Written Journal Entry:
The airport is a lawless place of the highest respectability. Children and the elderly are most noble – juggling and even dropping entertains all for a few seconds as they pass.
International travel is not a small accomplishment. Each person on this side of the gate has either earned or been given this experience.
Thoughts and ears wander through foreign sounds of conversation – communication. How do we all communicate? What things tie us together? Our most simple desires: work that is fulfilling, a creative outlet, a sense of self-confidence, to be loved, to express oneself, to dream and spirituality.
How do we universally convey these messages and meanings? Through art, dance, gesture, money, numbers. Some things are the same – the way we count, the ways we can move and the ways we can create visual and audio art.
No need for fancy education to understand one another. Though common courtesy may not always be common it’s always appreciated.
Some things are naturally “known” through communication by all. Numbers are the same everywhere, even if we don’t say them the same. Everyone appreciates a decent tip – as I have come to understand tipping in Thailand is not the same as back home. In the US a standard %20 is customary for all services, from waiters and massage therapists to hair dressers and cab drivers. In Thailand if they were decent its normal to tip pocket change. Pocket change is in the amounts of 1, 2, 5 or 10 Bhat. 35 Bhat (B35) is equivalent to $1 US. Doing the math, a regular tip is less than a dollar. If you really enjoyed the service 10% seemed to bring a smile. 20% made me a new friend who would then open up speaking english and asking all kinds of questions.
Cost for a 60 Minute Thai Massage B200 = $5.71 us with a B20 tip = $.57
A cup of coffee in Thailand from a hostel was about B50 – $1.42 which is about the same for gas station coffee in the US.
Breakfast ranged from B45 – eggs, toast (spread with mustard/mayo), ham slice, coffee and water
to B100 for a cashew/strawberry/raisin/honey crepe
They do “dutch” or “english” style breakfast very well even though the bread is super fluffy and tastes like a sugary cake.
Gratitude is also understood by all, even though we don’t say it the same, it is quite easy to learn. On the trip I learned how to say Thank you in Thai, Lao, German, Japanese and Philippines. Cop Coon Ca, Cop Jai La Lai, Danke, Arigato and Salamon.
Also “Meow” is understood by people of different nations and languages. Most usually bringing a questioning look and a smile after.
The asian languages have a sing-song quality and I’m missing hearing it already. They emphasize inflection and raising or lowering of pitch. It took some time but a wonderful thai lady was teaching me the difference between beautiful and bad – “Soi” or “Soy” they sound almost identical but she kept explaining. I strained my ears to hear the very subtle difference and it was in the facial expression and very slight inflection. The little bit of Thai I picked up only made me want to learn more.
The most important phrase you can learn in any language is “Thank You”. There’s no power greater than gratitude to bring miracles into your path 🙂