• Marina

In ancient times

In ancient times; a time when it was possible for Russians to use their bank cards, buy dollars and plane tickets, I spend the winter in Thailand resided in a tiny Muslim village in the middle of nowhere.

The cozy house I was allocated cost a mere $200 a month. During my visit I split the day in two; working remotely during the day and in the evening exploring the surroundings and swimming. Everything was wonderful; beautiful views with idyllic weather. However, I was sad that I wasn’t able to make friends with the locals due to the language barrier. My Thai language skills were very limited.

One beautiful morning I decided it was a good idea to head to ‘god knows where’ and on this ridiculous expedition my bicycle broke down. I had a push-button phone yet nobody to call, my supply of water ran out and the heat of the day began to take its toll. I trudged sullenly towards my temporary home, cursing my stupidity.

Suddenly, a truck stopped next to me and a cheerful local man jumped out. He began to repair the bike with enthusiasm. Sadly he didn’t succeed but decided to throw my bike onto the back of his truck and began waving his hand saying, “Come on, come with me.”

I tensed as was natural, after all this was a stranger and I was in a strange land. In broken and hard to understand sign language, he explained that he would take me to fix the bike. Due to the heat and the possibility of being stranded I decided that I would take the risk. On the way he smiled a lot using all the English words he knew to reassure me. In the meantime, I scrolled through my head with possible options of self-defence, as a precaution of course.

Fortunately, the journey to his friend's bike service was swift. I was offered water and the bike was fixed quickly. I was afraid that they would charge me an exorbitant price because I was a white tourist; but they flatly refused to take any money at all. Further to this they invited me to a local market in the evening to celebrate our fleeting friendship with pancakes.

At the market he introduced me to his wife, we entered the tent they tended and ate pancakes. This kindness went further and before I knew it I was being introduced to their huge family. The pancakes were amazing, just like my grandmother used to bake when I was a child! Again, they flatly refused to take money despite my protests. As one of the relatives explained, “We fix your bike we give you pancakes". I was introduced to their friends, many of them spoke in a variety of languages and I will never forget a girl in a hijab; she spoke fluent English, French and German. She wanted to become a linguist, but sadly her family forbid it.

Despite being well fed from the start, I was offered pancakes until I departed. So, one broken bike led to safety, kindness and the friendship of what felt like an entire village. This story really warms my soul, especially now, when my geographical location is in question.

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