Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Are We Farang Always Wierd?
I've just had the experience of walking round Bangkok with my face made up like a tart. My lips were bright red, my skin plastered with pink paste. I went into Asia Books to ask about current stocks of 'Thai Girl', I had a coffee in Starbucks and I rode the Skytrain cheek by jowl with teeming crowds of Thais, but nobody even gave me a glance. I wasn't wierd at all. I was just another farang.
It happened like this. Two hours before I'd sat for five self-conscious minutes gazing into the cleavage of a statuesque and striking Thai woman with a very deep voice as she brushed make-up onto my face and painted my lips blood red. It was a very strange experience.
I was about to be interviewed by Dr Valerie Mackenzie for her TV programme, Morning Talk. (Showing in Thailand on 11 May at 8.00am.) Ten minutes of interview was quickly over as I enjoyed chatting with Dr Valerie whose interest in my work as a writer seemed genuine and warm. After we'd finished, we kept chatting for a time and I then ejected myself from the cool of the air conditioning into the swelter of a Bangkok street. I had totally forgotten the makeup.
What now disturbs me is that nobody even seemed to notice. Nobody said, 'Hey mate, why've you got all that stuff on your face?' Not one funny glance warned me that I looked an idiot.
Thai people always take the farang as we come and treat us the same, whether ugly, grotesque, wierd or ordinary. I always thought I was ordinary and acceptable and that that was why people are always nice to me. Now I'm not so sure because being wierd made no difference at all.
Maybe they think we're all wierd, that we're all just a load of monkeys. Maybe in Thailand I can get away with being a monkey after all! So maybe I'd better stop being so flipping British and enjoy being a monkey instead.