Keeping Score in Thailand

It’s not usually easy to tell who is who politically or otherwise in most countries, luckily in Thailand there is an obscure law that demands people show themselves for who they really are. Red shirts, yellow shirts, green shirts and more all signify a different faction that you should familiarize yourself with before traveling to the Kingdom. The below descriptions should give you a head start on figuring out the color coded fashions of Thailand.

yellow shirtThe yellow shirt used to be a simple matter because every day of the week has a color associated with it. Yellow is the color for Monday and Monday happens to be the day that the King was born on. You would always see Thai’s wearing yellow on Mondays to honor their beloved King but that was before the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) took over the color as their battle flag against the red shirts, the Thai Rak Thai party who became the PPP, The PPP and anything Thaksin.

Most notable accomplishment: 2006 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin.

Natural Habitat: airports, government buildings and wherever the red shirts are.

Now the Yellow shirt is seen as more as the fashion statement of the Bangkok Elite.

What about the KIng? Please refer to Pink Shirt.

red shirtThe red shirt is the battle flag of The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). They are comprised of Thailand’s rural poor who support ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin rose to power by courting the rural Thai’s and promising many changes to make their lives better.

As Prime Minister Thaksin made good on those promises while using his power to line his own pockets through many corrupt business deals. Ousted in the 2006 coup, Thaksin has been gathering his army of red shirts to protest the new government and help him come back to Thailand with immunity from prosecution.

Natural Habitat: government buildings, hotel conference centers and wherever som tam is being served.

The red shirts love the king but can’t wear yellow or they might be thought of as PAD supporters when they are really Thaksin supporters.

Thailand's green shirtGreen shirts are the new yellow shirts . The People’s Alliance for Democracy who were once a movement to defeat Thaksin have decided that now they want to be a political party and everyone knows that when you start a new political party you need a new shirt color. So now green is the new yellow but red shirts still won’t wear yellow because the green shirts used to wear yellow and the red shirts don’t want to be seen as supporting the yellow shirts even though now they are the green shirts.

There is also the hope that by changing colors from yellow to green that people might forget that the yellow shirts shut down the airport and generally have been a pain in the ass since the coup.

What about the poor King , can he go back to being yellow shirt again? Please refer to Pink shirts.

Thailand's blue shirtsThe Blue shirts first came on the scene when the Yellow shirts took over the airport in Bangkok. The Yellow shirts blockaded the airport to protest the Peoples Power Party (PPP) who was the old Thai Rak Thai Party that Thaksin Shinawatra was the leader of. It wasn’t enough they ousted the prime minister they then wanted to disband his party even though his party was disbanded by the government only to reform as the PPP that the Yellow shirts wanted disbanded.

The Yellow shirts succeeded in removing the PPP but not before pissing off the Blue Shirts who represented the working man and the nations utilities. By closing down the airports they not only put a hurting on tourism but on the the Blue shirts pocketbooks.

The Blue Shirts have no love for the Red Shirts either after the Red Shirts invaded the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya by breaking down the doors to the conference and generally scaring the shit out of more than a few world leaders. The blue shirts engaged the Red Shirts with all manner of sticks and bats and generally had the approval of Thailand’s military who didn’t stop them because everyone knows the military is on the Yellow Shirts side, probably even more so now that they are green.

Thailand's pink shirtsThe Pink Shirt came into being in 2007 when the King was hospitalized. Royal astrologers came to the conclusion that Pink was a good color for the Kings health. When the King left the hospital in November of 2007 he was indeed wearing a Pink Shirt and a Pink jacket which started a mad rush throughout Thailand for Pink Shirts in honor of the King.

The King who normally wore darker colored suits has since been seen wearing a whole range of colors which led to speculation that there would also be a run on Green and Blue Shirts but unfortunately those colors have been taken. Now Thai’s like to wear Pink Shirts to wish the King good luck and good health. Some still wear yellow shirts but generally they don’t want to be associated with the PAD movement who also doesn’t want to be associated with itself and that’s why they are now Green Shirts.

Long live the King and may no one steal his color again!

Thailand's light blue ShirtsThe Light Blue – Blue Shirt is the color for Friday in Thailand which is also the Queens day of birth. Wearing a Blue shirt usually signifies respect for the Queen. You will still see many Thai’s wearing Blue on Friday for the Queen and it is usually a light blue. Thankfully no one has stolen the Queens color but I have a feeling that eventually the PAD will take blue because as we all know, by combining yellow and green you wind up with blue so it makes sense that the once yellow shirts that are now green shirts will someday be blue shirts by washing of said yellow shirts and green shirts together.

You’ll have no doubt noticed that I sometimes capitalized the shirt colors and sometimes did not. Being as I intend on returning to Thailand in the near future I wanted to assure I have given due respect or disrespect to the various colors so I can lie my ass off if cornered.

Here are a few more shirts to be on the look out for when in Thailand…while generally harmless they are always good for a laugh.

