A Geography Lesson Through Swimwear

Two days of beach and pool time doesn’t give a whole lot to blog about. So I thought we’d take a break from the daily activity log for a little geography lesson. What better way to do it than through swimwear?

Russia: A massive country that dominates the northern half of Asia, stretching all the way from Europe to the Pacific. With a diversity of ethnic groups possessing diverging interests stretched over a vast swathe of oft-frozen tundra, Russia needs to dedicate most its efforts to security and keeping the union together. This is no small task. Food scarcity, underdeveloped transportation, and sparse population add to the Russian challenge and keep them focused constantly on controlling and securing the peace through heavy-handedness and force. Geographic realities guarantee this in perpetuity if they are to stay as one large country.

Because of all this focus on security, Russians have obviously completely neglected teaching proper swimwear etiquette. How else can you explain these three looks? In the first you will see the classic Russian male’s swimwear. This neon orange piece with an inexplicable “A” on it is neither Speedo nor shorts. In North America we call these “compression shorts” and wear them under our shorts for workouts. Although this suite comes in many different colors, all Russian men seem to prefer it.

Russian man

I know the thong could be found on all continents, but in this case we have Moscow’s finest. Please, can someone help her out? There are some things that shouldn’t be flaunted.

Russian Lady

Lastly, you have some Russian “bobushki” here. I dare anyone to tell these Russian grandmothers that they aren’t wearing these bikinis well. Exactly, and that’s why they’re roaming the beaches of Phuket in droves—no one has the guts to correct them.


North America: From age 24-55 the American male does basically nothing but work and family. Work, work, work, leaves very little time for staying in tip-top shape. Every hard-working and dedicated family man in America has a medium-sized belly (be skeptical of those who don’t because they either aren’t working hard enough or aren’t spending enough time with their family). But still, even the 45 year-old has to have the same shorts that the world’s top surfers wear. When you work as hard as these guys do you earn the right to wear the same shorts as surfers. Notice the father wearing the same style and his son, as if he is just as cool and current. Also, notice the classic American middle-aged belly–neither in shape or obese. He always feels just a few months of hard work from being in shape. At 65 he’ll now be a couple years of hard work from being in shape and he’ll be wearing a floral print shirt,spending his days on cruise ships feeling like he’s a world traveler when he ventures off that ship for a couple hours at a time. Note: It is slightly possible that this man is a European educated in North America.

North American Dad and Son

Europe: Europe has had some stretches of history when it was the center of the universe (actually not as many as our history books tell us). The latest was from the 1600s to WWII. Since then, however, Europe has been slipping from power and relevance on the world stage. It is well stated that Britain’s “finest hour” came in the 1940s. It’s been downhill since. The European continent’s latest experiment, the EU, is a now a complete disaster economically and politically with the worst yet to come. Europe is now the 3rd or 4th most important region of the world. This is a tough pill for the European psyche to swallow. To cope with what could be referred to as a sort of geopolitical “little-man syndrome,” they do things to show bravado and make their presence felt, their past and bravado may be all they have left to cling to as the world passes them by.

One way they have made themselves a factor is through the prolific use of the Speedo-style swimsuit. You have the traditional and the French cut (not pictured) versions. Both say loud and clear, “you better take me seriously.” Is there anyone who doesn’t take this European seriously? Still, you have to see that this is compensating for something.

Euro man

India: “Bloody Indians” were the words uttered from my good friend KC on Patong Beach when two large Indian men strolled by wearing only the most classic of briefs. Yep, briefs—“tighty-whities” if you will. One was wearing black briefs and the other white. They had just left the water, obvious because of the heavy and wet sagging briefs, and decided to slowly meander in and out of the crowds for the length of Patong Beach. Kathryn said, “do they know there are thousands of swimsuits for a cheap price just across the street?”

I don’t have a picture. Who could have the composure in such a moment to reach for the camera? I also don’t know what this says about India, a rapidly developing country with a booming economy and still has what the rest of the world would call a major poverty problem. India is bordered on the north by the world’s largest mountains and a vast Indian Ocean borders the rest of the country shaped like an triangle with the point on the bottom. The mountains and ocean make India a virtual island, geographically speaking. Perhaps this isolation from the rest of the world has caused them to develop a completely different set of norms that make wearing wet tighty-whities down the most crowded beach in Phuket perfectly normal. Then again, with more than a billion people of mostly the same ethnicity and religion, maybe these two characters are trying to do something to stand out. Maybe its just good karma.

This ends today’s geography lesson.

We spent a couple of days mostly at the pool and Surin Beach or somewhere in between. Surin is a gorgeous beach with clean turquoise water that is warmer than anything I’ve swam in before. We swam, searched for crabs at the end of the beach, built sand castles, etc.

Girls at the beach

Sand castles at the beach

Hinckley at the beach

The hotel pool has a couple of great waterslides for the enjoyment of big kids and immature adults, like myself. Apparently, there is a travel agent in Moscow that made a deal with Courtyard Marriott Phuket at Surin Beach because I think they’ve sent every one of their clients to this hotel. Kathryn has been able to practice her latent Russian language skills. Because I made fun of some other cultures enough above, I’ll stop for now, but I could add plenty about the Russians. They are definitely hard to recognize.

Slides at hotel

Hinckley and Kathryn down the slide

Ebey down the slide

Emily coming down the slide

I’m proud to say that after a couple days at the resort and beach the kids are anxious “for another adventure.” We thought they would love to just do the pool and beach, but it appears that our travel style is now our kids’ travel style as well. Tomorrow we’ll go on another adventure.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 07:52:52

    Ryan and I wish you would have stuffed our family in your suitcases. It looks so wonderful. And thanks for the geography lesson. (Ewwww.)


  2. Rus Berrett
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:49:43

    I appreciate the instructive essay. In your honor, I went Euro at the pool this morning. It was very liberating!


  3. thurmondk
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 01:42:38

    Free Europe! This is why the women go topless as well.


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