Monday, January 26, 2009

Outside the norm...

So I decided to help out my friends Lee and Kate and do some television “presenting” for our local Krabi TV channel. It is a bit like the travel channel for the Thai people here , runs 22 hours a day (!), and has a viewership of around 30,000 people in Thailand. I thought this was a good chance for me to get out of my normal bungalow “cha cha ”(slow, slow) routine and do something fun and creative for a few days , work with great people, meet some of the local thais, and get a chance to do some of my own photo shooting as well.

We are in the town of Aonang right now…a big tourist spot for many westerners here in Thailand. Most carry on to the infamous beaches of Tonsai and Railay from here to do some world class rock-climbing .

I feel very far from my simple life on Lanta, yet, I am only 2 hours away. There are neon lights everywhere, fast food chains that line the main streets, supermarkets larger than 7-11’s and tailors everywhere asking me if I would like a new silk dress.

Yet I don’t feel offended or sad this time around. I have been here several times before and I have now come to peace with this “thing” called “western expansion”. People find and need comfort knowing they have a clean room with a TV, an air-conditioner, and a good burger available to eat at a moment’s notice. This is how so much of the traveling world now operates and though I am not like this average traveler, I know that these people are there .

My acceptance of the western world's presence here has more easily come about in recent months. I know that the locals are benefitting financially by this expansion and there is no one begging for food or spare change here; everyone seems generally happy..this is a good thing, compared to many other parts of this world that I have been to.

My only concern is that the making of the "almighty dollar" will overtake the true gift of connection and serving others. When greed takes over, and one's ulterior motive is just about making a profit, this will be the end of true cultural exchange.

This hasn’t happened too much yet here. I have seen nothing but sincere smiles being shared and plenty of “sawatdee ka’s” to fill any cynic’s heart with a bit of good will and trust.

So as I spend my next few days here, reviewing restaurants, hotels, and local sites, I am keeping in mind that everyone needs and wants to feel appreciated. And with this in mind, I extend my hand and smile whenever possible and find I receive the most priceless souvenir in return: kindness.

Have a nice day…

No comments: