Wednesday, 3 February 2010
After a shaky start and a serverly delayed plane I'm now in Bangkok, in the backpacker area of Banglamphu. So far I've only had the day to explore but already this pulsating city reminds me of a fairytale place that I (Peter, Wendy and Tinkerbell too) like to call Never Never Land.
In South East Asia, Never Never Land is a haven for backpackers of the world; a hot, sweaty, sarong wearing utopia where the salt of the earth can come to unite and swap stories of island hopping, near-death experiences and inflated tuk-tuk prices. People watching on the infamous Khao San Road is a little like the moment when you see that group of lary, cross-dressing men at Glastonbury festival, only to realise that on closer inspection one of them is your bank manager.
To blend in like a Lost Boy, a few key items are essential. Firstly you need to kit yourself out with a variety of vest tops, sarongs and summer dresses. In many Asian countries it is inappropriate to flash your flesh but in Never Never Land anything goes, so long as it hasn't been washed in a few days. Men should opt for combat style shorts and a loose fitting tank top to show off tribal tattoos, honed muscles and a healthy looking tan.
Next come the accessories - the heart of any girl's wardrobe. Depending on how many memories you wish to take back with you, nothing says you've enjoyed yourself quite like a tattoo. Tribal, Celtic or even some of that pretty looking Chinese calligraphy would work well here, particularly when wrapped around your upper arm or on your calf. Jewellery is also important, especially if it is made from leather, thread or beads. You get bonus points if it has a religious or symbolic meaning.
A tan is another easy way to blend in, but only if you got it whilst trekking in Chang Mai or sailing around the Gulf of Thailand - sunbathing or (shudder) fake tanning is simply not acceptable. If you have no intention of inviting skin cancer to a private party then stick to looking pale and interesting while reading your worn down copy of The Beach.