A Special Thai Smile

One night I was sitting in a bar on Soi Tiger in Patong with one of my mates. It was late afternoon when the sun is hanging just perfectly in the sky telling the world that the night is about to fall upon you. My mate and I were having a few cold ones after a gruelling day of doing not a whole hell of a lot.

The bar we were at was right on Bangla so the crowds that passed by on the street provided ample distractions to what was otherwise meaningless banter amongst friends. Goofy looking tourists, attractive ladies, and all sorts of little interruptions.

While we sat there we suddenly heard the ever familiar of a croaking frog. Not a real frog, mind you, but the little wooden one that those girls with the tribe hats that stick up in the air are constantly badgering you into purchasing. I was ready to give whoever this creature was a wave off when we both looked down and there stood a rather spunky little girl.

She couldn’t have been over 15 years of age. She stood there holding out her little wooden frog with a confidence that boarder lined on being sassy. For the seasoned traveller this in and of itself is unusual as most street vendors wander the sois like zombies hoping to find some gullible fool.

Once she was sure she had our attention she beamed the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. In Thailand you see a lot of smiles but this one had so much energy and warmth behind it. To be honest, it left me a little jarred. I didn’t want her to leave and neither did my mate based on the fact that he suddenly seemed interested in buying a frog after having brushed off at least a dozen other vendors of the same wares that very day.

She quotes him a price of 300 baht and my friend counters with 100. She stomps her foot on the ground as she says “No!” and her smile widens even more. She repeats her price of 300 baht and my friend counters again with 100. She doesn’t say anything but instead stands there flashing her beautiful smile. My friend asks again “100 baht?” She softly counters with 200 baht and then does a small hop as if resetting herself in the negotiation.

My mate tells her 200 baht if she gives him a kiss on the cheek. She looks a little confused so the waitress who has also been watching this little negotiation politely translated for her. The waitress giggles as she tells the girl in Thai what my friend has proposed. Her eyes open widely and her jaw drops before she regains her composure and her smile returns. But this time her smile has just a hint of “You’re a naughty boy” to it. She responds “200 baht. No kiss.”

The two of them played this little game for a few more rounds before my friend finally ended up at 150 baht. When the transaction was complete she took a step back, gave us both a wai, and then stood there beaming her beautiful smile before running across Bangla to a group of street vendors who were all dressed as she was.

We were there another two weeks or so and looked for around for her but never saw her again. It’s a shame because she had such a positive energy about her. I love meeting people who can make you feel good just by being in their presence.