Life in Chiang Mai
Tis the season for nudity in public!
By Heather Allen
The recent report on the young man who, on a bet, drove his Ducati
motorcycle stark naked, well except for his shoes of course, has made the
rounds of both news and the internet. Most consider it humorous and it is,
in fact quite funny. Unless of course he had an accident as he must have
been quite drunk at the time and accidents do occur when drunk. The thought
of sliding buck naked down the pavement does not, after all, tickle my funny
However, there has been a certain amount of outrage over the offense to
public decency and he was charged a fine (albeit only 1,000 baht, luckily
for him the same amount he won on the bet). There was also the unfortunately
(partially) dressed foreign man who somehow thought the world wanted to see
him walking down the street in the green Borat mankini. I am afraid that the
world wanted to see him in his mankini about as much as they wanted to see
the naked motorcycle rider. That is, not at all.
Last year at Songkran several Thai girls also caused public outrage by
flashing their breasts during a late night Songkran party on Silom.
While some of these incidents are perpetuated by ignorant and drunken
foreigners the others are certainly being done by knowledgeable, albeit most
likely drunken, Thais. I am not here to debate the merits or demerits of
drunken foreigners versus drunken Thais but rather questioning what appears
to be a signal change in Thai society and what it considers to be acceptable
attire. Or in some people’s case, non-attire.
Country girls will go to the beach and bathe fully dressed, shoulders are to
not be displayed, short shorts are definitely out and cleavage is a no-no.
Yet in Chiang Mai short shorts are all the rage as they are in Bangkok. I
saw a girl in Bangkok whose shorts were so short they left virtually nothing
to the imagination. Even in my country which is much more liberal about
women’s attire, this would have been risqué.
Thailand is changing and quickly. Many bemoan those changes and wish things
to go back to what they were. I think this is true everywhere in the world;
“the good old days” were always the thing to aspire to. But of course, they
were never that good at the time. Change is inevitable. But what is not
inevitable is that it has to be negative. Perhaps teaching the important
values, such as kindness, consideration, caring for others, generosity of
spirit and wallet is more important than teaching that one’s shoulders
should always be covered. The loss of cultural values is a major issue but
if people care more about the fact that you are naked then about the fact
that you selling drugs or stealing from people then they need to re-evaluate
what their own values really are.
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