Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…the great escapist

I was told the roads were impassable, I was told the trains weren’t running, I was told there was no way to get to the airport. In short, I was told I was staying in Surat Thani for the forseeable future. That all changed when I got a Facebook message from a kindly stranger named Pan Chansorn.

When I saw I had that message on Saturday night, I had no idea who Pan was. Twelve hours later I had a message from a Neth Oshi. I also have no idea who she is. If I’d received these messages the other way round, I may well have ignored Pan’s words for a while, presuming her message would be along the lines of Neth’s: “Hi my friend i am nethoshi from bahrain”. At last! Spammy girls on Facebook presumably looking for a wife.

Pan isn’t like this, though. Pan is better than that.

I’ve made my fair share of complaints about Facebook recently. It annoys me that it thinks that just because someone is friends with one of my friends, that I might too be a friend. Their ‘you might also know’ feature has the possibility to be useful, but that’s just lazy.

I also dislike the recent ‘memorable updates’ thing, because it basically just shows me all the status updates made by one of my friends. Some of these are in no way memorable. Others are her talking about her period in the months before I even met her. I don’t know where I’d be without Facebook showing me things like that.

However, when I saw this ad, I did think I might get some use out of the site.

After all, a few months ago my personal social media expert had used Facebook to find out some information about giving blood in the UK. (Thanks!) I was at the point of desperation and thought I’d send a message to the page that made that ad and another related page. It was then that I realised that I’d sent the message on a Saturday evening and there was no way I was going to get a reply.

That was until, at some point after 9pm, I saw that message from Pan. She works at the British Embassy in Bangkok and had seen my plea for help. She asked me a few questions, gave me details of a disaster hotline and was generally very helpful. I soon replied to this and gave her all the details she asked for.

Just after half ten (10.30pm on a Saturday night!), Pan replied again. Not only had one of her colleagues tried to call me (my hotel doesn’t connect calls to rooms for some reason) but Pan had also been making a few phone calls.

Her reply was so meticulous, it reminded me of a post I’d read about the Visa concierge service. After speaking to the disaster relief team in Surat Thani, she came back to me with a five point message.

– what my options for escape were: plane or coach
– how to get to the airport, including where the meeting point for the emergency vehicles was, how long it would take by tuk-tuk from my hotel to this location and how much that should cost
– mentioning that the coaches may be delayed or cancelled further still
– details of airlines that run daily flights to Bangkok
– that the roads from my hotel to the airport transport meeting point and to the bus terminal were not currently flooded, but that the bus terminal was at risk of more water

This was an incredible amount of effort to go to. What’s more, I got safely to the airport because of her.
Because of this, and because I’m now safely in Bangkok, Pan Chansorn is this month’s greatest person of all time.

Now to more pressing matters, to cancel my order here and reply to Neth.

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Filed under: asia, , , , ,

One Response

  1. Dave says:

    What a Pan-demonium!

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