I never dreamed I’d end up as a farang in Thailand. But here I am, and it’s a pretty good life too. If you’ve got a similar idea floating around your head (Ie. you’re thinking you might come and holiday, or reside in Thailand), then I’ve got news for you. You’re going to become a farang too. So what this article is going to do is show you how to be a farang and give you a basic idea on what Thailand culture is on about.
The first thing is that, no matter what and how you think, you’re going to hear Thai people use the word ‘farang’ to describe you. My advice for that is to not concern yourself too much about it, and look at it as a) Thai culture and b) a polite way of saying you look different!
From what I understand, the word ‘farang’ comes from ‘farangset’ which means France. Now you could always argue until you’re blue in the face that you don’t come from France, so therefore you’re NOT a farang. But… it doesn’t work like that in Thailand. In fact, it’s rather simple. If you’re a Westerner in Thailand, then you’re a farang. So, the quicker you can accept this, the easier it will be for you to live in Thailand!
The thing that you DON’T want to do is to take offense at being called a farang. Now I’ve known farangs (sorry, I mean Westerners, or foreigners!) that take offense at being called that. But, honestly, you can’t fight Thai culture, as it is what it is. It’s best to accept the situation as a Thai person might, with a simple ‘may pen rai,’ or ‘that’s cool.’ (It’s Okay).
In fact, if anything, the simple expression ‘may pen rai’ is perhaps the ultimate ‘advice’ to living as a farang in Thailand. You can really take that expression to heart too, not because it’s so commonly used, but because it’s really a great indicator of just how accepting and relaxed the Thais are about life. In many ways, it’s a true reflection of Thai culture.
Now, if none of this is making sense right now, don’t worry too much about it. When you eventually do come to Thailand, you’ll know exactly what I’m on about.