Readers' Submissions

What Is Expected From Us – We’re Not Thai

  • Written by Anonymous
  • December 24th, 2010
  • 28 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

Before you read this just let me inform you that this submission is a generalization and nothing specific about Farang visiting or living in Thailand.

Recently while reading the submission from Steve: Old Farang / Young Thai – The Culture Difference, published on 14/12/2010, and numerous other farang submissions, they made me think about how so many foreigners seem to be so sensitive to the Thai culture and want to speak on its behalf…or they like to think they are so knowledgeable by way of their seemingly all-knowing insight into Thai people.

I have been coming to Thailand since 1979 and living here since 1986, for going on 24 years and I have always found it somewhat disturbing to listen to some foreigners who want to point out how we should be sensitive to the Thai ways and try to understand their way of thinking on certain subject matters…even if and when it commonly does not make logical sense in so many ways.

Even if and when they are outright wrong.

I personally do not see anything overly unique about Thai Ways and Thai Culture or Thai people. There are a hundred or so other “cultures” around the world and the “ways” of those people born within a said to be or defined culture or recognized culture so what makes the Thais and Thai Culture any more note worthy or awe inspiring.

Where ever I travel I have admiration and respect, to a degree, for the said to be or understood cultural values of the country I visit. Thailand is wonderful but nothing special…at least not to me…interesting yes, intriguing and stimulating yes… and fun of course…but not so special…not the way Thailand is all pumped up to be by so many and defended by many.

Thailand the illusion…as has been pointed out many, many times.

Over the years I have become aware of how so many foreigners tend to gloss over all the underlying problems within Thai culture and Thai society and try to supersede the many, many problems within Thailand by comparing the many problems occurring in the West. They commonly use their own personal contempt of the west and western ways, their loathing of western governments and many aspects of western society as a comparative argument in defense of Thailand, as if the Thais and Thai ways and Thai culture have the answers to the meaning of life.

Personally I observe a society of people whose minds are in a continual state of conflict and their hearts and souls are tortured in many respects because they are forever bound to their Thai ways and their Thai thinking and Thai mentality. I have come to the conclusion they are seemingly convinced the Thai way is the only way it can to be for them and no other way in their beliefs and thinking.

I certainly do not envy them in any way that comes to mind and I do not mean that in any bad way…just that I do not believe they are happier and or more content in life as everyone likes to say or think they are…on an individual and personal level and or all of Thai society…they far from content and at peace with themselves.

If there is an ongoing conflict with the difference in thinking and cultural values then why do so many foreigners come here or chose to reside here.

Well…for all those people (foreigners) that come here for the fist time or the first few times they do not really know about such matters but when you live here long term you begin to realize the conflict of interests…but they are not life threatening or overwhelming…just there to be dealt with sometimes depending on circumstances.

You can not help but be caught up in the Thai ways and the Thai ways of thinking sometimes. Concerning some issues it is frustrating to say the least when you are confronted with it.

I am talking about the many negative situations and scenarios that have been talked about numerous times in the Stickman website and the irritating frustration you have to deal with when the Thai way or Thai mentality gets in your face.

It could be similar or the same in a number of other countries also and certainly if you live in other countries you are going to be caught up in some negative aspects of living in another country…along with the in your face mentality of the people you have to deal with.

People are traveling all over the world and Thailand is just one of many, many countries you can choose to visit for a holiday destination and or live in if you choose. Most people go elsewhere but enough come here to make it a popular destination and they enjoy themselves, as do most people wherever they choose to go.

There is plenty to enjoy here and Thailand is a great place to entertain yourself.

Many end up enjoying it so much here they find themselves rejecting their homelands eventually claim they live here because Thailand sooths their souls and they live in admiration of the Thais and their Thai ways…but I think it is more of a lifestyle choice and the stimulation of living in a foreign country more so than seeking a life lived in a culture that you were not born to. For men that choose to live here it has so much to do with the Thai women and Pussy.

Involvement with Thai women will truly subject a man to the mentality of Thai culture at large more so than any other way of experiencing “Cultural Immersion”.

If you find life to be more exciting here and more interesting and more of: “Life on the Edge” then by all means come here as often as you like and stay here and live here and culturally immerse yourself as deep as you want…or you can just be here without having to understand much of anything related to Thai Culture. You will get along just fine and be comfortable here.

Overall the Thais welcome you and Thailand is more than worldly enough and rapidly modernizing in many respects and there is not much you can not get or find here in Thailand…making it a more than pleasant enough place to visit or reside.

