Stickman Readers' Submissions September 17th, 2004

Thai Ways vs. Farang Ways: A Tom Yum Perspective

By The Esthetician

Kia Ora! Sawasdee Krub Stickman! How are u doing? I hope that you are still enjoying your time in the City of Angels.

Well, recent articles about Thai ways VS Farang ways have prompted me to write something once again. A Thai perspective on this topic. Remember that I’m a Thai studying and growing up in Farangland.

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Well, where do I start? I’ll start with a scenario….4 years ago at the Don Meaung International airport, the airport officials refused my entry to board a flight to Auckland because of some complication with my visa, telling
me that I have to return to take the flight tomorrow! Well, I was pissed off and I went off at the officials…around members of my VERY THAI family. Well, at the time I didn’t think too much of it. When I came back to the family home,
my family started telling me that my action was an embarrassment to them! Tum mai tum thua yang ngun? WHY did you behave like that? My reply? Phom gload = I was angry. Now, I was only a LITTLE angry and I really didn’t
even cause a scene or anything. I was just doing what at the time felt very natural. Now, if I was in my Thai mentality, I would have smiled and say: “Mai pen rai krub! I’ll return tomorrow.” And yes, it ended up
being an extra beautiful day with my family in The City of Angels. And yes, perhaps my action was somewhat unnecessary. 4 years on and my action is still fresh in my family’s mind. Thinking back, during the first few days of my holiday
in the LOS and before I accustomed back to the Thai mentality, my forwardness and abruptness were not appreciated by the people around me. They were scared that I would start behaving like a farang!

Well, what I am trying to achieve with this little essay is that farangs can learn a lot from the Thais, and of course Thais can learn from the Farangs also. Here are just some of the few.

Thais place great emphasize on family. A very natural thing for a farang to do is to have their grandparents in a rest home when “it is time”. This concept horrifies most Thai people. I'd rather be a Thai grandparent any

Since I started schooling in Farangland, If I had been given a dollar for each rude / swear word said to the teachers and the elderly people, I would be a multi-billionaire today.

Thais have the abilities to enjoy life in almost every situation, and the famous ability to smile at the vicissitudes of life. Yes, there are far more Thais who are less well off economically than the farangs, but living in Farangland, I
have to admit that Thais can enjoy life just the same, if not more.

Spirituality and Buddhism are laid in the very fabric of Thai society which resulted in a people that are extremely tolerant. I know that many of you that read this site like to visit the “Thai ladies of the night”. Now, if the role was
reversed, and large number of Asians and Arabs for example, started coming to your land for the main purpose of sex, imagine the hatred and sentiment that farangs would have towards these tourists. In my soi, these ladies, still in their Arb Ob Nuad (massage) uniform eat som tum among the rest of us, and no problem! <No problem, perhaps – but they are looked down on by many in Thai societyStick>

What can Thais learn from the Farangs? Punctuality (10 years ago it is a bizarre concept for us to turn up at 3 PM for a 3 PM appointment), long-term sustainable development, moving away from the status and class BS so that beautiful brown-skinned
Thais can have the same opportunities as their corpse-looking counterparts. Democracy is still a new concept in Thailand (For 1,000 years, it was ruled under successive kings) so can the Thais please move away from the patron-client under the
table corruption, that’s eating the national budget! Yes, these are some of the things that we can learn from the Farangs. And yes, we are slowly learning them i.e.. Thais are more punctual today, the government got a bit cleaner, more
emphasis is put on the environment, but have the farangs learnt anything from us?

Thais don’t want to be like the farangs. HELL NO! I find some of the comments made in this site very one-sided, almost ethnocentric in nature: “My culture and my ways are better than yours BS”. No doubt, this is the same
mentality that was used to colonise most of the Pacific to help the so-called “uncivilised people”. I use Stickman’s home as an example, the Indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, after so many years of suppression are reclaiming
their identity. And of course, thanks to the Farang mentality of yesterday, the white people have to deal with the consequences of Anti-Crown, anti-Europeanism segregation of today. Just a few examples: the Blacks in America, the Indians in Canada
and America, the Aborigines of Australia. No doubt that Farang’s ethnocentrism has a lot to do with it. Look at the consequences.

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I find it hilarious in a recent article that a Canadian would leave his oh-so-beautiful Canada and CONTINUE to come back to work / live with the frustrating THAIS in THAI-land for 15 YEARS. Ummm….I don’t like the Thais but let
me stay for 1 more year…..

The great thing about Stickman’s site is that it gives Farangs a place to release their frustrations. The frustrations of being a visitor or a migrant, not really familiar with their new home and its people. But have these people ever thought of
the ways that Farangs treat the visitors and migrants in their Farangland? Umm…Perhaps karma is in effect that these complaining farangs are now “forced” to live in Thailand and be the minority…for 15 years or more.

If I can live in Farangland and learn to practice some of the good farang ways, and still be able to practice some of my good old traditional Thai ways, no reasons why you can’t do the same. Or choose to be frustrated and hate the
Thais (which of course Thais don’t really give a shit about ) for another 15 years.

Stickman’s thoughts:

Actually, I think that most farangs living in Thailand HAVE benefited from it and have changed, to some extent. Many long term expats have changed so much that they are, in many ways, more Thai, than farang.

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