One year of adventures, great food and even better drinks was coming to an end. All the people I met and the friends I made were either heading off to new continents or returning back home to real life. Real life was the thing I was dreading most and what better way to avoid reality than stumbling head first once more into the backpacker haven that Khao San Road in Bangkok is. I had many a crazy night there and incidentally it was where my great adventure started more than a year ago. What better place to spend one last night before catching my flight back home. Arriving straight from Burma was a real culture shock – from the country of curfews and secret agents watching every step to the sight of Khao San Road at 7am. The only people still left were still drunk party goers passed out outside the bars and the occasional local setting up their noodle soup stalls.
Arriving felt surreal and after a night at the airport and an early morning flight my tempers flared when the TukTuk driver refused to accept my 20 US$ note. Grumpy as I was, I went into the next Burger King trying to change my money as all the banks were still closed. Obviously they refused as well leaving me completely desperate. But then my luck turned and this old guy sitting outside burger king offered to change my money into Bath. Grateful as never before I handed over some money and he gave me 1000 Bath in small notes back. I counted them, paid the TukTuk driver and happily went off to find a place to sleep.
Checking into the hostel took ages and thinking about sleep was the only thing in the world that could make me smile at that point. I went to pay, the guy took my money and handed it straight back with the words "Sorry, we take no Chinese Yuan". I was like what?! Turns out the old guy outside Burger King scammed me out of my money and gave me some random worthless currency. Close to tears as I was the guy from the hostel tokk my passport and allowed me to sleep first and pay after the banks open. Torn between finding my "savior" and passing out I choose my bed. After a good few hours I woke up more refreshed and ready to face one last day of craziness. The money I´ve lost meant a few strawberry shakes less but in the end it was not that much anyway.
So off I went and consoled myself by going on a vigorous shopping spree.
When it was time to check my flight times one last time I thought to myself "Hey, let´s have a look how much this random, worthless currency actually set me back." Typing it into xe.com turned up a bit of a surprise. As more well-travelled people than me know is the Chinese Yuan much more worth than the Thai Bath. Instead of having 30$ in Bath I was the lucky and very happy owner of 120$ in Chinese Yuan. Imagine that, all the anger evaporated instantly. That old guy had made me rich in backpacker terms. Somehow I don`t believe that it was an accident. Why would he run around with Yuan and then freely give them to a strange in exchange for less than a quarter of what he gave me. No, in my mind he was this old expat watching over sleepless travelers wandering Khao San Road just after sunrise. For me, he´ll forever be sitting there making people happy.
And that is what he did – he had made me happy. It was not even the extra money that made my day, more so it was the emotional rollercoaster he had send me on. It made me forget that I was heading back to real life and showed me once more the craziness that is everyday life while backpacking.