Thursday, February 08, 2007

The perils of public transport

A THAI woman who was lost for 25 years after catching the wrong bus home was finally reunited with her family thanks to simple song.

The last time Jaeyaena Beuraheng saw her seven children was in 1982 when she left the southern Thailand province of Narathiwat on one of her regular shopping trips across the nearby border with Malaysia.

She disappeared, and police later told her family that she had apparently been killed in a traffic accident.

In fact, Jaeyaena had simply taken the wrong bus home - an error that would have been easy to fix except that she only speaks the local dialect of Malay known as Yawi, according to officials at the homeless shelter where the 76-year-old has lived for two decades.

On her way back from Malaysia, she mistakenly hopped on a bus to Bangkok, some 1150km north of her home in Narathiwat province.

Unable to read Thai and speaking a language few Thais can understand, she again took a wrong bus, this time to Chiang Mai, another 700km further north.

There she ended up as a beggar for five years, until she was finally sent to a homeless shelter in the central Thai province of Phitsanulok in 1987.

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