My husband is in Germany. It’s school holidays so the Missies and I have popped over to Phuket. In Australia it’s all but impossible to ‘pop over’ to another country and thrill of being able to do this is yet to wear off.
Over New Year we ‘popped over’ to Malaysia. We went to the nearest shopping centre, boarded a fancy bus, and within 5 hours we were in the capital city of whole different country!
Anyway, in Malaysia I was the most naked woman in the swimming pool. My bathing attire (swimmers, bathers, togs, cossie, swimsuit, bathing suit, etc..) is not brief by Western standards: it’s a full coverage tankini. The top meets the bottoms and the bottoms offer maximum bum coverage. But in a Muslim country this meant I was virtually naked. In Malacca the other women swam in long sleeve shirts, track pants and a head scarf if they were Islamic. I felt very, very underdressed but they it didn’t seem to bother or offend them.
Now, I’m in Phuket, Thailand. The country just to the north of Malaysia. One glance around this swimming pool and I’m pretty sure I’m now the most covered woman in the pool!
Amazing the difference a few hundred kilometres can make!
With the travel that I have done in the past months I’ve started to guess people’s nationalities based only on their swimming attire. Sure, this involves generalisations but I’m finding that once I talk to people my assumptions are pretty close to the mark.
The biggest difference in swimming attire is, I think, with the Europeans. The smaller, the better. Where Aussis and Kiwis (and some Americans) go for rash shirts, boardshorts, hats and sunscreen, the European population will reach for teeny, tiny Speedo’s for the men and boys, g-string/thong bikinis for the ladies and bikini bottoms for the little girls. They also seem quite fond of frying themselves to a crisp, something I’ve not seen people consciously do since the mid-1980’s in Australia!
Whilst I applaud their unselfconsciosness (none of us should be ashamed to don swimmers and get in the pool, regardless of size) I do puzzle at their desire to turn their skin the colour of lobsters. I guess it comes from the long, cold winters they endure but the thought of how much a sunburned bum must sting every time you sit down makes me wince!