The unbearable existential malaise of Thailand

Is it possible for every person within a particular 200,000 square miles to be passive-aggressive? Yes, it is, and that area is called Thailand. All the natives we’ve met have been deferential and polite and outwardly wonderful while silently giving the impression that they’d prefer to see us eviscerated by a pack of rabid dogs. They’re genetically gifted at making you feel guilty, usually through sneaky, indirect means, which makes for a tense country. I’m pretty sure the Thais would be really weird in bed.

“Oh, sweet girl, your mommy caused a lot of trouble yesterday,” the lady at our hotel’s front desk cooed at Hannah while we were on our way to breakfast today.

Trouble? What trouble?

She immediately backed off. When we pressed, she told us while tickling our child that we had accidentally gone on the wrong tour yesterday. Turns out the Elephant Diarrhea Tour was meant for the couple in room 309 (lord only knows what tour we were supposed to go on), and when the couple showed up, the van had already left, with us in it. This apparently caused all kinds of logistical nightmares for the woman at the hotel, the tour company, and the poor couple in 309, who were so livid they went back to their room to stew all day. When we apologized to the lady at the desk and asked how we could make it up to them, she held up her hands and said, “Forget it.” Which we did, until the next time we passed the front desk and she brought it up again.

The kid already looks stressed out.

Then at breakfast, we sensed that our server was angry about something. Finally, it came out. “How was your tour yesterday?” he said with a tight smile, while overfilling my teacup and banging our dishes. It turns out he had taken the brunt of the 309ers’ anger over the whole debacle, and was pissed as hell. Not that he ever would have told us. The lady at the front desk told us.

Later that day, my stomach was bothering me, and I felt fairly certain that someone had slipped a laxative into my tea. Then we saw the 309ers in the hallway. Daggers. It might be time to get out of Chiang Mai.

When we walked into to little café near our hotel, the owner hollered, “HELLO, HANNAH!” which freaked my shit right out. Turns out she also runs the barbershop we’d visited a few days ago, where Hannah had been a major hit. It was a nice small-town moment, an her six-month-old boy played with Hannah at the café. When we were leaving, we gave him one of Hannah’s ABC books, a gesture that would have been touching but we did it mostly to make up for the 309 thing, which had absolutely nothing to do with this six-month-old boy. Though, in all fairness, he’d probably heard all about it from Front Desk Lady.