Thailand : Don’t Get Farang Poisoning
Sure, we all know how to avoid Food poisoning in Thailand, but there’s another condition that’s not given enough attention : Farang Poisoning!
Farang is the Thai word for “alien” and you will hear it used while walking the streets, in the night markets, or when streams of children pass by, fingers pointed “farang! farang!”
Some farang flock together, magnetically attracted to each other’s Chang tshirts and dreadlocks, and other farang flee from each other, never making eye contact and hustling past like silent ships in a street market fleet.
I definitely fall into the latter group, feeling a tension in my stomach when I see too many in one place. Ack. Run away! Run Away! Before you classify me as a self loathing whitey, let me give you the low down on why Farang send me into power walking mode.
Pay the Price
When I first arrived to Thailand – I was surprised at the prices. Hmm, I thought Thailand was supposed to be cheap?
However, anywhere I seemed to go, people greeted me with prices before a hello, and a “please look at the trinkets” here, and a “tuk tuk, massage, lady boy” there. Hey, I’m no hater to the hustle, we’ve all got to pay the bills, but there is something entirely different from making a living to seeing human dollar signs walking down the street.
This didn’t feel like the Thailand I imagined. Is it my fault for preconceived notions of The Land Of Smiles being this lush paradise where coconuts fall into your palms and people fall all over themselves to massage you while walking down the street?
So why do I feel like I always have my hackles up? Because I’ve been Fa-WRONGing this country up.
By following in the footsteps of the original Thai travelers (mad props to the pioneers, navigating this country in it’s virginial tourist state must have been wild) I’ve become a clone of all those before me. Another wide eyed white girl trying to Eat, Pray, Love her way through the monsooned streets.
If you’re dreaming of Thailand, and don’t want to feel like you’ve been strapped into the roller coaster ride that most others are seeing, listen up. In the coming month, I will be doing a series of posts on everything from hitch-hiking to how to not burn your taste buds right out of your mouth, with a focus on how to travel farang-free as much as possible.
Getting off the tourist trail is awesome and difficult in equal parts.
Not knowing the language of the country will make little feats feel like massive triumphs.
Hailing a tuktuk from one point of Bangkok to another is a piece of cake if you’re prepared to bargain hard and pay up, but trying to get the same message across in a rural town with insufficient Thai and a 3 minute negotiation turns into 30 minutes of pain and frustration.
Well, Brandy you certainly don’t make that sound appealing. Just wait a minute, will you.
There’s something different about being in a town where there are not many farang. Finding a place where no tourists go is next to impossible, but this trip we located a town (no, I’m not going to name drop – find your own! – or email me) where they received many Asian tourists, but clearly very few Anglos.
Walking down the street still caused attention to be directed our way, but instead of being hustled, we were being chased by curious locals. Where do you come from? Why are you in our city? If people didn’t talk to us (many were ashamed of their lack of English, or too shy to try) they would wave, nod, wei, or honk their horns at us while doing double and triple takes much to the complication of the traffic situation.
This style of travel is not for everyone, and many feel the traditional Thailand tourist route is like a real life version of Candyland – but I’ve grown to crave something more from my travels. Instead of sitting down for the ride, and making the regularly scheduled stops I want to grab the wheel, get lost, and learn.
Why do you travel?