Bangkok Shopping: Bags of Bluntness

Bangkok is a great city and the people- for the most part- are wonderful. But *beware* they are honest, and not the good kind of honest (hence the warning.) Maybe honest isn’t the right word. Blunt. Yes that’s the word. Blunt. Brutally so. Shopping is definitely one thing that highlights this brutal ‘honesty’.

I love shopping. Fashion is my thing. I like to have my own style and I revel in the shopping experience. Thailand, however, has changed that.

The dread that creeps in when my wardrobe needs a sprucing up is now too familiar…Heaven forbid I need a new pair of shoes!

I’m a size 10…just about. And 5 foot 7 and a 1/2 inches tall. My feet? A size 7, so all in all I’m in proportion. In the Western World I feel comfortable with that, and feel confident shopping for my size. How do I feel when shopping in Thailand? Like an oversized green giant with whale fin feet to match!

As this green giant waddles into a shop, more often than not I turn right back on my heels as I am greeted with shouts of: “No have big size”, “We have big size!” and most irritating of all, “Look stretch!” As I’m staring at the widest pair of trousers I have ever seen sprawling from arm to arm of this matchstick sales woman I shake my head and sigh: clearly she’d rather hand out an insult than have me hand her my money.

I know what you’re thinking, “Poor self conscious girl, unable to carry out her shopping excursion.” Maybe once. Maybe once I hung my head and stared down at my fictional green giant, whale finned body; maybe once I apologised for the intrusion into a shop that was clearly not meant for ‘people like me’; maybe once I thought I should take that trip to the ladyboy shop for my obese feet. Maybe once. But those days are long gone.

No longer do I shy away from these comments, or make excuses that I’m looking in this shop for my much younger, much thinner, small footed, make-believe sister. Now? Now I wear my thick skin, laugh at their ignorance, and walk out of the shop with that tight, sequenced dress that I hope fits me one day.

Holy Week: The Moriones Festival

I spent the past week exploring a tiny portion of the amazing Philippines and out of the many wonderful experiences I had, I would like to share one unique one with you: The Moriones Festival.

Being one of the only (predominately) Catholic countries in Asia, The Philippines goes all out for Easter. One place that exceeds all in bloody devotion is the town of San Fernando, located about an hour and a half from the capital Manila. On Good Friday, the 19th of April 2014 I encountered the Moriones.

The event greeted me with a splatter of blood to my leg. Masked men with wooden whips flagellate themselves as they march towards the focal point of the day: the place of the crucifixion. They walk for miles in the burning sun with bloody backs.

Close family or friends even flog the devotees with some form of wooden object.

We followed the route of the Moriones until we reached the place of the crucifixion; three tall wooden crosses stood tall on a hill and we battled our way through the crowds for a view of the reenactment.

The crucifixion is reenacted using the Virgin Mary, soldiers and Jesus himself, several characters play Jesus. The devotees who pose as Jesus are nailed to the cross by their hands. Ruben Enaje has carried out the role of Jesus twenty eight times…yes he has been nailed to the cross twenty eight times.

Although not condoned by the Catholic Church, the devotion of the faithful was engraved on their faces. I feel blessed to have witnessed this event, this procession of faith.