“Punch buggy!” the nine-year old screamed and slugged his brother in the shoulder after spotting a classic Volkswagen Bug in the road.
Some say “punch buggy” and others say “slug bug.” It’s the same game.
The Thais have a similar game only it’s not with Volkswagens and there’s no punching. However, there is pointing involved. It’s called the farang game or, directly translated, the foreigner game.
Biking into the office this morning I passed a group of adults who weren’t familiar with my presence in their community for the last seven months.
“Farang!” a woman said and pointed at me, as if the tall white guy with the name brand mountain bike, a bright green helmet and imitation Oakley-style shades wasn’t prominent enough. Everywhere I go it’s as if I am a Volkswagen Bug and not a human being who doesn’t appreciate being pointed at. It’s as if there’s a contest among the group of who can spot the foreigner first and point it out to his/her friends.
My responses range from a smile and head shake, ignoring them and sometimes pointing back and shouting “kon Thai!”, which translates to “Thai person!”
This happens almost daily. I’ve written about it before. I’ve been told by Peace Corps staff that the Thais mean nothing derogatory by it. I believe them. It still gets to me.
The Thais are wonderful people. I’d even say they’re more wonderful than Americans. Americans can be wonderful, too. Of course, there’s always the Michele Bachmanns that will never get it.