There are many reasons to visit Thailand. Some want to swim at Ko Phi Phi, where Leonardo DiCaprio found beauty (though not quite bliss) in “The Beach.”
Some want to see if the pad thai in the Chang Mai night market tastes better than it does at their favorite Thai restaurant back home. (It does.)
According to Thai public broadcasting service MCOT (Thai only), however, a German tourist has been coming to the country annually for the last six years for an entirely different reason: To clean up the mess.
Peter Rudi Festerling, a 55-year-old professional janitor from Berlin, spends most of his vacation time in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand doing what he does at home. Spiffing up the joint.
Festerling was recently caught in action washing phone booths in front of the Charoen Hotel, where he often stays. The pictures ended up on Udon Thani’s community Facebook page.
Most Thai Facebook commenters on the Udon Thani community page have applauded the fastidious Samaritan, saying he sets a good example for society.
Facebook user Sinalii Nizza Pirane commented that the governor of Udon Thani Province should present Festerling with a certificate recognizing his contributions to the province’s capital city.
“So cute,” commented another. “I want to meet him and give him some water and a cold towel.”
Yearly clean-up vacation
According to an MCOT report, at some point during a visit to Udon Thani the German vacationer “felt uneasy with the untidy scene so he started to clean up.”
Asked why spends parts of his vacations picking up garbage and scrubbing dirty public areas, Festerling says it’s because “he loves Thailand.”
He reports that locals are often kind to him, offering him water and taking his photo. Festerling has been spotted rigged out in full gardener’s gear mowing weeds on sidewalks, in industrial coveralls sweeping garbage and even directing traffic, according to MCOT.
The traveling janitor is now back in Germany but says he’ll continue his yearly visits to Thailand — scrub brush in hand.