The speed of trust
It was a pure coincidence of events. One that was almost perfectly timed.
As I was wandering the streets of Pai last week by myself, I took a turn and was lost for a split second in this tiny town, which had not more than 3 major streets. I took out my map again and tried to match up the landmarks with what was drawn, and a voice called out to me: “Do you need some help?” I looked up to find a man who appeared Thai speaking fairly good English. “Yes, do you know where we are right now?” as I pointed at the map. He said, “don’t worry, I am Thai, and even I get lost here too.” That made me feel a lot better.
Turns out he had been living in the states for over 20 years, and had moved back to live in Bangkok for more than 10 years after retirement – hence the good English. We chatted for a while over coffee, and introduced ourselves. I asked, “what’s your name?” His name was Sam. We laughed at the strange coincidence. He asked where I was backpacking next, and hearing that my next destination was one of the islands in Gulf of Thailand, he invited me to come visit him in his hometown of Hua Hin, midway between Bangkok and Chumphon. Timing-wise it was perfect, as I had a few extra days to spare, Sam seemed like a genuine person, and it was on my way, so we exchanged contacts and we arranged to meet up in a city which I had never even heard of before he mentioned it.
I got picked up by Sam, and soon after we went to have some lunch. Afterwards he mentioned that he has a friend who’s a school teacher, and would love to have me come by and speak some English to one of her classes – to which I quickly agreed. I met his friend, Salee, who has been a teacher at Ban Don Kun Huay School for over 30 years. Amazing. There, she asked me to teach her Gr. 6 students the basic shapes – circles, rectangles, triangles, square. It was surprising to see how quickly the students learned. They would like foreigners to come and help volunteer, as English is not the Thai teachers’ first language, so their pronunciation can be slightly off.
After the class was over, it was a wonderful feeling to say the least. It made me appreciate the work that teachers put in, and helped me to understand how the kids in the villages here learn. If I had more time in the future, I would totally go back and help out. Meeting Sam, Salee, and the school kids has been one of the most rewarding experiences on this trip.
So learn to trust – when your instincts say something is right, it probably is. And it’s not just about trusting others – make an effort to reciprocate. Make others trust you as well, it will go a long way.
And provide random acts of kindness from time to time :-)