That old chestnut... farang men, Thai girls

How many times have I sat in a bar and listened in on loud farangs, a couple of drinks worse for the wear, ranting on about everything that is bad about Thailand, and Thai girls in particular? More times than I care to count. Ok you, the reader, may well be one of them - if so, feel free to carry on your rant in the comments section below!

Some of my fellow expat bloggers, slightly further out in the sticks, may not come across this phenomenon quite so much. If so, just drop in on the ThaiVisa forum, where you'll find just about every shade of prejudice that the dregs of expat communities have been able to drag up. From politics to petting, culture to copulation, the Thais, it is alleged, are the pits; all gold-digging farang-haters who think foreigners are inferior beings, unworthy of respect.

I've pretty much stopped posting on ThaiVisa as a result - the intolerance and downright nastiness gets me down.

Anyway, back to sex (when is it ever about anything else?). Most negative comments come from the older farang who is trying to relive his lost youth in LOS, and is kidding himself that the vibrant young things somehow love him for what he is, rather than what he has. Nine times out of ten that kind of relationship is doomed to fail. As it would be in Oz, the UK, or anywhere else.

Some guys just set their sights too high?

So, am I another mug that is walking into the trap, eyes closed? So far I'm very happy, 18 months into a relationship, getting married in a couple of months' time. I don't see Thailand as fundamentally different to the rest of the world - if you can find someone you're suited to, who values honesty, respect and fidelity, then you've as much chance of being happy in LOS as anywhere else. So long as you feel the same way about those values, of course.

Ok one proviso - cross-cultural relationships statistically break up quite a lot more frequently than those with fellow nationals. But if you're the flexible sort, don't take yourself or your motherland too seriously, then it can work.

I like the way female/male roles are more clearcut in LOS - I've been shot at before for saying this, and I'm really not some kind of gung-ho male chauvinist (I do the washing up and change nappies as readily as the next 'new man') (ie unhappily) (only kidding of course ;-)... but in the West these days the pint-swilling, absolutely-everything-has-to-be-shared-and-equal women, just don't attract me in the same way as their Asian equivalent. The dividing line between man and woman has become so blurred back in the UK and the US, and as a result, to me at any rate, Thai women have that extra 'femininity' that seems to be going out of fashion back home.

Beautiful, demure, feminine... but just a fading pipe-dream for aging farangs??

I also have a great affinity for Thai culture - I don't think the Western way is the only one. Thais - men or women - are far more likely to appreciate you and want to get to know you, if you don't think that they belong to some kind of inferior, primitive sub-culture that we never quite got around to colonising, 'unfortunately' for them. That however is the attitude of many farangs in Thailand. Give 'em a beer, and they'll loudly put Thai society to rights, however many Thais are in earshot. It's more than embarrassing, and I don't know about you lot, but there are times when I want to (and have) apologised for their inexcusable, disrespectful behaviour.

Here's a quote from a 'tolerant' expat from Pattaya, from another forum I contribute to ...
"I know for sure that most Thais hate our guts!"
Complete and utter rubbish. He "knows" nothing of the sort.

I've lived in Thailand for two years in total, plus I've spent a helluva long time there in lengthy visits. Thais may hate his guts (and who can blame them?), they may be sick of the patronising Western pseudo colonial attitude of some. The indigenous folk of every country around the world see would-be expats (mostly from the West) who waltz in, thinking they know it all. But going not only by my personal experience but also by that of a sizeable number of long-term expat friends who have been in LOS longer than I, it can work out just fine... at least for those with the right attitude it can, anyway.

Sure I come across embittered, cantankerous, know-it-all old expats who've had a series of failed relationships, railing against the rotten Thais who are supposedly only after their money. To be perfectly honest, I'm not in the least bit surprised that they feel the Thais "hate their guts". They probably do, in certain cases.

Odd isn't it - no one's taken me for a ride, very few have tried, and those that have you can pretty much see where it's heading anyway, it's all rather transparent. I have good Thai friends, some of whom have at least as much money as I do. We talk about everything, many are really keen to find out more about the West, its attitudes towards Thailand and SE Asia. It's a relationship of equals. These are the sort of contacts I'm talking about, with real Thais, not stupid generalisations that are mostly formed down the local from chats and less than satisfactory attempts at relationships with bar girls.



