A few days ago I had my lunch break at Santa Fe Steakhouse on the 6th floor of Central Rama 9 in Bangkok. There aren’t too many foreigners in this area just two MRT stations from Asoke. When I walked in the restaurant two staff were briefly taking note of me, then looking in a different direction. It was already 1:30 pm so only two of the about 15 tables were taken. No one was really busy.
I chose a table to sit down and chose something to eat from the menu. When I looked up to get the order I saw how two of the waiters, both in their early twenties, looked at each other and the guy nodding his head as if to say “you go and get the order”. The girl shook her head and pointed with her finger at him. The guy eventually came to my table without saying anything more than repeating my order.
It’s not that I’m asking for special treatment or attention as a Farang but simply being respected just like any other Thai customer. The way it should have gone in the restaurant is that one staff greets me with a “Sawadee Ka” and wai at the door, another one takes me to a table and gives me the menu and then no one should be afraid of taking my order. Why do they work in a restaurant if they can’t give the same kind of respect and appropriate service to all of their gusts no matter whether Kon Thai or Kon Farang?
This is not just a one time experience, it happens regularly whenever I go eating out in an area that hasn’t a lot of foreigners. Anywhere in the world but especially in Thailand if you are taking a service like going to a restaurant people are supposed make you feel welcome and enjoy your time. However as a Farang, I often have the feeling that they are trying to deal with me as quickly as possible, receiving the cash and then dealing with the next customer who is hopefully Thai. Even other Asian nationalities like Japanese, Chinese or Korean seem to receive more respect from Thais than Farangs.
This brings up the question: Do Thai People Hate Farangs?
It might be a bit exaggerated to ask this kind of question by just recalling my bad experiences in restaurants but there are so many other situations. Like this morning it happened again when I was waiting for the motorbike taxi to take me to the MRT station from my apartment and then I saw this driver that is serving our apartment and is not supposed to take any other passengers still stopping for some middle aged business lady on the street and when he saw I was looking at him he gave me a smile and said the next driver was just around the corner. This would never happen with Thai people.
Or take the situations when Thais are simply ignoring us. That’s really weird because usually they like to literally stare at us and then once you turn your head in their direction they pretend to be busy, trying to avoid any eye contact. Then often when you make an approach and try to ask them something they start laughing, stepping back and often ask their friend for help to sort out the situation.
And one more. While walking around town and you see Hi-So girls (or girls that pretend to be ones) they often make a face like they feel extremely annoyed or even insulted by you daring to look at them. Again very strange because normally they will spot and observe you first with their eagle eyes but once you come closer they try to make you feel minor no matter if you wear a Chang beer shirt or a tailor made suit.
So again, do Thai people really hate Farangs? I really thought about this a lot when I encountered these situations for the first time (and then repeatedly) but the longer I have lived here the more I realized that Thai people are just afraid, well even scared of anything they don’t know or are not familiar with and by now I’m sure that’s the main reason why they sometimes try to avoid dealing with us or look at us as if we were ghosts (which the majority of Thai people are extremely scared of).
Good example: Yesterday I had breakfast at the Tops Food Court and most of the tables were empty. A group of three Thai girls in their mid-twenties were about to sit down on the table just opposite mine when one of them said “nâa-glua” and they instead went to another table. Nâa-glua (น่ากลัว) means frightening or fearful and of course the girl didn’t assume that I can understand her Thai. My appearance with coffee and croissant, dressed in office clothes and shaved that morning was everything but not frightening.
I watched the girls on their table and when she looked at me I gave her a smile which she returned and I’m sure if I went to them to say hi I would have managed to get her Facebook contact in less than five minutes. There is always “ice” between Thai people and Farangs but usually it’s very thin and just takes a little effort to break.
A major reason why Thai people are shy and often even scared when they see a Farang besides that we look so different is because the English skills of most people are simply terrible and they fear they will not be able to have a decent conversation. I even believe it goes as far as they are scared losing their face because they think the Farang will get upset or make fun of them if they are not able to communicate in fair English.
There are quite a few other reasons why Thai people think Farangs are weird and are therefore often scared of them. I wrote a separate article about this and you can read it here.
Do you agree that Thai people are rather scared of than really hate Farangs? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.