Friday, July 25, 2008

Thailand: Land of Stares

Photo by Goatsfoot

Being stared at is something I've never, ever been comfortable with. It just makes me wonder what the other person is thinking, which doesn't always take my mind to good places. I was really nervous about it before I went to Japan because everyone told me "Oh you get stared at constantly by everyone" and even "People try to touch you". This is totally not true. I only had one kinda odd time in Gion where I noticed some Japanese tourists taking pictures of me leaning against a wall (what are they going to do with them? Go home and say "hey check out this neat tourist I saw!!" Pft). Even when I went to the Onsen nobody batted an eye. But Bangkok, which has a huge expat population plus countless tourists, it's another story.

Men seem to be the main culprits. I think this is a boobs thing. Thai women don't really have big boobs or something I guess. Even though I don't speak Thai "Woah check out those tits!" sounds the same in every language. Especially if I hear the world "Farang" in there somewhere, I know they are talking about me. I get this mostly from construction workers, tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxi drivers. They don't even look at my face. Totally gross.

The other reason I think is that I wear sunglasses. Nobody wears them here, except the occasional taxi driver and blind people. This I think makes people believe that you can't see them that well. So they stare you directly in the eyes, thinking you won't notice. Well I do, and it's creepy. I always wonder why Westerners are generally the only people wearing sunnies here. I can barely face the day without them. And so many Thais work outside, you think they'd use them.

Taxi drivers stare a lot too. Every time they go past, they stare at you intently in case you make some gesture that might indicate you want a taxi. Sometimes they stop and beep their horns at you, even if you haven't shown the slightest interest. It can get a little creepy and odd from time to time.

The other people that stare are kids. Occasionally they yell "Farang" at you but they lose interest quickly. It's totally innocent.

It does frustrate me, especially in Bangkok, because there are so many other foreigners here. Surely they are used to it by now. I guess perhaps staring isn't considered to be so rude in Thailand. I just wish people wouldn't. I feel so uncomfortable here already most of the time because I'm so huge compared to Thai women (and men a lot of the time too) and the staring just makes me feel worse.

My top tip (for women) for not getting stared at is carry a parasol. This works for me sometimes because so many Thai women do it they don't look twice. Plus it protects my very pale extremely burnable skin. So it's win win!

Sorry for the absence of blogging (Lexi. Tehehehe). I will write something up in the next couple of days on my trip to Vietnam and my Creme Brulee cupcake experiment for the Wii Guitar Hero party the Mister and I are having tomorrow night. Stay tuned! (Lexi! p.s. I miss you!)

1 comment:

Annie said...

Yes, that would make me uncomfortable too...