You thought this would be an article about my meeting with the foundation in Thailand… well you are about to discover why it is not. 

I arrived in Bangkok on January 24th 2020, after 10 days in India, and I was really excited to meet up with my friend Miriam with whom I was going to travel with for the next two weeks. India had been a quite peculiar experience and I couldn’t wait to finally be with a friend again! I was quite excited to land in Thailand because I had heard so much about it that I really wanted to see what it was like. In our planning for the next two weeks we had Bangkok, Chiang Mai, the southern islands and a beautiful national park near Phangnga called Khao Sok. But no meeting with any Down syndrome foundation. Nothing. In fact, it was impossible to find one. 

Many countries around the world have Down syndrome foundations or something similar to it but Thailand does not. Why? I am not really sure I want to know why… and to my biggest surprise it was a real contrast with what we saw in the country: many people who were happy to help you as a tourist, expecting nothing in return, which was not the case in most parts of India. I would almost say that Thailand was the most welcoming country of the tour after New Zealand! The people there were patient, welcoming, and quite excited to see us! We never had any problem, except for the time we had to negotiate a good price with a tuktuk driver to take us only a few blocks away. In the end we decided to pick another driver who ended up being the highlight of the day, making us race against another tuktuk with American tourists through the streets of Bangkok (with our tuktuk’s very classy purple and pink flashing lights…). 

 

If you have read previous posts you might already know that I started this project because my sister always asks me if I meet people with Down syndrome in other countries. It is almost always the case, but knowing this time that the country I was visiting didn’t even have a foundation, I wasn’t really sure what to tell her. I was actually scared of her asking me why there were no people like her in Thailand… What do you answer to that? Do they not want people with Down syndrome?

On our first day in Bangkok, we went to visit the royal palace and the surrounding temples. I have to admit that the city of Bangkok is beautiful and the temples are just breathtaking! We saw that many people were sitting on the ground and moving around the Bangkok City Pillar Shrine that was just by the palace so we decided to enter the building! What was happening? 

Miriam and I took off our shoes and had a walk around this beautiful temple that had many statues and a lot of gold. The paintings were incredible and it was completely different compared to what we have here in Europe. The colours, the drawings, the faces, the animals, everything was different! Little did I know that something incredible was about to happen…

We came out a few minutes later and as we were putting our shoes back on, trying not to fall lifting one leg at a time, I suddenly saw a hand reaching out to my friend. I lifted my head wondering who was the kind person who wanted to help us and I could not believe my eyes… it was a young man with Down Syndrome

I suddenly started feeling shivers going down my back and it was almost as if my brain had stopped. I suddenly didn’t know what I was feeling… Why us? Why me? Why here? Out of all the people who were there, why did this young man come to us? I simply couldn’t believe it. It was impossible for me to find a foundation in the whole country and there we were, on our first day, meeting someone with Down Syndrome. 

To be honest, I have never considered myself being a religious person. However, I strongly believe in karma, and in good or bad energies. Was it a sign? Was it a coincidence? If it was a coincidence, what a coincidence! He shook my hand and I was thinking « if only he knew I was on a world tour trying to raise awareness on Down Syndrome »! After seeing Miriam shake this young man’s hand, I looked at her smiling with tears in my eyes. Even today am I still really confused about why this man decided to say hi to us… We were hundreds at the temple and we were not the only tourists! I would love to know what this man was thinking and I guess I will never know. 

The young man shook our hands and then went to sit down next to his father in front of the temple. I was speechless and somehow wanted to talk to both of them, but I am not sure if they would have understood me… Today I regret not doing it, but I guess I was so speechless and so confused that it would have been impossible to talk to this man and his father. I guess I preferred enjoying the moment and that feeling of « Everything happens for a reason ». You might disagree with that sentence or even think it was a pure coincidence but I did not see that young man shake anybody else’s hand… 

Thailand was therefore magical! Why me? Why there? Did the young man want to say something to us? I guess we will never know… but I do believe that somehow the world connects us in a special way. Call it God, Karma, Spirits or a Coincidence, call it whatever you want. After all, all of these all represent a certain will of finding an answer to what happens to us, and for a person like me who does not necessarily ask myself why good or bad things happen to me, I have to say that I would like to know the answer to this one. Why me? I will never know, but I can also assure you that it is a moment I will NEVER forget… 



 
 
 
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