On the Trail Of Thai Ladies Quarter to Three Feet

It was a voice inside my head which sent me on my quest to find the truth. I know it wasn’t God directing me, he’d told me many times to let things be. It was a mocking, irritating and grating voice which kept coming back to me.

“Go find Thai ladies quarter to three feet. The truth is out there somewhere.”

It was a mission which most men would flatly refuse but Beyond the Mango Juice picked up the webbed gauntlet, donned a duck-bill, and with a quack, waddle and eventual wobble went in search of Thai ladies quarter to three feet.

The Quarter to Three Feet Theory Partially Explained.
Quarter to Three Feet is being a bit too harsh but haven’t you noticed how many Thai women have splayed feet. For years I’ve wondered why so many Thai ladies have feet which mimic the position of a clock when its hands read a quarter to three. Okay, ten to two is probably fairer but a quarter to three more self-explanatory. My theory points to this being a country girls posture and not someone from the city. I’ll explain my opinion in full later in the post.


I decided to test my theory in Nong Khai. If I were right, there wouldn’t be any quarter to three walkers about because city girls just don’t fit into my scientific rationale on the subject. Wonderful Wi hit Nong Khai’s Tha Sadet market to enjoy a few hours of shopping while I had the more difficult task of capturing Nong Khai’s female feet on film. Can they arrest you for that kind of thing in Thailand?

There were plenty of feet about, but not many of them splayed—seven minutes to one at best. The problem with trying to prove a theory as complex as this is you’ve got to capture both feet on the ground when the person is walking. That is difficult.

There were plenty of people on the streets and main market area of Nong Khai, but a quack sound was amiss. Following women around with a primed camera gets a few nervous glances thrown your way and the occasional muted scowl.

After an hour of fruitless effort and quite a few strange looks, I recalled my grandfather’s last words to me on his death-bed.

” If you ever want to know anything about a city, ask a mannequin….if that fails….get drunk.”

Up to now, I’d always skipped the first piece of his advice.

The mannequins refused to answer any of my questions; they wouldn’t say a word. To pressurize them, I stared steadily at their feet. Silence.

Their fashion sense was bland and very autumnal, though their feet were typical of the classical female pose, precisely three minutes to one. For many years this valuable posture has been touted in western wine bars and shopping malls with the aid of a short skirt or dress. It’s a feminine pose guaranteed to make men weak knee-ed and user friendly. The inner left thigh is blatantly shown while the one o’clock pin highlights the full length of the leg. Unfortunately, Nong Khai’s mannequins were more soberly dressed.

I bade them goodbye and went in pursuit of a bar wondering if my grandfather had died of madness as the doctors had said. I guessed he hadn’t and that a city’s mannequins knew everything, Nong Khai’s were just a bit touchy about feet. Maybe I should have tickled them first.

The Theory Further Explained.
My ideology about Thai girls splayed feet has nothing to do with the bars of Pattaya and Bangkok. These ‘special’ feet are acquired from a very young age in rural Thailand and not permanently repositioned by short careers in Bangkok’s hotel beds. Due to growing modernization in Thailand’s villages quarter to three feet could become a rare sight in years to come. I’ll elaborate more on that point later.


Bingo. I couldn’t believe my luck. No sooner had I sat down at a table outside my chosen bar when a waitress waddled up to take my order. When she splayed away to fetch my beer, I swung into action. I’d decided rear photographs were the safest ploy.

I knew most of the bar workers came from outside the city, they were rural girls, and this one had feet which kind of proved it—nearly ten to two, nowhere near quarter to three but my best shot of the day. Satisfied I invested a few baht on the latter part of grandfather’s theory.

A few hours later Wilai met up with me as arranged and on the walk back to the car I suggested we knock over a couple of the mannequins I’d interviewed earlier. Roughly translated, she discredited the idea as an act of folly.

“Can go monkey house (prison) if you make like that Thailand.”

On our drive back to our village home we stopped at a flower garden centre, and it was here I inadvertently ruined my evening meal.

Wilai was the first person to trigger my interest in the quarter to three feet. Hers are ‘Donald Ducked’ quite a bit. She knew beforehand of my photographic intentions in Nong Khai and sensed my eagerness was still at large despite having left the city far behind us.

“Hus….band, I know you take a picture my feet…you think me walk same duck…you speak before.”

“No…I’m taking a photo of you among the flowers.”

“I want see picture camera.”

Later that evening she served me burnt sausages and very brown crispy chips.

Thai ladies, unlike their feet, are very thin-skinned.

My holiday was nearing its end, and with only a couple of days left in the village I’d given up hope of getting a good photo of a quarter to three feet. I’d taken plenty of shots, but I hadn’t pulled off the perfect one. You do have to snap your camera when the target feet are flat on the ground.

Then one night we went to a restaurant not far from our home.

Not the perfect quarter to three feet stance but not too bad. It would do to substantiate my theory.

The voice inside my head finally ceased.

Quarter to Three Feet – The Complete Theory
A friend in Udon Thani guessed Thai ladies splayed feet came about because of their association with working in rice fields. I discounted that straight away. My theory dates back to a ladies childhood and the old-style wooden stilted houses.

Have you ever walked up and down the steps of one of those type of homes? There’s quite a significant height gap between each step; they’re probably built like that to save money on materials. Going up is no big deal, but coming down is near impossible in the usual way of descending western-style stairs.

If you descend in the traditional western way the heels of your feet land on the front edge of the step below making it a slow and uneasy descent. The most comfortable and quick route down is to spread your feet in a quarter to three stance.

