Johm riab sua.
When I embark upon my Southeast Asian quest, I will be arriving in BKK. I can not wait to get out of my boring farang clothes. Are there any clothing markets or shopping districts where I can find some cheap local clothing upon my arrival? Even though I will be starting in Thailand I want to dress in the style of Cambodia; baggy shorts, krama scarf, etc. I am packing lightly in farang clothing in the hopes that I find some nice Khmer style clothing. What would I be looking to spend say for a couple of outfits?
For reference in the style of clothing that I'm referring to please watch this Khmer music video. If you will notice the nice looking men sitting down on the mats with their kramas. This is the style I want to embrace.
#1 ThaiStick has been a member since 17/4/2013. Posts: 20
I live in rural Thailand, everybody here dresses in "boring farang clothes". I can't speak for rural Cambodia, I was only in PP and there everyone dressed in boring farang clothes. This is kind of like going to Bavaria and then buying Lederhosen and wearing them everywhere. It's a free country and you are welcome to wear what you want, but you will look like a dork if you do so.
If you still insist on spending you vacation fashion challenged, then I'd guess (not being in the market for said clothes myself) the best place to make such purchases is Chatuchak Market. I included a ling below:
#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Cambodia has one of the longest marriage ceremonies in the world sometimes lasting up to three days. When Westerners marry local girls they are expected to do it in traditional Khmer fashion which includes the cringeworthy Indian waiter's jacket and puffy silk pantaloons. Oh, the misery on these guys faces when the wives hand out the wedding photos- it's a life sentence. The point I am making is these clothes are ceremonial not for wearing around the streets. Saying that the Khmer will probably love you for wearing them whilst your fellow travellers try not to snigger in front of you. Everyday wear is basically 'boring farang' clothes.
If you really want the outfit any tailor in Cambodia will knock them up.
Have a look at the outfit here:
#4 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Thanks MadMac and Sayadian for the info.
I could careless if my farang brethren and the Cambodian and Thai locals laugh at me. I'm not traveling 10,000 miles for them. That's just how down to earth I am. Truth is, I am a dork, why else would I want to embrace the culture to such an amusable state. On a more technical note, the style of clothing looks more comfortable for the climate of SEA, not to mention the many uses of the Krama. I don't know, maybe I misunderstand the core principle of travel. I will look into Chatuchak Market.
#5 ThaiStick has been a member since 17/4/2013. Posts: 20
"Truth is, I am a dork, why else would I want to embrace the culture to such an amusable state."
Well, at least your self-aware. Beats a lot of folks around here.
"On a more technical note, the style of clothing looks more comfortable for the climate of SEA, not to mention the many uses of the Krama."
Maybe in Cotton, but not in silk. Silk is hot.
"I don't know, maybe I misunderstand the core principle of travel."
Well, if by that you mean you want to do as much as possible in the style of the indigenous persons here, then you would dress in boring Falang clothes. SEA isn't caught in a time warp. It has moved along just like the rest of the world. You shouldn't confuse culture, including fashion, from 100 years ago with today. It was different in your home country too. When you watch a music video like this, you are watching something very stylized.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I'm finding this thread rather amusing.
In all seriousness, love the use of reggae terminology with the word "farang". Great name for an expat bar.
"I'm not traveling 10,000 miles for them. That's just how down to earth I am."
That one threw me... Is it a Zen koan?
"Maybe I misunderstand the core principle of travel."
Just like the core principle(s) of life, the "core principle of travel" is only in the eye of the beholder. Whatever the "core principle" that you associate with travel, if you understand it, then you're not misunderstanding anything.
What do the locals wear?
Well, they don't wear the stuff your looking for unless they are going to a ceremony of some kind. Out in the countryside or on board a fishing boat you will see guys wearing loose fitting pants and thin denim shirts with no collar or sleaves. A lot of travellers wear those fisherman pants but look totally out of place. Women will wear a sarong around the house in the village but not usually when they go to town. Older women in the markets sometimes wear them. Men prefer shirts, not because it's more conservative than t-shirts but because the long arms give protection from the sun.
Go for the krama they are very useful to wipe the sweat off or shade you from the sun. If you want to be cool (in the original meaning of the word) what's wrong with cotton shorts and a T?
You could try Lederhosen if you like the camp s&m look.
