Asian American · Expat

The reversal

Often, frequently, usually, I hear from my foreign friends how difficult it is to find bras, clothes, shoes, etc, that fit them. They are too big and/or too tall. I also hear about how nobody in Thailand knows how to cut their curly, wavy, or funky hair.
In mixed martial arts there is a move called the reversal. Technically this move is derived from Brazilian jiu-jitsu where an opponent on the bottom will do a sweep or escape, and reverse their position so that they are now on top. Hence the name, the reversal.
I used to have a hard time finding bras that fit and getting my hair cut too. But this was back in the United States. Ha. Of course we look at the map and we think The US? It’s huge! Are you telling me you couldn’t find a bra or get a decent haircut in a country that big? No, of course not.
But the US is no Thailand. Finding a bra that was small enough was my problem. Yes, I said problem. They went quickly or stores didn’t stock that many. And as a young woman the idea of shopping in the pre-teens section was like, walking into Wal-Mart, I wanted to die of embarrassment. The designs were also very plain and kiddie-like. These days is another cotton pickin’ story. . .
I spent my college years in the small town of Durango in Colorado and because of the Native American population I did okay with haircuts. So no big transistion from Hawaii to here but once I left? Whoo-weeee. I was surprised to learn that straight hair could be f***ed up. And how. It didn’t help that when I wanted to save money I went to cut ‘n save types of places that butchered my hair. Or as my mom would say, looked like a dog bite.
Thanks ma.
I (not soon enough) began to think: more expensive = better haircut. But, hark! Is that a blow dryer I hear in the distance? This equation proved to be faulty, faulty in Huntsville, Alabama for example. The salon I chose turned out to be one of those Southern wives who church and lunch and well, heavens to Betsy, my hair was like so pretty! Healthy! Straight! Exotic! (Please put the curling iron down.) So how did you manage to ruin it? I left looking like an Asian Peggy Sue.
My first month living in Thailand was in Bangkok so I did two important things: got a haircut and bought bras. Now the bra incident was worth posting on Facebook because I was in for a real treat. Oh Cultural Differences, how I love you so. Centimeters? I was standing in some shop in MBK thinking I have no idea what size I am in centemeters.
So I probably held up the ones I liked and grunted in my typical lady-like fashion and the sales lady gets her tape measure out and all seems to be going according to plan when โ€“ she โ€“ grabs โ€“ me. The girls. She touches the girls. It happened too quick for me to doth protest. Of course, when I retold the story I had to make a joke about it was the most action I had seen in awhile.
I now can find a plethora (that’s right, I said it, plethora) of bras that fit my sensibilities. And I can’t say I’m in haircut heaven because Thailand is a bit too conservative for my liking but dog bites are not in my future.
Although rabid soi dogs seem to be a problem here in Chiang Mai. They enjoy the juicy ankles of my friends. Like the mosquitos, they chawb white meat. This is not to say I haven’t had a few doggies look at me with red in their eyes but what I usually do is yell out some sort of incantation or spell to ward off their dark evil. I call it the reversal.
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10 thoughts on “The reversal

  1. Oi…'juicy ankles'…whatcha talkin about skinny Thai girl? ;)Hey, did I mention my Mum is bringing my dog zapper over for me? I don't feel like so much of a scaredy cat now, after listening to six burly blokes talk about the pepper spray and batons they carry…just in case.

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  2. Hi Lani, your story of the sales woman touching you reminded me of something. When I first came to Thailand I used to visit this Thai bar a lot. I stopped using the toilet there because they had members of staff who massaged your shoulders as you went for a pee. The first time it happened I almost freaked. I had a friend who liked this bar so when I wanted to go to the toilet I'd nip into to the local department store. I didn't have a problem with soi dogs for years, but then a few months ago one of them nipped me and now I'm a bit more nervous around them.

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  3. @Snap: I am most certainly not talking about your ankles, my dear ๐Ÿ˜› Yeah I find the dog thing to be so weird. They are around people enough so I don't know why they get so aggressive?@Paul: That is SO weird but then again, this is Thailand. I can't imagine that being relaxing AT ALL. I'm surprised these “staff members” don't get pissed on when clients turn around in surprise!!

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  4. I guess I never thought about it being difficult to find someone to cut Asian hair in the US! I have wavy/curly hair and it's a pain no matter where I am, so I don't feel like it's too much worse over here…

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  5. Haha..great read lani.Like Paul I was molested a few times in the hongnam getting unwanted massages. At one of my favorite places where this often happened I put an end to it by accident when one night I was a wee bit tipsy when I went to the hongnam. The massage man started his thing and for some reason I was startled and turned around and faced him. He never touched me again…and I kept an eye over my shoulder at all times in all hongnams for some time.I can imagine buying bras in the states was bad…an old friend was very small and hide to buy almost all her clothes in the kids department.

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  6. @Megan:I would imagine it would be better to get your haircut in BKK! There are so many salons and good ones too! @Talen: Wow, I had no idea about the massage thing. And can you imagine if that is your job???? BTW, thanks for the compliment ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Lani, how hilarious! And what a shocker to have your boobs fondled in public. I read it out loud to the man and he replied “I'm surprised more men weren't applying for that job” :-DSoi dogs are a bane. Years ago, after being attacked, I first purchased “Dog Off” which is supposed to startle and/or silence dogs. A friend had a dog problem so I loaned it for awhile. Typically, it went back to her home country along with some of my books. Will I never learn? So I replaced it with pepper spray and another dog repeller. I haven't had the chance to try either yet because the mutt around the corner with a full toothed liking for me now shies away as he's had more than an eyeful of Thai pepper-laced vinegar from my direction. The spray bottle I used was too big for carrying around in my small purse but the hassle was well worth the pained reaction from that damn dog. Pity the owner wasn't watching as I was hoping to wipe that laugher off his face. How anyone can get a kick out of their vicious dog attacking someone for no reason turns the corners of my mouth down every time.

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  8. I can relate. The big problem for me has always been finding eyeglass frames in the States that fit Asians well (i.e. shallow nose bridge, wider frame, etc.). But in Asia, easy to find quality frames that fit well, and pleasantly inexpensive. My last of pair of glasses I had made at a store in Central Ladprao – only 2000 baht for a good frame AND the prescription lenses. Can't complain about that price!

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  9. @Cat: Yeah I know someone who keeps a bag of rocks in her bicycle basket so she can throw them at her soi dogs! Isn't that insane?Although I have never heard of an owner taking pleasure in watching their dog attack someone. WTF? Obviously mental.@Mr.T: Yes, the glasses things is a big deal too. I've been hanging on to the same frame for years. I remember awhile ago Oakley came out with sunglasses which they *ahem* interestingly enough called “Asian Fit”. They were as you described, glasses made to fit our faces.

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  10. Interesting. I'll have to look for those “Asian fit” glasses. I actually wear a pair of athletic Raybans and they fit me fine, for casual wear and running.

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