Bangkok Post Sunday Brunch Expert Robbert Nuis gives his opinion on The Fever of love – by Rikke Bjerge Johansen
Robbert Nuis, Founder of Expatriate Counseling, is a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and has dealt with expat issues his whole life: [ is a counselor working with farang in Bangkok: ”For farang men, Thai women are considered….” Original Article in Bangkok Post of aug 30 2009 >>>
Forget the swine flu _ we need a cure-repellent for farang with ‘Rice Fever’
Writer: Rikke Bjerge Johansen
Published: 30/08/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Brunch
I can only imagine how Thai women must feel in Thailand, but I do have some insight, and it doesn’t seem pretty. Since I arrived in the Land of Smiles 20 months ago, I have had my share of men coming up to me.
I am approached by strangers on an almost daily basis, mainly farang, but some Thais as well. Yes, we are talking about Rice Fever, aka Yellow Fever in less politically correct times. This strange virus seems to strike everywhere in Bangkok _ in shopping malls, cafes and on buses and trains.
Symptoms of Yellow Fever: The patient lapses into delirium.
I can only agree with that. What else would make a 60-something-year-old man come up to me and even think he has a chance of getting some action.
Although the disease still occurs, it is usually confined to sporadic outbreaks.
True again, since I have only discovered this peculiar behaviour in Thailand.
I’m an Asian farang. I was born in South Korea 29 years ago and was adopted by a Danish family at the age of three months. This means I grew up in Denmark (yes, I know I look ”same, same” as Thai lady) and my first language is Danish (”No speak Korean, cannot.”). When I moved to Thailand, I assumed that no one would pay attention to me since I would blend in with all the other Asian faces. I mean, being Asian in Asia is not very exotic. So I was quite surprised when I found that wasn’t the case at all. In the beginning, I was flattered. I must also admit to have milked it a few times, accepting a few drinks here and there, and getting loads of free rides from motorcyle taxis.
But after a while I began to get annoyed. The fact that I can’t sit on my own in a cafe without being approached by strange men is not okay. Random guys talk to me when I’m sitting in the TCDC in the Emporium with my notebook out, concentrating on work. They come up to me when I’m eating noodles on the street.
My boyfriend has his own take: ”It’s hard to have an Asian-looking girlfriend in Thailand because most of the guys living in Asia seem to have ‘Yellow Fever’, so my girlfriend gets hit on a lot. However, sometimes it is very good. When shopping, for example, we pay local rates, and we get better tables at restaurants. But I don’t like it when people think of me as just another loser farang with a cute Asian girlfriend.”
It is mainly farang who think that my Asian looks give them a green card (or should I say a yellow card) to go ahead and talk to me. Recently, I was sitting in McDonald’s eating my lunch when an older Italian guy came over. I told him to leave me alone several times before he got the message. Another example happened at Suan-Lum Night Bazaar. While waiting for a friend at a restaurant, a guy in his fifties (Australian, judging from the accent) made the most stupid comment: ”Oh, I can see you like Western food.” I replied in a very sharp voice: ”Yes, of course I like Western food since I’m from Denmark.”
Robbert Jan Nuis (pictured, left), who works at Expatriate Counselling in Bangkok, is a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and has dealt with expat issues his whole life: is a counselor working with farang in Bangkok: ”For farang men, Thai women are considered more exotic, softer-skinned, small and gentle, and they become little boys in a sweet shop when they arrive. Unfortunately, Thailand has a reputation as a paradise for sex tourists, so many farang men think that it is okay to approach Thai-looking women here. They would never do it in another country, even in Asia, but because it’s Thailand, it’s apparently okay. Also, the chances of hooking up with a beautiful girl in Thailand are quite high compared to their home countries. Thai women are very polite, so even if they are not interested in a man they would never show anger or say ‘no’ the same way a Western woman would. If a stranger stopped them on the street, a Western woman might even call the police, whereas Thai women would politely excuse themselves or even make conversation and give him their number just so the man would not lose face.”
Thai men are not backwards about coming forward either. Not long ago, I was sitting on a bus when a man came up and started talking to me, but I could barely understand what he was saying. He wanted to practice his English on me, ”because I was very beautiful”. Finally, I had to swap seats to get away from him. Only a few days ago, I was walking by myself after lunch when a guy came running after me. He was a Thai man in his early thirties, nicely dressed in a suit. ”You’re beautiful, I want your mobile number so I can get to know you.”
