Today I took a tour through Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Some sightseeing, hiking (called ‘trekking’ in Thailand), swimming, shopping and lunch. Our guide was a freelance tour guide named Tee. I barely remember the company I booked through (Wild Adventure?) but it was really Tee who made the tour fun and successful. He was friendly, upbeat, funny and informative. He also knew most of us on the tour were traveling solo, so he frequently offered to take photos for us. He struck up conversations and really made the difference between a decent day and an excellent day.
At the end of the day, I forgot to tip him. Ugh! I got so focused on the tight traffic and figuring out where we were so I wouldn’t hold things up when it was my turn to jump out of the van at my hotel. I just didn’t think of it. Then the moment came, and I was saying goodbye to my fellow tour-ers, and he opened his door and I saw his eyes dart to see if I had a tip in my hand. I should have had it. He had certainly earned it. A small amount to me would mean much more to him. But then a car honked and I was moving out of the way and there was no time to dig out a suitable tip from my backpack, and then he was gone.
Hours later, a guilty feeling lingers. Not because I feel I ‘owed’ him anything, only that I had the opportunity to express my gratitude, and I missed it.