Thai vs Farang – A Reply
Dear Mr Ponca,
My name is Philip Ross. I am the author of the original Stickman reader submission “Farang Vs Thai Again” 22 March, to which you wrote your submission in response “Thai Vs Falang some balance” 29 March. I would like to thank you for your thoughts and comments. I don’t know if you intended your submission to be a particularly humorous one but I must admit I gained a great deal of enjoyment and amusement from reading it. I would like to write a reply to you but I don’t want it to sound petty or argumentative in any way.
I particularly liked the part where you talked about going to the toilet in a hole next to your tractor. I think it is obvious for all to see that you have found your ideal home with the rural people of Isaan. Perhaps you will one day find a true happiness that most of us city folk are never able to discover.
In your submission you asked me directly what country I am from, what is my occupation, what is my age and had I ever been to Thailand before. I don’t think the answers to these questions are particularly relevant to a forum on Thai society and values that we are discussing because I will listen to and accept anything anybody has to say on the subject and judge it on its own merits. But I am not a particularly secretive person by nature and I have nothing to hide so I will answer your questions.
I am from inner city Melbourne, Australia. I am 32 years of age. I work 80 hours per week. Daytime I operate a leasing business and night time I am a professional DJ (getting a bit on in years now and a bit deaf too). I have traveled to every country in South East Asia. I have traveled to Thailand 20 times over the last decade and a half. I have been all over Thailand from the North East to North West to South and to every inhabitable island. I have eaten the best Thai food and the worst street food. I have stayed in the best 5 star hotels and the worst Isaan shanty home. Back home I spend a great deal of my time sitting in front of a computer but I don’t have an antenna in my home and I hate television (I watch the odd DVD). I have a Thai girlfriend of 2 years and a Thai daughter of 2.5 years. I speak a fair amount of Thai – enough to get by anywhere in the Kingdom on my own. I don’t drink alcohol, coffee or Red Bull, I don’t smoke, I don’t chew gum, I don’t do drugs (listen to Nancy Regan), I hate all religions (particularly Christianity), I don’t read books, I don’t always use condoms and when I am single I choose to pay for sex with poor underprivileged women from rural areas in third world countries who a forced into positions of pseudo sexual slavery due to their deprived economic circumstance (i.e. I shag girls from Nana Plaza gogo bars).
I don’t think my situation and my experience gives me any more or less right to comment on Thailand than anyone else. Nor does it give me the right to portray myself as some kind of authority on the subject. I just do my thing and I comment on what I see in front of me. I respect many areas of Thai culture and society and I hold many areas of Thai culture and society in contempt. There is good and bad in all cultures. I enjoy my holidays to Asia and I also like getting home to more familiar territory in Australia. You have left Oklahoma to live in Isaan and I admire your ability to give up the Western way of life for a simple life in the East. But I guess when you dig a shit hole in the ground it is the same no matter what part of the world you choose to dig it.
You did touch upon one thing that I had not considered when you said “hard work is universally understood”. I think you are quite correct. The value of hard work can he universally understood and transferred between all societies and cultures. It certainly sounds like you have immersed yourself with a genuine hard working Thai family and language is not your bond or your method of communication. Hard work is the connection between you all. When people decide to genuinely work hard side by side one another then many other things are universally and implicitly understood.
I find it funny when Falang readers write in to Stickman's website and accuse other Falang readers of not understanding Thailand because they have not spent enough time in Thailand or they have not seen enough of Thailand etc etc. They seem to feel that because they can eat bugs from street vendors or have spent a few nights in their girlfriend's family home in Isaan that they somehow have gained some hidden insight into the Thai way of life that other Falang have not seen. These same people find the need to point out that not only are they in a relationship with a Thai woman but the woman is NOT from a bar. Personally when I read these types of submissions it reeks of insecurity. I also find these people to be the most ignorant narrow minded of all farangs.
Like it or not, the simple fact is that if you did not grow up and spend all your life in a particular culture then you really cannot claim to have a truly full understanding of the people and their values. I travel to the other side of my home city and I have trouble understanding what they are about. I travel to another city within Australia and I am a bit lost. I travel to another city in another Western country and I don’t know what the hell is going on. When I travel to another city, in another culture, in a third world Asian country, with a foreign language, which has never been colonized, please tell me what right I have got to boast that I have attained some kind of understanding of what these people are about?
Stickman himself a veteran of over half a decade in the Kingdom, can make informed intelligent comments and observations on his website but if even he was to claim some kind of almighty universal understanding then he world be deceiving himself and lying to his readers.
I have never felt the need to belittle another person’s thoughts and opinions on Thailand and I have never felt the need to point out to anyone whether my Thai girlfriend has spent time working in a bar or not.
As usual if I have offended anybody – TOO BAD!
As far as opinions go, it is just as well that they haven't been made illegal yet cos when that happens, I'll have little to say.