Sunday, 6 September 2009

The good side of Thai people

It’s been a while since my last update, not that I’ve been short of stories recently.

Last week, what is usually a routine and enjoyable trip to Future Park, a shopping mall in the Northern Bangkok suburb of Rangsit, became a story which illustrates some of the positive things about living in Thailand.

First we have the ‘only in Thailand’ scenario.

We routinely entered a petrol station for a fill up, with The Missus diving out of the car for the loo while I continued on to be served by a young Burmese lad, who looked well under the legal age for working.

The lad managed to ‘accidental’ serve an extra 30 baht of gas. Although The Missus felt it was an honest mistake, I suspected it to be his way of supplementing his daily wage (which is probably only around 100 baht), made possible when he spotted a lone foreigner pulling in.

Despite a lack of loose change to hand, we poured out the shrapnel and gave him an extra 30 baht to prevent it being taken from his wage.

I didn’t mind this, I regular tip staff and would happy have tipped him a little extra, but this wasn't the only influence on our day.

After a normal journey we pulled into our destination car-park with the car beginning to spasm and repeatedly stall. We quickly pulled into a space, realising that the lad had filled our diesel car with unleaded petrol.

I’m quite sure giving us the wrong fuel was an honest mistake however, given the type of damage this typically causes, I began to wonder how much our fill up would cost beyond the extra 30 baht.

The Missus called her Dad who, as the senior office at one of Saraburi’s police stations, is a well very connected and influential man (the significance/important is a separate post itself). He made a few calls to sort it telling us to go off shopping and return in a couple of hours.

After shopping, meeting up with FIL and waiting some time in the car park, the police mechanic arrived to fix us up. We had blocked a number of cars in but, in true Thailand style, they were not bothered and, along with an assortment of security guards, cleaners and Future Park staff, they got stuck into helping us out.

The security guard, mechanic (in standard Thai crap shorts) and a passer-by get to work

While back home, most people are concerned with themselves, “you’re blocking me in, I need to get out”, it is always refreshing to see the attitudes of Thais who often help each other out.

A snapshot of the pandemonium we caused

Once the vehicle was winched up, we were taken back to the mechanic's garage (aka his house) in Saraburi where we were treated to food, beers, whiskey and sparkly conversation, in Thai of course.

The car was fixed within two hours and, inclusive of the 2 hour tow from Rangsit, including labour, petrol, etc, the grand total was a incredible 4,000 baht (£100). I’m not sure about prices in the UK these days but I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t even cover the tow back, let alone any work.

Add that we had been entertained and fed, and the amazing attitude of those around us and you can almost say the money was not so badly spent after all.

Much as I often berate Thai people for gossiping, staring and a lot of other things, they (outside of major cities, in particular) can be are incredibly kind and well meaning. At times, life in this country can be refreshing - just don't start me on the idiots I bump into at Tesco Lotus though.


Mike said...

Jon I am tempted to say This is Thailand.

A land of extremes of stupidity (on occasions) and great kindness.

Glad you solved the problem-good to have connections in high places!!!

Jon said...

Hey Mike,

TIT absolutely covers the story, which would be an non-event if the kid had got my order right (never had a problem saying "DIESEL").

Can't under estimate the benefits of a high ranking policeman in the family.

Martyn said...

Jon a heart warming story that may have been influenced towards its end result far quicker by your family connection but the offer of help from others shows the good natured side of Thai folk. Here in the UK you'd have received no help and the only crowd would gather when one of the blocked in car owners twatted you on the nose and you struck him back. By the way 4000 baht is only about £70, you've been away too long.

Jon said...

Hi Martyn,

Absolutely. The family connection is priceless here, that's for another post itself.

Yeah I pictured that very scenario playing out at home in the UK, in fact, I've seen in with my own eyes - wasn't my car thankfully.

Thanks for the price correction. Yeah 5,000 THB is about £100 - not sure why I got that one wrong?

Bangkok Blogger said...

Rangsit is far enough away from the 'tourist areas' to see the good side of the Thai people ! Especially if you can speak some Thai. Having 'connections' is also a great help :)

I love Future Park - although its a 300 baht Taxi ride from where I live I still go there sometimes.

I wouldn't drive in Bangkok if you paid me !

Nice to hear from someone from the sticks !!

Dulcify said...

Did you leave the car in neutral so people could get out as is the custom in Thai car parks?
Or did you just leave them trapped whilst you went off shopping?

Jon said...

Neither, in fact, I was parked in a space but, shortly after pulling out, the engine failed and we were stuck.

People were trapped when the car was being fixed but were understanding and helped out until we'd got out of the way.

Robino said...

I have heard and read many stories about thai people ripping off the western people. I also know of many english men who have ended up with cunning and deceiving thai women who are not genuine and sincere like you would expect a women to be. Thai women love to play games and are very cunning despite these thais making out that buddhiism is part of their every day life. The fact is these thai's do not practice buddhism if they did then it would not be the most corrupt buddhist country in the world. They are so many con people and charlatans in thailand even the ex prime minister of thailand was a con man and charged with corruption then they say they are buddhist .