Friday, January 27, 2006

Naturism in Thailand

Before anyone gets too excited, no, I have to tell you, Thailand has not legalized naturism. It's just that the topics of naturism and topless bathing have come up on one of the most popular Internet forums for foreigners in Thailand, In the Ladies in Thailand section, foreign women are wondering about topless bathing on Thai beaches.
The general idea is that it happens, especially where there are crowds of European women, but that the local Thai population is anything but enthusiastic about it. In some areas, Thai police will apparently ask topless women to cover up.
The postings in the forum also reflect very well the different attitudes toward public nudity on beaches. Some see it as illegal or disrespectful toward the local population, others complain that most topless or nude bathers are too old or ugly, another poster wonders why if he bathes naked in his garden, the neighbors can take him to task for indecent exposure, while if he sees a topless woman in the neighbors' garden, he will be told he's a dirty old man.
The idea I can live with the best, is a proposal by one poster that people should buy up a small island and turn it into a naturist resort. If well organized and managed - to keep undesirables out and maintain a family atmosphere - such a scheme would be a tremendous success with implications far beyond Thailand.
As far as the here and now are concerned, yes it is illegal to sunbathe or swim naked in Thailand, so it's better, safer and more respectful to respect the local laws. If you are a real naturist, you will try and find a remote beach or a remote island - which in many parts of Thailand should be easy to do - and live naturism without offending the local population.
As to the old reproach that many naturists are too old, fat or ugly - well, that's not what naturism is about. Naturism is not showing off perfect bodies, it's not showing off anything at all, true naturism is just about feeling good in one's own skin, feeling natural about walking, swimming, sunbathing without any artificial coverings.
Happy New Year 2006, and Happy Chinese New Year!