What odds a successful relationship with a go-go dancer? Outside the Spotlight, Chiang Mai

The vast majority of Thais have little or no contact with farangs, and their vision of Westerners can be somewhat warped by the sight of sexpats crowding into Pattaya, so it's up to us to correct that unfortunate impression. It is possible - as those visitors who make an effort to integrate, and who enjoy warm and loving relationships with Thais - have managed to prove. Come on guys, speak out... don't let the Thai-haters have the final word. It can, and does work. For someone hoping to find a good relationship in Thailand, of course it can be done. No one, least of all me, is suggesting that everything in the garden's rosy. But that's no different wherever you are in the world.

A lot of guys do indeed turn up in LOS seeing it as the Garden of Eden, the ideal place for a second chance, combined with low costs. Of course they are vulnerable to being ensnared by the highly expert young flatterers that will be delighted to extract as much money from them as they are prepared to donate. But more fool the ageing expats who think that they can find true love in the bars with girls sometimes as much as 30 years younger. Not that even that is impossible. But imagine going into a pub in the UK as a sexagenarian and trying to pick up a girl in her 20s. Short of being a millionaire or having 'seasoned' film star looks, you would be given pretty short shrift.

Cultural differences are pretty marked. Those who aren't able to adapt easily, "when in Rome" and all that, will struggle. You may be lucky and find a Thai partner who can easily adapt to Western ways, but on the whole the Thais find this quite hard. Firstly you are a guest in Thailand, and a pretty widely-held unspoken feeling of most Thais is that most of the adapting should be done by you. Secondly, few Thais have even so much as travelled to Laos, forget Europe or anywhere in the West, so our culture is pretty alien to them. Especially as they get little exposure to it outside the occasional film, and they watch a lot less US-made stuff than you might imagine.

These cultural differences are pretty major, after thousands of years of separate development. Certain values and understandings are just not shared between the two countries. So key to things working out is open-mindedness, on both sides. If you can't be flexible, are incapable of appreciating life through new eyes, then any relationship is pretty much doomed to failure.

One common complaint from farangs is the pressure to donate money to the family cause, mum and dad, aunt, uncle and buffalo, away in the sticks somewhere. But Thailand has zero state social or health funding for the elderly (or anyone else), and the family support structure is pretty much the only way of surviving past useful working age, short of begging in the street. Over the ages the Thai people have developed a close-knit family/community system. All Thais consider it an honour to look after their family into old age, even if it means sacrificing a sizeable part of their own income to that end. Not to do so is seen as the most shameful of behaviour. They consider that they owe gratitude to their parents for looking after them - almost the opposite to the attitude of kids in the West, these days!

As this is such a fundamental, ingrained part of the Thai psyche, it is virtually impossible for them to understand how so many in the West more or less abandon their parents at the first possible opportunity. So asking us for money that they then give to their family, they don't see as the least bit manipulative. When we start a relationship with a Thai girl, we start a relationship with her family too, in a manner of speaking. It is part and parcel of the deal, and your partner will see it as perfectly natural and fair. If you grumble, they will see you as mean-spirited and disrespectful. Here once again a middle ground in understanding has to be found - cross-cultural relationships need flexibility, goodwill and understanding on both sides.

Anyone about to launch themselves into a relationship excessively influenced by my optimism - please don't sue if it all goes pear-shaped (and not only the hour-glass figure of your dream Thai girl). Think through just how adaptable you are, as well as how easily or otherwise your partner can acclimatise to your Western foibles. And do some reading - across the blogs, and also some of the published stuff. Here are a few recommendations:

First of all, the obvious one for newbies. "Thailand Fever" should be at the top of the must-buy list for every guy (or gal come to that) intent on a relationship with a Thai. And while you're at it, give it to your girl to read - it will be an eye-opener to her too, as every other page is written in Thai, and will really help her to understand what makes Westerners tick. Read the reviews of the book here.

Andrew Hicks is a guy I've corresponded with a fair bit, and he has written some great and witty stuff on his relationship with a Thai girl. The book is called ... er ... Thai Girl. There's an equally good sequel, called My Thai Girl and I. Check out his website for details.

"Very Thai, Everyday Popular Culture" by Philip Corawel-Smith (verythai.com) is another great read, with some excellent insights.


Plenty can't help themselves... but if you want to play with fire, be prepared for the consequences...

A more cynical view about the bargirl scene is "Private Dancer" by Stephen Leather. The cult classic novel about an expat who loses the plot amongst the bars of the Big Mango. A definite must-read.

