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Dressing Like Tourists

Dressing Like a Tourist

As a foreigner living in Thailand, I can be a bit self-conscious about being thought of as a tourist. Don’t get me wrong, most tourists are perfectly nice, friendly people. I’m just not one of them. 

This particular glitch in my personality extends to friends and family visiting from overseas. My guests naturally want to shop for souvenirs while they’re here. I always would bring them out to Chatuchak market because of the sheer variety of Thai foods, handicrafts and clothes. 

Whenever one of them bought a pair of elephant pants or a Singha tank top, I only half-jokingly told them to pack them away and not to wear them until they were back home. I explained that Thais don’t wear them, so the guests will be labeled as tourists. 

Tourist Attire

There are three almost caricatures of tourist attire in Thailand, elephant pants, a tank top with the Singha logo, and tightly-braided hair. Any one of them marks people as tourists, and I’ve seen many tourists with a hat trick of all three. If you have a painful-looking sunburn, that’s also an added bonus. I get the reason for it buying them. They’re on vacation. They want to be comfortable, have fun and have a reminder of their trip. I’ll just have to act like I don’t know them when we’re out in public. 

Subtle Growth of Elephant Pants

Recently I started noticing something that ruins my explanation of tourist attire to my friends and family. I’ve noticed a growing number of young Thais wearing elephant pants. It was true what I used to tell my guests; I never used to see Thais wearing them, particularly not young, trendy Thais. I was surprised the first couple of times I noticed them. 

I realized that I might have to re-evaluate my definition of tourist attire, remove the elephant pants factor, and stop being so annoyingly silly and judgemental to my visiting friends and family.    

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