Stories of Kindness: Mangoes in Uttaradit

 Stories of kindness from around the world - Mangos in UttaraditUttaradit is a province dropped halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s probably visited more by lost backpackers who got off at the wrong train stop, as many locals assumed we did, than tourists. But hey, we love places off the tourist track, which is exactly why my family lived in Uttaradit for a month to teach English. Every day we spent a few hours singing our hearts out and teaching basic English to adorable primary schoolers. After that, we would just wander around town. Usually aimlessly, which always leads to the best surprises.

On one particularly hot summer’s day, we were walking down a street outside of town where a man was fixing the DIY speed bump in front of his house. He paused his cement stirring to initially ask if we were lost,  and then invite us for some ice water. 

They say Thailand is the country of smiles, and this couldn’t be closer to the truth. One moment you’ll be walking down the street and the next someone will be smiling at you, saying hello, waving, or even feeding you. 

We entered through his gate and sat outside at a long table, under the shade of a huge mango tree. Ice cold water was served and his wife began to peel mangos from a gigantic mountain of a fruit bowl and give them to us. I’ve never eaten so many mangoes in my life, it was incredible. Immediately we began to feel rejuvenated, the sweat on our faces replaced with smiles and sweet fruit juice. We sat and chatted with them for an hour in a language made up entirely of photos, hand motions, and google translate. The husband proudly showed us pictures of his family, and we explained we were working as English teachers at the local school. And then as quickly as we arrived, we went away on our separate paths, and reflected on how kindness definitely appears in the places you would least expect. 


Hello! This is the second post from a new series about kindness on the road. I was inspired by Jessie Voigts of Wanderingeducators.com to create something positive by highlighting stories of great people and genuine kindness I’ve experienced while travelling. More coming soon 🙂 Thanks for reading, xx -Izzy

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The Traveler, the Tourist and Finding Purpose

The Traveler, The Tourist and Finding Purpose

I believe that there is a fine line between the “tourist” and the “traveler” , but despite their differences, all travelers must start out as tourists.

The tourist has a plan, they wish to see attractions, go to the beach, stay in hotels, take photos for social media, and are perfectly content with returning home after a week or two. While traveling, the tourist still seek the comforts they are used to. Mind you, this lifestyle isn’t better or worse than nomadic travel or working a 9-5. It’s just different. I seek solely to compare, not criticize.

For a while the traveler is still a tourist. We are afraid to give up our old life.  Everything is

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A local Thai Market

new and strange. But then there is this one moment when the tourist becomes the traveler. It’s a magical eureka moment when you realize that this is your life and you are not going home. I’m not sure how else to describe it… You just feel welcome anywhere, traveling doesn’t seem foreign anymore. Artifacts become less meaningful but people and experiences become a 100 times more so. I go with the flow, living for spontaneous adventures even if they are not “Instagram worthy”. Sometimes a great adventure is turning a corner and finding a new food stall not seen before.  I can not stay in one place for too long.   I don’t have a comfort zone, I talk to locals, stray from the path, and learn. The life of a traveler is simple, but rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong, this lifestyle isn’t perfect. Travelers yearn to travel for something, which the tourists have, a reason to go. Finding ourselves? Inspiring others? We are searching endlessly for a reason that what we are doing has a purpose. We long to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. Finding what this is is that eureka moment.

When it comes to the birth lottery I do think I lucked out on being a native English speaker. In our increasingly global world it gives me endless opportunities, for which I am thankful. It also gives me the opportunity to teach others what I know, which is a way of giving back to say thank you. For many kids, knowing English is the difference between living below the poverty line and far above it. And that is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. It feels empowering to be able to share knowledge, or at least inspire kids to want to learn. Teaching is that thing that gives purpose to my travels. It is what I feel has switched my mindset from tourist to traveler after being on the road for six months now.

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ABC’S !!

We have been living in a small province in northern Thailand called Uttaradit. Many of the kids here have never even seen foreigners before. Our experience in the small community was amazing. Teaching gave us a place in the community which made our experience so much more memorable. Everyone was extremely welcoming. We discovered places far off the tourist track. Strangers said hello. The security guard at the supermarket became our friend. People invited us to their houses and gave us food. Countless people stopped on the side of the road to ask if we were lost and needed help. Locals took our photos everywhere from the grocery store to waking down the street. The kindness of complete strangers was unbelievable – and after a little while they no longer seemed like strangers but like friends.

I may have only taught the kids a little English, but in return they taught me kindness, confidence, determination and respect for everyone. In the future, I do hope to make teaching English a part of my life. We leave in a few days for some new adventures but our experiences in Uttaradit will not be forgotten.

Get out there, find your eureka moment, and as always happy travels. 🙂 xx  -Iz