Altercation With Some Thai Men
A few nights ago, I was in a Karaoke bar with my girlfriend trying to impress her with my ability to sing Thai songs. I normally wouldn't take a good girl into a place like this, but she is somewhat adventurous and always insists on wanting to see go-go bars and stuff like that. For the record, she is NOT a bar girl. She is a well educated Thai-Chinese with a respectable job at a hospital.
Anyway, we sit down and order a few drinks. I grab a piece of paper and write the name of my favorite Thai song to sing, “Rak Tur Nee Ran.” I write the name of the song in Thai on the paper and hand it to the waitress. In the meantime, my girlfriend and I listen to other people in the bar singing their songs. On the table next to us are these four young twenty something year old Thai men sitting with two Karaoke bar girls flirting and fondling them. One of the girls sees me. She stands up and walks over to my table. She wais me and says my name, then turns to my girlfriend and does the same. I say back to her, “Sa Bai Dee Baaw?” Many folks here speak a form of Thai-Lao. This girl knows me from previous visits to the bar. My girlfriend is in no way angry with me as she knows I have an open door policy about everything. She knows about my past and knows I’ve got her only now.
The girl then walks back over to the table with the Thai guys and sits down. I look over and see one of them, (the one she was sitting with) glaring at me with this stink look. I simply smile back at him. A few moments later I hear my song come on over the speakers, but apparently one of the other Thai men at the table had also requested the same song as me earlier. No problem. I’ll just wait until it’s my turn. I listen to this guy sing the song and it is horrible. I’m no superstar myself when it comes to singing, but I know a bad voice when I hear one and this guy’s voice was simply terrible. After he finishes the song, there is this long dead silence in the room. The microphone is then handed to one of the girls at the table and she sings a song. Finally, about ten minutes later, the waitress walks over to me and hands me the microphone. Yeah! It’s my turn to sing! I’ve been practicing this song for over a year now and can actually sing it quite well (Not trying to toot my own horn here).
As soon as I start to sing, the whole place starts screaming and cheering for me. I think it was more of the fact that they couldn’t believe a farang could sing in Thai as well as the song I had chosen. After I finished, I received this huge round of applause from everyone, except the one Thai guy I mentioned earlier who was now glaring at me even more (Na Taek). That’s right, loss of face. He then points at me and tells the girl sitting with him, “farang kii nok!” I hear it and so does my girlfriend. Now my girlfriend is starting to lose face and I can’t have that happen. I look dead straight at the Thai fucker and say back to him, “Mung Lao Kii Kwai!” <This is coarse! The first word meung has a strong meaning and the rest means Laos buffalo shit making it an horrendous insult – Stick> Oh man, you should have seen the look on his face. I kept staring at him straight in the eye letting him know by my facial expression that I didn’t like what he said, nor was I afraid of him or his three scrawny friends.
Big mistake. One needs to remember just how cowardly Thai people are. They have this false sense of pride and power. Take ANY Thai out of their comfort zone and they simply won’t survive. If a Thai thinks he can’t win in a confrontation with a farang, he will surely call for back-up, and that is exactly what this little prick did. Now, I’m a fairly big guy around 6’3” and 225 pounds. I work out almost everyday. I never let a Thai try to intimidate me nor am I afraid of a Thai when one attempts to get in my face. Most Thais seem to sense this and stay the fuck away from me. This guy didn’t want to do that. Instead he gets on his phone and calls for back up. Within five minutes, six more scrawny Thais walk in and sit down at his table. I assess the situation. Not good. My girlfriend is scared at this point and really worried. I turn to her and tell her not to worry. I know what they are scheming because I listen to everything they are saying.
Time for me to call in my back-ups. I get on my phone and call my good friend, a Thai Police officer, who is the number two guy in charge of the police in the city. I apologize for calling him so late and explain the situation to him. He says, “Don’t worry. I was only reading a book. I’ll be there as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, the guys at the table are growing more and more restless. I continue to glare back at them showing no fear at all. Stare at a Thai long enough and they WILL turn away. Ten minutes later I see my police friend come through the door with, get this, six fully armed, uniformed police officers. I stand up and shake his hand. He then asks me where the Thai men that I had spoken about on the phone are. I point over to their table. The music stops, the lights come on, the whole place is put on hold. Fuck, what have I done! I tell my girlfriend to go wait in the car and not to worry. My friend then has all of the Thai guys at the table searched, checked for weapons IDs etc. One of them hurls a remark at me. He is quickly handcuffed. No weapons. Good. My friend then asks me what I want to do. He tells me that he can have them all arrested and taken to the cell block here in the city. I ask him where they are from. He tells me Suphanburi. On what charge I ask? He says, “Don’t worry about that.” At this point they really haven’t done anything to me other than insult me in Thai. I explain to my friend that I don’t want any problems in the future with these punks and that an apology from them to me and my girlfriend would suffice. He tells me, “Can do.” So, I go and get my girlfriend and bring her back in the bar. In the meantime, the Thai punks are lined up inside. My friend explains to them who I am and which branch of the government I work for back in the States.
The fun part. ALL of them approach me one by one and wai me saying, “Koh Tok Krab.” I even get the monk style wai (the one where the hands touch the forehead). I say back to each of them, “Mai pen rai.” One of them even offers me his half finished bottle of 100 pipers. I refuse it saying, “Pah Leaw Krab. Mai pen Rai.” The men go back to their table and everything goes back to normal. I walk outside with my girlfriend. I thank my police friend for his help. He tells me not to worry about anything and that if there are any more problems in the future, to call him. I thank him and his colleagues and get in my car to head home. In the car I was like a fucking hero to my girlfriend. I explain to her that what happened was serious and that both of us could have been easily hurt or killed. She tells me that she is happy that I, “didn’t afraid them.” Ok, her English isn’t perfect.
My advice to ANYONE coming here; DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE INSULT A THAI IN THEIR NATIVE TONGUE. They will go absolutely ape shit over it. I was a little drunk and not feeling too well that night. That, combined with three years of listening to Thais insult farangs, was probably why I hurled an insult back to the Thai punk. In the past, I would have just ignored it, and my advice to anyone is to do the same…ignore it. Don’t let it get to you. After living here in Thailand for a while things WILL start to get to you. Just don’t react to things in a hostile way. It’s best to just walk away. Let them think they have won, because in their cowardly little black hearts they know they haven’t. It really isn’t worth it to get into an altercation with a Thai. This is their country and like most of us living here, we came here as guests, usually uninvited. The reason I share this story with you is let others know how careful a foreigner needs to be in this country. I have seen lots of violence directed at foreigners since I’ve been here. Also, if there is a problem with the Thais, let them sort it out. Don’t try and play John Wayne because you are only asking for trouble. This whole experience has a shed more light on the fact of how clever, sneaky, and calculating Thais can be. Be careful out there and don’t let things get to your head.
The final paragraph sums it up fairly well.