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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Via: living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Thailand has a population of 60 million, with +95% being Buddhist. I’m guesstimating here, but I believe Chiang Mai might be +/-98% Buddhist.



I love to walk, and I especially love to walk the small streets/alleys (sois) of Chiang Mai.

About a year ago, I was walking down a narrow residential soi, and I passed a small stand; folding table, stool, and a  ratty old beach umbrella to keep away either the hot sun and/or the heavy rain.

The young women smiled at me; and said, ‘Sawadi ka’, which is Thai for hello.

I returned the smile, and said, ‘Sawadi krup’.

Over the next week this rountine was repeated each time I walked by, but I didn’t stop because none of the Thai sweets looked very appetizing, to me anyway.

And then one VERY HOT DAY, I saw her stock an Igloo cooler with bottled water.

I thought, yeah, got to get some of that!

She handed me a bottle, but it wasn’t cold; which meant, I had to ‘Pull a Marcel’.

She was obviously a fan of the late Monsieur Marceau, and understood the, “fold my arms and shiver” thingy.

She reached into the cooler, and pulled out a bottle. It wasn’t to her liking, so she reached in again, this time VERY DEEP.

She presented it to me like a sommelier would seek approval for a, ’1985 – Chateau Gruaud-Larose’.


I gestured ‘how much?’, and she held up eight-fingers (a five and three combination).

I gave her a ten-baht coin ($.30), and indicated she should keep the two-baht ($.06).

She didn’t understand that at all, and continued to look for the two-baht change.

I finally held up ten-fingers (a five and five combination), and indicated the ten-baht was for her.

She was VERY SURPRISED; smiled, wai’d me, and said, “khup khun kaaaaaa”!

The routine became a little more sophisticated because she would spot me coming down the soi 20-30 meters away, point to the cooler, and gesture; “Yes? No? What?”

If I indicate NO; as I pass, we simply exchange, “Sawadi kaaaaaa, Khun Jon“; and, “Sawadi krup, Khun Ae”.

If I indicate YES; she selects the coldest of the cold, dries it on her apron, peel of the little plastic doohickey, and opens it for me.

I recognize this as an example of kindness, in its purest form.


Q: So, what does this have to Buddhism?

A: On the concrete block wall behind her stand she has a small, inexpensive statue of Buddha.

And slightly below Buddha, she has a very inexpensive ‘bud vase’ where she places a fresh-cut flower; sometimes red, sometimes yellow, and sometimes white; seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

I believe, it has EVERYTHING to do with her belief in the teachings of Lord Buddha.


“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama; a.k.a. ‘a simple Buddhist monk’



February 2, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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