Friday, December 2, 2011

Thai Smiles, Part 42: A Resort "Family"

I nicknamed these employees The 3 Musketeers

One of the nice things about less formal lodging is the opportunity to visit with the people involved with where you're staying.  While the Hiltons and Meridians are lovely places they're really not nearly as conducive to casual conversations with the folks that own them - or work there, for that matter.  I know of one friend who met their partner while staying at a smaller guest house over a decade ago, and they're still happily sharing life together. In fact, they've got their 12th anniversary coming up soon.

I had the opportunity to stay at a small, family-owned and family-run Thai resort last year, and it was a pleasure I'd gladly repeat. There wasn't a uniformed attendant in sight as we crossed the footbridge from the parking area, and I unwittingly walked right into their home when we arrived, thinking it was the registration area.  It was, to a certain extent; the wife came out through a doorway of what was their living room, smiled and greeted me.  All I had to say was "check in" and she said "Yes", turned back through the doorway and returned a minute later with two keys, one for me and one for my friend. My friend had reserved the rooms in advance, but still it was nice to not have to stop, fill out a form and hand someone a credit card. I learned afterwards that they rarely get farang here.

The wife did a lot of the cooking in the open kitchen just a few yards away from the open (but well covered) dining area, the sons did some of the serving, and there were a few regulars on staff who did a variety of odd jobs on the grounds: gardening, some construction, basic housekeeping, fishing and the likes.  In fact, the first day they were stacking and cementing cinder blocks for a small building in progress, and I thought they were just there for that until I saw them later that day doing other things.

As I expected, the owner's children were pleased to see someone check in who could speak some English and whenever their rounds brought them near me they'd greet me and try out a phrase they remembered, often getting it wrong but happy to hear it back correctly.  They'd giggle and repeat it a couple of times before moving along with whatever it was they were doing.

Stopping by in the dining room to practice some English

The owner to the left above didn't speak much English at all, and the guys up top spoke none whatsoever, but clowning around is as universal as a smile and we managed to amuse each other.  When I got my camera out to take a picture the owner laughed, jiggled one side of his chest with this hand and said something in Thai to my friend, who translated "He says now he's fat and has boobs like a woman!"  I told him I've seen farang in far worse shape on the beach, and when the man heard that translated back he laughed again, nodding his head.

Since I was there for a while you'll undoubtedly see some of these people here again. Welcoming, gracious and polite they personified so much of what makes Thailand such a wonderful place to explore.  I love my morning walks in the city, but these days away from the Big Mango are often the highlights of my trips there.

Metalwork one day, painting the next, fishing the third - it didn't seem to matter as long as it was sanuk.

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