‘Well’ ‘Suited’

*Please note my blog/website is now at http://nomadicsamuel.com
Please come and check it out!*

I’ve once again descended down upon Thailand, the undisputed tourist Mecca of Asia jumping right into the frying pan known as Bangkok – truly an amazing city on entirely different levels. The palaces, temples and other Buddhist structures known as “Wat” are a perfect way to spend an afternoon giddy, gasping and snapping plenty of photos from these impressive sites. However, the problem is that they are spread out across one of Asiaดs largest and most hectic cities in an environment so hot & humid you’d almost swear if they increased the temperature by just one more degree youดd literally be in a torture chamber. In other words, even as a fit individual walking is out of the question. The roads ploughing through the city are saturated with every possible mode of transportation you both could & couldn’t imagine. One of the staples found on the road is something called a tuk-tuk. For those who have been abroad to SE Asia or to some other region that is considered a developing area, the sight of one of these would be all too familiar. However, for anybody who hasnดt, a tuk-tuk can be best described as a cross between a golf cart and a low powered motorcycle morphed into one structure. These vehicles are often the ‘preferred’ mode of transportation for tourists and backpackers on short haul trips given that they are cheaper than a metered taxi. I’ve hopped aboard on more than one occasion – they’re plenty of fun 🙂

Anyhow, fees are negotiable and range from nearly free to astronomical ripoff. Typically, those individuals clumped in the later category are fresh off the boat and a little wet behind the ears. The nearly free category, as you might have guessed, does indeed come with catch. Bangkok is world renowned for its custom tailors. Some manufacturing centers produce high quality products that are found on the racks of the most posh European display cases. On the other hand, a suit from a less than stellar merchant will literally be disposable after only one use. With a supply outstripping demand, at least amongst tourists, these tailors have brokered deals with the Tuk-tuk drivers. If they bring a tourist into one of these shops they shall receive a coupon for either gas and/or a food stamp. Itดs ridiculously easy. Just bring them in for a moment & a reward is earned. Well, once again, it’s just not quite that simple. The rule of thumb is that the tourist should stay inside for at least ten minutes in order for the driver to qualify for the stamp. Although, completely a farce, the tailors at least are privy towards somebody who is totally disinterested & just merely putting in time. I know this because I once went inside one of these shops and was kicked out after less than sixty seconds. It was all too obvious I wasnดt at all interested in a looking at or buying a suit. Even worse, my Tuk-tuk driver in a fit of anger chewed pavement and took off in a rage leaving me in a deserted area which was well outside of my internal radar. To avoid this situation entirely paying an inflated tourist price on a full fare tuk-tuk ride is a way to get from point A to B. However, for those who are somewhat miserly and up for a bit of an adventure and free acting lesson, going into one of these shops is a must.

Iดve done this before. I know what to expect. I walk into the door of this ragged and worn down shop and I’m immediately blasted by air-conditioning so powerful that I would have preferred a harsh slap to the face.  Before you can count down even a nanosecond, a trusty employee, non Thai, likely of South Asian descent, smothered in cheap cologne and drowning in about ten kilograms of hair gel is on me like a fly inching for room on a well saturated log.

Itดs time for me to make a half decent first impression or get kicked out of this absurd game we’re both playing. As a quick aside, you’re talking about somebody who has worn a suit no more than the fingers and thumb located on one hand. However, with enough experience in these shops, I’ve become a quick study about something that is completely irrelevant in my life. Taking a quick glance at what I was wearing reveals the telling truth. A turned around baseball cap, sweat soaked t-shirt and shorts that had been worn at least one day too long along with ragged flip flops conforms more towards the image of a swashbuckling pirate than it does to one looking for some formal attire. Sir, our finest silk can be used to design you the eyepatch of your desire. I digress, the point I’m trying to hammer home is that it’s time for me to convince the tailor I’m interested in potentially having made a custom made suit.

Iดd like to take a look at the different quality of fabric you have on display. Do you have this in green? I ‘d like to have a shirt made that will compliment the jacket. Is this your finest Kashmir? I don’t want a standard three button suit. Iดm more interested in a two button one. Please show me something that is less formal. I want to be able to wear this to a wedding and also with jeans. Is it possible to order a second suit when I get back home. Is the pocket reinforced? What is your shipping policy? These are just a sample of some of the phrases one might hear coming out from my phony mouth as I’m putting in my ten minutes of time. Usually after looking at the fabric and trying on a couple of sample suits itดs time to sit down in a room that’s even more chilly than the front entrance. Sometimes a beverage is served or a small something to nibble on. Itดs now time to talk about the pricing. Itดs first going to be totally inflated. In stealth mode, I take a quick glance down at my watch to ensure Iดve put in the allotted amount of time. I have. It’s time for my exit strategy.

This is where it gets tricky and complicated. Iดve tried a plethora of different excuses. The sales representative has an answer for each and every one of them:

Sam: “Look at the time. Iดm late for an appointment with my friend. Could you please give me your business card & Iดll come back at a later time?

Clerk: “Just give me two minutes and weดll do some quick measurements.”

Sam: “Iดm really interested in your suits, but unfortunately I left my credit card at my hostel today.”

Clerk: “No problem. You just make small deposit now and weดll drive you to your guesthouse to complete the payment.”

I could go on and on with the dialogue but I donดt want to make your eyes & ears bleed.

The point is that theyดll literally do anything but tackle you to the ground to get you to make some form of commitment towards a purchase. The more I talk the less I walk. In other words, a quick ten minutes can easily turn into a half hour or longer. Thus, it’s time for me to slowly start slinking my way out the door. I use random excuses and a few polite assurances that I’ll certainly be back as I finally push my way out onto the street only to be blasted even worse by the heat and humidity. My tuk-tuk driver smiles as a hop on board. He’s received his coupon and I’m not too worse for the wear sans the ten minutes of my life I’ve just wasted playing make believe. Some would call this a compromise of integrity. I’d have a hard time arguing this point. However, having saved a few coins to be spent elsewhere I’m now off to visit the next temple on my itinerary. I’ll be taking lots of photos and marvelling at the impressive architecture. Definitely something I’m more “well” “suited” for…

Samuel Jeffery

*Please note my blog/website is now at http://nomadicsamuel.com
Please come and check it out!*


About Samuel Jeffery

Samuel Jeffery is a perpetual backpacker, youtube enthusiast & author of a quirky blog who loves to travel and explore new culture and territory while connecting with other nomadic souls. WEBSITE http://www.nomadicsamuel.com PHOTOS http://photos.nomadicsamuel.com YOUTUBE VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/NomadicSamuel
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