I was fascinated by the ‘fire guys’ from Had Rin. They were very mysterious to me: didn’t talk to tourists unless asked, were always polite and kept to themselves.
After a couple of days watching them, I decided to ask them a few questions. First of all I was curious why they weren’t at school. Being a typical European I was worried about their education and poor standards of living. I suspected they had some kind of Thai summer holidays during which they worked whole nights and enjoyed the beach during the days.
I went up to one of them and after a typical exchange of ‘how are yous’ and ‘where are you froms’ I asked why they weren’t in beds, preparing for the school the next day.
The guy smiled politely.
‘We don’t need to go to school’ – he said.
‘Oh, how come?’ – I was surprised.
‘Well, we don’t. I finished school’
‘So, you have holiday now?’ I then thought that I must have been right about the Thai summer break.
‘So, you don’t go to school?’
‘I don’t need to…I’m too old’
‘Too old? How old are you?’ (‘How old is too old? I must be ancient then, according to Thai standards’ – I thought.)
I will never ask another Thai person about their age again!