My first visit to Thailand was incredibly different than I expected. But in the best possible way.
All I’d ever seen online and in pictures was beautiful beaches, landscapes and temples. But soon after arriving I was brought back to reality when I remembered it is a third world country. Straight away I began to see poverty everywhere. People begging amongst traffic, others sleeping in tents near the road… I even saw one man asleep on the street with gangrene on his foot.
I wanted to help so badly. Especially the children who were begging, often late at night. But I was constantly being told it wasn’t good to give them money as it encouraged their parents to keep sending them out to beg.
So instead of giving them money I’d just hang with them for a while. Sometimes parents don’t have time for fun when they’re struggling to keep their family alive every day. And then of course there are children who have no family.
I’d practice basic English phrases with them, answer the questions they had about Scotland, play tag or football with them…
One day in particular always stands out for me. We were swimming at the beach and I saw a little girl who was on her own looking a bit scared, so I asked if she wanted to play. She nodded and I took her hand so that we could jump over the waves together. I’ve never seen a more excited child and it melted my heart to see such a simple thing bring her so much joy.
I love learning from children by the way they live- they make me see life with new eyes. The children in Thailand showed me that life doesn’t have to be so complicated. It’s the simple things that bring true joy and happiness. Even with so little they manage to find the beauty in every part of their day. And if they can do it, I most certainly can too.
When I think about Thailand now all I can think about is how both conventional and unconventional it’s beauty is. And it gave me a new found appreciation for the simple things in life.