He pointed at something while the car was speeding up and said,
“Very good reto run.”
I leaned forward and asked him to say again.
“That very good reto run,” he repeated.
I looked out the window trying to figure out what he was pointing at. It took me a few more kilometers to finally understand what he meant.
“You mean, restaurant?”
He nodded and said, “yes, reto run.”
We both laughed as I pronounced the word by each syllable and he tried following after me. I think his way of saying it was better.
This is our Thai friend, Anan.
In every travel, I enjoy the tours and immersion but the most meaningful part for me is the people I meet and make friends with. It’s amazing how people can make a difference in your life even in a very short time.
Anan is a taxi driver in Bangkok who became our tour guide for 3 days.
He would arrive early in the morning and patiently wait a few more hours for us to be ready. He has a thick Thai-English accent but his enthusiasm to explain and to show things can charm you. He has a big photo of his daughter in his car and I felt the pride in him whenever he talked about his family.
He initiates, he goes out of his way to make things happen and he never complains even if he has to walk side by side with us under the heat of the sun, taking photos and putting up with Arabian humor.
I appreciate every night when he would still bring us to places even if his time was up.
On our last day, I didn’t have my husband to go out with but Anan volunteered to bring me to a shopping place where the locals go. I didn’t have enough cash with me because I underestimated the lure of Bangkok shopping. But thanks to him, I was spared of the tourist-high prices and was able to bring home some goodies for only a couple hundred Dirhams.
When you’re the tourist and someone is guiding you, you always have this pressure inside knowing that your guide is helping you and is expecting something in return. I didn’t feel that at all with Anan.
He came, he drove us around, he did his best and yet he never made us feel like he was expecting anything in return. He packed us water, bought some food along the way, drove us to extra places not in the itinerary and even shared his camera to me for a day.
I remember the night of the end of our first tour, our friend (who loves to joke around) announced that we were paying him only half of the price we initially agreed upon. Anan, without blinking, laughed and said it was ok. No hint of anger or disappointment.
He had me at that moment, all throughout the trip, until the very last night when he drove me and my husband to the airport.
What makes Bangkok special are people like Anan. As we turned around and waved goodbye to him, I whispered to my husband,
“I’m gonna miss Anan.”
Surprisingly, he answered,
That’s a big thing for my non-emotional husband.
Today, whenever I see a deli place, I could not resist but point out and say, “retorun! retorun!”