Cha Am: Where Sandals and Socks Collide

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single pair of sandals is in need of a likeminded pair of socks. Well not really. For in truth we all know that the juxtaposition of free-flowing sandals with clinging, restrictive socks is a true clash of cultures – one never to be ventured apart from by those who have broken a toe in a motorbike accident. And then only with a doctor’s note.

So it was to my greatest amazement that I noted the preponderance of both sock and sandal on the streets of Ch Am, a few hours south of Bangkok, at night, promenading along the riverfront. Their owners were exclusively male – apart from one woman who presumably had a disfigured foot – and judging by the mass of grey hairs all were in their late 60s. Now I am not one to be ageist – after all the big 5 – 0 is rearing its ugly face – nor has anyone been so visually challenged as to accuse me of being a fashion guru, but still there are standards that have to be maintained.

I remember once reading a column written in a Malaysian expat magazine where the female writer bemoaned the aging of her, presumably male, other half. It was not the wearing of polo shirts that she cursed – this she apparently accepted as collateral damage of the aging process – but the fact that he tucked them into his shorts. This is a fashion crime only second to the aforementioned sock and sandal cohabitation, and one which my lack of hip bone precludes me from, at least for any extended period of time.

Sadly, it did not appear to be expats, perhaps having lost their fashion sense after spending too many days languishing in the depths of a Southeast Asian brothel, that had lost all semblance of decorum. No it was the Saga-era holiday makers who had only escaped from their suburban existences in Birmingham, Toulouse or Dusseldorf for a couple of weeks. For the lobster pink colouration of their skins gave away the temporary nature of their sojourn in the land of smiles. Expats avoid the sun in much the same manner as Scandinavian tourists cling crablike to the sand.

What possesses these males so as to behave with such reckless abandon? I can hardly imagine they dress in such attire as they venture out for a morning four ball. Perhaps it is the strength of the tropical sun that plays tricks on their minds. In truth I am afraid that their partners must shoulder some of the blame. For quite amazingly all the sandal-sock men appeared to be in a relationship, an observation which provides hope for trainspotters around the globe. To what depths must their partnership have delved that she no longer takes pride in the way he turns out at night?

Fortunately the solution for eradicating this holiday menace is simple enough. As your partner is putting the finishing touches to packing the holiday suitcase, feign that you have forgotten something or steal unannounced to the case. Then remove each offending sock. Albeit your partner might suffer from blisters for the first few days of the holiday, but surely that is a cross he will just have to bear for the greater good? Remember on holiday as in life, there is no rule more absolute than sandals and socks while fine on their own, together they should never meet.