The Fifth Business and the Last Norwegian Krone

Jan 8th, 2015
When I was just reading “The Fifth Business”, a Canadian novel and calmly waiting for my stop, which I did not know which one would be, a familiar face came up and sat down opposite of me……That was the guy I passed and asked if he knew anybody who spoke both Thai and English. He had a very friendly smile on his face. He was probably in his thirties, I supposed. From his appearance and his glasses I could see that he was a kind and nice person. Also I could feel that he was probably an intellectual. He sat down facing me and kindly asked :”Are you in any trouble?”. Yes man. He came to here purely for seeing if he could help me out of any trouble. If you think about it, how touching is the genuine kindness of strangers! That’s the biggest ally I had when travelling! We started chatting. He was Canadian, working as a math teacher. When he saw me reading a Canadian novel he was gladly surprised and started to laugh. I told him of my dilemma with Norwegian krone and the fully booked trains. I also related how I normally travelled — staying in Buddhist monasteries and hitchhiking and so on, which presumably ignited his interest. I informed him that the negotiation with the train staff was pretty much settled and I knew that even if they dropped me in the middle of nowhere I would survive and happily make my way to Chiangmai, so there was not much he could do to help me anymore. We continued talking. There was a fresh excitement in the atmosphere, just like when Ellie just picked up on her scooter when I had been waiting for a ride for like 2 hours (https://alwaysawei.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/british-scooter-drivers/). He was travelling with his female friend and later another friend would come to join them. Since they did not want to all the time wait for this friend in Bangkok, they decided to take a trip to Chiangmai. I told him that I had only one bank card and it did not always work. He said:”Oh man! You should always have two bank cards with you when travel, otherwise you can get yourself into trouble.” I could see clearly that he was more of the happily settled type who lived far away from the nomadic lifestyle I was having at this moment. They always had a job, had savings in their bank account and travelled only in their holidays. Actually it was the kindness of people like him, settled and willing to help, that made the nomadic lifestyle of us much easier.
He said that he could help me with exchanging the Norwegian krone I had. He would use the Norwegian krone one day and he would give me a good rate. Then he went back to get his phone to look up the exchange rate and do the calculation. Then he started to count the Thai butt I would get and hand the notes to me. However, he accidentally gave me one more note of 1000 Butt. I noticed and wanted to make a joke.
–“You said you were a math teacher, right?”
–“Yes.”
–“So you are good at numbers?”
–“I would say yes.”
Then I laughed :”Then why did you give me 1000 Butt extra?!”
He burst into a big laughter also and came up with “Because I am generous!”
I returned the 1000 Butt to him and we still could not stop laughing.
He left his contact details to me and told me to update him how my journey worked out afterwards. I told him of my plan of settling in Canada one day when I more or less finished my world trip and also left my email to him.
It was getting late and he went back to his bed. I continued reading.
Thus went away my last Norwegian krone. When I left Europe, I had a lot of non-Euro European currencies, Norwegian krone, Swedish krone, Romanian leu, Bulgarian lev, Polish zloty, Croatian kuna and so on. Each of them marked a trip, a time, an experience. When I was in Turkey, I exchanged all my Bulgarian lev and Croatian kuna. When I was in Iran, I gave the last Romanian leu I had as a gift to the cousin to my lovely Iranian friend and I gave the last Polish zloty I had as a souvenir to a Couchsurfing host who collected currencies of different countries. Now the Norwegian krone also went. All the stories and times they stood for now officially became memories, just memories, leaving nothing palpable anymore, but only something abstract, something thinkable, recordable and forever unforgetable. I was not unhappy about it, as such is life, such is the road, ruthless road. It moves on all the time, leaving whatever you cherished yesterday behind, further and further and steers your eyes solely towards the forward direction, towards tomorrow, towards the adventures yet to come!
Not long later the conductor came. The time had come for me to step out and I ended up in a station called “Lopburi”, at about half past midnight.

Oh life oh travel!
Oh life oh travel!

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