By Fast Freddy
I have endeavoured to assemble a short series of antidotes highlighting the phenomenon that we have all come to know and often referred to as “the look” that farangs so often encounter whilst going about their daily tasks in the Kingdom. Whist I am the first to admit that writing in the first person is not one of my strong points I shall persevere, so bare with me.
The Internet Experience
Before my last visit to “Fun City” I had the pleasure of befriending a very nice well educated Thai lady on ICQ. A Marketing Executive from one of Bangkok's more salubrious business establishments. Originally hailing from a Surin rice farming family she was fast approaching 30 years of age and was as one of my “old Bangkok hand” friends referred to as Christmas cake (fast approaching her use by date as far as a potential Thai husband was concerned).
Anyway after many very lovely conversations on the net during which we came to “know and trust?” each other quite well, we decided to meet up on my impending visit to BKK. Miss “Christmas cake” (CC) even had the faith in me to give out her work Ph# which I thought on her part showed a great deal of trust. At this point I cannot stress enough that CC was a lady of the most traditional kind and my intentions toward her were purely friendship orientated.
Well the time came for our first meeting and it was arranged that I would meet her at her work in the Siam Tower after which we would go out for an informal meal (as I had stressed that as a traveller I certainly was not in the possession of more formal attire). So here I was in the Siam Tower dressed in jeans, boots and a t-shirt (with a belt of course) and out of the lift comes one of the attractive Khmer looking Surin girls that we have all come to know and love dressed in the power dressing pin stripes that we so often equate with western business women on the move.
All I can say about my new friend was she was a very nice lady under no illusions about her new Aussie friend (and even had the temerity to ask at one stage whether I paid for sex ….of course I lied). So off we went through the Siam Centre together at about 6.00 PM on a weekday toward our dinner destination. And that's when I experienced the most bizarre looks of confusion I have ever I encountered from the local populous. I could understand their position …… Miss. High flying businesswomen and Mr. Farang tourist wandering about the Siam Centre without a care in the world. Wherever we went I got that look of utmost confusion thrust upon me in the most discreet fashion as I was aware the status of this lady was no doubt well above the majority of those around us, and god bless her she took it all in her stride with finesse and made me feel totally at ease.
Now what I was experiencing here was a total role reversal. The boot was very much on the other foot now, and I had a new found appreciation for the situation of the bargirl/girlfriend who we so often see wandering around Sukumvit with her man for the week. That's how I felt, like a fashion accessory and I must say I am very much the better off for the experience. After a lovely dinner we took in a movie and it was suggested by my friend that we head off to Rayong for the weekend. This girl was way to nice for a grub for me and I knew that although lonely she would be no better off for the experience …….so I bade my farewell and ran like the wind (for her sake and my conscience).
Postscript: One of my Lao bargirl friends thought this story was a real crack up and tried suggesting that rich Thai ladies like a bit of toy boy action…I think she is still laughing now.
On return to OZ a friend of mine from Khorat (long term wife of a friend) though this was a great yarn until I told her that this lady was from Surin. Her mirth immediately turned to concern and immediately asked me whether this lady had a lock of my hair or a photo. As in her words “Khmer magic, she will put a spell on you or make voodoo doll…you in big trouble now.” I wonder what fate will befall me.
The Robinson’s Girls
I used to see guys like me walking around Sukumvit with their Tilac during the light of day and say to myself (being a confirmed short time butterfly) that “you will never see me doing that”. How the mighty have fallen. After a chance meeting with the loveliest of Lao maidens with whom I had become great pals and in her words (I like you because you handsome man…but not too handsome) I found myself in Robinsons whilst Miss Lao purchased a new bikini so she could swim in the pool at my digs. Once out of the immediate presence of my friend, boy did I get the short shrift with the lovely Robinsons girls, I got the look as if I had just walked in a big juicy soi maa turd and walked it across the carpet. Not to mention the unveiled verbal abuse that no doubt accompanied it. Not that I cared of course, I just smiled and went about my business as usual.
Even the Farangs are Capable of the Look
Back at my digs we were having the greatest of times in the pool on one of those stinkers of hot BKK days with the place all to ourselves. In comes a family of French persons who made a point of exchanging lovely smiles with my friend and myself. Now Mr. Frenchman was having a real hard time keeping his eyeballs in his sockets and I can’t say I blame him. Miss Lao headed of to the ladies and then it was on for young and old, Mr. Frenchman made a real point of giving me his version of “the look”. One of those “you dirty filthy bargirl consorting barbarian” glares that just cracked me up no end. I just returned him with one of my “jealousy is a curse mate” smiles.
The Ruamchit Boys Look of Approval
Ever seen the security boys who work at the Ruamchit Hotel and the Thermae? A pair of hard men those two. These guys double as porters and generally make sure that any girls going upstairs with their customers furnish their ID cards to reception. They do a great job with a minimum of fuss. After a week or two of taking girls back to my digs from Thermae and a few other places these guys would afford me the very slightest of smiles or maybe a nod but most often just a blank look. That was until the night I showed up with Miss Lao, I must admit she was not your usual bargirl and that's why I liked her but these guys really sealed it for me. There reaction was one of immediate approval. The look comprised a combination of a bright smile of recognition to me, with a nod of “good to see you are on the right track now mate”. For the rest of my stay there with Miss Lao, the boys and the receptionists made her feel like a very
welcome paying guest. I must have been on the right track because it was quite obvious that Miss Lao had never set foot in the joint before.
Sounds like that fellow in one of Colin Pipers books who always gives people the look! But what you have written is actually quite a serious issue as the Thais DO give people funny looks if the are doing things that Thais consider to be a little unusual – and that probably includes about 95% of us farangs.