It’s a common sight throughout South East Asia: Gaggles of almost exclusively white backpackers wearing some form of baggy, cotton, probably elephant-patterned trousers purchased for a few dollars from the local night market. Although not remotely flattering, there is a sort of gypsy-waif appeal to these free flowing, one-size-fits-all monstrosities known collectively as gypsy pants, harem pants or most appropriately, elephant pants.
Now before I offend anyone, my beef isn’t really with the style. The thing that bugs me is that most of the people wearing these pants wouldn’t be caught dead with them at home. It’s like having a pair of these serves as an initiation into the tribe of backpackers that swarms the region. Along with a Quechua/ Osprey/ Deuter brand backpack, it’s part of the uniform.
The alibaba pant is a personal favourite. Elasticated at the waist and ankles, an excess of fabric between the legs leaves the crotch hanging below knee-level. Aesthetically they fall somewhere between full-length culottes and some kind of misguided, oversized adult diaper.
Obviously I have a pair. After a few days braving the humidity in a pair of dank denim shorts, I relented and haggled my way into becoming another proud member of the douche-patrol. And they’re really practical. The loose style allows whatever measly breeze exists to reach your legs, the length is modest and fits dress standards for religious sites and the thin cotton blend dries quickly if you get caught in a downpour.
Here’s the problem. You gotta be real careful with all that extra crotch-fabric sometimes. Using a squat toilet poses a serious danger of either pissing all over your own trousers or dropping the crotch into the bowl. And jumping fences, something that is a perfectly reasonable daily occurrence in the life of any adult human, poses a similar risk. You don’t wanna catch your trou on a stray fence post and end up dacking yourself. So here’s my advice for my alibaba-clad sisters and brothers: gather your crotch and balance carefully because there are NO second chances out in the wilds of the Khao San Road… we all know what happened to the Budgie 9.