Thai – Farang Friends, Do we ever really KNOW each other?

There was a guy student of mine that was of Chinese
descent when I was teaching in Ubon. He had graduated
from a great school in Bangkok, and his father had a
construction business in Ubon so he returned after he
graduated to take an engineering position with the
company.

Smart guy. Worldly Thai guy, considering that most,
even the educated Thais' I would never consider
"worldly".  This guy had been around to many different
countries over the past 10 years both with and without
his family. Some of his friends were rather wealthy too
so they all went to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Taiwan,
China, Australia, and many other spots they could
hang loose and see how others' lived.

We got along pretty well and he was always asking me
to go out with him to different bars.  I did go a few times
and he taught me a lot about Thai social interaction
that was great to know.  The do's and dont's of  interacting
with Thai men and women and what is the norm… so,
from that aspect it was a great learning experience.

As it turns out, after about 9 times of going out and doing
things I realized that the guy says one thing and does the
opposite. Not a real reliable person, nor truthful in my
understanding of things. So I stopped going out with him.
I realized when I did that I never really understood the guy
much at all.  Maybe not AT ALL.  We laughed, we had a
good time – on the surface. But I wonder if anything he
told me was true, or if it was all a fabrication to build
"face".

I'm still not sure.

Anyway…  kind of the point of the notecard is that Thai
people with money, with prestige, with a life here they are
not much interested in same-sex visitors. They may
play the role a bit… they might have some interest but
their interest might not be in sharing a piece of them-
selves… their feelings, their TRUE feelings. Social
interaction between me and all Thais' seems to be more
of a social dance… they are very aware of what they are
revealing about themselves. They don't let you see the
dirty side of things. They only present the cleanest
image.

I wonder if they are that way with each other too.  I have
heard my girlfriend talk about negative things that were
affecting her – to her closest friends. But, never everything.
She reserves that. Not for me – just to hold inside hereself
I guess. I don't think it ever comes out.

She never cries… she never really seems sad or bored. To
me she might appear bored – but it is because I THINK she
MUST be bored without something to do for a long time.
But, she's not. She's quite OK with it…

So, this notecard is just another comment on the state of
farangs and Thai relationships. It's a shallow state of
friendship and maybe of love.  Shallow from what I consider
to be meaningful…

If a Thai person appears really interested in you and shows
a LOT of interest or gets excited about seeing you – I think
maybe it's because of the money factor. In some or most
cases I would guess this.

Those with money don't really associate with foreigners.
They don't care. They don't see us as an ATM because they
likely have as much or more money than we do.  They kind
of ignore us.

It's strange to notice…

I guess since I'm currently ranked LOW on the "connected"
scale of social prestige here in Thailand I see this.  Yes,
there are many Thais' with money that will associate with
farangs with money. Don't get me wrong. But, since overall
most Thais' don't have money. Most Thais' are very curious
about and want to have interaction with – foreigners.

Am I crazy or is someone else seeing this?

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

4 thoughts on “Thai – Farang Friends, Do we ever really KNOW each other?”

  1. Ahhh Jack… I wasn’t sure that friends that are of higher classes really keep everything inside and just put the “Spin” on everything so the other friends think everything is better than it is… that THEY are better… but yeah, it makes sense. I think I’ve seen that in action a few times now that I think back. Yeah, the class levels are easily seen and I see that the upper class don’t want to associate with the lower class – UNLESS they have white, white skin. There is a university girl – going to Rajabhat – crummy university in Isaan and she has no money whatsoever. This Thai guy I was telling you about was ok interacting with her – and later giving her the old ‘in-out, in-out’ because she had BEAUTIFUL white skin. Her family was baan nawk but out in public when he took her out – who could tell?

    Thanks for your comments Jack – good stuff.

  2. >> I wonder if anything he told me was true, or if it was all a fabrication to build “face”.

    Comments: yes you are correct. It could have been another 10 years, and he won’t reveal anything to you, or anyone, farangs or thais for that matter outside his own family. But you’ll find much less of this in the “lower class” or lower economic status. A short answer to this is because, revealing feeling is part of the identity of “class”. Only the lower class (Bann Nork- village people)pour their hearts out for a stranger to see. The “upper” class, must say what you want to hear and act the way (they think) you want to see…always. Your next question why class? you are in a country that rooted deeply in Hinduism regardless what they said about Buddism.

    Don’t feel bad, that’s the way they are. You should in fact, feel sorry for all the feelings bottled up inside and could not express them.

  3. >> I wonder if anything he told me was true, or if it was all a fabrication to build “face”.

    Comments: yes you are correct. It could have been another 10 years, and he won’t reveal anything to you, or anyone, farangs or thais for that matter outside his own family. Don’t feel bad, that’s the way they are. You should in fact, feel sorry for all the feelings bottled up inside and could not express it. But you’ll find much less of this in “lower class” or lower economic status. A short answer to this is because, revealing feeling is part of the identity of “class”. Only the lower class (Bann Nork- village people)pour their hearts for a stranger to see. The “upper” class, must say what you want to hear and act (what they think ) you want to see…always. Next question why class? you are in a country that rooted deeply in Hinduism regardless what they said about Buddism.

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