German national on Khaosan Road returning from his closed national embassy with ฿20 in his pocket for food gets a cash handout from Thai businessman Surat Wongcharnsin. Invited for free food on Sunday. There are similar stories all over Thailand where foreigners are lining up in the ranks of Thailand’s less well off including many unemployed workers from the tourism sector just to eat on a day to day basis.
On Thursday, a German pensioner, a stranded tourist in Thailand without enough money for food got a helping hand from a Thai businessman already helping the least well off in Bangkok well before this virus landed and upended people’s lives.
An elderly German tourist stranded in Thailand has highlighted the new reality for thousands in the kingdom including many in former tourist hotspots such as Pattaya and Phuket who now daily queue up for food.
They are joined, each day that goes by, by unemployed Thai workers, many of them whose unidentified status makes them ineligible for government payouts or who are simply waiting for this money to land in their bank accounts. Many have previously worked in the tourism sector or are self-employed.
Luckily for many such as the German pensioner, there seems to be in Thailand at least, for now, a sense of goodwill and responsibility to others with improvised street schemes for free food and assistance.
Unfortunately in this world we live in, money is life
This is particularly heartwarming at such a time of need but of course, it is neither sustainable nor wide-ranging enough to address the huge problem that this virus and economic shutdown has presented.
Many are suffering quietly and in danger reaching their own personal limits. This means the clock is ticking. Time is money and unfortunately in this world we live in, money is life.
The job of the Thai PM or any government leader right now in Thailand and worldwide is certainly not an enviable one.
Bangkok clinic run by the Thai businessman featured the story of the elderly foreigner seeking help on Thursday on its Facebook page
The German man was featured on Thursday on the Facebook page of a Bangkok clinic run by the wealthy Thai hotelier and property developer, Surat Wongcharnsin.
The desperate man approached the Thai man on the street in the famous Khaosan Road area of Bangkok. He had just been to seek help at the German Embassy in Sathorn.
Unfortunately for the German national, the fortress-like building was closed and not accepting visitors.
The 66-year-old man recognised the businessman from the health clinic, approached him near his car
The 66-year-old man recognised the Thai businessman from the Surat Health care clinic which he runs for the less well off in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok.
He approached him near his car, a gleaming white Mercedes model parked on the side of the street with a logo for the clinic at the back of the rear window.
The health clinic was established well before the virus outbreak nearly a decade ago.
It has become a place well known to tourist backpackers in Thailand seeking medical assistance.
The clinic offers practical health care for a nominal fee of 1 baht including things like rabies shots and even insulin injections.
Foreigner showed Mr Surat a bag with the clinic’s logo
The German man introduced himself to Mr Surat by asking if he was the pioneer who established the clinic.
He showed him a bag with the facility’s logo. When Mr Suarat replied affirmatively, he told him his story.
The pensioner said he was staying in a local guest house and was originally due to fly home on Monday.
However, now all flights have stopped. This is why he was trying to frantically make contact with embassy officials. The German man told the Thai businessman that he had only ฿20 for food.
Businessman gave him ฿1,000 and invited him back on Sunday for free food at the inner city clinic
Mr Surat gave the German a ฿1,000 note and invited him back at midday on Sunday when the clinic would be supplying free food to the less well off.
The German man thanked him warmly and explained that he was lucky to have met him as he did.
Thai businessman spoke of his sympathy for the German and others like him cut off from home
Mr Surat told online viewers that the plight of the German and those like him is heartrending as they are dependent on a plane flight to get them back to the security of their own country as well as friends and family.
It brings home to us all the basic hardship and personal challenges being faced right now in Thailand and across the world.
The situations are both surreal and yet at the same time, very much human which brings out the best in us.