Silk is cool, I believe.
#9 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
"This is kind of like going to Bavaria and then buying Lederhosen and wearing them everywhere."
Or coming to Ireland and dressing like a leprechaun.
#10 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
If you go to KaoSan Road in all probability you'll see the lot. The Indian sadhu look is pretty prevalent as is the Jamaican rastafarian.
#12 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Thanks for the insightful replies, guys. I guess it would be kind of embarrassing to show up to the Go-Go bars looking like I just came from the rice fields. I will however definitely be getting a krama and at least one local ethnic outfit just to walk around in for one of my chill/relaxation days.
#13 ThaiStick has been a member since 17/4/2013. Posts: 20
Sayadian is correct - silk is cool; it's a natural fabric so it breathes. Unless it has synthetic fibres woven in in which case it's not so cool. And there are synthetic fabrics that look/feel like silk but they are not. They don't breathe and you swelter in them!
Amusing discussion.... Thaistick, my first thoughts were that you actually might come across as condescending and insulting to the locals for imitating their historical/cultural dress fasion. Or just a 'try hard'. Seriously, keep it to jeans/shorts/pants and a tshirt for day to day wear. or collared polo shirt, and you'll get far more respect.
I'd love to see some tourists walking around the streets of Auckland wearing traditional maori clothing:
I think there are many ways to embrace the culture, but I'm not sure dressing up like them (unless attending a formal ceremony) is the way to do it. Instead, spend some time just talking to people. Ask them about the food they are eating. About their religious customs. About their lifestyle. You will get invited to their homes and have a glimpse of how they live.
"Silk is cool, I believe."
It doesn't breath well Sayadian. And absorbs sweat poorly. I have one of those silk jackets - you know the stylized Thai kind - I wear at weddings. It's hot. Really uncomfortable unless the wedding is in the winter. Looks good though.
"I guess it would be kind of embarrassing to show up to the Go-Go bars looking like I just came from the rice fields."
My self-aware friend, what people are telling you is that you wouldn't look like you just came in from the rice fields. You would look like you just went and had some clothes made that look like someone coming in from the rice field 100 years ago. You'll see when you get here. No one is wearing clothes like that. You get on the bus to go somewhere, and you'll be the only one. Everyone else will be wearing "boring falang clothes". When you arrive at your destination, everyone will be wearing "boring falang clothes". I have a good friend who wears a "Pacuman" (like a Sarong for men in Issan). He looks ridiculous. He knows it. He just doesn't care. He lives here in a village. He is the only person in the village who wears one outside of the house (at home for sleeping they remain common). You'll be like him. It's OK. Like I said, it's a free country.
"silk is cool; it's a natural fabric so it breathes. Unless it has synthetic fibres woven in in which case it's not so cool."
I'm not a fabric expert by a long shot. But I own two silk shirts and one silk jacket. They can not absorb sweat at all (which means they cling in a second), they don't breathe well at all and they're hot. I don't wear them in the hot weather unless unvoidable - and usually even then I avoid it. Now, maybe they have something else woven in. But I bought them at a "traditional Thai silk shop" in Mukdahan... My father in law has one of the jackets as well (we bought them together for a wedding).
#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Fair call, MM. I wasn't thinking of a silk jacket. That would just be way to hot for my liking, regardless of fabric. I never do really aclimatise to the heat in SEA - even the time when I had been in the region for 6 months.
The silk woven in Isan is rough silk which is quite thick so maybe that makes it hot. Chinese silk is usually finer and is cool to wear
#17 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
"I never do really aclimatise to the heat in SEA - even the time when I had been in the region for 6 months."
Don't go to Somalia or the Ogaden desert would be my advice. Avoid Saudi Arabia as well.
Thialand never gets hot enough to bother me. I like the climate. It's one of the reasons I moved here. Rainy season can be a bit irritating. But it's OK.
#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Poor Thaistick my be thinking "Man, this is a rough crowd". But we did give him the estraight scoop.
#21 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I think it's cool someone wants to try wearing something beside "boring farang clothes" or the "SE Asia pseudo-dharma-bum wear" that 20-somethings now consider de riguer, along with a couple of vaguely tribal tattoos.
You want to talk dork, people walking around in "Beer Lao" shirts are dorks (the same dorks who insist that they've been to a country called "Lao" but don't know what sabay means).