Many little common frustrations aside there is not much that will make you want to leave and never come back unless you are so set in your ways and you can not adjust to the environment and all that it entails.

However, the majority of other countries around the world are also welcoming you and if you were to visit all of them certainly you would choose to live in any number of other countries that are excellent choices by popular opinion or by way of your own personal choices.

Thailand does not have an overwhelming charm that appeals to everyone…just some!

After living here for many years there are a notable percent that have no desire to continue living here and form a negative opinion about Thai People and many issues pertaining to the Thai way…and certainly the Thai mentality…which is always being questioned and all too often frustrating.

If you do choose to live in a foreign country you are not required to perform an in depth analyzes of the countries culture and way of thinking and the mentality of the people…but naturally you will be subject to all of that if you choose to travel there or live there.

But why is it that so many foreigners feel so obligated to try to understand the Thais and their way of thinking and the Thai culture…as if you will be damned if you do not comply and you are boorish for being culturally insensitive if you don’t try to figure out why a Thai person thinks the way they do and what is in the heart of a Thai person…along with understanding their mentality.

Not that there are all that many people who act like that but it seems there are plenty of foreigners out there that think they have the Thais figured out.

I mean, short of ignoring everything Thai and rejecting everything Thai, is it necessary to understand their thinking and mentality while being so sensitive to their culture.

Meaning no disrespect… It is their culture and their ways… not ours…and unless you are born to that culture you are not required to practice it or understand it…but of course it can be useful if you do and has advantages in some respects.

It seems that many Farang here go to great lengths to try to understand the Thai people while second guessing their thoughts and actions and mentality while trying to become an authority on all things Thai…while making like the intimate understanding of the Thais, their mentality and the Thai mind is of the utmost importance or life here is void of any quality.

Those that don’t achieve the thought to be inner knowledge and understanding are looked upon with a sort of petty distain…as if you are rejected from the boys club…because you do not know and don’t make the effort to know.

If you want to attempt to analyze the mind set and thinking of a nation of people then go right ahead and read all the books you want and become knowledgeable and educated on the subject of Thai culture and Thai ways and Thai history…fill your boots. It makes for good reading and you can then go about telling everyone how much you know about Thai people…be the neighborhood expert.

Admittedly it is good conversation but always a conversation leaving you filled with doubts and the feelings of frustration and confusion and far too many contradictions.

Over the last 30 years I did a lot of reading and educating myself about many matters pertaining to the Thais and the country of Thailand but after all the info I absorbed and the knowledge gained…well…I really do not consider it very useful and or give it much thought.

When I look around I just smile and think to myself: “It is not important to figure these people out because I am not one of them”…while knowing that they never really except you anyhow…because you are not Thai.

Never forget, they are and can be racist also…but they do not think they are…because they are Thai and when racism is practiced by them it is not racism in their minds…surprise!…and if you confront them with it then you create a loss of face for them and then you are at fault and then you are back to the beginning…you, Farang, do not understand Thai people…surprise again!

Others may say that figuring them out is a great past time and or all part of living in Thailand and important to do so…but I choose to observe them rather than analyze them.

Analyzing and understanding them is agonizing and more frustrating and upsetting than rewarding.

I am just one more person amongst them and I do not aspire to be Thai or try to emulate their ways or try to think like them because I am a Canadian. I bring with me what I know and my way of thinking and my experiences and my insight. All of them are not better or superior and I do not try to force my myself and my values on anyone…but I do know that there is a lot of room for improvement in Thailand…and that includes the mentally of Thai people also…which many times has been pointed out by many others to be somewhat immature and irresponsible, small minded and child like…amongst other things.

But that is human nature every where…in every country to a degree…I just see more of it here than in other countries…but more than likely less than in many other countries if you were living in those other countries and have the time to observe the people and their collective mentality.

I know some will say they enjoy so many aspects of the Thai personality and they can over look the negatives…but in reality…what choice do you have…The Thais are not going to change over night.

If you live here in Thailand there are plenty of things that you will observe and question…unless you are blind and or choose to ignore them completely.

When foreigners come to my country (Canada) which also is said to be a culturally rich country with a unique heritage and history and full of Amazing Canadian Ways, does that suggest or mean that all those people that visit my country and or come to live there are supposed to feel obligated to understand the mentality and thinking of Canadians…to be culturally sensitive to Canadians???…Nope.

Politeness and common sense and a certain amount of decorum yes…but don’t lose any sleep over trying to understand the Canadian people and their ways…or their thinking on many matters…unless you want to or unless, in some respects, you are forced to comply by way of the laws in Canada.

