Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby camster on Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:20 am

ccarbaugh wrote:A Wonderful thread!

I too am having difficulty understanding "Thai-ness."

An acquaintance recently stated, "I have tried to
make a normal-life here for four-years. But, in the
end, it's all just about money."

I have lived here for 2+ years and I can count on
one-hand- the number of Thais that have been
friendly to me without any commercial interests.

Also, I have over 250 (single) Thai-Lady "friends,"
yet, for weeks-and-weeks at a time, I find myself unable to
meet with any of them for a coffee, a dinner or a movie.
(Of course, I pay!)

I'm still struggling to figure out exactly what
is going on - culturally? hypocracy? paradoxically?

Is it an over-simplification to conclude that:
unless Thai women are able to dominate,
(control,) every aspect of my life, then I'm not worthy?

... Just my current thoughts.

I enjoy reading the posts here!


I agree it is very difficult to navigate through the many Thais that look at the Farang as an ATM machine at their disposal. When they are friendly you have no choice but to question their motives. However having said that I'm amazed you have less than 5 experiences of Thais being friendly or helpful without wanting money. Perhaps you need to experience some areas of Thailand that are not centered around the tourist or expat economy. As for having to pay for your Thai lady friends there's nothing Thai-ness about that. Its simply a lady-ness thing. Just be thankful it will only cost you 1,000 baht instead of the 7,000 it would cost you in a western country.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby BFG1976 on Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:35 am

I am now living in Thailand for more than 8 years and personally have known my fare share of ups and downs in this country, but have most of the time stayed here with a lot of pleasure.... up until about the last 6 months or so.

Clashes will Thai-ness (what a horrible word, I prefer Thai culture) are a common factor that all foreigners have experienced and I am no exception to that rule. I think my first real clash came with my first employment here. Successfully working in a government university for over 3 years, I, together with 3 other foreign colleagues, made the mistake to refuse working during a national holiday to help organize an English exam for Thai army nurses, and criticizing my newly elected department head for forcing my Thai colleagues to do so as a statement of her superiority while she knew that many of them made plans to spend a long weekend with their families up country. The Monday after this weekend, all foreigners received a A4 piece of paper explaining that we should show more respect for Thai culture and should forget about the bad habits we learned in our own country. This letter was. to our surprise, not issued by our new department head, but by the foreign affairs department which actually was assigned to explain our ways to the Thai colleagues. Most of our Thai colleagues felt very ashamed we were handed this document, and kept apologizing for something that was not their fault in the first place. Within 4 days, all what I had done for my employer in the past years, and all the time invested in my work, was suddenly forgotten. Within one year all contracts of all 8 foreigners working for the university were terminated under the pretense that we did not do our work right, had problems with punctuality and we were even accused for showing up to classes intoxicated.I cannot speak for all my foreign colleagues, but as for me: My students all scored above average in standardized exams and for 3 semesters in a row, prior to my release, my groups of students scored the highest average of all students in university. I always arrived at work well before my Thai colleagues even arrived. And I never drink any alcohol or do drugs, not even privately.

Understanding Thai-ness or Thai culture is possible, but it is also difficult as every Thai citizen seems to have his own interpretation of what Thai-ness is. One earlier poster said that all Thais would rather be living in Thailand compared to anywhere in the western world. Then could you please explain to me why so many Thais are leaving their own country to live in western countries and have no desire to come back? Many Thai friends of mine have left Thailand for such countries as Cananda, The United States, and Australia. Many well educated Thais that I spoke to, and some even enjoyed a study abroad, do not feel proud of their nation and many of their country-men. They are not followers of any political views, nor do they support any of the colored shirt gangs. They are hardworking, honest Thai citizens that have seen that Thailand is certainly not the center of the universe.

Scolding foreigners (and not farang, I am not a guava) for not understanding Thai-ness, Thai Culture, or Buddhism is just plain sad. I was fortunate to have long talks with a well educated, revered Buddhist monk about many topics like these and he explained that many Thai will use these excuses when there is no profit to be made or when there is fear of losing face.

While I saw an increase in the numbers of foreigners coming to live in Thailand in the first years that I lived here, I now see a fast rise in the numbers of foreigners leaving this country. I thought I would be staying here for the rest of my life, but the increasing anti-foreign attitude in the country is even getting me to a point where I am no longer sure I want to stay.

And one more thing: Not all foreigners come here for the parties and prostitutes! There are many honest and reliable men AND women that come to this country to have a life that is promised to be less stressful, and more fulfilling. However, the negative attitude towards them and the slowly disappearing Thai hospitality turns this beautiful dream into a horrible nightmare. Stop generalizing please! Not all foreigners are drunk sex maniacs, and in the same way not all Thai are after profit from foreigners. Not all foreigners make mountains of money or have a pot of gold hidden in their house and not all Thai are illiterate rural peasants and criminals. You have good and bad on both sides and everything in between.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby nok77 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:28 pm

BFG1976

A very interesting post. And quite some experiences. Concerning the work. What you write about getting your contract terminated relating to the incident doesn't surprise me. If you work as a foreigner in a Thai system they will expect the same from you. Which means doing overtime or work on a national holiday or in the weekend although your contract clearly states you don't have to. In the West impossible or less appearing.