As to kramars, anyone who visits Cambodia and doesn't discover what a wonderful, multi-use piece of fabric such is, is a goddamn fool. Oh, and shop around for something other than a fake-cotton blue-white checked one. 100% cotton's difficult, but at least you can find some unusual and beautiful patterns/colors.
Western wear is far from the best solution to covering your body, and Asians created all manner of wonderful clothing over thousands of years, until the superior weapons of the Western countries allowed a handful of Euro-American nations to impose their ways of life on the rest of the world. Lin Yu-tang has a great chapter on "the Inhumanity of Western Dress" (IIRC) in his book "The Importance of Living."
I say go for it, anything to break up the dichotomy of regular ole clothing and "dude I'm a hard-core traveller (three weeks straight on Khaosan Rd. already!)" shoddy, crappy, ill-fitting, ugly travel-bum wear is a good thing.
#22 asiainmyblood has been a member since 15/2/2010. Posts: 6
"You want to talk dork, people walking around in "Beer Lao" shirts are dorks"
Highlighting one form of dork does not negate another AMB. The OP said he wanted to dress "like a local". Well, locals wear tyranical western clothes. Pretty simple really.
Kramars - and their variants throughout the world - can be useful. No doubt. Which is why people in warm climates the world over have developed some version of them. From the Cowboy to the Arabs to the Asians we find various forms of neck scarves used to keep the sun off, absorb sweat and help keep you cool. I wouldn't discourage someone from wearing one, but there is a time and place. You don't need one at night, for example.
"Western wear is far from the best solution to covering your body"
Depends on the environment. Western wear is what is the normal apparel here however. SO, if you want to "dress like a local" then you want western wear.
"Asians created all manner of wonderful clothing over thousands of years."
So did westerners. But many have been dropped as more practical clothing has been developed.
"Lin Yu-tang has a great chapter on "the Inhumanity of Western Dress" (IIRC) in his book "The Importance of Living."
Thanks for the heads up. I'll put Lin on my no read list. I hate when people go out of their way to attack western culture. I've lived in eight countries and been around the world and seen up close and personal and studied the history of non-western culture. I'll take modern western secualrism any day of the week and twice on Sunday against any other political culture, thank you very much. Ever study what Thailand was like before western political influence. You might want to do so.
I" say go for it, anything to break up the dichotomy of regular ole clothing and "dude I'm a hard-core traveller (three weeks straight on Khaosan Rd. already!)" shoddy, crappy, ill-fitting, ugly travel-bum wear is a good thing."
You lost me on this one. Are you saying crappy clothes are a good thing or a bad thing? Nobody here was advocating copying the bum of the month look oh so popular with the KSR crowd. I just wear a decent pair of jeans, lightweight shirt (except in the winter) and a pair of shoes. Actually, I dress similar to my father in law except he prefers sandals.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Ha ha ha - Captain_Bob that is great! I would love to see all the tourists going around London dressed like that!
I think it is important to be respectful about clothing particularly in some Asian countries where our revealing western clothes (particularly on women) are not considered appropriate and actually would offend locals but that doesn't mean you need to buy local clothes - just make sure you are suitably covered up for the culture of the country you are visiting. That said it can be quite fun to buy "traditional local clothes" even if they are not what everyone actually wears on a day to day basis.
#24 wanderingwill has been a member since 11/3/2013. Posts: 7
"I think it is important to be respectful about clothing particularly in some Asian countries where our revealing western clothes (particularly on women) are not considered appropriate"
Essentially you have to do your homework on this one before you hit the road. Where I live (Issan), dress is less conservative than where I grew up (Boston). A lot of woman here are naughty and they dress naughty. It's normal. But in some places down south where Muslim influence is strong, dress codes are more conservative. So you really just have to understand your environment and suss things out to going somewhere. Where you are going is important too - just like back home. You wouldn't wear something sexually provocative to Church back home and you wouldn't wear something over the top to a temple either. Just exercise common sense and you should be fine though.
#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
There are far more locals that wear designer jeans/shirts(or ripoffs) then there are those that wear any form of traditional clotching.
Honestly you will likely have trouble finding traditional style clothing that is how rare it is. People just don't wear that stuff anymore, they wear the typical jeans or khakis and shirt just like nearly everyone else in the world.