Color Coding

September 19, 2013 – Day 050

I have written about it before when I was in Peru so it is no surprise to me that different cultures hang different connotations on colors.

Spock Would Feel At Home

Strewn along almost every construction site I have seen in Bangkok is a sign that proclaims, “SAFETY FIRST”. What I have found intriguing about these signs is that it always contains a plus sign symbol that looks like the symbol for the Red Cross except for the fact that this Thai symbol is green. I have the suspicion that the color green in Thailand denotes health and medicine. Whereas in the United States, red (since it is the color of blood) is the color of health and medicine, in Thailand green seems to denote all things health-related.

The other reason I have my suspicion is because when my two sons had to undergo a physical examination (eyesight check, blood pressure, EKG) before their school would allow them to participate in athletics, all the doctors and nurses at the examination wore tunics that were an iridescent shade of green. The hue also looked oddly like the tunic Captain James Kirk would sometimes wear on board the Enterprise.

Pink Be A Manly Color

In the United States, I would be hard pressed to find a man willing to wear pink much less a pink apron. This is because, culturally speaking, pink is seen as the color that denotes all things womanly. Newborn girls are swaddled in pink and the color for breast cancer is pink.

However, here in Thailand, the color pink seems to know no gender boundaries. For example, several taxis that weave in and out of Bangkok traffic are brightly festooned in a pink tint and I would hesitate to call any man “girlie” who can navigate as a hack through this clogged capital city.

Also, at the outdoor market where I sometimes enjoy my lunch, several of the servers (and they are all male) can be seen darting in and out of the tables delivering meals wearing aprons and pink aprons at that.

All this makes me wonder what are the traditional gender colors in Thailand.

Who’s Your Buddy? Who’s Your PAL?

I knew, once again courtesy of my time in Peru, that there are different international standards for electrical outlets.

Please raise your hand if you knew that there were different global standards for encoding television color signals.

I certainly didn’t.

Why there would be multiple international standards for color television is beyond me but I have to accept the fact that the system used in Thailand (and it is called PAL, or Phase Alternating Line) is different from the system used in the United States (which is called NTSC, or National Television System Committee). Once I became aware of the fact that a TV set purchased in Bangor, Maine, would not work in Bangkok, it was already too late. Our television, which worked fine in Lima (because Peru uses NTSC), was already floating its way to Thailand so we were just going to have to make due. A quick search on the Internet led me to the fact there are indeed converters on the market that will change PAL signals to NTSC so I made a mental note to purchase such an item.

The problem with my mental notes is that they tend to be overwritten quicker than an Etch A Sketch in an earthquake. What that metaphor means is that I never did get around to buying a converter by the time our TV set (bought in 2006) found its way back into our home.

With nothing to lose, I plugged in our ancient television and hooked it up to our Thai cable system expecting nothing but static.

I think this Success Kid Meme fairly well sums up my experience…


Please raise your hand if you knew that televisions made after 2006 now can detect what international standard is being used and can switch between them.

I certainly didn’t…but I’m glad they do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s