Jesse Gump's "Even Thai Girls Cry" I really liked. Picked up my copy in the local second-hand bookshop, couldn't find it new. Moving stuff, a supposedly fictional story, reads rather as if the author is recounting his own experiences...

Finally, a book I'll be getting next month when I get back to Thailand, Sex Talk by Kaewmala. I've been told it's well worth a read, coming from the point of view of a Thai woman for a change, rather than a farang male author. As the blurb describes it, a “guidebook to Thai sexual culture.”

I've read a whole lot more, but that's a taster. Most have been written by farangs who have made a go of it, and their relationships, in Thailand. Not without struggle and compromise at times, but that can be said about any relationship, even in your own country.

Any other reading recommendations from fellow expats? Feel free to add them below!

Of course... if you can't make up your mind... there's always this option!

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31 comments:

Mike said...

Pete what an excellent post. There are a few old chestnuts for me too. Thai Visa would be a great resource if it was not inhabited in the main by the morons you describe.

I believe you are right about all relationships, Thai/farang are no different just a couple of opposing cultures coming together. Not easy but manageable.

I have read several of the books and agree with your comments funnily enough I read Private dancer after my first visit here back in 2000. It sort of wet the appetite.

Andrew writes some good stuff too.

Overall my biggest learning curve remains Thai families. I have helped quite a lot, but I still find it hard to stick my western values on the back burner.

Camille said...

A good and fun read is' In the bedroom and out of trouble' by Bud Knackstedt and Oiy Ford.

Another interesting read is 'Heart Talk' by Christopher G. Moore.

Maria said...

A great post with much wisdom.

What surprises me is that so many farang men think just because te 'Thai girl' they fall for seems so sweet that all the usual stresses of a long term relationship will disappear.

In fact of course differences of age and culture will multiply them.

And thanks for mention of my books.

"Thai Girl" is a novel that tells the tale of a young Bitish lad trying to fathom Thailand and the lovely girl he has fallen for while "My Thai Girl and I" is my own personal story of six years in the Kingdom doing much the same thing.

I'm staying at a friends' in Stockholm with Cat and next week we're off to France to see friends just south and west of Brive.

I can't wait!

Andrew Hicks

(Using the friend's laptop which may give me a strange pseudonym.)

Catherine said...

Excellent read, as usual.

With Thai releationships it is easy for expats to generalise as we are looking in from a different culture, trying to connect the dots.

(sometimes where there are no dots to be found)

I've found that keeping an open (but cautious) mind is an asset for living in LOS.

Also, I tend to hang with people of the same mold as myself.

I don't run around with the Pattaya types: sloppy Western men, yadda yadda.

This goes for the UK also. When I'm in the UK I don't associate with the binging crowd, or those who are loud and crass.

In both Thailand and the West, I stick mostly to my class.

Which has nothing to do with money and everything to do with mindset.

Ben Shingleton said...

heh heh Pete, I hate their guts too, does that make me a bad person?

Those ancient, beer belly farangs, walking hand in hand with young Thai girls. tut tut. they just look ridiculous. Great post. Ben

Anonymous said...

I love Thailand, and Thai women in particular. Comparing apples to apples, I am 53, and here in the US, I just had a date with a knockout beautiful 28 year old woman. If you can't say the same, why would you, an old gray haired, pot bellied, farang fart, expect a 21 year Thai woman to go goo goo over you? Wake up. Grow up. Accept what you get and be grateful. If you are genuine, the Thai women are more likely to fall in love with a "good hearted" man who is less than perfect physically, than an American woman will. But Everybody likes to see tight buns, flat abs, and a bit of chest, shoulder and arm muscles wouldn't hurt, ok? So if you are one of the juvenile 40+ crowd bitching about Thai women, grow up. Shut up. Wake up. Yeah, you'll find some stinkers in ANY society, but your assinine complaints are embarrassing, petty, and downright stupid. You people are the reason there exists the concept of "ugly American." So do us ALL a favor. You wanna bitch, go to North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or someplace similar. Then someone may overhear you and really give you something to bitch about.

Talen said...

Absolutely excellent post!

The part about the Thai family is one most guys seem to get hung up on and think they are being taken for a ride. If you want a Thai girl then the family is part and parcel of the deal unless she's an orphan.

While Pattaya can be fun for a while it gets very old fast and I can see why some expats get down on Thailand when the only places they see are the bars and tesco in Pattaya.

Catherine said...

Those of you who know me already know this, but I guess I'd better post a disclaimer...

I've never been to Pattaya as I don't want the visual in my head.