I believe from a very young age Thai girls (probably boys as well) develop this method to manoeuvre down the stilted house steps and the stance eventually becomes permanent. Nowadays there are more and more modern brick houses being built in Thailand’s villages and so a quarter to three feet will slowly become a rare sight, and in many years to come possibly disappear altogether. That’s my theory. Does it get your vote?


Yesterday the voice started up again, this time louder, more extended and much more personal.

“How come Thai people think it disgraceful when someone blows their nose in a restaurant yet when you get on a VIP coach there are bogies all over the curtains…… the truth is out there, go find it punk”.

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

17 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Martyn, inconclusive, your evidence is more ten to two than quarter to three in my humble opinion.

    That said have you ever noticed how many Thai girls have bat ears………:-)

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Mike ten to two they are, quarter to three is my exaggeration of the duck like walk. I didn’t get the perfect proof I was after but did see plenty of evidence in the rural areas to suggest the stance is rife there. Maybe I should have used video but I’ve not tried that mode on my new camera.

    I haven’t noticed the bat ears, I’ll take a look next time I’m out there. Fascinating….any theories on that.

  3. Talen says:

    Martyn, I can’t say I have ever noticed the quarter to three feet and come to think of it I have also not noticed the bat ears that Mike mentioned….I guess I am always looking at different areas 🙂

    That being said I have noticed something recently that bothers me…I have been seeing a large number of Thai girls that are bowlegged. Some only slightly but a few that could form the letter O almost.

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Talen you must be walking around with your shoelaces undone, that’s the feet equivalent of eyes shut. As you are in Pattaya then have a look at a few of the bar girls walks and let me know what you think. Most of them are country girls.

    Bow legs, discounting the obvious theory then that one takes a lot of thinking about. It could be linked to the stilted houses.


  5. I’ve never really noticed it until you mentioned it Martyn, but you definitely could be onto something. I’m not Thai but I do walk about like a duck. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I was always getting into accidents as a kid and spent a lot of time on crutches. I’ve actually been thinking about this same topic this week (amazing that you would write about it). I’ve sore knees this week and I’m convinced it is something to do with the way I walk.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Paul I’ve noticed the duck walk on a lot of Thai ladies and I’m fairly sure it is due to the stilted houses.

    I phoned Wilai today and told her I’d put a photo of her feet in the story, she replied.

    “Why you not put picture mama feet. She walk like duck all the time. When she walk driveway and shut the gate I think every time she walk same duck”.

    I’ve had a sore knee for months ever since I laid some laminate flooring. It’s an old football injury which has a habit of letting me know from time to time that I’m getting old.

    You’re in the right country to get some cheap treatment on your joints.

  7. Snap says:

    Martyn, the ‘ten to two’ could be to counter act/balance the bowed legs? Farang must look very odd to many Thais, with our feet being at twelve midday…or midnight ;)…or close to it!

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Snap to counterbalance bow legs you have to turn your feet inwards so the big toes are nearly touching. Try it.

    Don’t take this the wrong way but you’ve occupied my mind for a lot of the day. I’ve been trying to think of things to add to your friend’s welcome to Chiang Mai pack. I’m still struggling at the moment but I will get there.

    I checked my walk and it’s about 11:58.

  9. Catherine says:

    Martyn, when I first started reading Thai forums one post struck me quite funny. Going pages long, the subject dealt with the large splayed feet of Thai country gals. Now, I have two older brothers but it wasn’t until Thailand that I learned what goes on in the heads of men. It’s been a revelation not without a fair share of amusement. Just like your post 🙂

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine sorry I’m late replying but for some reason my internet speed slowed down to virtually zero. Most annoying. I’ve been waiting a few hours for it to get its breath back.

    Thanks for your comment because it backs up my observations about Thai girls feet. I can guess what theory the forum members attached to why they had splayed feet, however I think mine has much more substance.

  11. Catherine says:

    Martyn, your post on gals feet is far more hilarious – the forum conversation left my mouth hanging open 🙂

    Sorry to hear that your internet was not working. When that happens I am driven to distraction, with all those well-earned mai bpen rais going out the window.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I’m pleased you enjoyed the read, not sure if everyone has. Thailand Voice as far as I’m aware hasn’t listed it so maybe it’s touched a few nerves. I think it’s quite an interesting topic and worth a bit of debate. I’m quite serious about my theory.

    The internet is fine now. Normally it’s pretty good considering I use a dongle, must have been a blip.

  13. Julia says:

    You are hysterical! Although I have 10 to 2 feet and was born and bred in Australia.. there is “always one”, isn’t there?? I did live in a house that was situated in the middle of a muddy paddock for half the year, maybe that explains it.

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Julia thanks for dropping your comment by.

    Your muddy paddock theory goes with the paddy fields theory but I don’t go along with that in the case of Thai girls.

    A Ten to Two Aussie Sheila, you must look lovely walking on the beach.

    Best wishes.

  15. Catherine says:

    “Thailand Voice as far as I’m aware hasn’t listed it” ah, at first read I thought you said that you were not on Thailand Voice. I not sure how Richard choses posts to share (safe or not).

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine it’s no problem, Thailand Voice put out all of my posts but this one has slipped under the radar. I do get quite a few hits from Thailand Voice and was a bit surprised this one didn’t make it. I think it’s a good alternative type of post with its topic being a good one for debate.

    Perhaps someone in their office has got quarter to three feet.

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