Futhermore…we don’t really want any one trying to understand us and analyze us and or hold our hands and politely tip toe around our heritage and history and our supposed “Canadian Ways” while trying to conform to Canadian ways…other than learning English which is just sensible if you do choose to do so…just like learning Thai language is a sensible thing to do also if your going to be here.

Naturally when you live in any culture, any country, you slowly begin to mimic many of the common practices and numerous aspects of local decorum…so in effect you are adapting to the environment.

I do not expect visitors to my country to beat themselves up with guilt when they do not understand the way Canadians think…which, by the way, is very liberal minded, progressive and we are certainly are not hung up on our culture and or our past…the way the Thais are.

We are too busy living for now and planning the future…not dwelling on the past and the so called glory days and trying to repeat them.

May I point out that poverty in Thailand has a lot to do with the mentality and how people are forced to think…YES???…NO???

Is Canada the perfect place to live??…No…Many problems exist there also…but far, far less than here in Thailand.

Is Canadian thinking the way that everyone should think?? No of course not…but people all around the world seem to like what we have to offer and adopt a lot of what we have.

Canada is but one of many countries that have set a standard that many other countries are trying to achieve…including Thailand and Thailand is moving ahead far faster than many other countries and I applaud them for that.

I could go on and on about all the positive things I also observe occurring here in Thailand but they are common to all other countries anyhow so nothing special to elaborate upon.

Canada is very diversified and there is no one way of thinking amongst the general population…but there is a mindset and sensibility that is collective and open minded and progressive thinking is abundant along with innovative thinking.

So yes…when I come here to Thailand and watch the people and observe them and learn how they think and when I am confronted with the culture and absorb the culture, day by day and year by year, I do find myself in disagreement and or conflict with some or certain aspects of Thai Culture and Thai peoples personalities and the so called Thai ways and certainly the Thai mentality.

Not all that many things actually, because I see them building a more modern society and I think they are handling it very well…all things considered…and I think their mentality is slowly changing.

The Thais have a 1000 year history to be proud of…but like one person said to me once: Well…if they have had 1000 years of glorious culture and 1000 years worth of time why then are they not amongst the nations setting the standards that other nations follow.

So why is that Thailand is not a leader…rather than being a follower.

Could it be the mentality of the people and where does such a mentality come from??

But, it seems, I am culturally insensitive and required to understand the Thai mentality and I need to be educated by the many in country experts on the subject. There are loads of Thai Culture experts around to remind me that the Farang here in Thailand are thought to be below the mentality of the Thais because we just don’t understand their way of thinking. Stupid Farang…they don’t understand.

Sorry but I just can not adjust to the Thai mentality in many respects because I am not Thai and I do not care to understand many aspects of their mentality as I can not realize much of anything, about certain aspects of their mentality, that would be beneficial to me.

I am doing just fine here with my foreigner mentality and foreigner way of thinking but I get this feeling, all too often, from other foreigners that I should be feeling somewhat guilty for my foreigner heritage that I am forcing upon the Thais.

All the while living amongst the humble and gracious Thais who are supposedly living a life of all knowing Thai wisdom and dignity and I should want to emulate them…or at least take the time to intimately know their culture and come to an understanding of their ways and the mentality of Thai people.

If I do not… then am I insensitive??? Am I being impolite.

Am I missing something that I should be aware of…something of great importance and benefit ???

I think not…but maybe I need to be enlightened.

I guess I am a bad Farang for my lack of interest…or disinterest concerning many aspects of Thai people and Thai culture and Thai mentality.

I fully understand the Thais have a history that they all have born into them and they are proud to be Thai and it is all part of how they are educated throughout their lives.

But it does not make their way of thinking and or how they see the world and or their opinions and mentality justifiably correct just because it is their country where the difference of opinion is occurring.

By way of having a known and understood collective mentality that reinforces their decisions and actions.

Where the brooding conflict of Foreign thinking verses Thai thinking seems to be an issue that is all too sensitive…and needs to be pointed out by those that are trying to be Thai “Politically Correct.”

Are we not rapidly moving towards a more global thinking and open minded thinking…one where we agree that the best way or a better way suits the mass of people regardless of where the idea or the system originated from???

If the system or the way of thinking and the mentality originated from a foreign source and it works well there and works well in all the other countries then why is it, all too often, a conflict with the Thais…but not with other people in other nations?

When I listen to what is said to be in theory about the Thais verses what Thai people actually do on a daily basis and how they live their lives it becomes apparent to me that the people are simply doing what everyone else is doing round the world…which is living…while struggling to live, while interacting and socializing with other humans and most of what they do is no different than everyone else…”nothing special going on here folks…please move along.”

