Fri 27 Feb 2015
As much as I love the Thai people and their friendly, relaxed nature; I absolutely despise asking them for directions. I suppose I am also at fault, as I still have not learnt my lesson after more than five months of travelling in South East Asia. After every failed attempt, at acquiring directions from a local, I tell myself, “That’s the last time! Never again! Get a map or ask a tourist.” But the next day, while wandering around looking for the market/temple/bus station, I’ll see another Thai face with such a welcoming smile and eagerness to help that I convince myself, “This time will be different. Of course this person knows where to go. They live here!” Wrong again. Upon arriving at the supermarket, instead of the train station, I will increase my problems, exponentially, by asking another local person for more directions. Panic sets in, due to fear of missing my train, and still I have learnt nothing.
Not finding my way is obviously my own fault. However, as a proudly South African male, I find it much easier to blame someone else. Other tourists have laughed in my face when I told them that I ask local people for directions. Apparently ‘losing face’ in the Thai culture is a large source of shame. One cannot be asked a question and not have an answer. The words, “I don’t know” will never be uttered. An incorrect answer is better than no answer at all, even if it means sending the silly white boy, without a map, in the wrong direction.