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A family of Americans traveling in Thailand is saved by the kindness and bright ideas of Thai villagers
On the final day of their trip to Thailand, the Streggazi family of eight wanted to buy textiles in neighboring Myanmar, the lovely land formerly known as Burma. They drove through the lush, winding mountains to Northern Thailand, planning to cross over by land.

Alas, upon reaching the bridge to Myanmar, they discovered the border was closed.

Their companion, well-versed in the unpredictable behavior of the Myanmar government, suggested they simply take an hour-long boat ride and enter the country via the back door. The Stregazzi easily hired a local Thai fisherman for the water journey, his canoe uneventfully passing by tiny Thai villages en route.

An hour later, the Stregazzi disembarked in Myanmar, and the fisherman promised to wait and take them back to Thailand. He urged them to hurry, however, as he wanted to travel by daylight. The sun was setting when the Stregazzi returned, textiles in hand, to the Thai fisherman’s boat.

The fisherman was frantic. It was too dark to return to Thailand. He said they had to spend the night.

At this news, the Stregazzi became frantic – they had to fly out of Bangkok, in south Thailand, the next morning. They couldn’t stay overnight, all the more since they’d come in a back way. They offered to pay more.

The boatman explained that it wasn’t a matter of money. The river was thick with jagged rocks and teeming with hungry crocodiles. There was too big of a chance that they would hit a boulder and fall out into the churning waters.

The Stregazzi insisted he set off nevertheless. He hesitantly pushed gramerbonus.org off in the descending darkness.

Ten tense minutes later, as they approached a small village in Thailand, a villager yelled out to the boatman. What was he doing traveling at dark, the villager yelled, the waters were dangerous.

The boatman yelled back that yes, he knew of the boulders and beasts that lurked within, he had no choice.

The villager yelled to wait, then ran to his house, and yelled at his neighbors. Then the villager ran to the shore with a lit lantern. Standing at water’s edge, he held the glowing light high to show the way, and he was soon joined by his family, and neighbors, and more neighbors, all bearing lanterns, all forming a line of light, while another villager ran off to tell villagers down the way to prepare.

And in that fashion, the dangerous waters illuminated by the locals’ lanterns, which shone like a necklace of light the whole way, the Stregazzi returned to land unharmed and enlightened by the beauty of the Thai culture.

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About Melissa Rossi

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Melissa Rossi's first words were, "Get me outta here!" She's been moving around since she was 17 — living in Seattle, Portland and assorted other parts of the Pacific Northwest as well as in New York, Vermont, and Florida (let's not talk about Iowa and Kentucky). After writing a book about Courtney Love (Courtney Love: Queen of Noise), which Courtney didn't like, Rossi decided to become a world traveler, and has visited most European countries. She has also lived in assorted parts of Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium. Fluent in "Spitalnishsian" — an Italian, Spanish blend with a dash of Russian thrown in — Rossi has written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek, MSNBC and George, and is the author of What Every American Should Know about the Rest of the World (Plume/Penguin, 2003). A chronic sufferer of "Urban Deficit Disorder" — she can't focus on one city for long — Rossi probably will never settle down long enough to call one place her home.

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