So why is it that so many foreigners feel the need to understand the Thais and analyze their brains and let everyone know that Thai Culture and the Thai Ways and the Thai Thinking needs to be cuddled like a fragile infant while being embraced but protected from harmful outside influence.

Visually, Thailand is a spectacle and of course the Thai people are different looking to us westerners or Farang, especially when seen in mass going about their daily lives and doing the same things that the rest of the world does.

I think most Foreigners here can simply entertain themselves everyday while watching and observing the Thais go about their daily activities and find that people watching is a stimulating enough pastime, as something to do. Something as simple as that can be a pleasant enough reason as part of enjoying the life that you life here.

We see that Thailand is a blend of the old ways and new ways and all the visual stimulations that fascinate us all…because it is visually interesting…somewhat of a entertaining visual spectacle…somewhat like a circus in many respects…yet we also see all the modern and worldly aspects of Thailand that we see in the countries that most of us Farangs originate from.

Nearly all of those items were not invented by the Thais or ever imagined by the Thais…but they certainly are good at copying.

We see the modern architecture and modern business enterprises and the modern cars and all the modern gadgets and possessions that the Thais eagerly and greedily consume…and profit from…just like everyone else in the world if and when given the opportunity to do so.

Naturally it is not as wide spread as in the West…but when it is on offer and available the Thais eagerly consume it.

We see that the Thais are using and or adapting to the majority of the foreign ways when those ways or means suit the purpose and certainly when it makes money for them…as capitalism is alive and well in Thailand…and they are also interdependent on the outside world…as there is basically no way to escape it.

You slowly see the old ways and the old Thai way of thinking dissolving in many respects because it is often in conflict with the rapidly changing world that everyone is subject too and the Thais can not escape this, while most of them eagerly embrace what the West and the Farangs have to offer…especially concerning product and service consumerism.

I wonder how many of them really understand the origins of the many, many products and services that are flourishing here in Thailand making life better for so many while undoubtedly the majority think the product or service originated from Thailand…because it is available in Thailand supplied from other Thai people.

When they do consume what the West has to offer, it does affect their way of thinking and their mentality…ever so slowly.

So why then should we be made to feel guilty or feel some sort of remorse and or feel culturally insensitive for changing the Thais in respect to a more modern way of thinking…a more international way of thinking…a more modern way of accomplishing so many things in life while letting the old ways fade away…including old ways of thinking and a old way mindset or mentality that seemingly prevails throughout the Kingdom.

Why is it the progress is seen as good…if it originates from the mind of Thais…but seen as culturally insensitive if it originates from the foreigners and the ways of the foreigners and thinking of the foreigners is argued to be some sort of threat to the well being of Thailand…as if there were no problems in Thailand to contend with before the country actually developed significantly…as if Thailand was in a state of Nirvana before the culturally insensitive Farangs came here and screwed up the old and beloved Thai ways.

It is obvious the Thais want what the other half already has… yet they cling onto what they know and are afraid to let go of it because so much of the changes they experience originates from outside their way of thinking.

How many times have I read about us Farangs not understanding the Thais…but we see they understand us by the way that they emulate so much of what we do and what we have accomplished as it is not forced upon them, rather they recognize the benefits and convenience and eagerly participate.

The same is going on all around the world and the other nations are changing also so Thailand and the Thais are all part of the “moving ahead mentality”

Am I being told that I should be more like a Thai person because I choose to live in Thailand and I should adopt their old ways and thinking and practice remission while conforming to Thai society at large?

Only then I will experience everlasting peace within? Then my soul will be content and one day I will realize the futility of my western born way of thinking???

Am I ignorant but the Thais know how life should be lived as compared to my western heritage?

It has nothing to do with supposedly superior Farang thinking or thinking we are better than the Thais or telling everyone our ways are better. I say we are not being condescending when we observe anyone living differently and then we choose to comment on it or make it a discussion and then offer constructive criticism which is then, unfortunately, misconstrued to be politically incorrect and insensitive to Thai Cultural values.

It comes down to what you actually observe occurring rather than the theory and we see the Thais are embracing near everything that comes from the West and they love it…boy do they love it…and why would they not like it if it makes them money and makes them happy or happier to own it or benefit from it and makes their life easier and more convenient and or sophisticated…and it makes the economy more diversified and all the more opportunities for all the more people.

Would it be better to have them stuck in limbo where 90 percent of them are poor farmers in a overwhelming agrarian society, perfect for budget back packers and adventure travelers alike…while the rest of the planet progresses?

