Tip or Not to Tip

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by Tim Burdick on 11 January, 2014

On Friday, we went for an elephant ride which cost 700 Th Bat (or 23 dollars). It was a short 30 minute trip around their jungle park. At first, the driver guided our elephant along a dirt track with Katka and sitting behind him. After awhile, the driver let each of us ride behind the elephant’s head as he walked alongside. He took several photos with our camera. Then, he got back on and tried selling us plastic charm bracelets and necklaces at a high price. When we tried to negotiate a deal, he said, “No, I must charge this price. Elephant has to eat.”

When we didn’t buy anything, the driver announced, “I took many pictures. You tip 200, 300 or 400 Bat.”

I was a little angry at his forwardness and the tip speech so I decided to give a small amount. As I handed him 40 Bat, he made a disgusted face.

Should I have given him more? Was he paid so little that he needed tips? Or was he trying to overcharge us- the tourists?

After our ride, we visited the mummified monk. Outside his burial temple, there was placed a metal shield. Rubbing the round center with your hand produced a lovely humming sound. Several tourists tried, but couldn’t make any noises. I went up and was unable to do it as well.

As I stood by the shield, a little Thai boy appeared next to me. He took my hand and washed it in a water basin, cleaning each finger and then covered my palm with a gritty soap. He showed me how much pressure I needed to use rubbing the metal. I was so happy when I got the shield to sing for me.

Without a word, the child ran away to play. He didn’t ask me for anything. His job was done.

This was the person I wanted to give to the most. I dug around in my pockets for some change. I waved him over. He gave me a confused look as he approached. What did I want?

I bowed and put the change in his hand. His face beamed like I had given him the biggest treasure in the world.

That was when I knew that I had tipped the right person.

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