This morning I made my way from Ayutthaya to Bangkok. I arrived at the train station at 11, not realizing that the next train wasn’t leaving until 12:15. I waited in the 98-degree heat just trying to keep a positive attitude. 12:15 came around and as I walked to the platform, an officer advised me that the train was running late, and it wasn’t going to arrive until 12:45. I was sweaty and frustrated. Once the train had finally arrived, I boarded to find out that the only empty space to sit down was on an edge of a bench. It was shaping up to be a rough morning.
About 20 minutes into the ride, a bigger seat opened up and I moved spots. A woman got on the train and was selling frozen towels and cold water. Things were starting look up.
I was fidgeting with the towel wrapper when the old man sitting across from me took it from my hands, twisted it up, and then popped it. I wasn’t the only one on the train who was surprised. He let out a little laugh and handed it back to me.
He introduced himself as Arthur. He pulled out a few rubber bands from his pocket, and my miserable train morning turned into a hilarious adventure.
He started doing funny little tricks with the rubber bands. He put one over his pointer and middle fingers, then waved a hand and they “magically” transferred onto his ring finger and pinky. Immediately after, he taught me step by step how to do it myself. He made me do it seven times by myself, and then gave me a thumbs up. Then he showed me a new trick. Then he taught me how to do the new trick. Then after I had done it seven times by myself, we moved onto a new one.
Once I’d learned the rubber band tricks, he looked around the floor and found a straw, and he started to teach me tricks with the straw. I cannot state enough how incredibly entertaining this all was. We were clowning around and laughing so hard that the other people on the train started watching, and it was quite entertaining. Did I mention this man only knew about 5 words in English?
After the straw tricks, he got out a coin. After the coin, he found 2 matchsticks. After the matchsticks, and I kid you not, he reached into his luggage and pulled out two metal forks. He balanced a matchstick and forks on top of a water bottle on a rickety train.
The whole time this was happening, he had a squeaky toy in his back pocket. He would randomly squeak it, and then look around like someone else had done it. My stomach hurt from laughing.
This man was an absolute gem of a human being. In between teaching me his sweet tricks, he noticed I had a blister on my foot. He took out some tissue and Neosporin and bandaged it up for me! I was blown away at his kindness.
It was such a privilege to be able to have Arthur’s company on the two-hour train ride. The time flew by without realizing it, and I had hardly noticed the 98-degree heat on board the train. Even though I hadn’t known him for long at all, it was sad to say goodbye! As we were getting off the train, he said “Don’t forget me!”
Trust me, I won’t!