Dennis and I have had the extraordinary good fortune to get to know two Thai women in the last few days. They opened their homes and their generous hearts to us.
Toi (we call her Monkey because of her playful nature) is a 33 year old Sales Rep for a company that manufactures capacitors for Air Conditioning units.(I hope I got that right Monkey) This is Monkey standing beside a Monkey puppet.
Jook is 32 years old and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is the Assistant Manager for her Sales division at Samsung.
Dennis met these two women while Cycling in Ayutthaya a few weeks ago, along with another woman who usually travels with Monkey and Jook. Her name is Tina. I haven't met her yet.
When we got back from Koh Samet on Sunday night, Jook invited me to stay with her and her two sisters for a few days while Dennis and I figured out our next travel plans.
This is Jook's apartment. She owns her apartment but Monkey just rents one here.
This is the hallway just outside her apartment. You notice how much bigger the hallways are here? The concept of living and space is very different here. You don't just live in your own little box. Everything is connected here.
This is Cheemah. He is the security guard at the apartment complex here. He and Dennis hit it off right away and so Cheemah started saluting Dennis whenever he passed through the gate. This ritual now includes a 'high five' each time he goes past now. When Jook was with us the other day and Cheemah saluted, she looked up at me puzzled and I replied: "It's a Canadian thing."(The building in the background is the Apartment complex Monkey and Jook live in. To the right of it is a Steel Mill. Yes, you read that right; a Steel Mill.
On Monday night, Jook prepared a typical Thai dinner for us.
As you can see, fish is a big part of the Thai diet.
Here's an esoteric event for you. As I was sitting in Vancouver Airport, I was talking to a dear friend of mine and I suddenly saw a movie showing of a hummingbird going from flower to flower collecting nectar. The first morning I was staying with Jook and her sisters, Jook was wearing this night shirt.
I suddenly realized that the print on it was the exact hummingbird and flower I saw in the film.
Both of these women work very long hours. They get up at 5:30am, go to work by 6:30 and usually don't get home til 8pm. Then they listen to some music or watch a bit of TV and go to bed. That's why they like to arrange trips as a threesome, so they can enjoy life and not just be in the same rut.
On Monday night they took us to a large Mall that is North of their city. It looks very much like the Malls back in Canada. Many of the brand names are the same too. But the prices tend to be about 25% to 50% of our costs.
This is a Thai restaurant they took us to for dinner afterwards. Speaking of which, the one thing we really had to catch onto was that they would pay for everything if we didn't watch out. There were so many times when I would carefully watch as Jook would talk to the waiter. It seemed that she only spoke a few words to him and then the next thing I knew, we had a four course meal sitting in front of us.
Last night, they had arranged for us to go to a special Puppet Theatre but we got there late, so we just walked around an Art Gallery in the place and took pictures of Monkey and Jook wearing their elegant dresses. Jook bought this dress just for this night.
I warned the two women that when they had these pictures taken they would now be famous and it was very likely they would be mistaken for Movie Stars.
We headed just outside the Gallery to an open air restaurant (is there any other kind in Bangkok?)
People keep asking me about the food so I like to embarrass myself in public places by shooting photos. The waiters seems to like it though.
Now this is what I was talking about. Jook just reaches over and starts putting things on my plate for me. Then she explains which order to eat everything in and what sauces to use. These two women just made us feel so special.
They are very different women. Jook is innocent and naive in many ways and Monkey is very worldly in her understanding of life. But both share that same nature I have encountered again and again in this mystical country; that open loving heart for all people.
When Jook was helping me to learn to speak Thai she taught me something new to add to thank you (cup une cup). She said that when someone does you a great kindness, you say these words and put the accent on the last word, to acknowledge a deeper sense of appreciation. So I'm sure Dennis joins me when I say to you, Monkey and to you Jook:
Cup-une-cup,Khun-nah-rauk-mah: "You are most kind"