The recent thread about isolationist farangs in Thailand has been an interesting one. This is something I have been very conscious (and guilty) of myself. I agree with part of the analysis in the letter last week but not all of it. The comments about people coming to Thailand not putting a high value on social support networks is probably quite valid. Many males are like this anyway. I wonder if farang females in Thailand feel the same way? Females generally have a greater need for social and emotional support networks.
I could be simplistic and say that seeing other farangs reminds me too much of the things I wanted to get away from in the west, which is why I came to Thailand in the first place, but there is more to it than that.
When I look at the type of people who come to Thailand (not exclusively farangs) I don't like much of what I see (for different reasons) so don't go out of my way to associate with these people.
Since I first visited Thailand 17 years ago it has always been a very special place for me. Now that Thailand is firmly on the mainstream tourist trail I resent the people coming here who see it just as an alternative to Tenerife or Barbados for some winter sunshine and nothing else. To them it is just about warm weather, cheap suits from Indian tailors, fake Rolexes and cheap sex. I dislike them for not respecting Thailand in the same way that I do. I also dislike the way they are making Thais greedy by throwing money around during their two weeks in the sun. Resentment is a futile and negative emotion as there is no turning the clock back now but it still gnaws away at me occasionally.
They embarrass me too. While in Bangkok a couple of months ago I ate in a restaurant near Patpong one evening. On one table were a bunch of loudly-dressed, coiffured Mancunians talking at full volume and eating Thai food with chopsticks. Across from them were a farang couple all over each other – not the done thing in Thailand. Next to my table were two scary looking lesbian girls complete with tattoos and partly-shaven hair, dressed in combat gear. On the other side of the restaurant a group of four young male farangs (from Italy or France, I think) had decided to smoke after their meal despite the fact it was a no-smoking restaurant. A waitress kindly brought over an ashtray and politely asked them to put out their cigarettes but they refused and made a big scene.
The backpackers are another group who I have no wish to be associated with. Their unimaginative treks through SE Asia jumping from one crappy guest house to another, getting drunk, attending full moon parties and dressing like hippies is so passé now, it's a joke – as are most of them.
Rightly or wrongly my opinion of most single males in Thailand is pretty low. The vast majority are here to screw around with low class Thai girls. I don't see them as a threat or as a source of competition with regard to Thai females as I have no interest in the type of girls they go for and anyway, I have a regular Thai girlfriend. But how they carry on disgusts me, especially the more I find out about the girls they go with. Not only are they quite pathetic but they are stupid and I never did suffer fools gladly.
Going to Phuket fills me with dread. In addition to the tourist types described here are the beer-drinking Germans with huge bellies hanging over their Speedos who stare at other farangs as if they have just crawled out of a drain.
So what explains why I don't want anything to do with farang girls in Thailand either? It's partly revenge, I'm afraid. After years of being treated with indifference by farang girls at home I enjoy ignoring them in Thailand, in a sadistic kind of way.
English teachers are generally a funny bunch (sorry, I know you are one). Many of the males can be put into the single male category above. Some of the girls seem to think they are humanitarian ambassadors helping to save the third world by teaching 3 year-olds how to ask for the toilet in English and they don't want anything to do with other 'unworthy' farangs here.
Face. Let's bring in an Asian concept to add to the analysis. Because many farangs in Thailand act the same way, on the odd occasion I have attempted to talk to one I have been blanked. This has made me feel embarrassed (yes, I lost face) so now I don't bother any more.
I make a lot of assumptions and I know this is wrong. I put people into pigeon holes pretty quickly and that is also wrong. I'm sure there are a lot of decent, well-intentioned farangs in Thailand and because of my attitude I won't get to meet them. But it goes back to a point made earlier about not feeling the need for a social support network and I'm quite happy to continue with just my network of Thai friends.
For the time being I will continue ignoring other farangs I see around town and in the apartment building where I live, just as they ignore me.
It's funny really, there really isn't a great deal of community spirit amongst farangs in Bangkok. From what I can tell, outside of Bangkok it is quite different and Westerners seem to go out of their way to help other Westerers. So why is Bangkok like this?