To make a little girl smile (Thailand)

I often meet fellow travellers who ask me how many countries I have traveled to. Also, there are some people who lament their less welcome passport s preventing them from traveling afar. I tell them about this one time in Bangkok. The Korean enclave at Sukhumvit is one of my favourite places. Whenever I am in the city, I end up here for a bowl of cold noodles. This time around, I was at a travel agent trying to find a way to Pyongyang. Air Koryo, the North Korean airlines has recently started flying to Bangkok. The travel agent looks for a book for the airport code. I offer, “try FNJ.” The travel agent, now fully convinced that I am a spy or a nuclear weapons dealer, stops making small talk and starts searching for the flight. Through the glass door, I see a Korean kid with a water gun. It is the second day of the Thai water festival, people all around Thailand are splashing water on each other. The little girl looks up expectantly at the people walking by - mostly serious looking neighbouring Korean shopkeepers. She is hoping to get their approval to soak them. They glare at her. She gives up and sits in a corner dejected. I excuse myself and walk out to the kid. I raise my hand in surrender and call out, “hey Chingu!!”, (chingu = friend). She turns to look at me, stunned. But soon with a loud glee and fierceness 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 happy.