Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby Bill W on Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:57 am

I think most of the posts here are correct. It's not a matter of ignoring you, it's that communication may be difficult if not being conducted in the same language. I agree a smile in your direction would not hurt, that is not the nature of the culture.
Your wife is being addressed because of comfort level. Would you feel better speaking to a person who you knew could speak your native language or a foreigner who had no or little knowledge of the local language.
My suggestion would be to do some research on communication and culture and discover that it is not rudeness many times but shyness that dictates the circumstance.
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby Jason McDonald on Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:41 pm

Thank you for all your comments.
In conclusion I must say that this keeps happening whenever I have my wife with me. When she is not there the communication goes very well. I also add that i do speak a little Thai and the serving girls do understand because I do the talking even when my wife is present as I have to practice. But they still look at her and answer to her even though I am talking. Even when my wife says to them in Thai to talk to me ie. look at me they still address her.

Doesn't happen anywhere else just girls serving at the Mall/Tescos


Thanks again for all your comments .We've decided that my wife will stand 10 metres away and this strategy is working well so far.
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby Ian on Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:01 am

I can actually relate a reverse situation. Two years ago a group of important officials descended upon my village for a series of speeches to mark the completion of a community project. The village boss and group boss were with these dignitaries on stage and I was told to join them also. I asked for my gf to join me so that she could translate events. Everyone, including my gf were shocked at this suggestion, it was not seemly.
Eventually a compromise was reached, I sat in one of the ornate chairs, she sat out of sight behind me on a stool where she could whisper in my ear :lol:
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby corky on Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:45 am

Jason McDonald wrote:I ask this to find out if farang are really invisible to Thai. This has happened to me many times and I was wondering if it happens to other Westerners who live in Thai areas of Bangkok (or maybe elsewhere).

When I am out with my Thai wife, especially shopping, I find that, Thai people refuse to look at me and talk only to my wife. For example, I have just returned from the Mall where I bought 4 pens from the stationary section of the department store. I was the one who handed the pens to the lady at the cash register and asked her how much. But she totally ignored me and started talking to my wife. She didn't even look at me. It was as though I was invisible. At least she gave me the change. A while ago we were going to go to MK in the Mall as we approach (I was in front of my wife) the lady looked straight at my wife and gave her a smile and Wai etc and totally ignored me, didn't even look at me or acknowledge that I was there. I just kept on walking,as I was in front position, and left my wife talking to the lady. I have explained to my wife how rude this is to a westerner and she now leaves me alone when I approach the girls at the cash register at all opportunities.

Does this happen to other people here? It doesn't happen in tourist spots like sukhumvit, khao san road etc. It only happens in Thai areas?

not invisible, they certainly do like staring dont they, but they find us awkward.
and speaking thai is not the end of the problem. my friend is phillipine and speaks no thai, i do fluently and they converse with me but look at him...... :roll: its sometimes funny sometimes sad but always weird.
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby klikster on Sun Jul 12, 2009 4:47 pm

I think if you live in the "country", and speak a little Thai, you become more "visible".

I'm single, old and ugly as hell .. and every time I went to the weekend market to stock up, it seemed like every stall owner knew a friend who had a good heart, worked hard .. and needed a husband. ;)
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby KHONDAHM on Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:01 pm

Great topic! I have also been perplexed about this issue for the entire 10+ years I've been in Thailand.

Despite the fact that I can understand everything they say and they can understand everything I say, be it in Thai or English, Thais always defer to my wife who may have absolutely nothing to do with, nor is she the decision maker for, the matter at hand.

I get frustrated to no end sometimes which often leads to the typical rant (that my wonderful Thai wife dutifully listens to) after the encounter about how dumb, rude, or ignorant that person was to have treated me as if I was not there.

No Thai I have asked about the issue has been able to communicate the reasons as well as those posting on this board. Thanks for your input! ;)
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby KHONDAHM on Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:26 pm

Ian wrote:I can actually relate a reverse situation. Two years ago a group of important officials descended upon my village for a series of speeches to mark the completion of a community project. The village boss and group boss were with these dignitaries on stage and I was told to join them also.

Ha! I've been in the same situation. I attended a good friend's wedding (the bride) a year ago. The mayor and other local dignitaries pulled me on stage and started making friendly jokes about me not knowing I understood everything he said (the assumption Thais always make because I am a Black American). So, he passed the mic to me to respond to his jokes. When I replied in Thai and made a friendly wise-crack back at him (something like "don't forget to pay your taxes or the the cops will put up mia noy-money road stops when I drive home"), the whole crowd (about 200+ people) cracked up rolling on the floor laughing. It was hilarious and a good time had by all.
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby stilljustbrowsing on Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:27 pm

It's all a matter of perception and confidence/experience. (IMHO)
I see some looking at me and I think "he/she looks stern" by the way they look at me, I have also been told I always look too serious as well! Anyway, I smile as I pass by and 99% of the time I get a smile back, lovely! (there will always be one, Mr. Grumps, anywhere)
Speaking some Thai does help, even if you get the tone wrong and instead of asking "where have you been?" (bhie nhie mha?) you accidently say "where you dog/horse?" (low tone or high tone instead of flat tone) My friends laugh at me when I use english tone for Thai sentences.
As Monty Python sang, always look on the bright side of life. Enjoy. :cheers:
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby MrAtPeace on Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:37 am

I have lived in Khon Kaen with my wife for almost 6 years and have never felt invisible...never. I do not speak Thai and my wife translates for me. There are absolutely no problems.

Perhaps having a friendly attitude and a love and respect for Thailand and the Thai people break down the barriers. In fact, many times I'm treated with an abundance of respect. I'm grateful, but a little embarrassed. We farangs have so much to learn about appreciating Thailand.
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Re: Are Farang invisible to Thai?

Postby Ian Wensor on Mon May 10, 2010 4:07 pm

Farangs are invisible to Thais' only when it suits then ... An example is when my Thai wife and I order a meal at a restaurant and she gets hers while mine is put on hold until Thais' who've come after us are served. This means that rather than dining together as planned, she finishes her meal and is ready to leave before I even get mine. :x Furthermore, when I pay the check bin, the change is usually handed to my wife which I deem an affront :o. Suffice to say, those who served us don't get tipped and furthermore ... we don't frequent such places anymore :cheers: !
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