Good guys go to heaven, bad guys go to pattaya. Newbies first trip to Pattaya. Easily recognizable, you will have no doubt you are dealing with a first timer to Pattaya. If you are said first timer remember this shirt and buy it immediately upon arriving in Pattaya and make sure you wear it your first night in town so everyone knows you are new to the town. When the vacation is over and you go home make sure to wear this shirt every weekend so people will ask you all about Pattaya.

Same Same t-shirt Newbies second trip to Pattaya. Not wanting to be seen as a newb by wearing the newbies first trip to Pattaya t-shirt the newbie will purchase the Same Same shirt to signify his second trip to the Land of Smiles. Some newbies make the newbie mistake of buying this shirt their first trip but this is generally looked down upon by the older newbies and should not be done. Make sure to buy this shirt during your first visit to the market during your second trip to Pattaya. Yes, there are other places besides bars and hotel rooms in Pattaya.

Thailand ATM Shirt This shirt is pretty self explanatory. Usually bought as a joke referring to how Thai women in the entertainment industry see the foreign men that come to court them. Sadly this is typically worn by a newbie who thinks by making light of being a walking ATM won’t make him look like a walking ATM but all the girls already know he is a walking ATM because there is an invisible tattoo on his forehead that was put there when leaving his brains at the immigration line at the airport which clearly states ” Walking ATM”.

Thailand Bangkok shirt Typically worn by the newbie that went to Bangkok first for a few days but then wears it in Pattaya as to not look like a newbie. Usually buys the ATM shirt soon after. When he gets home he will wear this shirt as often as possible hoping that you will ask him if he has been to Bangkok.

At this point you will be assailed by a man on a mission who is very similar to street corner evangelists. They both will tell you that you are going to hell but the Newbie Bangkok shirt wearer will generally be able to describe it better with visual aids, directions and phone numbers if needed.

Don't Want t-shirt This shirt is worn by the jaded expat who can’t be bothered to say Mai ow, krup anymore. He sits in one of the many beer bars in the kingdom and gets hassled every 10 minutes by someone selling, dvd’s, pictures, pictures with snakes, roses, watches, suit sellers, stun gun marketers and generally every Thai working in the tourist industry that saw him wearing the newbie t-shirts in his earlier years of traveling the Kingdom.

farang t shirt The Thai word for foreigner is Farang or Falang. Typically anyone wearing this shirt wants to make sure that there is no confusion on the part of the local Thai’s as to the fact that he isn’t a Thai himself. He is also telling the local Thai’s that he would like to pay even more than the regular Falang price which is already twice the Thai price.

Thailand Ladyboy t-shirt Last,  but most definitely not least,  is the t-shirt worn by the guy who wants you to know that he is absolutely not gay…he just happens to like other men who look like women but still have their willies attached. Besides it’s not gay if they have big breasts and you don’t touch the twig and berries…well, not too gay anyway.

While this article may have contained some factual evidence for the colors of shirts in Thailand for the most part this was a tongue and cheek look at an incredibly twisted color code that influences daily events in the Kingdom. No offense was meant to anyone, especially the Pattaya newbies considering we were all one once and I happened to be the one wearing the Bangkok shirt, hey I was in Thailand  :)

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28 Comment(s)

  1. Talen, that was absolutely hilarious! And I’m impressed at how fast you pulled that off.

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. Cat, it’s almost as funny as the real explanations :)

    I would suggest everyone wear a rainbow colored shirt to Thailand but then everyone would think everyone else was gay.

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. Talen, I do believe that this is going to be a classic.

    Rainbow coloured shirts? Now there’s a thought :-)

    (darn this commentluv… more bad juju, and I’ve been a member for ever so long…)

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  4. Comment luv has been screwing me lately too…try registering with them it may fix your problem…it did for me a little.

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  5. I’ve been a member (registered) with CL for awhile. I googled, but it doesn’t look like they can solve my problem. I also noticed that others are having the same. Pooh.

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  6. party affiliation mindset whatever i like to feel like aim a spontaneous person not a social robot our sheep as i feel many people are take them outside there little worlds and they fall apart
    politics religion football bar humbug
    give me mozart single malts fine wines the great outdoors
    .-= john´s last blog Thai biometric passport in london =-.

    john | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  7. Politically speaking, I prefer to wear no colour. Literally, I prefer to bare all! Hopefully some newbie foreign tourists will know which colour they should avoid wearing when they come to Thailand.
    .-= Oneditorial´s last blog ..Exhibitionism and a voyeuristic game =-.

    Oneditorial | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  8. Talen that made me smile. Personally I think I will plead that I am colour blind to go along with being tone deaf :-)

    Mike | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  9. Then if I run into a nekid Thai man over the weekend, I’ll be sure to nod in your direction :-)
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..How Do You Overcome Mind Block During Language Study? =-.

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  10. Btw – Last night I created a ticket at commentluv. In the morning Andy asked me to please try it out. And it’s fixed. That’s fast!

    Andy, if you are out there – Thanks!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..How Do You Overcome Mind Block During Language Study? =-.

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  11. One, baring it all is a noble gesture but one I hope the more portly of the tourists don’t adopt.

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  12. Mike, I think that is probably the most appropriate measure to take…although after hearing the red shirts sing on 2 separate ocassion I think they already tied up the tone deaf thing.

