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Are you jealous of Thai people?

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Are you jealous of Thai people?

Are you jealous of Thai people?

A few years ago, I had some friends from England come to visit me in Phuket. After a week of frolicking around in the mid-summer heat, I found my friend sitting at the bottom of the stairs pouting like a little girl.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Oh, I’m just a big barn cow … that’s what’s wrong” she answered. “These bloody Thai women … they’re so skinny and beautiful … and they ride around on those bloody motorbikes without a hair out of place or sweating one drop”. She went on for about 15 minutes; hating on Thai women for having smooth skin and silky hair and, according to her, being “superior to her in every way”.

I could understand. If I were a middle-aged and out of shape English lady struggling to get up 2 flights of stairs in the 40 degree heat, I’d hate on them too. I think she was embarrassed to be jealous of our gracious hosts.

I’m certainly jealous of Thai men. Most of them have a metabolism that keeps them slim no matter how much they eat.

They can just go to the mall and buy clothes that fit them without the clerk screaming out, “NO PROBLEM SIR … HAVE BIG SIZE”. They’ve got great skin, white teeth and the best hair ever. The maintenance guy at my condo looks like Mowgli the Jungle Boy and he’s 50 years old!

But it’s not the superficial looks that I truly envy. Thai people have special powers I wish I had.

Once I saw a teenage Thai girl sitting on a tall stool in the middle of Patpong night market. With go-go bars blasting out music on each side and a thousand vendors hawking their sunglasses, fake Viagra and bootleg DVDs, she sat perfectly still. Her legs were pulled up underneath her body … back erect … eyes half-closed … breathing slowly. In the midst of total chaos, she just wasn’t there.

The ability to just turn off the world is a Thai special power I wish I had and I bet I’m not the only one.

The story this week’s picture tells is the special power I am most jealous of Thai people for. They can sleep anywhere at any time. These hammocks are stretched between coconut trees on a beach in Koh Phangan. If I were to attempt taking a nap there I’d probably end up needing a rescue team to get me out.

They make it look so easy. I see motorbike taxi guys hanging from flimsy makeshift hammocks all the time. The security guard at my condo can fall asleep standing up with his eyes open. My first girlfriend in Thailand could just sit down anywhere and power off like a computer. “What’s that? 15 minutes until the movies starts? Better power off and take a quick nap”.

While I would like a slimmer waste and thick black hair, if I could develop one Thai special power it would be to acquire their ability to just drop off into “sleep mode”.

Orlando Barton

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