Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Story Jar - Yellow Shirts in Thailand

Published in the Patriot, copyright 2007 - Elaine Hardman

November 2006 was yellow shirts time in Thailand. We first noticed them at the Bangkok airport and thought the people were part of a tour but then I saw a man in a yellow shirt carrying a ladder. He wasn’t part of a tour group nor was the woman who was sweeping. Hey, there were yellow shirts everywhere - yellow shirts like you wouldn’t believe.
We missed our plane in Bangkok. Someone in a yellow shirt might have told us that they changed the gate after printing our boarding passes. A yellow shirt might have let us out of the security area so we could look for help or might have agreed to make a call for us but no yellow shirts came to our rescue.
The airlines changed our booking to the next morning and sent us to a hotel. The taxi driver should have gotten us there in 20 minutes but he drove around for an hour asking people in yellow and other shirts for the location of the Ibis Hotel. Finally he took us to a slick, western hotel probably thinking that getting rid of us was in his best interest but we could tell from the portico that we’d have to leave a stack of money at the desk to stay there while the Ibis would welcome us for $25. We couldn’t explain all of that since his understanding of English was limited to hotel names and the cost of a ride.
Luckily workers at this hotel knew where the Ibis was and drew a map for the driver and we celebrated - for a little while. We had to ask for directions two more times. Through the ordeal we saw people in yellow shirts and even saw shops selling nothing but yellow shirts.
Finally we found the Ibis Hotel where the manager, another gorgeous Thai woman in a country full of beautiful women, explained that the king was celebrating his 60th year on the throne so people wore yellow shirts with his crest every Monday.
Thailand is a country of uniforms. Every factory, restaurant and hotel has its own uniform so it’s reasonable that Thais would jump into yet another uniform for their king.

These shirts were flexible uniforms – uniform in color. Well-dressed ladies wore yellow silk jackets. Men and women wore camp shirts with the king’s crest on a pocket and bunnies prancing around the hem. Workers wore yellow polo shirts with pink or white collars and golden embroidered crests. Participation in this yellow shirt gig was accepted with wild exuberance.

I wore my own not-yellow shirts while snapping photos of people in yellow shirts in stores, on sidewalks and in the mall. Rick sat waiting (hiding) while I rode up the escalator 4 times trying for a clear shot of a store full of perfect, yellow shirts - shoppers and workers – while feeling happy that we had missed that plane.

Emilie created this blog and then created one for herself. Emilie's blog is dedicated to cooking and other matters of life in Boston.

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