11 August 2014

What to Wear

I can really only talk with authority on Chanthaburi obviously, but pretty much all of South East Asia is "same, same" as the locals say.  You really need to consider what you bring with you when either travelling or staying here. 

I don't know why I haven't written about this sooner, but there are so many things I consider obvious which are not necessarily obvious to everyone else.  I hope these tips will help make your visit / stay even more enjoyable.

Keep it simple and keep it pure. You don't really want synthetic clothing.  Sure it washes and dries easily but consider how you'd feel if you wrapped yourself in cling film on the hottest day of the year and did your usual chores / activities.  Yep, that's pretty much what synthetic fabrics feel like here.  Fortunately, having lived in a warm climate before, I know about these things.  My top tips below focus on work apparel. If you're lucky enough to be on holiday, just stick to the non-synthetic mantra.

great for the weekend
For girls: consider knee length skirts if you're planning to teach  as trousers are a "no-no" and some tops that cover your shoulders appropriately.  In fact, if you're teaching primary, you might want your skirt a little longer as there's often lots of bending.  Shoestring or spaghetti straps are frowned upon in schools as well as thongs which some countries call flip-flops.   Consider your footwear carefully as you'll be standing in front of a class all day.

For guys: Trousers and shirts are a must and you will need a tie on occasion. Mr John bought black golf trousers before leaving the UK.  This may sound odd, but they are light weight and water resistant.  In contrast to my advice on non-synthetics, a 100% polyester shirt can be very handy.  It's light weight, dries quickly and doesn't crease if you put it on a hangar as soon as it comes out of the washing machine

On that topic remember if you bring cotton shirts, that are plain in colour you're going to need an iron and ironing board unless you're happy to look like you slept in your clothes.  I would warn against plain coloured shirts generally, stripes, plaids anything multi-coloured will hide a multitude of sins and prevent drudgery.

You may have read before that the days of the week have corresponding colours and a lot of workers stick to that mantra.  You could do worse than to bring only white shirts though. For shoes, I'd go leather and again make sure they're comfortable - suede in a tropical climate is not a great match mostly because of the torrential rain.

Having grown up in Australia I've had it drummed into me to "slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat".  Excellent advice which I still adhere to except .. the hat.  I'm sorry, I just can't stand wearing them here because the sweat just runs into my eyes and it's disgusting.  Instead I use an umbrella as lots of people do here mostly whilst riding their motor bikes.

Fans & Hankies
As well as a fold up umbrella, you'll find a fan in my handbag.  This one was given to me as a present from my friend Roger who'd flown to Japan to meet his now wife.  I must have had it for more than 10 years.  It's beautiful and has come in very, very handy over here.  Another great inclusion is a cotton handkerchief.  I know these are considered old fashioned but Mr John doesn't go anywhere without one.  I think it was instilled in him by his Granddad.  They're much better than tissues if you get really sweaty.

Coats & Warm Clothes
Honestly, practically don't bother!  The clothes you have travelled in will suffice if you do get a cool spell.  We had three days of "winter" as we would define it last December when we reached for long pants but only then in the evening.  A zipped, long sleeve hoodie type top of the light weight variety is very handy when you're on you motor bike late at night.  As far as raincoats go, they can heat you up something shocking.  Don't forget when it's raining here it's still hot rain does not equal cool.  Mr John and I prefer the poncho style raincoat as it's easy to get on and off and at least allows some air to circulate.  It also provides cover lower down your legs when it's throwing it down.

Best Friend Forever
Even if you follow my advice or if you're already here with pointless luggage the best thing you can buy is talcum powder.  We have never suffered from prickly heat, thank goodness, but none the less this is the best thing you can buy.  After you shower, sprinkle it all over and yes I mean everywhere rub it in so it blends a bit, get dressed and off you go.  It really helps reduce sweating.  Just make sure you wash your hands before putting your clothes on, otherwise you get powder marks over everything.

Hope you've found this helpful.  If you have any top-tips, please share them.

The above has been written for people from colder climates.  If you're used to heat and humidity, you'll already know what you're comfortable in and what suits you, so go with that.

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