Ruminations On Things Thai
Coming to Thailand the first time is a bit like entering an Oriental Twilight Zone. Nothing is quite what it seems. Nothing works the way we expect it. Just as an example, you often see street sellers cooking plump, juicy-looking sausages.
Ah! I thought when I first saw them. A nice tasty sausage, just like I get back home would be nice. So you plunk down your change and grab that hot morsel in your eager hands.
Arrrrggggh! What’s this?
Your mouth has just been burned to a crisp by a lump of steaming rice, with a couple of greasy bits of meat of unknown origin.
Welcome to Thailand.
I don’t see it as often these days as I did when I first came to Thailand. Back then, the girls would all go-go ga-ga over my hairy arms. They would oooh and aaah over them, gaze at them in wonder, stroke them, sending shivers up my backbone, and tell me how much they loved my hairy arms.
By the time they had given me a few strokes up and down I was putty in their hands. Needless to say, we were soon off to my hotel room to see if some of my hair would rub off on her. But no matter how much rubbing we did it never worked. Never mind. It was fun trying anyway.
Would the girls back home swoon and sigh over our hairy arms? Not likely. Maybe they should take a leaf from the Thai’s book. Having a sweet young thing stroking your arm and exclaiming over your hirsute arm is a real turn on. <These days they like to grab a hair and yank it out, the tacky moles! – Stick>
Big Noses & Round Eyes
Ah, now my nose is one of the Thais’ favourite obsessions. It’s so large that if we had to pay to breathe I’d go bankrupt in a week. In fact, it’s so large that I have to tell people who have never met me before to look for the nose coming through the door and I’ll be five minutes behind it. But the Thais love it!
They exclaim over the eagle bend that starts a centimetre or two from the bridge, and then swoops down to a bulbous protrusion at the end. And they positively drool with envy when I stick my tongue out and touch the tip of my drooping appendage.
Of course, that’s probably why I attract so many girls around me when I sit down on a barstool. After all, if I can touch my nose with my tongue, no telling what else I can do with that instrument of pleasure.
Many Thais would give fortunes to have a nose like mine. Heck, lots of them do pay a fortune for plastic surgery. There’s only one trouble with that. After they have the bridge extended, they end up looking like their forehead grew a point and slipped down between their eyes. Instead of gliding down gracefully to two wide nostrils, they end up with this straight, pinched patrician Roman-looking nose. Unfortunately, it never quite looks quite right. The chinky eyes offset any benefit the long, straight nose might impart.
Does that stop them? Oh no, no, no. The plastic surgeons in this country are reaping a fortune adding bulk to stubby proboscis.
Our round eyes are also a source of great envy for a lot of Thai women. Even my ex-wife succumbed to this one. She went to the hospital one day and came back that afternoon wrapped in gauze. A week later, after the swelling and bruising had almost faded I woke up and stared in disbelief as she opened her eyes.
They were big and round all right. In fact, they looked so big and wide that she had this look of permanent surprise from that day onwards.
One of the things I loved about her when we met were her slinky, chinky eyes. After her operation I felt I was living with someone else. Now, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it put a bit of spice back into our marriage for a little while. Each time we made love and I looked into her eyes it was as if I was making love with another woman.
But an eye job is not something I’d recommend to try and save a marriage. However, a really good head job might work!
Soon after I arrived here I noticed that when girls asked where I was from I got a completely different reaction if I said I was British instead of Australian.
Since I was a bit of both I could rightly claim to be either. But after I saw the way the girls reacted when I said British I stuck with that. A different light came into their eyes. Some even went so far as to say, “Oh, Blitish poodee”, meaning that all British are high class. It never ceases to amaze me that they could say this with a perfectly straight face to a six foot two hulking football hooligan. Or to a short Cockney with a nose ring and an accent that even other Brits couldn’t decipher.
It’s totally irrational, this belief that the British are somehow superior to Americans or even Australians. But it’s based on the fact that the Brits have a Royal Family, as do the Thais. And as they revere their Royal Family it stands to reason, in their eyes, that we Brits must be almost as good as them.
If only they knew how little we esteem our British Royal Family. In fact, if they were lobsters, we would esteem them until they were bright, bright red.
But claiming to be British does have its advantages. With that reverential attitude it’s much easier to get along with the Thais. I’ve walked into a business meeting and been given the usual Thai welcome, polite but distant and formal.
However, as we get to know each other a little better and I’m asked where I’m from the atmosphere warms considerably when I say I am British. Even if none of them have ever been there they become all fuzzy and warm. Some have even asked if I ever met the Queen. How could I tell them that the only British queen I know is performing in Soho?
Brown Vs White Skin
Whenever Thais see westerners sun baking they are horrified. They can’t understand why we would want to turn our pasty white expanses a smooth, warm brown.
To the Thais, the epitome of beauty, after a straight nose, is a perfectly white skin. They will go to extraordinary lengths to get it.
Michael Jackson hasn’t helped. He has gone from that beautiful little black kid with the amazing voice, to a grotesque bleached horror. Is it my imagination, but is his face actually starting to fall apart? I have seen various pictures of him and his nose never looks quite right. But when I point this out to Thais all they can talk about is how he managed to change from black to almost white.
The cosmetics industry loves this, of course. They churn out hundreds of new products each year “guaranteed to whiten your skin”. The advertising works. It’s a pity that the creams and unguents they tout don’t.
That doesn’t stop the Thais, however. They continue to invest millions of baht every year into products to make them white.
They can’t understand why so many westerners marry dark skinned girls either. To the Thais, dark skin is ugly. To the foreigners, having a dark skinned girl around is probably the next best thing to being brown themselves.
Yet, the Thais love the results of these unions. Look-kreung kids are often very beautiful. They get top jobs in the movie and singing industry and become very successful. As long as they have that exotic blend of East and West looks they do very well.
Because the Thais love and appreciate beauty. They are consummate artists and artisans. They think with their hearts…so much so that they have dozens of words to describe feelings of the heart. Whereas we westerners are very cerebral and logical. We tend to look beneath the surface. But the Thais appreciate only what appears before them.
It’s this difference in attitude and approach to life that causes so much confusion for foreigners when they first come to Thailand. It takes a while to get used to it, but when you do you begin to see things with a different eye. You learn to ignore the ugly bits, the pollution, and all the other assaults on the senses, just as the Thais do. Eventually, if you live here long enough you just accept Thailand for what it is and enjoy the benefits. I wish this on you all.
The last two sentences are extremely valid. Yep, you have to avail yourself of the benefits of living in Thailand to compensate for the downsides.