grabbing our hands to run across the traffic-filled streets. We could barely understand one another, but every time we found a break in traffic and darted to the safety of the other side, we laughed together. The market place was in a parking lot–row upon row of booths with clothing, food, electronics, hardware, jewelry. It occurred to me (Hello, middle America reference!) that this was like Wal-Mart…or rather that the idea for Wal-Mart or a department store had roots in something like this.
We mostly “window-shopped”, guided by our local expert, fighting our way through the throngs of people, students shopping in gaggles with their friends after school, couples meeting for dinner after work, and shopkeepers busy selling their goods. Eventually, it was dinner time for us as well, but we were uncertain about what we could eat of the fresh fruit and street vendors.
Our guide generously bought many types of Thai fruit for us to try. We sat down and tried again somewhat successfully to converse with our new friend and 2 girls with whom we shared a table. As we continued our journey back to the hotel, our friend insisted on buying us water bottles, pork on a stick, and sticky rice. We came back to the hotel and sat at an outdoor table to finish our feast of bags of ngos, noi naas, papaya, and rose apples. I was so moved by her kindness and friendship–this is my very favorite part of traveling.
It was Thursday that I learned my second Thai phrase: “kob kun mak kaa” (thank you)!*
*The first one I learned on the plane was, “Tai lo!” (which translates to “CHEERS!”, of course).
Next City: Bhubaneswar