Nongyow and I had a lovely Xmas break in Khao Lak, Thailand, in 1997, with a big group of friends. We had to get back to Bangkok early, and stood in the sun waiting for the local bus to Takua Pa, where we could pick up the aircon bus to Bangkok. We waited, and waited, and after about 20 minutes a pick-up truck pulled up, with a young family inside it – a guy of maybe 25, dark brown skin, and wiry like most Southern Thais, his wife with a headscarf and shorts on, and their two smiling kids, a boy of seven and a girl of five.
They asked where we were going, and offered us a lift. The mother and children began to move to the back of the pick-up, but I asked to sit there, preferring the cool breeze to the heat of the enclosed driver’s compartment. The kids elected to sit with me in the back, in order to sit nearer the big-nosed foreigner.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at our mutual destination; the family were off to the Taku Pa market in order to buy food for their small beach-side restaurant. As is customary, we offered them a couple of dollars, but the husband refused: "Mai Pen Rai" [It doesn’t matter]; we were coming here anyway".
Mindful of the offence caused by refusing hospitality, I didn’t press the point. "We’ll buy you dinner next time we’re here", I said as we waved them goodbye and entered the bus station.
We didn’t go back, and now the place is flattened – and that kind family is almost certainly dead.