On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
T for Thailand
Two weeks was the limit for a visa to Thailand, so the Footloose Forester too soon had to leave the vacation atmosphere of Bangkok and seek adventure elsewhere. Vacation, yes, since eating good food everyday and enjoying a beer anytime; before, after, or while bowling or roller skating was pretty enjoyable. And seeing action movies in English was a welcome change after the simple life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Pakistan. So the two weeks went pretty quickly. As a sequel to the planned adventure travel, the Footloose Forester then decided to hitchhike to Laos. He had already hitched some of India and intended to keep it up, as far as possible. Burma was in between India and Thailand and coming and going through Burma had to be a one day affair because of their restrictive policy on visas. That leg was by air, with the sightseeing to the fabulous golden domed temple in Rangoon taking place after midnight.
Memory is lacking about all the rides it took to reach the banks of the Mekong River crossing opposite the Lao immigration and customs hut, but one memory stands out. On one leg, a logging truck picked up the Footloose Forester and took him at least a hundred miles. The Thais are really kind and friendly people and the truck driver was no exception. He insisted on buying lunch. When the Footloose Forester objected, the truck driver simply paid the bill during a needed bathroom visit. Once out from the bathroom, a Thai soldier approached our table, took out his wallet and plunked down some Thai baht, then said, “Take the bus, the roads are not safe.” Two friendly gestures within a matter of minutes made a lasting impression on the Footloose Forester but the warm memories about Thailand were not coming to an end.
After the logging truck and a stretch in a bus, the Footloose Forester was picked up by a contractor who serviced the American airbase at Nakorn Sawan. He spoke English, so suggested a motel where one might spend the night before crossing into Laos. Then he even drove Footloose Forester to the motel parking lot and dropped him off. The motel keepers could not have been sweeter. Their youngest daughter approached him after dinner and asked if he would sing her an American song. She showed him a book filled with many, many of his own favorite ‘oldies but goodies’. Other youngsters gathered around an outdoor picnic table and listened as the Footloose Forester sang American songs for about two hours. The following morning, the Footloose Forester later learned, the mother of the kids was looking for him to give him his money back because the kids had such a good time. So did the singing Footloose Forester. It was one of the very best memories of travel, ever.
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The kids in that part of the world, actually as you said, the people in that part of the worlds are the sweetest found anywhere. Great story Dick.
Thanks for the comments, Tom. Over the years I have come to know many other Thai people, and have always liked their style.
By the way, my my count I've now updated 75 stories on Facebook, so don't have too far to go. The updating now includes JPG photos, and the thumbnails add a bit of interest, I hope. Much success with the Joomla venture.