What possesses tourists from certain countries (I will refrain from mentioning which countries) from wearing the most unsuitable attire, even for the beach? Let me set the scene for you, and it is not a pretty one, so be warned, this mental image is not suitable for sensitive readers: An elderly couple walks past, early to mid 70’s. Both have coated themselves in coconut oil, and obviously travel the world seeking the sun, as their skin has the look of a well‐worn leather rucksack. He is wearing nothing but (wait for it) a skimpy black G‐string Speedo, and she is wearing… a black bikini G‐string, no matching top. At first glance, it is hard to tell who is the man and who is the woman, as his ‘man‐boobs’ match hers in size, except that after years of her going topless, lets just say that the laws of gravity have taken effect.
They decide that right in front of where we are sitting is the perfect position for their daily worship to the sun goddess, Ra. They both bend over to position their towels just at the right angle to the sun, only to offer me a full and close up view of their G‐string clad rear ends. I have to say that is a sight I battle to get out of my mind, try as I may.
Now I am the first one to argue the point that everyone should be happy in their skins, and feel at ease to enjoy the beach no matter what their shape or size, but this is taking it a little too far. What ever happened to self‐respect? One Buddhist principle that I love is ‘to maximise your pleasure and happiness during this lifetime, BUT not at the expense of someone else’s happiness’. So yes, this scantily clad, sun‐worshipping old couple believe in maximising their pleasure, but surely it diminishes other beachgoers happiness?
Wearing tasteless beachwear on the beach I can tolerate, but when I see tourists dressed in Speedos and bikinis visiting temples, I find it hard to bite my tongue. Would these same tourists enter Westminster Abbey dressed like this? I think not. You could argue that it is just too cold to dress this way to church in Europe, and that they would if they could. The problem is that many tourists only see temples such as Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem as tourist attractions - just another theme park, and don’t respect the fact that these are other people’s places of worship. They stand there in their Speedos, snapping away at someone praying, as if it is a show at a carnival. Signs at Wat Plai Laem ask you to ‘Please dress polite’, but these go unnoticed or ignored. Thai people are so polite and tolerant that they don’t comment at their distaste of the way the tourists behave, and these ignorant travellers blissfully go about, completely unaware of how offensive their behaviour is.
So a word of advice to the sun‐worshipping tourists who may be reading this: Show a little respect for those around you. We don’t want to see your saggy, tanned butt cheeks in front of us in the queue at Tesco, and the man selling corn‐on‐the‐cob on the beach doesn’t know where to look when you walk topless up to his stand. Please respect the modest Thai culture, and cover up when you visit places of worship.
Now to get that rather disturbing picture out of my head... anyone know a good therapist?