Probably my worst mistake was when I first arrived in Thailand and took a Taxi from the airport. The cab driver and I hardly spoke any of the same languages, but I was still trying to make conversation with him. I tried to ask him if he has any kids, to see if he was a family man, you know people always like when you ask about their kids.
Not in Thailand. He couldn’t understand what I was saying so I decided to show him a picture of children with my smart phone, and point at it. I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate his reaction, considering Thailand’s reputation, but he immediately turned a little strange and said
I spent the rest of the taxi ride either doing my best to resolutely deny that I was a pedophile, as I can only imagine he was asking me, or in complete awkward and terrifying silence. I’m not a pedophile, for the record.
Honestly though that wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve made. I made some good ones,
On the plane home, for example, I said “excuse me” to an old Japanese couple who chatted me up all the way back to Fukuoka, Japan where the husband was a higher up in the local broadcasting company. The next day they took me out to dinner and showed me around an authentic Japanese television studio. It was awesome.
Whether it’s a lesson learned or a radical new experience, mistakes are always valuable, especially when you’re traveling. Some are just far more enjoyable than others.