Where "Farangs" Are Loved ...


Photo: cheese lady [Flickr]

Usually, the natives of a land hate tourists and foreigners ... but not in Thailand! This homemade sign on the back of a tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai, Thailand sums it up:

Farang (foreigners) are a precious commodity in traffic-choked Bangkok and throughout the land of smiles. Tuk-tuk drivers depend on tourism for their livelihoods—sightseers willing to shell out a relative fortune for the ride of a lifetime.

But 11 million visitors (and the tuk tuks that cater to them) bring another thing in addition to hard cash to Thailand: traffic!

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I used to live in Thailand (although not in Bangkok, thank goodness), and I have to agree with both Angstrom AND Adam in this case. There have been reports of farangs kidnapped and robbed by tuk-tuk drivers, but it's almost unheard of. I've never heard of a concrete report, but that kind of thing is a constant threat in Thailand. And "kii nok" does literally mean "birdshit," but it's often used to describe backpackers- as in, dirty, unwanted, and all over everything.

In general, Thai tuk-tuk and taxi drivers are friendly to farangs, if only because they can quote you exorbitant prices and you'll pay. And, if you have a strong stomach, it's worth it for the experience of riding through Bangkok rush-hour traffic in a tuk-tuk. Near-death experiences abound.
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I think that Angstrom, while generally correct, is overstating the negative aspects of the situation there.

I haven't heard about any foreigners being drugged and robbed by tuk-tuk drivers in years. No independent travel resource (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, etc.) has ever recommended that visitors avoid tuk-tuks. Riding a tuk-tuk is part of the magic of just about everybody's Thai vacation.

One thing one may encounter in Bangkok with regards to tuk tuks is being told by a tuk tuk driver that your destination (the Royal Palace, Wat Pho, etc.) is "closed for the afternoon" or something silly like that. They may try to talk you into seeing some attraction for which they get paid a commission instead. There are also semi-honest tuk-tuk drivers who agree to take you somewhere for free or almost free, but you have to be willing to visit their [brother's/uncle's/cousin's/auntie's] gem or souvenir shop. You poke around the shop, the shopkeeper gives the driver a coupon for free gasoline somewhere and there is little harm done.

Finally, Angstrom's "Kii Nok" means "birdshit."

Viva Thailand!
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There's a little more to this than meets the eye.

There are stories about tuk-tuk passengers being drugged and mugged, so tourists are encouraged to take the safer government licensed taxis (cars) rather than Tuk Tuks. In addition to that, foreigners can be seen by some Thais as immoral and unwanted visitors. The phrase Farang Kii Nok indicates you are dirty white and have fallen out of the sky, quite often applied to backpackers.
Also, remember that many foreign men go to Thailand for reasons of child abuse, this is quite open in Bangkok. So dislike of these sort of people is very understandable to say the least.

Anyway, that is why some tuk-tuk drivers have signs like this, mainly to indicate they will happily take money off you and not kill you or make any moral judgements on your weird ex-pat lifestyle.

It's mainly just a sales thing. You will not feel the love off a Tuk Tuk driver, and if you do ... you will wish you hadn't!
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"Usually, the natives of a land hate tourists and foreigners "

Really? Even when I lived in London most people didn't hate tourists - they're mostly harmless and it's nice to meet people from other places. Now we live near Ironbridge, the cradle of the industrial revolution, where we get an even better class of tourist (intelligent ones who're interested in something interesting!) and they're even nicer.
I rarely meet anyone who "hates tourists" in the UK, though probably many are irritated by some of them sometimes.
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