Readers' Submissions

Soldier Become Educator?

  • Written by Anonymous
  • May 26th, 2011
  • 6 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

I'm currently serving in the US Army at Fort Bragg, NC. I've been searching for the ideal place for teaching English (as a foreign language). I have some concerns about the LOS.

In the process of researching Thailand and reading farang experiences there and I've come across some disturbing trends. I'm a lonely guy, and part of the appeal of moving to Thailand was for meeting Thai women (not necessarily bargirls); however, in reading a lot of farang experiences I've seen that it's very common for farang men to fall in love with Thai women (again, not necessarily bargirls) and get taken for a ride and get totally ripped off by them. The amount of horror stories is endless. Basically, it seems that to live in Thailand you have to accept some negative things about the culture and women:

(1) Dishonesty and duplicity are built into the fabric of Thai society. Thai people (especially women interacting with farangs) lie as easily as breathing, it seems. They may date and marry farangs, while all the while a Thai "brother" (according to her) lurks in the background, who is actually her Thai husband. After the farang's wallet, bank account, and earning potential have been milked dry, he's cast aside. The farang is fair game because a farang has no worth or value in Thailand. Police will arrest farangs on any pretense and let them rot and die in Thai prisons (if the farangs are not able to procure a significant bribe). In short, there is no honesty or integrity in Thailand, and it's not "wrong," because Thai culture is based on keeping things on an even keel, making people feel good, and lying to prevent confrontations, or people "losing face." Farangs also complain that 99% of Farang / Thai relationships are actually based on money; additionally, a farang husband will never be important to a Thai woman in comparison to her family. Also, when a farang marries a Thai woman he apparently accepts financial responsibility for her family – certainly a problem for farang who is not well-to-do. (I understand this is reasonable from a Thai woman's perspective because she feels a family debt to her parents / family, and because there are no social security-type safety nets in Thailand. People sink or swim without any care or help from the government).

(2) Lack of intellectual depth for Thais (especially Thai women). Many farang writers warn of long-term boredom in farang-Thai relationships because Thai females have the (alleged) intellectual depth of goldfish, although they have the cunning of a fox. Perhaps this is unfair and only relates to bargirls. Farangs allege that personal appearance is the only thing that matters in Thailand, and ability of a person is assumed based on a good personal appearance.

(3) Thai prison: I've seen Brokedown Palace, which I guess is a typical "innocent farang in Thai prison" scenario. I've heard horror stories of how sometimes a bargirl will leave some "yaa baa" or "ganja" in her farang's room, and the police arrest the farang, and before you can say "case closed" the farang is going to spend years, possibly decades, rotting and maybe dying in the Bangkok Hilton. Or maybe a farang happens to be riding in a vehicle that has some amount of drugs in it, however small. The Thais blame the farang, and he goes to the Bangkok Hilton – same story. A wise man once said that you have to judge a society based on its prisons – by this standard how do we judge the Land of Smiles, if they have the worst prisons on earth? Especially, if their cockroach and rat-infested system is so corrupt than it'd be easy for an innocent person to get scooped up by the cops, not be able to pay the bribe, and end up rotting away, getting addicted to heroin, and possibly getting raped and stabbed in Thai prison. If it's easy to get slammed into the Thai "justice system" where embassies can't or won't help you out, I have to imagine that is a terrible dread of a farang living in the "Land of Smiles." Not to mention that, apparently, life is cheap in Thailand and a foreigner's life means nothing … cheap hit men can be hired easily, and can and do kill farangs, if someone doesn't like them, and the cops don't care about dead farangs and rule them all "suicides" (these killings appear to be usually business-related).

In short, I still plan on moving to Thailand next year – but now I have a lot of reservations. I've traveled to Brazil several times since joining the military, and part of me is still drawn to Brazilian people even though their country is dirt-poor and an English teacher there would only make enough money to survive, nothing more. The appeal of Thailand includes the low cost of living, with places like Bangkok being acclaimed as a sexual Disneyland (difficult for any man to resist). I'm a lonely guy in America, and of my half a dozen partners that I've had (I'm 26) all of them have been aggressive Latinas, never an American girl (not that I'd prefer that, but to be noticed in my own country would be nice).

A guy like me probably needs to live in a place like Bangkok, a place where Paul Theroux said "even the most diffident get laid," – BUT I'm nervous about the long-term effects of the "deal with the devil" – you can fulfill every sexual fantasy you ever had, but you will never ever experience true love or affection in the Land of Smiles (or at least the odds are against it, a million to one)… The appeal of Brazil would be in being exposed to a language that I enjoy hearing and could possibly become fluent in (and it shares the same alphabet), not to mention that a Caucasian in Brazil does not stand out as a foreigner because half of Brazilians are white. Also, the chance of meeting an honest woman seems to be very likely in Brazil, but no so much in Thailand. Brazilians are very polite, but their politeness does not extend to lying to make someone feel good, or telling an intimate partner that "I love you" when they are totally lying, and are seeing foreign men as "walking ATM machines." But maybe that is unfair to generalize about Thais, I don't know. But I know for a fact from different sources that when a Thai sees a Caucasian farang face standing in front of them, it automatically doubles or triples the price… not cool, especially for farangs who live there…

I'd appreciate comments you may have. I'm looking to have my fears alleviated! I want to believe!


Stickman's thoughts:

It really does seem that you have summarized all of the worst stuff about Thailand…but have not mentioned all of the good stuff, of which there is plenty.

Most expats living in Thailand are happy. Of course there are some who are just plain unhappy.

There is some truth in all of the negative stuff you mention but I think you have over-dramatized much of it.

What I will say is that I like military guys because they tend to cut through the bullshit and get to the truth. There are a lot of retired military guys living in Thailand who are very happy, but with many a military man's propensity for calling BS for what it is, I wonder someone who has lived with the discipline of a military lifestyle would adjust to living in Thailand.

In your case you need to visit the country and check it out for yourself. Then you will be in a much better position to make a decision about the future.