Walking down to MBK Mall to meet up with a friend for lunch today I walked past the result of an accident at the top of the bridge over the Saen Saep khlong (canal), the same one you saw a clip in July with the morning riverboats.
I didn't see the actual incident itself, which is fine with me. I find it nearly impossible not to glance at the aftermath but I don't care to see the collision itself, because of the lives involved. Things can be replaced, people are a little more difficult.
From what I could piece together the older man (in his late-50s, early 60s) in the red striped shirt above lost the match with a four-wheel vehicle - maybe the taxi that stopped, maybe not - but fortunately I could see he wasn't limping and there wasn't any blood showing, nor was he sporting any road rash. He was, however, both shaken and visibly shaky; perhaps acknowledging how close he'd come to seeing what he'd be in his next life.
Since I'd forgotten the gift I'd brought for my friend (a specific body wash soap, unavailable in Thailand) we made the short stroll back to my room after our lunch visit. When we passed the accident site the bicycle was chained to a post on the side of the bridge, and it still was when I escorted my friend back to the area of his office near Siam Center.
After some shopping I was nearing the incline to the bridge while hauling my things back to my room when I came upon the man again, trying to get his damaged bike home. The rear wheel of the bicycle was the worse of the two, and it wobbled wildly as the barefooted old man struggled to push it along, obviously still shaken. He was also obviously weary, and was shaking his head and speaking to himself. I could imagine he was trying to figure out where the hell he was going to come up with the funds to repair his transportation, this bicycle that was undoubtedly the source of his meager income.
Regular readers have already heard my opinions on charity, and in an instant it came back to me again, too: we can't save the world, but we can save little pieces of it.
I pulled a 1,000 baht note out of my pocket and trotted along to catch up with the man. It wasn't difficult, as he was really struggling just to push the dilapidated cycle along. He may have had a home, he may not have - nothing about him had had a washing in some time.
Tapping him on the shoulder, I asked him "You OK? I saw you had an accident today." He looked surprised and I know he probably only understood the "OK" part, but he looked back up at me and said "OK, yes".
I held out the note to him, and he looked confused. "Fix bicycle," I said, pointing to the obvious need he was pushing along at his side. For an instant he looked surprised, but then tears filled his eyes as he stopped to wai me, saying "Khup kun krap, khup kun krap, khup kun krap". I told him "Be careful, and chok dee (good luck) before turning to head along my way.
I glanced back to see him still standing there, wiping his eyes with his arm as his gaze shifted from the 1,000 baht note to the bicycle and back at the note, smiling.
Best moment of the trip so far.