If we ( me being a farang too) stick to our views ( aka western society) and simply fail to see their system we shouldn't be surprised we get an experience like this. I don't say I favor the Thai system. Not at all. My point is be aware that you might be confronted with this kind of experience. For each person himself then to decide to accept or oppose. Another example why we can never fully understand thai-ness. The only way to cope is to accept or disagree when confronted. And most of all to be aware

I agree having spent long periods in Thailand that lately the Thais seem to become more on their own. Not see the farang as a necessary group to develop Thailand. Or be a contribution to Thailand. Not even on the tourist level anymore. Again any farang thinking of staying long periods in Thailand should be aware. And not focus on indulging Thai-ness or hang into his Western dreams. Both ways they will fail.

Having Thai friends getting over In Europe I have mixed feelings about if they really want to stay in the West. In the beginning they see the enormous developments. Later they also see the side effects. Thai show ambition too but different then the West. My experiences are that if they hang out for a long time and not have a relationship but are there for work or study they are glad when they can return.

If you ask them about Thailand they agree a lot is not ideal. But my experiences are that they are still proud to be Thai. And many thais know their system. You would be amazed. Only they cope with it in a different way then the West does. Another thing to be aware of. Remember if a person decides he or she stays for a long time he should never forget he is a guest. No matter what. If that person cannot cope with the tradition of a country where is a guest he should think about leaving. Which doesn't mean as a guest he or she has to accept everything. Only to start telling the guest country what to do is in my view a bridge too far
Last edited by nok77 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby jocuri on Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:59 pm

I'm Thai and after reading this, I'm so sure that you Farangs here are far from Thai-ness.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby OzGeoff on Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:32 am

Jocuri,
Can you please explain "thai-ness", so that us "farangs" can understand?
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby nok77 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:48 am

I can only agree. We all like to know where we missed the point. Perhaps jocuri can help us all out.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby DocWilliam on Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:54 am

I have lived in several different countries and cultures. The wisdom I have learned is that the fast track to understanding is to: (1) Be a blessing to others. Be friendly and helpful. Don't dwell on "getting" understanding of Thainess or any other "-ness."
(2) Accept circumstances as they are. It is easy to get into road rage about dangerous driving practices of locals. But, in road rage, I am one of those dangers! Yes, there is payola and graft. Yes, there is little law or safety enforcement. Yes, people eat too much rice, too much sugar, and not enough vegetables. But, In Hong Kong drivers honk their horns incessantly! I am grateful to Thai that they do not. America, at least, is a society of "me," ego, and self-centeredness. Thailand is a society of family-centeredness. I enjoy that. Christianity--and maybe other religions--imposes. Buddhism does not; in fact, Thich Nat Han states that it is not a religion. (3) When I catch myself complaining to myself, I remind myself that if I don't like something--if I cannot accept--then I should go away from here. There's nothing more boring in Thailand than listening to other farang whine about Thainess. (4) Sustain the practice of letting my love radiate without concern for results. I love living in Thailand. Thai massage completed a healing of my broken body from an auto collision that American practitioners told me was irrepairable. And, so, (5) Live in gratitude.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby OzGeoff on Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:17 am

DocWilliam wrote:I have lived in several different countries and cultures. The wisdom I have learned is that the fast track to understanding is to: (1) Be a blessing to others. Be friendly and helpful. Don't dwell on "getting" understanding of Thainess or any other "-ness."
(2) Accept circumstances as they are. It is easy to get into road rage about dangerous driving practices of locals. But, in road rage, I am one of those dangers! Yes, there is payola and graft. Yes, there is little law or safety enforcement. Yes, people eat too much rice, too much sugar, and not enough vegetables. But, In Hong Kong drivers honk their horns incessantly! I am grateful to Thai that they do not. America, at least, is a society of "me," ego, and self-centeredness. Thailand is a society of family-centeredness. I enjoy that. Christianity--and maybe other religions--imposes. Buddhism does not; in fact, Thich Nat Han states that it is not a religion. (3) When I catch myself complaining to myself, I remind myself that if I don't like something--if I cannot accept--then I should go away from here. There's nothing more boring in Thailand than listening to other farang whine about Thainess. (4) Sustain the practice of letting my love radiate without concern for results. I love living in Thailand. Thai massage completed a healing of my broken body from an auto collision that American practitioners told me was irrepairable. And, so, (5) Live in gratitude.


1. It is not about "dwelling", it is about understanding
2. Because someone else does the same, it does not make it right
3. Perhaps those who "whine" don't understand!
4. Many practices (western medicine or otherwise) can heal wounds, as does time.
5. Agreed - I'll drink to that :cheers:
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby OzGeoff on Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:55 am

jocuri wrote:I'm Thai and after reading this, I'm so sure that you Farangs here are far from Thai-ness.


Where are you Jocuri?
We (farangs) are waiting for you to enlighten us.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby bkkwatcher on Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:06 am

jocuri wrote:I'm Thai and after reading this, I'm so sure that you Farangs here are far from Thai-ness.


If you mean the typical Thai behaving brainlessly, recklessly and with no consideration for others, because we all have to accept your racism and classism and arrogance, we are all glad to be far from this...don't worry, you can keep this all as your traits, all for yourself and well-known to the world. As for me, I live here, I don't like you, I observe people around me and I feel free to comment, as long as you don't pay taxes for me. Nothing is a gift here, so why should we enjoy your bad habits? Do you grant us safety? NO. Do you grant us citizenship or equal status? NO. Do you grant us the same rights Thais have? NO. Do you give something for free? NOPE.
Do you want us to start also picking our nose while talking to someone only to be like you? No thanks. Really, thanks God, but no thanks.
Problem is, you like the money, you like investments, you like the development westerners have brought, but you don't like farangs, very childish. Stop whining about your culture and be thankful. You have taken a lot, seriously. Start providing something useful, Thai-ness is something we don't need, fortunately.
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