Travel with a smile and the whole world smiles with you…
OK, brace yourself. I’m about to say something extremely cheesy so please bear with me. Someone once asked me what the most important thing was to pack when going to Asia. I simply replied, “a smile.” Cheesy or not, I still stand by it. It goes for whatever country you visit. Body language is universal. I can’t speak Burmese but in the past I’ve been beckoned over to eat street food with a local family in a train station in Yangon. I can’t speak Thai but I’ve drank with a bunch of skaters in a park in Bangkok. Simple words and gestures are the foundations for communication, but it’s a smile that connects you both in the first place. I’ve always been a person to say hello to people on the street, and it irks me when I say good morning to someone and they look at me like I’m some kind of deranged weirdo. Point is, it costs nothing to be nice. And when you’re travelling, one single smile can lead to any number of experiences. Like today for example.
I was up early, randomly being taught tai chi by some old guy on the beach when I saw a bunch of kids jumping off a fishing boat into the sea. I waved to them, they waved back. I went over and started talking to them. They showed me how to play sepak takraw and in return I showed them how to draw a simple portrait. Then I told them it was their turn. I handed my sketchbook to one of the kids and asked him to draw a picture of me. All the other kids were rolling around in hysterics at the drawing the kid did.
I liked it though.
He drew a picture of me smiling.