But it’s not only farang women of Asian appearance who are approached. Oh, 32, who works in a Bangkok office, said: ”Actually, I was approached twice in one week, and it was very uncomfortable. Both times it happened on the Sky train. The first time an Arabic couple came up to me on the platform. They were around 40 years old. The guy came and asked me if I would like to go with them and have a threesome. I was in shock. What kind of girl did they think I am? Can’t I feel safe in my own city? I walked away from them but the man came over to me again. I was upset and explained in a very polite way that he should leave me alone.”
Of course, there’s another side of the coin _ a blonde woman friend of mine said: ”I wouldn’t say that I’ve forgotten I have a vagina, as I’ve heard other farang women express it, but it’s not like I have to beat men off with a stick either. My own guess is that I’m simply not exotic enough for farang men, and probably a bit too exotic for Thai men.” She has been living in Bangkok for a year and confesses to still not quite understanding the men in this part of the world.
”The dynamics are more difficult to figure out here. Back home, if a guy who wasn’t a friend or a business contact asked me out for dinner, drinks, or even just coffee, it’s pretty certain that he is interested in more than just my fabulous sense of humor and divine intellect. Here, a guy can ask me out, or so you think, and then when we meet up he starts moaning about his exasperating relationship with a Thai lady. This being a farang man of course,” she said.
My conclusion has to be that it is a big mistake if men get the idea that we Asians are all interested in getting together in contact with them. And men here who do believe that in Thailand must really have high self-esteem, since they shamelessly think it’s fine to disturb random women. Please, forget swine flu. We need a cure for Yellow Fever.
Marissa, 24, from the Northeast of Thailand, lives in Bangkok, studies business and English
”Many times farang, including Indian men, come up and talk to me or stare at me. I would say it happens once a week. Recently, there was this guy in Times Square who was following me up and down the escalators. Another time I was visiting my friend who works in a hotel in Soi Nana and of course foreigners assumed they could just approach me. I think foreigners look at us Thai girls in a ‘no good’ way and I never talk to them.”
Oh, 32, business worker from Bangkok
”Actually, it happened twice in a week that I got approached, and it was very uncomfortable. Both times it happened on the Skytrain. The first time an Arabic couple came up to me on the BTS platform. They were around 40 years old. The guy came and asked me if I would like to go with them and have a threesome. I was in shock. What kind of girl did they think I was? Can’t I feel safe in my own city? I walked away from them but he came over to me again. I was upset and explained in a very polite way that he should leave me alone.The same week I was sitting on the Skytrain and two French men around 60 years old and one Thai girl were sitting on the opposite site. One of the men kept staring at me and when I got off the Skytrain he followed me and said I was beautiful and lovely and that he wanted my phone number so we could go out for lunch. I told him in a polite way that I had a boyfriend.”
Sofie Lisby, 24, born in Korea, grew up in Denmark, lives in Bangkok
”It does seem quite as easy to get male attention out here. When I first moved to Bangkok, people told me, ‘You are gonna get it so easy out here because you are like a banana, yellow in the outside and white on the inside and the men love it’.
”One of the hardest things about being a ‘banana’ in Bangkok is that people somehow find it hard to look past the Asian appearance. It is difficult to explain this without sounding prejudiced because while there is nothing wrong with being Thai, it is annoying to always be mistaken for one when you are not. Men will ask me in bars where I am from and upon hearing the answer they refuse to believe it and insist that I must have married a Danish man or that I simply just lived in Denmark for a few years. The result is that I have become overly sensitive about my identity and peoples’ reaction to it.”
Apple, 26, works as a translator in Bangkok
”Once, a male farang came up to me on the MRT and asked for my name and phone number. He was very polite and gave me his name card, so I gave my phone number to him. He called me later but it didn’t lead to anything. I don’t mind when they are polite. But then there was this single and drunk foreign guy at a party who came up to me and said that he liked me very much and I was outstanding. I didn’t want to talk to him so just moved on to talking with another Thai girl. He tried with everyone.”