A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Farang Friendly


Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been ruled by a European power.

The Thai kings (and by extension the people) were able to maintain their independence largely through a healthy skepticism of foreigners.  One example:

During the late 1600s, a Greek named Constantine Phaulkon, became a key advisor in the royal court of King Karai.

Phaulkon helped the King fend off attempted colonization by the Dutch and English, but allowed 600 French troops into the kingdom. Bad decision.

The Thais, fearing a takeover, expelled the French and executed Phaulkon.  The country sealed itself off from the West for the next 150 years.

Though Thailand has built a strong tourist industry, a healthy distrust of the farang, or foreigner, exists to this day.

The Thai people are gracious hosts, and we have found them to be friendly, warm, honest and helpful. But long-time expats have told us that it is best to avoid confrontation in Thailand – than any disagreement between a Thai and a farang will not end well for the farang.


We have been struck by the local interest in our kids, especially Conor.  Part of the attention they receive comes from a cultural affinity for family and children.

But part certainly is their “farang-ness” – Caroline and Conor just look completely different from Thai children.

We have been amused by locals desire to be photographed with our kids.  Other traveling families have shared similar experiences with us (including one story about nearly a hundred people in a queue for pictures with western children at The Forbidden City in Beijing).


Caroline and Conor have been patient and gracious, taking it all in stride.  Though truth be told, Caroline has been a bit incredulous at the rock-star treatment accorded her brother.


Thailand has proven to be the perfect introduction to Asia for us – very different, yet very safe.

Farang or not, the Thai people couldn’t be kinder to us.


1 Doug Spiro { 02.20.09 at 2:21 pm }

It sounds like every day you all are having the most amazing experiences and every day when I ready your posts I feel smarter…for instance I now know that during the late 1600s, a Greek named Constantine Phaulkon, became a key advisor in the royal court of King Karai. By the time you get home I will be ready for Jeopardy!

On a personal note.. since Caroline and Conor are Thai Stars I have a humble request. When you return to the states might I possibly get a photo with them for my Wall of Fame!

I wanted to get in line early 🙂

2 Linda in Oregon { 02.20.09 at 11:05 pm }

We always knew Connor was a rock star……I mean, come on, you’ve seen him dance!

3 Linda in Oregon { 02.20.09 at 11:14 pm }

Conor, with one n! Sorry, we want to get the rock star’s name right!


4 Irv { 02.24.09 at 4:59 pm }

As a platinum blonde living in Thailand a few years ago, I had a similar experience! Locals were forever stroking the pale hairs on my arm saying, “Suey mak” (beautiful). It was a little disconcerting at first, but I learned to roll with it and even kind of enjoyed the attention. Have fun and enjoy the ride! Thailand is awesome.

5 Mark H { 02.24.09 at 7:46 pm }

I’ve also got blonde hair and I remember having it collected by people after having a badly needed haircut in VietNam. It felt strange to say the least having an audience watching my hair being cut.

6 Nomadic Matt { 02.26.09 at 10:30 pm }

if memory serves, on the way home from dinner, the massage ladies all wanted to hug conor.

I’m glad you have all loved thailand so much, though you are now in Cambodia!

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