Submitted by “The Pattaya Wolverine”
The biggest talking points in life are always the ones where there is no universally accepted correct answer. You’re not going to run into people ever vigorously debating over whether e=mc2. But where morals, values and experiences dictate the opinions being espoused, it’s a veritable free-for-all of everyone and their mother sharing what is right or wrong.
Thailand is no different, and a lot of popular generalizations get bounced around by people at an incessant regularity. But there are plenty of these which barely scratch the surface of their implications and provide little benefit or insight into life in Thailand either.
And so here are 7 of these regularly spoken generalizations you hear constantly bandied about in Pattaya at every venue in town, and what foreigners should really be saying instead.
1. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “Thai’s don’t respect us and secretly hate us.”
What foreigners should be saying – Don’t expect to be surrounded by educated Thais in hospitality-driven tourist areas.
If you live in the United States you probably don’t know too many successful people working a craps table in Las Vegas or handing out hot dogs at a Six Flags theme park. The hospitality industry is the most common industry for people with no skills or experiences to find work in. Yet, despite Pattaya being completely based around hospitality, there are plenty of foreigners who think that the Thais working there represent all the levels of socio-economic prosperity in Thailand.
You may wonder why I’m talking about a lack of education when the fundamental point was racism, but ignorance is a large byproduct of a lack of education. An educated person will see a million tourists frivolously spending money and try to think of a way to capture a share of that revenue. An uneducated person will merely express disdain and jealousy at so-called ‘idiot wealthy people’… Or try to rob them.
Thai people don’t hate foreigners coming here. But poor people the world over sure hate seeing other people spend excessive amounts of money when they have to work so hard to make a tiny amount respectively.
2. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “You should make your money in the west before moving here.”
What foreigners should be saying – Understand the country, your skills and traits and if they will flourish here, before making any rash decisions.
With unstable economies, collapsing industries, ever-growing wealth disparity, minimal opportunities for entrepreneurship and incredibly expensive higher education, I can’t understand how anyone in such a globalized world would even suggest the idea that the west is the only option to set yourself up for a secure future nowadays. The Asian economy is increasing at such a rapid rate, and a lot of countries are going to look so radically different in 10-20 years, that corporations are paying think tanks large amounts of money to try and piece the puzzle of what the future world economy is going to look like. 25 years ago, no one would have guessed what the internet would do to the globe, and despite all the leaps and bounds we feel like we’ve taken, we’re still in the baby steps of its evolution. Virtual reality, A.I, crypto and other new technologies are on the thrust of possibly altering every human’s lifestyle in a few short years. The relatively global civility and growth during the baby boomer’s era in the west is not a locked-in recipe for how future generations will similarly flourish either.
People who are prepared to learn, analyze, research and study Thailand, it’s people, themselves and develops their own necessary skills and traits have as much opportunity here to succeed as anyone else. But blatantly stipulating that what worked for you is what will continue to work for all generations into the future is barely a progressive attitude in a progressive world.
3. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “The government doesn’t want us here and is doing everything they can to make it difficult for foreigners to stay.”
What foreigners should be saying – Bureaucracy sucks in every country, and don’t expect it to be any better in a developing nation than it is at home.
If you want to start a simple argument with a foreigner then ask them whose government departments are more inefficient and proceed to pull out a bowl of popcorn. I would find it unfathomable to come across a person who doesn’t have a few anecdotes of truly painful experiences in dealing with their own country’s governing bodies. Bureaucracy anywhere is about as effective at achieving success as a Cleveland Browns quarterback. We’re all so accustomed to how pathetic it is that we are more surprised when things run smoothly than not. And while most European, North American and Australasian countries are fully developed, with similarly effective anti-corruption acts in place to avoid abuse and failures of the system, we somehow expect a developing country to be completely efficient in how they handle laws and regulations which regularly require updates to keep them in line with an ever-changing world.
Any expat who’s been here for a few years likely has their fair share of stories to tell about Thai bureaucracy in an unflattering light. But presuming the failure of bureaucracy is a secret war on foreigners is a bit of a stretch, especially when your average Thai person feels as much fear and anxiety at dealing with it as we do. Whenever anything affects us negatively it’s easy to presume we’re the target of a conspiracy firmly designed to make our lives hell. But when the system is designed to make everyone scream, expats seem to compete for the biggest victim complex in regards to any form of bureaucracy here.
4. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “Thai girls like (a specific race of people) more than others.”
What foreigners should be saying – Attractiveness is universal.
One of the most confusing arguments put forward by people in Pattaya is one where a certain group of men are more heavily favoured than others in regards to attaining the affection of the local women. Yet no one seems to discuss the irony that the men proposing this are themselves pursuing girls based on aesthetic over race. Certain people may feel a specific look is more attractive to them, but aesthetics are pretty universal and what we find attractive in people is rarely defined by where their parents had sex, but by what features said parents bestowed upon their offspring.
Justin Bieber is not considered ugly in Taiwan or Peru because most girls in those countries marry men from within their own race. And any guy who identifies as having a yellow fever isn’t going to turn down a role in the hay with Gal Gadot if offered the chance either. To presume that Thai girls are different, especially when financial aspects come into play, and specifically find 1 race of people superior is just absurd generalizing which completely dismisses how physical attraction actually works.
5. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “All Thai girls only view farangs as an atm.”
What foreigners should be saying – Relationships built on superficial aspects, like finances and aesthetics, aren’t ever going to be very stable.
Does anyone remember when Anna Nicole Smith married that 500-year-old oil tycoon? Even though it was 25 years ago, it’s probably still the best-known example of marriage based around the acceptance that she was only doing it for the money. Of course, we know now, she didn’t make a cent from it, but there are plenty of obvious examples over the course of time since then that let us know that superficially beneficial relationships aren’t as rare as Haley’s comet visits. Hell, the Kanye track ‘Gold digger’ wasn’t a song that required an explanation behind its meaning to a clueless public when it came onto the scene.
When girls in Thailand view the wealth a farang may possess as a reason to sacrifice other important aspects in a relationship it should be viewed less as a Thai trait, but more a global socioeconomic trait. In a town where the word coyote is used quite extensively, it’s pretty funny to hear of guys who think that someone utilizing traits to attain wealth or aesthetics are even questioned. Let alone when people are surprised to discover that honesty and trust weren’t integral to the formation of such a relationship in the first place.
6. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “Thai guys are dangerous and you should be careful around them.”
What foreigners should be saying – Avoid paranoia and use your brains to avoid dangerous situations, as you would anywhere else.
I rarely talk to other farangs about this, but I’ve been to at least 200 bars and clubs that operate throughout the well-worn highway between Pattaya and Bangkok, where seeing another farang is about as rare as a winning lottery ticket. I generally go alone. I generally don’t know anyone there. And I generally drink my ass off until I’m absolutely wrecked.
And the number of times I’ve been threatened, harassed or assaulted by a Thai man in all those nights out? 0.
This isn’t because of any secret about myself or Thai culture. It’s because when I go to these places, I operate with the same mentality I would towards strangers in any part of the world. Rarely do people go out looking to make problems and when they do arise, reacting in an appropriate manner isn’t something that requires heavy thinking. In doing this I’ve actually developed friendships with so many Thai guys over the last few years that the moment I hear someone talking about how all Thai guys are violent thugs to fear instantly makes my brain switch off.
Yes, there are definitely some psychos out there. I’ve walked out of bars and clubs after realizing that someone is getting irked at my presence or egos are beginning to feel threatened. But by and large the vast majority of the time I walk out of these places having met new people and enjoyed a fresh perspective on life here.
If anything, I’ve noticed outside of Pattaya and other tourist areas that farangs intimidate the shit out of Thai guys. We still have a reputation for being more attractive, wealthier and better educated than a large share of the population here. Treating them on an equal footing, being interested in what they have to say and getting along with them breaks down so many perceptions that they tend to appreciate you far quicker than even a farang would. Being married also means that I am not meeting Thai guys and immediately trying to palm them off to get laid or use them to meet girls. When I first moved to my area of Thailand, I commonly noticed that other farangs would hang out bars until around 10-11 pm and then, when they’ve had enough beers, would immediately vacate themselves to the closest place with female company available. Thai guys notice this too. I’ve spoken candidly with Thai guys about this and they have absolutely no issue with foreigners partaking at all. But it’s pretty difficult to develop a relationship anywhere with someone who is only concerned with their own self-interests. And, by and large, a lot of expats come across like this in Thailand to Thai guys.
7. What a lot of foreigners in Pattaya will say – “The girls prefer (insert any characteristic of a guy here) over (the antonym of the previous characteristic)”
What foreigners should be saying – Just like us, the girls don’t really know what they want until an opportunity comes along.
Similar in tone to the idea of Thai girls specifically liking a certain race, there are few other debates that will regularly stir the pot when they come up as much as what type of person a girl likes. Young vs Old is a very common argument. Tourists vs Expats is another. English vs Thai speaking is pretty common too. But if you ask a guy who goes out with a specific type of female in mind, and how many times he goes home with something completely different, and yet is still satisfied, the results would very likely show that people make decisions based on current opportunities, as opposed to abstaining until their perfect scenario comes along.
Past experiences, bias and knowledge will make people gravitate towards certain ideals, but the idea of all-encompassing aspects being favoured by every Thai girl is the same as a single bar being the perfect base for every man who visits Pattaya. Variety is the spice of life and we’re hardwired as people to pursue what is in front of us, as opposed to what may be around the corner. Thai girls are exactly the same. Expecting to rely on the ramblings of another tourist as to how much disappointment you may face in a specific place in Pattaya is only devaluing your potential for discovering a place which might provide the best fun you’ve had in years.
If there is any place in the world outside a casino where moods, fortunes or luck can swing in the blink of an eye, Pattaya would be it. This is why it is the 6th most visited city in the world. Because around every corner, no one knows what they’ll find. So instead of wasting time by sharing, repeating or debating silly generalizations about the city, go out and make of it what you want it to be before it’s all gone and replaced with family-friendly tourism spots in a few years…
Now I’m off to get a bowl of popcorn.