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Stigma Fading For Mia Farang

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Stigma fading for mia farang

Ask a girl in the rural Northeast what she wants to be when she grows up, and you might hear farmer, teacher, singer, actress – or foreigner’s wife.

Thai women taking Western husbands are nicknamed “mia farang”, and here in Isaan some 15,000 women wear the title with pride. To be a foreigner’s wife is to have money, security, stability, an end to crushing poverty, and by and large, community acceptance of your choice in “career”.

The numbers of teenagers and high school graduates trying to enter the social circles of the mia farang was at first a phenomenon, and now a norm of life in Isaan. Girls trade tips on scoring Western husbands, or seek advice from the increasing amount of schoolmates or older cousins who already have one.

The government is now even asking mia farang to sell Otop products and help bring more foreigners to the Kingdom.

“Try asking any threeyearold girl in a rural village what she would like to be when she grows up, and you would be surprised to hear how many of them reply mia farang,” Adul Jankaew, headman of Ban Nonngarm village in Udon Thani’s Muang district said.

According to Witchai Lormwong, a director of the district school in Ban Phranmuan, becoming a mia farang is often deemed “good and acceptable” by a girl’s friends and family.

“There’s no more question of whether being mia farang is right or wrong. Girls just do it,” Witchai said.

The villagers say that for an Isaan girl, a Westerner is potentially the Prince Charming in their Cinderella story. The right marriage could get them all they need, and much of what they’ve lacked, overnight. “Over there” is associated with bright futures, getting money for doing little to nothing, maybe even becoming rich.

The other option for girls is more traditional: hard work on farms with the prospect of uncertain income.

“Why not marry a foreigner? Its good money,” said “Nong Dum”, a grade 9

student in Ban Jaan village in Roi Et who did not want to reveal her real name.

That philosophy is now getting passed from mother to daughter in Isaan, according to Adul.

“They teach their kids that if someone asks them about what they want with their future, they should reply mia farang,” Adul said.

In Adul’s village, 25 out of 180 families have mia farang wives or mothers, not including those who have yet to get married and those working in the sex industry.

The area is one of many largescale miafarang communities scattered across the region, according to a recent survey by the National Economic and Social Development Board’s regional office.

But the decision to be a foreigner’s wife doesn’t hold appeal for everyone. Prasit Boonchoop, a Ban Jaan village headman, admitted that more and more of the girls in his village and nearby areas are strictly targeting foreigners. But some would rather have the security of poverty at home, rather than the uncertainty of wealth abroad.

“I would rather work hard here on the farm than stay abroad. I don’t know what they are doing there. I just want to study more, till at least grade 12,” said Nong Am, a 15-year-old in Ban Jaan.

But her 21yearold cousin just left for Switzerland on a “student visa” –meaning she has three months to find a mate, according to the family – and Nong Am’s mother is now doing cleaning work in Bangkok, a popular summer activity that provides Bangkok income and exposure to farang men.

“It is common for villagers here to work in Bangkok after the rice farming season, because there are no jobs here. The husbands drive taxis and the wives do cleaning or waitressing jobs in restaurants around the capital,” Prasit said.

“There are at least 100 families from this village working for [businesses] in Chuwit [Kamolwisit]’s Davis Group chain alone. Some get as much as Bt2,000 in tips on a lucky day, compared to their Bt1,200 salary,” he added.

Work in Bangkok or the tourist provinces are a rural girl’s map to meeting foreigners, according to the NESDB study.

Most villagers interviewed by The Nation immediately answered “economic factors” when asked to explain why they would be a mia farang. Currently, the 22 million people in the 19 northeastern provinces earn an income that is three times below the national average and 8.9 times lower than Bangkok’s.

The region still has 6,679 “poor” villages and another 806 “very poor” villages – accounting for 40 per cent of Thailand’s poor – according to a February NESDB report.

