A Tourist is a Tourist
Good article on Chinese tourists. It’s a welcome relief to have them here; to distract us from culturally insensitive Westerners. Good observations about the insularity of group tours. Recently, in Istanbul, I saw a busload of Thai tourists acting just like the Chinese do here: being loud and pushy. But they were picking their noses instead of spitting. So it goes.
David Nicolson Freidberg
Mo’ Money, No Problems
A really great story [From East to East, August 2013]. Thanks for the positive remarks about my new magazine, NiHao. Finally, the Chinese have found Chiang Mai, a long hidden gem exposed by that funny, hilarious movie. But not all coming to Thailand are pigs. The pigs are those who come in big groups. There are many well-heeled, well-educated and well-travelled Chinese we don’t see screaming on the streets. We don’t even see them at all unless we have the money to spend at places where they can be found. NiHao finds them there.
Love for Hat Yai
[Re: Not Just Beaches and Bikinis, August 2013]: How nice it is to see the area getting some good press! I am currently living and working in Hat Yai and I despair at what I read about the place – it simply is not true! I urge anyone travelling around Thailand to make the effort to come as far south as Hat Yai – your efforts will be rewarded! For more ideas on things to do in Hat Yai, Songkhla and Satun provinces, check out my personal blog: www.cornishkylie.wordpress.com.
When people think of ASEAN, they automatically think of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Most people think ASEAN is the AEC and the AEC is ASEAN. Most seem to ignore the fact that ASEAN is not only made up of the AEC but also the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) and the ASEAN Social Cultural Community (ASCC). The AEC does not exist without the APSC and the ASCC. Most of the issues that most writers criticise the AEC for are not even part of the AEC. They fall under the APSC or the ASCC and are being addressed by ASEAN as we speak. In fact, most writers don’t realise that we are moving towards the ASEAN community in 2015 which includes the AEC, ASPC, and the ASCC. Here’s a small history lesson: August 8th, 1967 (46 years ago), in Bangkok, Thailand, five nations; Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, joined together and signed the Bangkok Declaration that started ASEAN. 16 years ago, in December 1997, the ASEAN Vision 2020 was conceived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was the predecessor to the current process most people today refer to as the AEC. By 1999, five other nations joined ASEAN, which brought the total to 10 nations that currently represent ASEAN. In 2003, 10 years ago, the Declaration of the ASEAN Community, also known as the ASEAN Concord II, was established and laid the foundation for the three communities of ASEAN. Between 2003 and 2006, the blueprints for the three ASEAN communities mapped out a path for ASEAN to reach its ASEAN Vision 2020 goal. In 2007, ASEAN decided to accelerate the ASEAN Vision 2020 to 2015. In 2008, five years ago, the ASEAN Political Security Community, the Economic Community and the Social Cultural Community initiated the paths in blueprints that 10 nations have been working on and expect to complete December 31st, 2015. Each year since 2008, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals have been laid out, pursued, and for the most part, accomplished. 2015 is the ASEAN integration finish line that will have taken almost 50 years to complete. If you would like to know exactly what is happening in ASEAN, please look at the ASEAN website at
www.asean.org. Everything is there in English for the world to read.
No Power to the People
Thanks for the [ASEAN] article, Anna. I completely agree with the expected changing job market in Chiang Mai and Thailand. I expect it will hurt Thai people quite a bit, as they lag behind in skills which are abundant in other countries, notably English. While the governing people and media largely shout the benefits of ASEAN and the AEC, in the end it will primarily benefit multinational big business, whether they are Chinese, Thai, or other. When I talk to Thais, they are largely unaware of the possible negative effects of the opening of economic borders. It seems to be another policy by the government for the uninformed public that will benefit those in power.
Hi! I found this article [Small Girl, Big Impact, August 2013] both motivational and helpful. I am going to be starting my second year of the International Baccalaureate in a week and this gave me a good dose of inspiration. Big ups and thank you!
[Ed. August 2013’s editorial on the use of the word farang sparked a lot of reader discussion. Here’s just a sampling of it.]
Having visited Thailand more or less regularly since 1967, I have been called farang many times but never in a negative way. After all, even farang khee nok is a term of
endearment, according to Maj. Roy Hudson. And who would dare to contradict? Should somebody ever address me in anger as farang, I would try to find out the reason for it.
I was highly offended by the word farang as a tourist to Thailand. Having lived here for seven years now, I am not only comfortable with the word but use it. I never use it as an epithet though.
I take absolutely no offense at being referred to as a farang. After all, that’s what I am, a foreigner, and that’s all it means. Thais just use the word as shorthand for “someone not from around these parts.”
To me, Thai people who call us “farang” are usually just showing their ignorance and xenophobia through the assumption that all white people can be lumped in one group. Thai people would be offended and incredulous if we gave them a pejorative name that lumped them in one group with Burmese, Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese and Laotian people because they “all look the same.” Time for Thai people to get global and stop worrying about the colour of people’s skin and where they come from. Like, who cares…? In Australia, the opening greeting is not “where you from?” but often “so, what do you do?”
Marike van Breugel
My understanding is this: Farang is also the Thai word for the guava fruit. The term comes from the expression “farang ki nok” which means bird shit. The birds eat the farang fruit and shit the seeds out in flight. This creates trees where “trees shouldn’t be.” Same same farang…
I’ve only been to Thailand twice but never thought of the word as racist. I was schooled by Lonely Planet text. On another note, I’ve always wondered if Star Trek stole the word for the race of aliens who thrive on money, where greed is the norm. I don’t think Wiki’s lengthy description mentions the similarities: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferengi.
Matthew Loflin Davis