Dave Fontenot
May 4, 2016 · 6 min read

Sawadee krap and a smile

Thats all you need

To make new friends in Thailand

I guarantee it


I took a ferry across the river

Away from the city


After bussing into bangkok

And dealing with Customs today


My friend Shane made the recommendation

The pier, only a 10 minute walk away


I grabbed a gatorade

And headed south for a day of play


Walk past a market

50 baht chicken

No way


Get to the pier

She tries to rent me a bike too

Only the boat ok


10 baht to cross the river

We take a little ferry

I get across

80 baht for a bike for the day

I smile and say Kob Khon Krab


She smiles, puts a cold water in the basket, and begins showing me the area on a map

It seems useful but I’ll get lost soon anyways

Last thing

She hands me a hat

Points up at the sun

Khob khun krab

Time to have some fun


I ride down the street

Immediately end up going down the wrong elevated pathway

They point and tell me danger over there

Im in the lung of the city


The pace has changed

Its very slow

Waterways everywhere

Like a delta

I wonder if it ever snows


Taking the elevated pathway all around

I do my best to take the turns frought with greatest uncertainty


Find myself down a dead end path

Hear dogs bark

Turn the bike

Speed on down the path

Take a wrong turn


Look back

Dogs running towards me

Gotta jump this fence

Throw my bike around the side

Luckily a guy on the other side helps get it around

Tells me the way across


I get around


Fire ants biting me

Check the bike

They’re all over

The man grabs a towel

We swat them off

Back on my way


Next thing I know

I’m riding by a group of people eating food merrily

I stop and smile

Sawadee Krab

A man walks out

I signal if I can buy food


He responds “no, we are family”

I hop back on my bike and am about to proceed

He tells me again “we are family. Come join. No pay.”


I feel so gracious

He asks me to take a seat

Everyone around me is eating so happy


Within 10 seconds

I have a bier

Am cheersing with the men

Next minute a bowl of rice

So much unknown food i didn’t even try to pretend I knew what anything was

I’m down to try anything


The man who invited me brings over his Vietnamese friend

She’s speaks english

Tells me what each thing is

They all encourage me to eat and drink as much as i’d like



Cow tongue or tail?







Ooooh these peppers are hot!


Eat and eat and eat

Til I’m full nonstop

We talk about what brought me there

She translates to the table


I learn that they are celebrating the death of a family member

They do it every year


The guy who invited me in runs the restaurant

But every year this day they shut down


Right before I got there

A monk came

This area is very holy

Temples all around


I finish up

Dont want to overstay

Khon khun krap

They remind me to thank his wife, the cook

Aroi mak mak

I take leave


Back down the elevated path

It felt nice to sit down


Take off some of the steam


Continuing on my way

I ride around for hours

Finally hit a main road

Tummy growls


I see a nice restaurant made of wood

Full of locals

Decide to stop by

Park my bike

Sawadee krap

I smile



A young, nice woman responds immediately and invites me in

Tries to translate the short menu

Order fried rice and pork skin


A woman nearby speaks better English

Tells me the noodle soup is the best

I order that too

Then look across the table

The pink iced drink looks to impress


I order one too

She makes me choose

The thai way

So many fruit choices

I pick the strangest looking things

She shaves the ice

Sugar water

One of my many vices


When it comes

I devour it

Its hot, drink refreshing

A new friend sits across from me


Suqriah Somprason is his name

Mine is Dave

We talk about traveling

Asia, The States

He’s 67

Grew up here since he was a child


Living on the delta

His life isnt too wild

He likes to take it easy

Eats there once a week

Has an order ready to go

Looks like he’s been a patron for years on repeat


He refuses to let me pay

Conversation flows

He even shares his drink

Tells me I made the right call with the soup

Complains about the Northern heat


He tells me to go East instead

The best fruits there

Not too hot

By the coast

In the north, the breeze is dead


Writes down two places I should go for fruits

Rayong and Chanburi

Tells me the fruits and prices

Teaches me thai bargaining


The conversation continues

We talk about my motivations

He asks where I’m going next

I told him right or left

No plan to go any specific places


Ask him which way I should go

He invites me to his home


Its only 2 km away

I follow him on my 🚲

He rides his motorcycle slow

Easy to keep up


We arrive

His place is dope

Turns out he was an electrical engineer for 39 years

Quickly rose to manager

Retired at 60

Now 67 years old


We talk about his family

His brother


Talk about my future plans

He asks “what about my career?”


Tells me I should get married by 25 for strong kids

I contemplate it for a second

Ask him when he did

He says “30"

That sounds about right


He fixes me an orange drink

So refreshing

No AC in his large house

After I finish it

I drink a water

Still sweating

Feels like time to bounce


We exchange numbers

He gives me his address

Tells me to come by next time I cross the river straight to his house


We acknowledge that we may never see each other again

He writes me another note of places in Thailand off the beaten path

We hug

I leave


Riding away I run into huge lizard, maybe a 🐉

The size of an alligator

Dogs bark it into the woods


Riding around I take a few intentional wrong turns

End up grabbing a milk tea


Next thing I know

Im back at the pier

Drop off my bike

Head back across the river

Still thinking if I’ll ever see my new friend again


Sawadee Krap and a smile

Creates a magical day in my memory where Thailand felt like home

Dave Fontenot

Written by

I study hybrid offline/online communities.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade