Some days, when I have nothing better to do, I partake in my hobby of people watching. This is a fascinating pass time, and if you have never tried it, I strongly recommend it. It may not be a recognised sport, but it should be. This activity can be done with a partner, (four eyes are better than two) or as a pleasant way to while-away the time and enjoy some ‘me time’.
Choose a comfortable spot – an armchair in a coffee shop, or perhaps a sun-lounger on the beach, under the shade of an umbrella. Get yourself a drink and a snack, and a good book. The book is part of your camouflage, helping you to appear anonymous. When you go on safari, the idea is to blend in and put your subjects at ease; you don’t want to spook them, and let them feel that they are being watched. This same theory applies to people watching. If no one takes any notice of you, you will be amazed at what they will do in front of you.
I have seen some bizarre things while people-watching, and Koh Samui is an ideal location for this activity, as people from over the world converge to enjoy this beautiful island. Not everyone’s idea of enjoyment is the same, which adds to the fascination. Some of the funniest people to observe are the male tourists, and how they interact with Thai ladies. Think how often you see a white as lard, pudgy middle-aged tourist, with a beautiful young Thai girl. Now as much as she might act ‘in love’ with him, who are they kidding? Now by no means am I judging, they both win from the deal, but why pretend that it is anything more than a transaction?
In reality, everyone is graded from one to ten, with one being right down on the bottom of the scale of what is a good catch, and number ten being knock-out gorgeous. People in general tend to go for a partner that is near them on the scale, so a number seven for instance, would connect with someone ranging from a six to an eight. Now what makes someone appealing and determines their number on the scale? Well obviously, and fortunately, everyone has different tastes, but there is a generally accepted norm of what is considered to be good-looking. Other factors that determine your number are status, wealth, power, fame and personality. Although this last one is the most important, it is rarely a factor in the initial attraction, as you have to first get to know a person. How often do you see a really ugly guy with a beautiful woman? Now something has drawn her to him, such as wealth or fame. Think of some famous stars – Mick Jagger comes to mind. So taking this theory into account, what are these podgy middle-aged men, who would only register a two or three on the ‘catch scale’, thinking when a number nine or ten woman shows interest in them? Now if they understand that their Pounds, Dollars or Euros up them on the scale, then fair enough, and a deal is a deal – win win. But sometimes, these poor guys truly believe that they have met the love of their life and horror and shock when they find out later that their new lady friend is not exclusive. Come on guys, reality check in order.
Lying on the beach, you see other types. There are the eternal backpackers that left home 20 years ago and never went back. The men still wear the same long pony tail, only now it is grey and is strategically combed to cover the thinning bald spot. The women bear the same bamboo tattoos that they proudly suffered to acquire twenty years ago. Only now that rose has wilted on leathery skin. There are the nouveau rich couples from previously oppressed countries that now flaunt gold bikinis, the work of top plastic surgeons, and real Louis Vuitton beach bags, accompanied by their obnoxious spoilt brat children. Everything about them is flash, and screams bad taste. Let’s not even talk about the body builders, with shaved chests, tattoos, oiled torsos, and out-of-proportion bodies that look like a character out of a Mavel comic book.
You can spot a Farang who has lived here a while, immediately, compared to a tourist new to the island. Local women have given up wearing high heels a long time ago - feet swell in the heat. My gold flip-flops do just fine for a special occasion thank you. Make up - why bother, it only runs in the humidity. Thai ladies on the other hand, manage to wear two-story high heels, as well as make up, coloured contact lenses, false nails and accessories with ease. It must be genetic, as they never look flustered, hot or bedraggled.
So the next time you have no great plans for the day, engage in the laid back sport of people-watching. You will become hooked and amazed at what characters emerge out of the woodwork.