Thursday, February 08, 2007

What an Idiot!

I'm sorry for the lack of posts - blame school, its back to being incredibly busy again. Sheesh. Don't they know, I want a life?!

I saw this article in on Yahoo today:
Thai woman tells of 25-year detour after catching wrong bus
by Rapee MamaThu
A Thai mother who was lost for 25 years after catching the wrong bus home has spoken of her ordeal after being reunited with her family thanks to simple song.
The last time Jaeyaena Beuraheng saw her seven children was in 1982 when she left south Thailand on one of her regular shopping trips across the border to nearby Malaysia.
She never returned, and police later told her family that she had apparently been killed in a traffic accident.
In fact, Jaeyaena had simply taken the wrong bus home -- an error that would have been easy to fix except that she only speaks the local dialect of Malay known as Yawi, according to officials at the homeless shelter where the 76-year-old has lived for two decades.
"I didn't tell anybody where I was going on that day, because I went there quite often," she told AFP, crying as she spoke.
She was heading home from her shopping trip when she mistakenly hopped on a bus to Bangkok, some 1,150 kilometers (700 miles) north of her home in Narathiwat province.
In Bangkok, unable to read Thai and speaking a language few Thais can understand, she again took a wrong bus, this time to Chiang Mai, another 700 kilometers (430 miles) further north.
There she ended up as a beggar for five years, until she was sent to a homeless shelter in the central Thai province of Phitsanulok in 1987.
"I thought I would die in Phitsanulok. I thought about running away many times, but then I worried I would not be able to make it home. I really missed my children," Jaeyaena said.
Officials at the shelter told AFP that she was known as "Auntie Mon," because her speech sounded similar to the language of ethnic Mon living along the border with Myanmar.
But still no one could understand her, until last week when three health students from Narathiwat arrived on an exchange program to research the problem of homelessness at the shelter.
She sang a song for the visitors, one that the staff at the shelter had often heard but did not understand.
"She sang her same old song, one that nobody could understand until those three students from Narathiwat told us that she was sing in Yawi, a Malay dialect," the official said.
"So we asked them to talk to her and find out if she had relatives," official said.
Jaeyaena told the students that she had a Malaysian husband and seven children, recounting her entire story of the bus and how she had become lost in northern Thailand.
Her shocked family sent her youngest son and her eldest daughter to meet her and bring her home on Tuesday, the official said.

I'm sorry if this sounds cold, but what a freaking idiot! I don't understand this woman....if it was me, and I was seperated from my family voluntarily, I'd do EVERYTHING in my power to get moving. I wouldn't just resign myself to "being lost, no one understands me, guess I'll just stay here and beg for five years, la-dee-da" Everyday would be a day of movement for me, even if it meant walking and eating from trash, because I had no money. I just don't get it. Also if it was me, I'd try to have some geographic knowledge to know where I am and where I need to get too and because clearly this woman didn't possess that (knowing Bangkok was north of her hometown) maybe she shouldn't have gone shopping in the first place. Aye!

Could this just be a cultural thing?


Blogger JoeinVegas said...

But you are a world traveler. Not someone that's never been more than 50 miles from home their entire life.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Very odd but I can see it happening, even in this day and age. But I reckon I'd have drawn pictures or something to make my dilema known.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Virginia Gal said...

Joe - good point, but if I had such abysmal sense of direction, I would never get on a bus without knowing exactly where I was going.

Brenda - I guess in some parts of the world this does go on - crazy, no?

3:24 PM  
Blogger Molly Malone said...

it could be a cultural thing. but i totally agree with Joe on this. (plus who knows how literate this woman was? maybe just literate enough in her own language and barely at all in malay.) you know how to improvise travel, but people whose world is much smaller don't. there are things that for me are completely natural that for you aren't for instance, you've told me you have never been camping and could never go camping because you don't do that. well, of course you could. it's just have a mental block. all it takes is getting over it and learning how to camp. i've met others who claim the same thing.
it's the same thing for this woman. she had a very routine life and when something jarred that routine. she'd never stepped outside her realm of comfort and no one obviously ever challenged her to, so when it accidentally happened to her, she had almost no way to cope. plus, americans are lucky that most people everywhere speak at least a little english. can you imagine being someplace where NO ONE recognizes your language, much less speaks it? it would be terrifying.

what i LOVE about this story, apart from the amazingness and happy ending is that it is both sad and hilarious. the separation from family over a simple accident is sad. (Empire of the Sun, anyone?) but the idea that you can be separated from your life for a life-time because you accidentally caught the wrong bus is just as hilarious! precisely for the reasons that you're mad at this woman. i mean, seriously, who takes the wrong bus and ends up on a 25 year detour? it's a frackin' riot! i LOVE when comedy and tragedy share the same edge. ... that's why i hope i die by having a piano land on my head (preferably one with "ACME" written on the side)!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Virginia Gal said...

Molly - yes it is tragic/funny but to my thinking I would never go camping until I knew and was prepared (including emergency plans) which is what peeves me about this woman. It just seems to me like she didn't have any contingency plan, she just accepted that "oh well I'm lost." How can you accept that?! I just don't get it. She knew her family was out there (I mean I can see their side of it, they thought she was dead), why didn't she try to learn the language of those around her, to communicate, why didn't she do ANYTHING - to get home? It wasn't like she was imprisioned. I'm befuddled.

12:59 AM  

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