Besides, reading what all you guys have said about Pattaya is bad enough :-D

(and no, I am not a prude... just ask Ben and Talen and and...)

The FrogBlogger said...

Mike, you're right, the biggest education is living the family experience. Too many of the moaners have never left the bars or the bedrooms. Cheers Camille, a couple more for the reading list! Andrew, plenty of pearls of wisdom in your books, but I'm not sure that some of the farangs concerned have got past reading the Beano yet. Catherine - crass - yes that's exactly it. Sums up the West, gorged on excess, to a tee. Ben Ridiculous is the word, but I suppose if they're happy... Talen, yes Pattaya is a special case, anyone living there is bound to end up with a warped view of Thailand.

The FrogBlogger said...

Catherine!! A threesome? Just what have you, Ben and Talen been up to!

The FrogBlogger said...

Just for you Catherine, Homo Pattaya Non Sapiens

hobby said...

For a slightly different perspective,
here's
some additional reading.

Whilst the source/host of that particular article may provide some with ammunition for cheap shots, I would be more interested in arguments against the actual content of the article.

hobby said...

I should add that I agree with much of the stuff in your original blog, and just wanted to show another side through 'less rosy glasses', but not the necessarily the beer swilling sexploitative or 'all thais hate farang' viewpoints.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Thailand, and personally was never able to just accept the things I did not like about the place.
I know I cannot change those things, and I know myself, so its easier for me to just visit for holidays and forget about trying to live there.

Leosia said...

Nice, balanced post. I tend to differentiate between expats who live and work in Thailand and tourists/habitual visitors who come here for sex/bar-girl relationships. I know it's not as clear cut as that but these groups tend to have different expectations and lead different lifestyles.

Expats have to work here, we have to get up every day and often manage Thai staff in a culture which is not known for its work ethic. Many expats also have families with them in Thailand.

Tourists and retired farang residents (the guys anyway) tend to spend all their time in bars, lurch from one bar girl relationship to the next, and often seem to have this limited view of Thai people based on the people they have been associating with. That's not surprising when you set your sights so low.

As you mentioned Thailand is just like any other country - there are plenty of nice Thai girls out there (probably more since it appears to be a singles culture) whose families are not poor, are well-educated and want a good relationship.

The FrogBlogger said...

Anon ... strongly put, but wise words. Hobby ... interesting link, a lot of content, I'll definitely follow up on that, thanks. Leosia ... love the image of 'lurching' from one relationship to the next! About sums it up. And we tend to forget that in a country of 60 million+ most Thais have little or no contact with farangs, and are really not that interested in them that they could have the extreme negative views that some claim...

Catherine said...

Pete, you are very, very naughty :-D

'Homo Pattaya Non Sapiens'

LOL! Fantastic. I haven't seen that at all (I'll save it for my 'maybe' post).

And as for older men not being attractive to Western women, I just wanted to add my two cents...

It is not totally true as a lot of young Western women do go for older men. I did. Twice.

I married one in my very early 20's, the other when I'd just turned 30.

Both were witty. One was brilliant even.

But the main problem with marrying a man that much older is they don't tend to live long enough, leaving their loved ones behind.

Both have now passed on, but their memories still make me smile.

Jon said...

Hi Peter,

Excellent and thoroughly insightful post on a topic which divides expats in Thailand in two.

I agree with your comments about ThaiVisa - all too often comments are vitriolic and predictable. Isn't it sad that a lot of would be expats head their to help learn more. Hopefully more will turn to blogs which expats like us write.

My situation is pretty similar to yours. I've been with my gf for 18 months and our son is 7 months old but we met in England where she was studying, before decided to move in Thailand.

I'd say that many expat-Thai relationships fails because of two major things (there are of course many others)

1. Suitability. If you meet a girl working in a bar at home the chance of her being your soulmate isn't fantastic, let alone if you do so in Thailand. Expat that date and marry bar girls are risking a lot. Far better to meet a girl through mutual friends, colleague or what not rather than the sexual/predatory environment of a go-go bar.

2. Many farangs date women who can barely speak English. If the key to living and loving together is to know each other, how can a couple that cannot communicate beyond the basics possibly stand a chance.

If a relationship can tick either or both of these boxes, the chances are it will be a tough...not impossible I guess but not easy.

The FrogBlogger said...

Catherine ... yes (ref older men) ... but I bet they didn't look like Homo Pattaya Non Sapiens, though! Sorry to hear that, by the way... been there, if with younger partners.
Hi Jon, thanks for dropping by. Many a wise word from a not so average young Brit!

