Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank you, Bangkok! - And the Kindness of Strangers

While I was in Phuket, I was on tenterhooks. For some really strange reason, a Vietnamese monk had been following me all the way from Yangon International Airport (Myanmar) to Bangkok, then to Phuket (which is 689 km from the capital).


During my travel to Phuket, this Vietnamese monk who couldn’t speak a single word of English, decided to follow me around! Since communication isn’t limited to verbal skills, sign language and facial expression sufficed for a decent understanding between strangers.

Before I knew what was happening, the monk canceled his planned trip to Hat Yai, and started tailing me all throughout my travel south of Bangkok. At first, I thought it would be alright. What the heck! If he wanted to see Phuket, what’s a friendly stranger sharing the ride with me to lovely Phuket, right?

Wrong! It was a terrible decision. And, children, THERE ARE HORROR STORIES THAT YOUR FOLKS TOLD YOU ABOUT – SO - HEED THE WARNINGS! To cut a long story short, the situation got hairy, and I couldn’t shake off unwanted company once I was in Phuket! I shall get into this LONG STORY in another post – my Phuket blogs – soon!

Bangkok was my oasis from a lot of stalker stress. Who could have imagined I’d have a stalker? I’ve been traveling extensively and I’ve never experienced such inconvenience. That night in Bangkok, after having rid myself of a weird Vietnamese monk, I decided to watch a Thai film, a youth film that’s set between (whadayaknow) Bangkok and Phuket (what are the odds?) – Hemund Chetamee’s Mor 3 Pee 4. However, since I got at the Central World (allegedly Bangkok’s biggest mall – and one of my favorite hangouts) rather late, the next available screening was at 10:30PM. I stood beside a tarpaulin at the cinema foyer, reading the movie synopsis (this Thai movie had no English subtitles but I wanted to see it anyway).

Suddenly, a guy caught my attention. He was youthful, a yuppy probly - and he spoke to me in Thai, thinking I probably was Thai too. You have to remember that I just shook off a hairy situation in Phuket, so I wasn’t very pleased with strangers “intently talking” to me. He was well dressed and had a calm face, and for some reason, a bit anxious.

Yes?” I turned to him and asked.

“*7+%%$h@#,” he was blabbering in Thai.

I’m sorry, I’m a farang (foreigner), I don’t understand,” I told him. There was a hint of annoyance in my voice, something that I would regret later.

As it turned out, he was giving me a free ticket for Hugh Jackman’s Xmen Origins - Wolverine! That time, the movie just opened in Bangkok, as it did simultaneously in Manila and the U.S. I am a comic book fan, so I was gonna watch it once I’m back in Manila. Am not gonna watch something in Bangkok that I can find in Manila anyway.

The guy had a ticket for Wolverine, but he couldn’t watch – thus he was giving it away! Behind him, a pretty Thai girl held his hand, waiting for the “transaction” to finish. They were a very nice couple who’s out on a date.

How much? I mean, for how much are you offering the ticket?” He shook hook his head ever so meekly, which is funny. Siya na nga ang magbibigay ng libre, siya pa ang nahihiya.

No! I am giving it to you, if you want to watch! But it’s already started so if you want to watch, you have to go now!” he replied.

I was nonetheless stunned! Was there a catch? It was past 8PM, and the Thai movie I wanted to watch would screen at 10:30PM. I had 2 ½ hours to spare. My mouth must have been agape.

Finally, I summoned a smile. The situation finally sunk in. “Ohmygod! You mean you’re JUST giving it away? For free?” Of course that was silly rhetoric. He smiled – once again, meekly, as though I was the one giving him a favor.

This is crazy; you’re giving away free tickets to strangers! Haha. Thank you very much!” I accepted the ticket and was in utter disbelief. In this day and age, when everything is measured and fueled by worth and money, I stand in a foreign land, and am being offered a free ticket to a movie that I wanted to watch! A spanking brand new blockbuster movie!

So that was why he was anxious. The movie has started already and he just wanted to give his ticket to anyone who was interested. I was just lucky to be there.

There is kindness in the world, and I am grateful for this little token of goodness and generosity!

Before I headed to the Wolverine screening, I made a beeline to Chetamee’s More 3 Pee 4's ticket booth, which took 10 minutes. I saw the smiling couple as they left the foyer together. Some people are unofficial emissaries from the heavens, and may the both of them stay happy and healthy and safe. The world can benefit from more kind souls!

By then, I had been away from home for almost a month, and there was the warm feeling of being welcome in a foreign land! Thank you, Bangkok! Thank you, Thailand!

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Central World' s glittery display window (above) and illuminated fountains outside (below)

Chetamee's Mor 3 Pee 4 - youthful exuberance and light romantic vibe

Spot a Vietnamese monk stalker...

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