Just an addendum to my earlier witterings about The Fermata; I read the book last weekend, in a beach hut near Pattaya, east of Bangkok. From the window, I could see lots of (Western) people in various states of undress: bikinis; topless; those tight thongs that German males of a certain age deem to be appropriate beachware. Now, all these people knew they were lurching towards nakedness; but did they know that, by Thai cultural standards, they were exceeding the boundaries of decency? Several Thai families were on the same beach, swimming fully clothed, as is the Thai way. When a scantily-clad farang loomed into view, they just looked in the other direction, feeling awkward but not wanting to make a fuss; as is also the Thai way. Unless the Westerners were being particularly crass and insensitive (possibly believing that with the Thai tourist industry in such a dire state, the locals should be pathetically grateful for their mere presence) I presume that they just didn't know the effect their unclad state was having, the message it was sending.
By watching the Westerners parade about with their nipples twinkling in the sun, the outlines of their genitalia clearly visible, was I being another Arno Strine; seeing them exposed to an extent they didn't necessarily realise? Should I have alerted them, like the serpent in Eden, awakening Adam and Eve (or Helmut und Heidi) to their own fall from grace? Or should I have just watched from a distance, hoping that none of them reads this?