Most Thais are modest people.
At the beach, the bikini-clad foreigners rent deck chairs or sprawl across rainbow-coloured towels, turning over whenever the exposed side feels cooked. Like a rotisserie chicken… stick a fork in me… yup, I’m done.
Not the Thais. The group of friends is seated at a long table in the shade of an enormous tree. Of course they are eating. (Thais eat all the time.) The hotel staff don’t seem to mind that they’ve brought their own food, either, even though the website for the resort states explicitly that outside food will not be tolerated. (The more I learn about how little most Thai people make, the better I understand why we “farang” are treated differently.)
When the sun starts its slow descent, the young Thai people leave their table. Still fully clothed, they head for the water. There is no dramatic disrobing on the sand; they simply slip into the sea in their t-shirts and shorts and jeans. The water barely ripples as they enter. As the sun-drenched foreigners head to their bungalows to sleep off our various excesses, the Thais are coming to life in the cool water of the late-afternoon.
A friend explains that most Thai people don’t want a tan because light-coloured skin is considered more desirable. The lighter the better. To show ones body is considered disrespectful – to others and to oneself.
There’s a lot going on here on this beach shared by Thais and foreigners.