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Farang In the Countryside Part 2

  • Written by JB
  • March 19th, 2002
  • 9 min read


Farang In The Countryside (Impressions From Paradise), Part 2: Teaching At Thai Primary Schools



During your permanent stay in the Thai countryside as a farang, no doubt a Thai primary school principal will come to see you one day at your place. This funny looking human being (sometimes dressed like a boy/girl scout) will ask you to teach English at his/her school. Ok, you have some spare time and you want to help Thai society (Thai children) a bit, so you want to give it a go. Out of politeness this person asks you how much money you want. Now you start calculating. The school is fifteen kilometers away. Three baht per kilometre is fair, you think. So hundred baht per hour sounds fine. It won't cost you money and for them it’s a bargain. Especially when you know you have to teach thirty three students an hour (three baht per student per hour). So, you suggest one hundred baht per hour. Most Thai principals look at you after this one hundred baht offer as if they see water burning. ‘So you won't teach for free?’ will probably be this persons’ response. Your reaction should be something like this: ‘I will teach for free if you will teach for free, asshole. You don’t want to teach for free? Who the hell do you think you are, asking me to teach for free’.

Three months ago I finished my last ‘primary school job’. The money was ok (anyway, it didn’t cost me money) and the students were ok, as they always are in Thailand. The only thing I asked the principal before starting this job: when there's a day off for the students or they have something else to do, please contact me and let me know, so I don’t have to come to your school for nothing. He promised me this and we exchanged phone numbers. Already the fourth day, I came for nothing. The children were taking care of the garden surrounding the school. There was nothing to teach for me that day. Of course the principal didn’t contact me about this and of course I didn’t accept his ‘kohtoot mark’ bullshit. I quit the job immediately. You will never see me again working in a Thai primary school. Over the years I had three teaching jobs at primary schools, with more or less the same negative experiences as described above.

One other farang I know of teaches English at primary schools in this part of Thailand. A sixty year old Danish bloke who cannot speak, read, understand or write English at all. He teaches for free. Whenever you'll ask him where he comes from, he probably will react with ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I am fine, thank you’. Thai primary schools in the countryside have the (farang) teachers they deserve.

Thai prison

Now this is probably one of the few places in the world I really don’t want to be. About a year ago during a short stay in Bangkok, there was this Thai woman I met in a hotel lobby. She noticed I could speak Thai and asked me to translate a letter for her that she had received from her Swiss husband who was staying in a Bangkok jail. The poor guy was sentenced for ten years. She wasn’t able to explain in detail why he was sentenced, but it had something to do with fraud. She visited him every week at least two times. She told me her fifty year old husband now looked like a skeleton, after spending seven months in jail. Normally he is quite heavy build, weighing more then one hundred kilos. I agreed to translate the letter for her.

What I did translate: conditions are extremely tough, he lived with fifty other men, mostly Thai, in a dirty room so small that the inmates had to sleep in a shift. There was only this one small ventilator in the ceiling that worked. They had to share one bathroom. Violence was very common. The food was horrible and the drinking water was filthy. Most inmates suffered all kind of diseases related to inferior hygienic conditions. He asked his wife in this letter to forget about him completely and start a new life with another man because there was no way he could take care of her anymore. Financially or otherwise.

What I didn’t translate: he’s being raped several times a week. Prison guards were aware of this, but just smiled and wouldn’t do anything against it. They even encouraged these practices. The Swiss guy wrote that prison guards now and then showed pornographic movies for the inmates. After seeing these blue movies, horny Thai inmates would settle for some male white piece of ass, by lack of some woman's’ flesh. The Swiss guy thought he was infected by the AIDS virus. He’s probably right.

One year later. I never saw the woman again but think about her and her husband now and then. Does she have a new life with another man? And what about the poor Swiss guy? Is he still alive and suffering? I don’t think so. He is probably dead.

(The lack of) privacy.

You have no privacy whatsoever in the Thai countryside. Unless you fight for it. The Thai concept of privacy (if there is a Thai concept) differs quite a bit from the Western concept. After more or less understanding the (probably non-existing) Thai concept I made rules. As simple as that. Yes, I did hurt some people by me making and dictating non Thai rules. One of the rules I made: only my wife, my stepson, my stepdaughter and me can enter this house without knocking on the door. Even my father and mother-in-law must have some reason to enter our home. “Just want to watch TV” is just not good enough. They have their own TV. In farangland I wouldn’t like it either when my father and mother, although deeply beloved, would visit me every day. So why should I change my attitude while living here?

I am in regular contact with three farang who live in this province permanently. They all have families and they all are annoyed by Thai family members who, whenever they feel like, lay down on the sofa and use the toilet as if it’s their own place. This one farang guy is now considering building a second home, just for himself, because he wants and needs his privacy. He doesn’t want his mother-in-law in his house every day. I asked him why he doesn’t kick his mother-in-law out of the house. After all, she has her own place to stay. He answered that he is too afraid to do a rude thing like that. Ok mate, buy yourself a second home.

Privacy is essential for me and for most farang I think. That’s something you cannot change. It’s in our system. Giving up privacy is a bridge too far for us Euro’s, Aussies and Americans. There we really differ from a Thai. You want to be happy in Thailand? Take your privacy. And don’t consider building a second home. Why should you?!

At this moment our little family has four members. We spent a lot of time together, thanks to the ‘privacy rules’. Especially the children, although Thai, feel safe, happy and secure in this ‘farang’ environment. They only have to deal with me and my wife and they are doing great in every aspect of life. It’s not only their achievements at school, most of all, it’s the way they stand in life: full of confidence. They don’t take shit from any one. I am proud of the both of them and I think the ‘privacy rules’ made the difference. We simply have time for each other and not for a father – or mother-in-law. If my wife’s parents are not capable of making a life of their own then that’s their problem. Not mine.

Where I disagree with Mr. Stickman.

In his naughty past, Stickman went short time and / or long time several times. Now he doesn’t do that anymore. I respect that. But he is inconsequent. He writes, for example, that ‘you can get the girl out of the bar, but you can’t get the bar out of the girl’. In other words: when a (Thai) lady sells her body, she is bad news for the rest of her life. I wonder if he thinks the same about guys once buying ‘Thai meat.’ Once a punter, always a punter?

Stickman says:

Nice post. As for the guy who ended up in prison, that is the harsh reality of life. No-one deserves that sort of dreadful treatment, but the cynic in me asks what he is doing in there. The vast majority of farangs in Thai prisons are there for drug offences, and frankly anyone who does drugs in this country is a bloody idiot. The penalties are widely known and understood.

The privacy issue is funny. I remember a few years ago when a girlfriend made an impromptu visit and brought one of her friends whom I had never met before to my place. The friend had not even been introduced, yet she walked into my apartment, straight to the fridge which she opened and started taking food out. Asking her what the fxxx she thought she was doing gave her the shock of her life and she have me a filthy look as if it was me who was in the wrong!

The final point you make is an interesting one. I think the major problem that Thai bargirls who wish to leave the industry make is that they are simply unable to look at themselves and openly admit that what they did was wrong / damaging / not right etc. Face loss prevents them from doing this and admitting the problem is half of the battle. Once you admit that a problem exists, then and only then can you work towards overcoming it. You have to want to address the issue and fix it. I know a lot of guys who misbehaved in the past but do not now. Part of the battle is looking at themselves, admitting that they do not like what they have done, that it may have caused some sort of damage (such as the inability to be truly intimate) and then work on this. I re-iterate that the vast majority of Thai women in the prostitution industry are largely unable to do this whereas farangs are a lot better at looking at themselves and working on issues and making improvements.