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  13. John, you should start your own shirt color and protest the protesters…

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  14. Wearing a souvenir Thailand t-shirt while in Thailand has always made me go “huh?”. Redundant! One time, on the King’s birthday, I did wear a t-shirt with the Thai flag. Got a lot of bar girl attention. Like I needed anything more than a wallet! Sheesh! So there you go, I admit it.

    Wearing a souvenir t-shirt in your home country may get the odd query. But you risk being cast into that group assumed to be occupied by losers. I know, I was there once.

    I once bought a t-shirt in Thailand that said “Single” in English and Thai. I do not know why. It appealed at that moment. Made me laugh. But that shirt has NEVER been worn in public.

    Very enjoyable post, sir.
    .-= SiamRick´s last blog ..Royal Thai Embassy to Canada needs new website =-.

    SiamRick | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  15. This reminds me of all the “cool” T-shirts I have seen over the years in Pattaya that I could never find in my size.

    I have since settled on two shirts that I like to wear in the states, a Coca-Cola T-shirt in Thai script and a Happy A-Go-Go T-shirt, both of which garner interesting questions and comments.

    My wife dresses me when I am in Thailand so I look a little more presentable.

    ChuckWow | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  16. Chuck, the Coke t-shirt is one of my favourites.

    (It’s a font thing…)

    I sent one to an advocate designer friend. He dislikes Coke for slathering countries with their logo. Turns out, he is proud of punch to wear that t.

    (It’s a font thing…)
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..How Do You Overcome Mind Block During Language Study? =-.

    Catherine | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  17. Chuck, the first t-shirt I bought in Pattaya was the Thai script Coca Cola shirt…still one of my faves.

    The only bar shirt I have isone from the Cherry bar on soi 8 that proudly proclaims I popped my cherry at the cherry bar. Always get questions on that one.

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  18. Rick, you should have worn the “Single” shirt while you were in Nakhon Phanom…you would have gotten a lot of attention.

    Pookie teased me all during Songkran because all the girls I ran across were yelling ” ooh falang, falang, hi falang”. Needless to say she kept an eye on me the whole time ;)

    Talen | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  19. Talen , great post and me I am a t-shirt wearer , I have so many that I close my eyes and take one , the color never nmatters to me , but to Ciejay it’s a whole new story almost like in the USA you have to be politicaly correct all the time , Thailand is now getting to be where you have to be color correct all the time , Ciejay has to check my color everytime we leave the house and sometimes says “you going to wear that color” I have now figured out that it makes her feel safer when I wear my HARD ROCK CAFE shirts that I collect . Thanks again for the good laugh. Malcolm

    malcolm | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  20. good idea talen i can just see me getting pelted with tomatoes on speakers corner in London
    there are plenty of voices of decent in Thailand but they don’t yet have the power
    money and power do corrupt but when the minority try to rule the majority its only a matter of time before it goes pop
    .-= john´s last blog ..Phu Phra Bat Historical Park, Udon Thani =-.

    john | Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

  21. Talen thanks for giving me a good laugh at the end of my day.

    I’ve never been a Thai souvenir t-shirt wearer but I’m ashamed to admit that during the daytime I’m still into the 90′s look of wearing English football shirts but never at night.

    Given the choice of your excellent range of tops I’d go for the red one of the UDD and I’ll add to it a guess that Thaksin gets handed back 200 million baht of his money.
    .-= Martyn´s last blog ..Faith, Hope and Charity =-.

    Martyn | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  22. Great post!

    Well there’s no other way to wear no color than to wear no shirt … I prefer this transparent look.
    .-= BangkokDan´s last blog ..Of This Site’s Blocking & Unblocking =-.

    BangkokDan | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  23. Martyn, I would be careful wearing that shirt outside Issan.

    Talen | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  24. Dan…from your lips to Thai girls ears…

    Talen | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  25. Khun Catherine,

    I will certainly nod back at you provided that I don’t get arrested first for exposing myself in public!
    .-= Oneditorial´s last blog ..A single man; man without a girlfriend =-.

    Oneditorial | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  26. I never imagined it was possible to send off so many signals with just a coloured tshirt. Thanks for the information Talen.

    Orlandy | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  27. Love it. And how about the sleeveless singha t, worn by the ol’ sexpat who knows everything about thailand… Twig and berries LOL! Will remember that line…
    .-= Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..Hard Day at the Office =-.

    Ben Shingleton | Feb 26, 2010 | Reply

  28. I’m with ya on that CW and Cat, it IS a font thing. Looks cool. I’d wear that. I’d also wear Thai script shirts if they weren’t oriented toward “bad boys” crowd. Like, MBK or nice Tiger beer ones. I once looked over Londoner pub shirts — for the price you could fly round trip to Ubon.

    re CommentLuv. After much scratching around and filing a ticket with the owner, I learned it no longer works with Typepad blogging platform.
    .-= SiamRick´s last blog ..Royal Thai Embassy to Canada needs new website =-.

    SiamRick | Feb 27, 2010 | Reply

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