Our meeting with Tanya was an odd one. She pulled up to the side of the road as we were on our walk, headed towards Bangkok. It was a hot day, and a few cars had already stopped to offer us a ride, adamant that we couldn’t possibly walk to the capital city (spoiler alert, we did). But when Tanya pulled up in her black ute to give us a lift and we explained that we wanted to walk, she nodded her head in acceptance and asked instead “What are you doing tomorrow?” We explained we were having a rest day in the next town, Nakhon Nayok. “Good, I live there. I’ll take you out for lunch.” We exchanged numbers and Megan and I assumed she was just being polite and would not actually follow through with her proposal. But sure enough, we made arrangements to meet for lunch the next day and she showed up with her hilarious friend Suzi. They took me (Sleep-ville, population: Megan) to lunch, where I had a super spicy papaya salad and Tanya joked if I had any rich uncles so she could marry them and not have to worry about money. I almost choked with laughter at her and Suzi’s banter, and the chilli didn’t help. Coughing and spluttering, with tears in my eyes, I watched Tanya shake her head as she said “I can’t believe you’re walking”.
In the afternoon Tanya returned to our hotel with Suzi and the four of us took a drive out to the largest dam in Thailand, one that the late King had commissioned to ensure farmers were protected in times of drought. It was quite an impressive feat of engineering, particularly compared to the run-down channels in neighbouring Cambodia. Suzi and Tanya also gave Megan her Thai name ‘Mali’, meaning Jasmine, or flower (my name was too hard to choose). Coincidently Mali sounds a lot like Megan’s last name O’Malley, so it is really easy to remember.
On the way home Tanya bought Megan and I some sweet roti as we’d said in passing that we quite enjoyed it. She also bought some warm soy milk after hearing Megan was vegetarian. Tanya also gave us some beautifully decorated soaps, because, well, we stink all the time. She told us to contact her anytime and maybe she could meet up with us again in Thailand.
Three weeks and approximately 140kms later, we were in Ayuttaya. Tanya was visiting her old home and was nearby, so she came and collected us when we finished our walk for the day and took us on a tour of the old ruins. They were quite captivating and it was thoroughly enjoyable being driven around by a local. We ate dinner together and asked Tanya to come to Australia to visit. She laughed and said “Maybe when I marry your uncle and then I really will become your Aunty.” I told her not to make me laugh or else I’d choke on my pizza.
She took me out for breakfast the next day, whilst Megan lay in bed with an injured foot. Aunt Tanya went to a delicious local restaurant, ordered Pad Thai, no spice, no meat and tofu. Exactly the way Megan likes it, so we could take some back to her.
Unfortunately we were unable to catch up but Tanya still keeps in touch regularly to see how we are going. Thanks T, you’re awesome.
Humans are great.