Archive for December 30, 2011

staring at the sun

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have a few pairs of wickedly polarized sunglasses that I bought in Hawaii…optical quality….as good as the best polarizing filters I’ve used with photography equipment. The obscure Kreed brand far exceeds the quality of the top name Ray Ban for  vision protection here in the tropics. Trust me…you need protection…sunlight is so bright here it feels like it will bore through your eyelids when you spend any amount of time exposed.

OK I admit it…I’m an unrepentant tanner…..I would say a ‘sport tanner’….bordering on fanatical. I spend at least three hours tanning every day. I came from Canada… with no sun..for months on end. I grew up worshipping the reluctant sunshine in that northerly climate. I am a bit of an anomaly in Thailand where the mythology of white skin has people quivering at sun rise and running from the slightest exposure to light during their day.

Of course you know that this myth of white skin being preferable came down from the Chinese. Being brown means you work outdoors and are therefore lower class. Ghostly white means you enjoy a leisurely lifestyle and are one of the well fed elite. Yes….that’s pretty stupid….but don’t tell that to the millions of Oriental women who cover their hands with opera gloves to the elbows when they drive and cover their faces with plastic Darth Vader masks so as not to be exposed as an ‘outsider’.

Thai’s look at me and Patricia with some trepidation…they don’t understand tanning in all its goodness and what it means to us ‘farang’. I see lots of  foreigners who get sucked into the Thai game of dress up and ‘mall skin’. I’m afraid I’m stuck with my own cultural influences and have never suffered from Tropo. I live here as a ‘big farang’…..weird looking blondered hair….deep brown tan…irreverent….boisterous…no visible means of support…its shocking. When I tell people I write novels they look at me like I’ve just told them I came from Mars……novelists are a rare breed in Thailand. Being unaccountably foreign in a strange land is a blast. But…don’t stare at the sun for too long… can burn out in Thailand and become…….one of them.