-The camaraderie and banter among the professional girlfriends hanging out in the bars.
-The times like last week, when the plinky plonk of Thai country music floating out of a restaurant beat-matched perfectly with Jay Z’s Tom Ford in my earphones and I got a mad remix.
-That I can, with absolute certainty, be assured that somewhere, right now, in this city, some bar is serving free-flow prosecco for ladies.
-The frequency with which i am addressed as ‘Sir!’
But, of the many splendid things about Bangkok, my absolute fave is the fashion. Bangkok is home to quite the style spectrum. It’s at once irrefutably ‘hip and cool’, not to mention ‘chic and trendy’ whilst at the same time utterly stuck in the eighties. The fashionistas include grungies in baggy plaid flannel shirts, cuties in floral playsuits, tomcats in Dickies and screaming queens in fuscia short shorts. I saw a smoking-hot girl chilling at Coffeeworld in T21, waiting for her barista friend to get off work. In the middle of the day she was wearing a skin-tight, short, black body-con dress (and Gurrrl, she was WEARING it!) But not at the expense of her comfort, oh no: her feet were cosily ensconced in a pair of Crocs. Quite the combo.
Is this a terrifying moment of realization? Or an expression of disbelief?
An enormous gentleman had the following, in bold, colourful lettering, stretched taut across his belly:
Cool story, Tell it again, Brio
Does he feel the story requires a little more vim, pep and indeed, brio?
Is it a misspelling of Biro?
Or is it in fact a spectacularly failed attempt a sarcastic retort?
There are the shirts that suggest there is more to the story:
It seems a shame the ladies surrounding the wearer were unable to bask in the toasty warmth of any nearby puppies.
‘nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the wood before sunrise’
I wasn’t sure if it was soul-soaringly poetic, a naughty euphemism in disguise or just a Google Translate disaster.
Some are, frankly, downright offensive:
You’re fucking worthless
Which got me down a bit, I won’t lie!
One of my very sweet students came to class in a T-shirt bearing the very distinctive ears of Minnie Mouse, under which was scrawled ‘Bitch please!’
Which I sort of endorse, I love the idea that Minnie is a shady diva:
From the harmless to the hilarious, these Tees share a commonality. They are being worn. So my wondering is this: do the wearers rock them ironically, or to shock? Perhaps they are being worn out of necessity after a big night; borrowing the ‘spare T-shirt’ is surely a fairly common phenomenon in BKK. Or maybe they can’t read the English and just like the colour. Which got me thinking about the preponderance of T-shirts designs and tattoos, in languages other than English, walking around London. Chinese characters are particularly popular – perhaps we all fancy ourselves zen masters and Tao philosophers. And and I wonder to what extent they are accurate….or culturally appropriate. I rather like the idea of lazy screen-printers or impish tattoo artists assuring their customers ‘Yes! it says ‘Love, Seek and Dream’ trust me!’ All the while chuckling to themselves because, in truth, it reads ‘my mother stinks of fishballs’. Or maybe some druids, straying from their stone circles, overhear some douchebag in a coffee shop explaining that the celtic script around his bicep reads ‘Give thou thine heart to the wild winds’ and shake their heads at each other in the knowledge that it says ‘mine bowels moveth apace’.
Just bear it in mind, dear friends. Having seen, just today, a grown man wearing a T-shirt that said:
to see the good land baby hedgehog can make you wonder
I feel like anything is possible.