Songkran in Chiang Mai: Sunday Morning, Coming Down


Or waking up, to be honest. It’s another one of those “I’m wide awake at 5am” mornings. I need to pay rent and am out of cash. Songkran is about to erupt, so running to the ATM early seems like a good idea.

I met a couple last night who asked if this was going to be happening tomorrow too. They blanched when I said “Tomorrow is Day One”. This is just the beginning.

So, yes, I get my baht from the magic money thing and as I’m making my way home I meet a nice Israeli woman. We chat a bit. She’s half past drunk and weaving through the street.

I’m waking up and she’s coming down. (Not terribly gracefully, either of us). I help her dodge the occasional tuk tuk or scooter. We exchange names which we both immediately forget.

She asks why I’m wearing nail polish on my feet. “Are you gay? Are you into lady boys?”

“No, I do it because I’m a bit of an idiot and it’s fun. And the people who are put off by it are usually people I really don’t want to interact with anyway.” It’s kind of a ‘jerk filter’. And, besides, a pedicure for $5 is a pretty nice way to spend an hour.

We reach my place but she really is hammered and her hotel is only a couple blocks up the soi.

“I’ll walk you home”.

Further on she says “Just so you know, I’m a lesbian”.

“Yeah, I picked up on that. I lived in San Francisco for ten years — my gaydar is pretty sharp.”

“So why are you walking me to the hotel? What’s in it for you?” she slurs.

And that’s a weird thing about modern culture: “What’s in it for you? What’s the payoff?” Why can’t we just help each other out?

“Because I wanted to make sure you got home safe. Believe me, I’ve walked in your shoes, coming home after a hard night and would have liked someone to look out for me. Maybe some day you’ll do the same for someone else.”

She smiles an honest smile. “I will.”

When we reach her hotel, she gives me a bone-crushing hug. I think she broke one of my ribs.

I’ll never see her again.

That hug was the payoff.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly April 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm

You are a gentleman through and through. I’m glad I know you.


Ashley April 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm

It’s also the sad thing about our world, that everyone thinks there is an ulterior motive behind simple acts of kindness. We need more people like you who are willing to see that the pay off is the happiness and well-being of others no matter who they are or what their situation is.


wes May 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Well said.


Sheenz April 27, 2014 at 12:52 am

As usual, beautifully written ! I wish world had more men like you.


Miriam Risager April 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I love your stories, Wes. You’re a wonderful writer and storyteller!


wes May 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Thanks so much.


Jonathan Look, Jr. April 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Yep! Sometimes just helping someone else is its own reward.


Magicintheworldblog April 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Nice payoff and beautiful story:-).
Greetings from Italy,


wes May 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Thanks :)


Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life May 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm

I remember the night I first kissed my now boyfriend. I was druuunk. He was going to take me home (to my home) just so I would be safe. But everyone assumed he’d try to take advantage, so a friend took me to her place instead. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would’ve taken care of me and not tried anything. We’ve just learned to assume the worst.


Ryan May 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Hahaha, hilarious Songkran snippet. Love your jerk proof method. I did Songkran this year in Chiang Mai as well, but by day two I was already sick and day 4 in the hospital from an infection from the water. Not fun haha.


Poorna May 11, 2014 at 12:18 am

Nice write up! Thanks for sharing.


Ronny May 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

What a gentlemanly thing to do … who said that chivalry is dead? :)


Kailash Mansarovar Yatra August 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I like it.


rebecca October 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

Oh how I love reading your stories! very kind of you.