There is a phenomenon, not just here in Khon Kaen, but throughout Thailand for wearing matching t-shirts. This is almost exclusively amongst Thais. Have you ever noticed it? Pay attention and you soon will.
I was blissfully oblivious to this dress code that was until after I got married. My wife bought us some ‘lovey dovey’ matching t-shirts which even a self respecting teenager-in-love would baulk at. However, playing the newly married ‘hansum’ husband and it being ‘ro man teek’ ‘n’ all I duly donned said t-shirt. The fashionistas in downtown Khon Kaen didn’t seem to bat an eyelid. My wife felt proud as punch, I on the other hand didn`t quite feel so enamoured.
Then, one February, we visited the Buddhist shrine at Kitchakuch Mountain, not far from Chanthaburi. It’s 1,050 metres above sea level and supposedly where Buddha left his footprint next to a big rock. My brother-in-Law bought me, my wife and young son matching t-shirts, especially for the occasion.
Getting to the top involves 2 crazy taxi rides and then walking a further 1 km up steep steps. You can see the t-shirts above but what you won’t guess is the reaction amongst other Thai worshipers. My Brother-in-Law figured, that as the colours were red, white & blue that would be close enough to represent being British as well as the Vespa. Conveniently ignoring the large, bold word FRANCE on the front.
Whilst wearing the t-shirt, I didnt think I could feel anymore of a ……… (you fill in the expletive). But several times locals stared, pointed at me and said “Russian!” Thius adding insult to injury. Thai logic at its` finest.
The world of matching t-shirts has now been fully opened to me. Thai work outings are a must for matching t-shirts with the company logo or message. I once took my staff out for a boat trip and sure enough, husband and wife – matching t-shirts. I find it kind of cute and kind of nauseating.
So good falangs of Khon Kaen, if you weren`t already, now you are aware of the matching t-shirt syndrome. Most at risk are those in newly formed relationships, those that are newly loved up. There are far easier ways to look stupid in Thailand than wearing matching t-shirts.