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พฤศจิกายน 2550
21 พฤศจิกายน 2550
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This country's going insane...

1. Same shirt...

There's a thread on facebook called 'the country is now officially insane.' I've been back in BKK 3 days now, and I figure the guy who started the discussion has a point.

The guy who started the thread wanted to talk about the latest craze here, showing your love for the king by buying a 'pink' shirt. He wanted to try and stir up a bit of a debate about the shirts, and people's reasons for buying them. He certainly did. There are over 3 pages of replies to his comments.

The pink shirt craze started when I was in England. Since then, there have been thousands of pink shirts on sale. So far, every batch of shirts that's been produced has sold out and, every time they are restocked, there have been massive queues to buy them. Yesterday's Bangkok Post mentioned that 70,000 more are due to appear in the shops later this week. They are certain to sell out too.

To a foreigner, especially one that's just come back from a week and a bit in England, it does seem a touch insane.

Last year it was yellow shirts. I can understand yellow. As the King of Thailand was born on a Monday, yellow's 'his' colour. The yellow polo shirts looked quite good. Last year some foreigners here questioned the fact that people were being forced to buy and wear them. At first, I thought people were probably being forced into buying them too. Government organisations made rules stating that employees 'ought' to wear a yellow shirt on a Monday. But, everyone that I asked told me that they wore the shirts vountarily.

Last year I worked as a volunteer teacher in a school in Korat. Most of the female teachers that I worked with were more than happy to wear the shirts every Monday. Why? Because they were also allowed to wear trousers, or smart black jeans for work too, rather than their usual fuddy duddy knee length skirts.

What a lot of foreigners seem to forget is that Thais have a sense of collectivism that just doesn't exist back home. In England, your identity is defined by your individiualism. Your clothes should be different from those of your friends. Here, people's identity is partly defined by the way that they fit into and are a part of a larger group. Unlike at home, people here don't want to be the black sheep. If their friends and colleagues are all buying yellow shirts, they will do too.

Last year it was yellow. Now, the market's saturated with yellow shirts. Prices have fell, from around 300 baht a shirt (though during last year's shirt shortage, in mid June, prices for certain types of shirts were much, much higher than this...) to around 100 baht. It's time for a new craze... This time the colour's green or pink.

Apparently the King was seen wearing a pink shirt. Since then the nation has gone 'pink' shirt crazy. I've seen a couple of people wearing them around Phra Pinklao. Some women but, mainly guys... What's odd about this, to an English person, is that, at home, pink is a gay colour (yeah - I know that it's purple here...), something men don't usually want to wear. So, to me, whenever I see guys here wearing the pink shirts, it's as Thailand's male population is on some kind of bizarre mission to show it's gay-ness. It's doubly strange...

Last year the teachers at my old school were forced to buy yellow shirts. My 'official' yellow polo shirt, OK for most places wasn't smart enough for my Thai boss. Every foreign teacher, had to buy a 'formal' yellow shirt, in my case a disgusting looking mustard yellow thing that made my breasts look like lop-sided mountains and the rest of my body look like a sack. The women's ones had been designed to fit petite, small chested Thai ladies, not large, slightly overweight western ones. Everyone complained about them.

Now, I think it will be quite funny if my old school makes the guys that are still working there buy the pink ones. I can already imagine the protests, and the guys complaining about being made to wear a colour that's meant for girls...

2. The 'Don't drink' concert...

I had a lot of errands to run yesterday. Friends to catch up with, stuff to drop off in various places, information to find. I needed to know whether, and how to take a bike on a sleeper train. I've taken my bike on the train before, but only on the small local line that runs to Samut Songkran. I've never taken it further afield, and I was hoping to take it upcountry on Thursday night or Friday morning.

I walked to Chinatown and then on to Hualompong. The outside of the station looks quite impressive. It's been repainted, and the nice shiney cream paint has yet to be blackened by the traffic fumes.

I walked into the waiting area. There were lots of pink shirted people (they are everywhere...) handing out leaflets, telling people not to drink. There was also a concert. The red plastic chairs had been moved to one side, and a stage had been set up. Some Thai rock band were singing songs about not drinking Lao (Thai whiskey...) The music sounded OK enough but it was loud, very, very loud. So loud that it was impossible to hear the announcer telling everyone which trains were about to leave or which platforms to go to to get their train.

I went to the information counter and tried to ask about taking a bike on the train. The guy said something, though I have no idea what. I couldn't hear a word of it. I told him so. He told me that he didn't speak English and asked a woman stood nearby to take me to someone who did. I went there, it was the same. I couldn't hear a word that the guy was saying. The only thing I could hear were guitar riffs and someone screeching over the top of them.

Where is your bike ? The guy said, in the gap between 2 of the songs. 'It's at home.' I told him. 'You need to bring your bike' he said. 'But I want to go on Firday...' I told him.
'Oooohhhhhhh' he said in a way that only Thai people can. Then the music started again. I have no idea what he said. I tried to tell him that I couldn't hear. He pointed in the direction of the ticket booths, turned on his little mircophone and started making an announcement. I was stood near him and I couldn't hear it at all. No one else could either. People who weren't interested in the concert were trying to watch the news on iTV. They were staring at the picture and doing their best to try and lipread the news readers lips.

I'm fairly sure I'm not deaf, though anyone who had to spent more than 1/2 an hour waiting for their train yesterday afternoon probably is, by now. There are probably still people sleeping on the floor, waiting for yesterday's 4 and 5pm trains. Only an idiot would have thought to have had the concert in the middle of the station, and to turn the amps up so much...

I've complained to a few people about this. Everyone I complain to gives the standard response when they hear yet another wingeing farang. "This is Thailand.. (TIT)", a phrase ususally accompanied by a beaming smile. The IS should be changed to InSane...

Create Date : 21 พฤศจิกายน 2550
Last Update : 22 พฤศจิกายน 2550 2:55:01 น. 1 comments
Counter : 206 Pageviews.

Yeah...when in Rome....

โดย: Ta (ta/'o-o/' ) วันที่: 22 พฤศจิกายน 2550 เวลา:3:33:54 น.  

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