Martyn said...

Brilliant post that covers all that's wrong and much that's right. Where do I start...Hey Pete I know farang that haved lived in Pattaya for 10 years and can't count to ten in Thai...Farang in England who shag about on a weekend then moan that their Thai girl hasn't answered the phone, the bitch what's she up to....and farang who (in Pattaya) continually humiliate their partners by going with other women and they still have the audacicity to believe their lady loves them, they are the farang I like because I know they've got a big come uppance coming one day. Once again, brilliant post.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm Insane (and your most likely going to think so). I'm now convinced there's so much more to this Farang/Thai Girl relationship than meets the eye.

I've been married to my thai wife for 11+ years have three children. I suppose I've been one of the lucky ones until now.

Although I know a few 'normal' relationships a lot of the relationships I come across here between farang and Thai seem to be extremes and wouldn't happen back in Europe. Although I don't hear many Farangs complaining, and Its non of my business , I just can't help thinking what its all about.
Its as though you can harness something in Thailand to give you total mind control over your partner. We all know Thai girls who juggle several farangs at once where the only persons who seem to be unaware are the farangs and we all know Farangs who keep Thai girls, treat them like slaves , the Girl loves the Guy and they just come back for more. Spellbound !?
One of my not so attractive Neigbours has a Thai boyfriend who she pretends is the gardener, She also keeps a Farang for money. The Farang loves the gardener like a son and couldn't do without him, The gardener works like a dog for both of them. She has total control of both guys. Ask anyone in the Village and they will tell you why.

I've just had a mind blowing experience with a Thai Woman who also seems to wield some control over me too. I'm constantly analysing the situation. Am I bored with the Wife ? NO. Am I not getting enough of the other ? NO. is this woman more attractive than the Wife ? NO. Is it about Sex ? NO. Does this woman have an agenda that I am aware of ? YES.
do I love this woman more than my wife & Children ?. YES. Is it really possible to love someone more than your own children ? NO.
Does the woman love me ?. NO.
Whats in it for me ?. Nothing but disaster.

So even though I've got my eyes wide open (my friend says he can't look into my eyes anymore , too intense) there's clearly something else going on.

Ask any Thai and they will tell you whats going on straight away without a doubt. BLACK MAGIC ;-)

I'd like to point out that I've never ever been religious; superstitious or seen anything that goes bump in the night, .But I keep an open mind.

Can 60 million Thais be wrong or is it just the Heat going to my Head ;-)

The FrogBlogger said...

Anon Bewitched by some otherworldly 'charms' eh, rather than the more down-to-earth variety?! Isaan in particular is full of them. If you've woken up in the morning with your toenails clipped and some locks of hair missing, then there's your answer - apparently there's a very effective spell using these to make sure you remain firmly 'under the spell'!

The FrogBlogger said...

Cheers Martyn, funny really I've got to say thanks to an intolerant old bigot on another forum who got me going on this subject recently, else this blog wouldn't have happened! Thanks again, Pattaya Man!

hyne said...

Thai girls are beautiful expect the last picture. They are gays, aren't they?
Thailand girls

The FrogBlogger said...

Hyne, as I am sure you are aware given the site you've promoted (twice), they are known as katoeys, or ladyboys.

Anonymous said...

STFU.. you don't know anything what these Thai-girls can do. I have dated many Thai-girls, done all possible mistakes. I was a fool, i belived in love. In the end... My dream is broken, i lost faith in Love.."Its all your fault" (Right!) that was my highest dream in this life. These Thai girls have ruined my dream, and my life. -No kidding

The FrogBlogger said...

"STFU"? Happy New Year to you too!! Sorry you've had a hard time, but the bottom line is mugs are there for the taking wherever you are in the world, and LOS is no exception. Because you've been taken for a ride, doesn't mean that anything in my blog is less true. On the contrary, I wrote that those who think they're walking into the Garden of Eden are there for the taking, and from your comments you're one of that number. Anyone heading for Thailand with a fantasy image either of themselves or of the country is riding for a fall.

Anonymous said...

You forgot Andrew Jackson’s Big Block of Cheese with nary a macaroni in sight.

Anonymous said...

I like this site. Really nice place for all

Anonymous said...

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. peace maria

Anonymous said...

Interesting for me//
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Dan said...

You have to be careful not to lose your mind in Thailand! Plenty of guys do!!!