After traveling Southeast Asia for a few months, if you’d told me about a place that was giving away things for free, I’d never have believed you. Nothing is free, not even water, which I’d been buying bottles of for the past 5 months to avoid poisoning… At least until June 18, 2015 on Koh Tao, otherwise known as “one free day.”
Two diving buddies and I were walking around the island looking for breakfast when we passed a stand with bagged drinks on it. We saw the word “FREE” on top, but knowing that surely there must be a catch, we walked by without even asking.
We reached our normal restaurant – well, really more of a food stand (called Orange) – and the woman handed me a plate of chicken nuggets saying, “free, free!” “Really?” I asked. “Yes, everything free today!” she replied excitedly. “Why?” I asked, amazed but confused. “It’s for the Save Koh Tao Festival,” she said.
Still unsure of why things were being given away for free (and wondering if the government paid the locals who participated), we continued to walk around the island in search of more free stuff. We found shops giving away every kind of food from sticky rice with chicken, ice cream, noodles, pizza, sushi, sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, cake, juice, and even takeaway boxes of green curry and rice!
We grabbed plastic bags and filled them with free stuff, each collecting enough for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even breakfast the following day. One free day… what a budget backpacker’s dream!
After stocking up, we sat back and relaxed to watch the feeding frenzy we’d just come from. Backpackers waited in line for the more coveted items (pizza and sushi), while locals would drive up and grab and go from their motorbikes. There was an awesome vibe around the island, with everyone thrilled about receiving free food, and the locals gladly handing it out. Happy visitors, happy locals… happy day all around!
It was pretty entertaining watching how excited people got over free things (ourselves included). I wonder if there’s any place in the world that people would take only what they needed at the time, without stocking up for the future…
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