Common Ground

Four hot and sunny days in Krabi. Each perfectly balanced between action and relaxation, consisting of little more than... 1. Bending and twisting, stretching and balancing each morning for 90 minutes or more. As my fellow yogis know, these juicy moments are, hands down, the best way to begin the day. 2. Relaxing on the beach, hammock and underwater camera in tow, always ensuring fantastic beachy fun. 3. Hunting down the coconut man, who had the biggest and most succulent coconuts we've had yet. Our first day, as we made our way to the beach, we scoured the 2.5 kilometers of road from our hostel to the shore, searching for a reasonably priced coconut. I had since given up, succumbed to purchasing and devouring my first Magnum ice cream. (Holy ice cream! It's beyond delicious. Vegan, schmegan.) About 2 minutes after my delectable purchase, we found the coconut man! In true Thai hawker form, he opens his cooler and pulls out the 2 smallest coconuts. I decide to ask him a few questions considering we will be searching for coconuts again tomorrow.... and each day that we're here. Me: Gee mung ma ani? (What time do you come here?) The Coconut Man and his son smiling wide: Ohhh put Thai dai!! (She can speak Thai!!) The Coconut Man: Ma ani hah meung. (We come here at 5:00.) Me: Okay ka. Tuk wan? (Okay. Every day?) The Coconut Man: Krap. Tuk wan. (Yes. Every day.) In the midst of this fruitful conversation, he turns to PT, gesturing for him to choose the coconut of his dreams. Success! We choose 2 massive coconuts, larger than our heads, definitely larger than our stomachs, but only just large enough to satiate our coconut-lust. Me: Okay ka. Ma ani punee! (Okay we will come tomorrow!) The moral of the story is that if we were just regular tourists, culturally unaware and possessing virtually no knowledge of the language, he would have given us the runt of the crop. As with any tourist area, locals can become exhausted with and disinterested in foreigners; the enchanting differences turn into exasperating difficulties. Although these impatient locals could be seen as "biting the hand that feeds", I wonder, how many of us complain about our jobs? Bosses? Clients or customers? Same same. Creating a common ground, an attempt to appreciate a culture by learning even just a few words of their language, can work wonders on any trip. The smiles I receive are worth far more than the effort it took to learn those few phrases of basic Thai.

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The suffocating summer heat is alleviated only by sweet coconut ambrosia. Suckling the remaining droplets of nectar, our gazes inevitably turn to the portentous limestone. Under the ancient imposing masses, we, ordinary beings, are left to marvel at the beauty of their infinity.

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