Ironically, the government’s Bt1million village fund is helping people move to the city. The money, which people say they will use to fix irrigation ditches or buy cattle, often purchases a ticket to Bangkok, according to the two village headmen.

They’re lured by a desire for material goods, and the quickest fix for that need is a farang husband.

“The villagers compete to be successful people and they measure success through the size of a house, the brand of a car and other luxury items,” Prasit said.

Some roads in mia farang villages put one in mind of Bangkok’s posher residential areas, instead of a village in the dry Northeast. The latest fashionable car might be parked in a garage attached to a Western style luxury rambler, all located behind a solid concrete fence.

The sign to Ban Jaan village is written in Thai and English. Local residents call the village, with its 80 Swiss soninlaws, Ban Jaan Swiss.

“We get a lot of support from farang money,” said village headman Adul, reflecting the level of community acceptance of mia farang.

But not every mia farang fairytale wedding has a happy ending, according to some women outside of the mia farang circle.

“Among the successful cases are the older women, or the ones who’ve been exposed to marriage. Most of the teen mia farang are not successful. They are only in the relationship for money, but they are immature about relationships,” said a food vendor in Udon Thani.

--The Nation 2004-06-16

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You can't really blame Thai women for dating foreign men. After all, how many foreign men come to Thailand every year to "date" thai women? Same same. Sure there are many out there just after money ...but it isn't like that just in Thailand. Good report, though.

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Is this a hoax?

Or am I out of touch with modern life in Thailand? Maybe it is an Isaan phenomenon. I did notice on a recent visit to my gf's village, that there was a new sign up outside the local admin office saying in English "tourist data center". I take this a sign that more tourists are passing through (Nan province), haven't noticed an increased desirability of 'mia farang', I have the privilege of being the only one there!

Hands off my village!

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Bound to happen. Thai pooying have been tired of their cheatin' Thai husbands for some time and it's safe to say, Farang don't stray as much? :o

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I've just accepted a job in Isan, teaching English in a college for 18-22 year olds. From what I'm reading in this article it sounds as if the girls will be using it as a finishing school to get farang husbands. Is this likely to be the case?

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I don't know Andy, but you're in a brilliant position to do something about that.

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We're cross-posting Will!

My assumption has been that the college is offering an alternative to having to seek work in Bangkok and Pattaya. Maybe it's both - I'll see when I get there!

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And here was me thinking that it was my money she was interested in, when it was status she was seeking all along.

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I thought it was my stunning good looks :o

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Naw...it's the Green Card... :o

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“Why not marry a foreigner? Its good money,” said “Nong Dum”, a grade 9 student in Ban Jaan village in Roi Et who did not want to reveal her real name.

They way they talk about it in the post, marrying a foreigner is a job. And as such, it is not surprising that some girls cheat. Afterall, is it even possible to cheat on your boss?

Expats reading stories like this and other where after a while the woman kicks her boyfriend out of the house he bought in her name. And Thai women reading stories about guys who after a few years leave a girl to trade in for a newer model, it really is a wonder that any Thai/Farang relationships work out at all.

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> Thai pooying have been tired of their cheatin' Thai husbands for some

> time and it's safe to say, Farang don't stray as much? :

Bull. :o Just looking at some of the Farangs I know I think I'm qualified to say they stray just as much, if not more, than your average Thai bloke.

Some Thais indeed seem to think this, and as of yet I can still worm my way out of suspicions by saying "Stray? me? For God sakes woman, I'm Farang!! " :D

But I think most of us here know the truth. :D All men are dogs, and in Thailand we can even be proud of it! :D

Cheers,

Chanchao

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They make it sound like farangs are the last resort. Maybe we are, because this phonomana is from the poorest part of Thailand. Notice the wealthier ladies go for Thai's and not farangs? Money number one everytime.

It will be a cold day in ###### when I marry a Thai girl.

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I think the ratio for women to men in thailand is somewhere around 3-1, so there

are going to be many thai women who will either marry a foreigner or not at all.

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