One positive aspect of our visit to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, was to discover that there are no coins in the currency. Research had told us to be prepared for a larger than normal number of notes in our wallets as AUD$1.00 = $6,225 KIP! We thought it would be a simple for us as we have a Thai bank account so on arrival, found a branch of the Thai bank that we wanted and as there were no ATM’s, handed a completed withdrawal form to the teller. What a surprise – we were told that our bank account can only be used in Thailand and we were unable to withdraw cash in another country. So off we went in search of an ATM where we could use one of our Australian Credit cards and you can imagine the exorbitant fee we were charged.
Fighting against the afternoon sun and the foreign language, we were finally able to select the English language option on the ATM and were advised that the maximum amount of cash for any one withdrawal was 200,000 KIP. We had already decided that we would need 300,000 KIP to cover our expenses during our stay, so thought we would withdraw some that day and more the next day. We proceeded with the transaction when prompted and suddenly I became aware of the ENORMOUS number of notes that were being dispensed from the ATM. As quickly as I could, I grabbed the bundle of notes and shoved them in my handbag as I knew they were never going to fit in a wallet. Walking away from the ATM, I noticed the people standing behind us in the queue were enjoying a quiet laugh at the expense of the tourists in their town.
Finding a nearby café, we sat quietly and took a deep breath. Greg was attempting to read the print-out of the withdrawal from the ATM and I was wondering how safe I would be with all the cash in my handbag. Suddenly Greg started laughing and laughing and when he could stop laughing long enough to speak, he told me that he had misread the notice on the ATM and had in actual fact withdrawn 2,000,000 KIP. Suddenly, we were MILLIONAIRES, at least in Laos and we certainly had more than enough cash to pay for a very enjoyable visit to Laos!
Laughing is a great tonic for everyone; it improves health, it makes you smile, it draws people together, it is a mood changer, it is good for muscles and best of all, it is contagious. I personally enjoy humour that is unusual or quirky; actually I just enjoy laughing and can be easily amused. Here are just a few examples:
- The reply I received from a local to my question “what is the speed limit on the highway in Chiang Mai” was “that would be the speed you were travelling when the police stopped you”
- When asked for the password in a nearby café, the Thai gentleman explained the capitals and lower case as “big and MINI letters”
- As I live in the mountains, I enquired from a local lady at a banquet we were attending where the fish we were eating came from and she replied “from the markets”
- I asked the handsome gentleman serving me at the supermarket “how are you?” and he replied “I am 25”. After a couple of seconds when I had not responded, he assumed that I did not understand what he had said, so he produced a calculator and displayed 25 for me to see. One of his colleague who spoke both Thai and English came to our rescue and explained to him that I has asked how he was, not how old he was. He just laughed and laughed and laughed and ever since, we have enjoyed greeting each other every time I am at the supermarket.
- It must have looked a ridiculous sight – on arrival in Chiang Mai, our taxi driver dropped us at the wrong hotel where the obliging staff assisted and telephoned the staff of the venue where we had a booking. It was only a short distance from where we were waiting, and they offered to come a pick us up. The beautiful receptionist from the correct hotel arrived to collect us in her two door Suzuki hatchback into which we squeezed three adults, two large suitcases, two cabin bags. some extra shopping we had also added along the way and our sense of humour.
- Every time I put the washing powder in the machine, I am amused by one of the features of the product when translated from Thai to English says “anti-musty odor”
- There is a brochure on the noticeboard where I live providing information about the Zika Virus and under the heading Risk Group it says – “People who travel to the affected areas especially with women who is getting pregnant .. . . . .”
Most mornings at my in-house gym, there is only one other female and though I do not speak Thai and she has no English, we greet each other every day. Recently as we were side by side on the cross-trainers, I realised that we were both wearing exactly the same colour T-shirts – dark purple – my favourite colour. After a few minutes, she started talking to me and laughing and I knew exactly what she was talking about and joined the conversation by telling her it was my favourite colour and how beautiful we both looked. We were both laughing and smiling and amused by our conversation.
Laughter is a universal language which everyone understands.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.