I would surmise there are plenty of readers out there that would enjoy the country all the more if it remained like it was back in the 1960’s…the glory days for some.

But that is not the way it is and forward thinking is the only realistic choice without all the remorse and heart felt emotions while arguing Thai culture is changing for the worse and they are giving into the foreign influences and Thai cultural values need to be all the more reinforced.

If so much of all the many good things that exist in my country came from the minds and creativity of the Thai People and Thai People were migrating to Canada in notable numbers and bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and products and ideas and ideals along with a fresh mentality that benefit me and my family and my nation, I would be inclined to take notice. I would be second guessing my old and ingrained ways of thinking and be far more opened minded about the positive changes the “foreigners” are bringing to the country. Rather than cling on to the old ways and the ingrained ways of thinking while stubbornly believing their culture is being destroyed and has to be protected. They must eventually realize most outside influences are more beneficial than detrimental.

I am not saying all outside influences and products and developments and or ways of thinking are good or better or always beneficial…there are always ramifications to be realized and dealt with concerning changes and progress.

The Thais will learn to handle and learn to handle the negatives while enjoying the many positives, as do the people in other nations.

But moving forward is the only realistic option…and that means the mentality has to change also and the old cultural ways are beginning to take a back seat.

Bearing in mind that Thailand has a long list of problems that existed long before Thailand became a popular country to visit and or live in for foreigners.

It is not like the modern problems and the conflicts they are experiencing are the only problems the Thais ever had to contend with.

Many old problems have been eliminated with the help of foreign influence.

They can not justifiably tell the world that Thailand was just fine before the Farang came here and changed many things while ignoring all the many good benefits of outside influence that has developed by way of so much foreign influence.

The world is far too global now and the Thais can not hide behind their culture for ever.

When we do live here are we required to understand them and their mentality???

Don’t get me wrong folks…I love living here and I accept the way they live and their mentality, although frustrating, and I enjoy everyday that I live here…but I could be living in another country and if I did I would also be subject to the mentality of the nation and the ways of that nation and how the people think.

In that case I would also be discussing the many aspects of that nation also and the problems and talking about the people and their mentality and the negatives and positives of living there.

Why is it that so many get offended when you point out the short comings of Thailand and Thai people…as a subject matter that is commonly discussed about any nation and its people and the many existing problems…including the mentality of the people.

Furthermore I am not saying the Thais have to do anything other than what they want to do and if they want to be stuck in the past then let them be so if they believe it is better for them…either way I would still enjoy living here as I always have.

But we see they are moving forward and that also means changing their mentality.

I am not here to educate them…just to enjoy the place and live amongst them…but I do observe and I have an opinion like everyone so sometimes I just want to say what I think by way of observations and experiences.

If anything to provoke a discussion and learn the opinions and insight of other people who know about Thailand and Thai people

When I came here in 1979 there was hardly anything modern going on here other than modern motor vehicles and the existing inadequate infrastructure…but I liked it then and I like it all the more now and I like to see the country progressing and all the more healthy happy Thai people with money to spend.

I don’t base Thailand on the price of beer and the cost of Pussy and moan and groan about the changes in the sex industry.

That comment probably irked more than a few readers…yuk yuk.

But I do not want to analyze them too closely or too much and I do not want to try to understand their mentality all too much because I can live comfortably amongst the Thais without having to immerse myself too far into their Thai ways and Thai Culture.

Thailand has become more than international enough to allow foreigners to live here and choose to either keep to yourself or jump right in and soak up all the aspects of Thailand and Thai people and Thai culture…if you want.

At the same time if you want to fade into the past and live in a far less modern environment then Thailand still has plenty of that for you to experience.

Get as close as you want to them and study them as much as you want if that is what pleases you and truly makes you feel part of the Thai cultural experience.

But if you choose to be here and you do not have any interest in deep cultural immersion then you will be just fine and probably be less frustrated and confused if you choose to distance yourself from knowing so much about the Thais.

Not all of it is so nice and dreamy…some of it is creepy and disturbing.

But don’t be feeling bad about not understanding the way they think and or their mentality and don’t let anyone tell you how “YOU don’t understand the Thais” while they defend the Thais because someone points out one of the many problems in Thailand and criticizes the Thais in some way…my, my how awful!

Anyhow…now the other readers can attack my submission and lets see what comes out of the wood work…including the many know it all experts on everything Thai.

Cheers


Stickman's thoughts:

Some good points in there for sure, but to be honest I really found this submission hard to read. I don't wish to criticise the way it has been put together, but I think it could have greatly benefited from being broken into sections, and with each point made a little more clearly.