I sometimes meet people who lament that they have not traveled to many countries. I ask them to stop worrying about the number of visa stamps on their passport. I tell them about this one time I was in Bangkok....The Korean enclave at Sukumvit is one of my favorite places. Whenever I am in the city, I often end up here for a bowl of cold noodles. This time round, I was at a travel agent’s, looking to find a way to Pyongyang. There were some raised eyebrows, not many go to the North. The travel agent looked for a book to find the airport code. With a knowing smile I said “try FNJ”. The agents thought that I was a spy or a nuke parts dealer.
Through the glass door I could see a little Korean girl with a large water gun. It was the second day of the Thai water festival and kids all around Thailand were spraying people with their water guns. The little girl looked up expectantly at people walking by – mostly serious looking neighbouring Korean shop keepers. She was hoping to get their approval to soak them. Most of them just glared at the little girl. She gave up and sat down in a corner with a sadding face.
I excused myself from the travel agent. I walked out to the little girl. I raised my hand in surrender and call out to her. “Chingu” (chingu = friend). She is surprised at first but soon enough it turns to glee. With a joyous shriek and ferociousness of a North Korean secret agent, she emptied the water gun on me.
You can travel half the world. But there is no point. If you can’t make a little girl smile.