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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat
    William's Avatar
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    FARANG'S WIVES: Khon Kaen caves in

    FARANG'S WIVES
    Khon Kaen caves in


    The West comes knocking on the Northeast's door, and somehow this little city remains gentle and quiet



    Visitors have long arrived in Khon Kaen keen to treat their tastebuds to somtam, kai yang and other Isaan classics. These days they're just as likely to be tempted by some German bratwurst or pizza in a growing city that's building its own share of chic cafes.

    Yes, the West has found the province and made it farang-friendly, right down to the latest trends.

    "There were very few foreigners," Gerry Kaye says of the day he arrived six years ago to teach at Khon Kaen Vithes Suksa Bilingual School.

    He, for one, yearned for a decent cup of coffee, so after four years of doing without, he and his Thai wife and a friend opened the Kiwi Cafe next to Kaennakorn Lake.

    A decade ago a tiny smattering of restaurants, hotels and nightclubs did their best to keep 10,000 tourists a year happy. The "tourists" were mostly salesmen, so they were easily amused. If they found any foreign food, it was Vietnamese or Chinese.

    But once the first Friendship Bridge opened in nearby Nong Khai in 1994 and several countries established consular offices, things started to change.

    Another factor was the boom in koey farang - the "Western sons-in-law" marrying local women and settling down here.

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand counted 10,513 foreign guests in town in 2002, but says there were 80,756 in the first three-quarters of this year alone, the koey farang being counted among them, even though they live here.

    The demographic shift means that central Muang district now has every conceivable convenience, much to the delight of foreigners and most Thais, but there is less to offer in terms of authenticity.

    It's the influx of koey farang that's caused the greatest changes. There were enough of them five years ago that Lexens (Thailand) Co Ltd was founded in Khon Kaen to help non-Thai residents and companies figure things out.

    Now, as well as dining at Western restaurants or at a sushi bar, the citizens of Khon Kaen can stock up on imported ingredients at Makro, Tesco Lotus, Tops and Big C.

    "When I was a young girl, meeting a farang was exciting," says 34-year-old Benjamaporn Chamkrom, a lifelong resident who runs a pet salon where many of her customers are foreigners.

    The koey farang are indeed good for business. Spurred on by the lower cost of living, they rent more cars, buy bigger houses and condos and, when out on the town, spend lavishly.

    "They live like rajas here because their money is worth so much more than ours," says one Thai resident, asking not to be named. A decent meal can be had for Bt100, and even the hotel restaurants don't charge much more.

    Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce chairman Surapol Thaveesangsakulthai says it's been estimated that 15,000 Westerners live in the Northeast, though only 20 per cent of those in the city are permanent residents. The rest come to enjoy the warmer winters.

    Surapol reckons that every family that has a koey farang spends at least Bt100,000 a month during the holiday season on food, travel and personal items, with the largesse being shared among the extended clan.

    Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen general manager Marc Begassat is unimpressed. The Westerners have Thai wives, he points out with amusement. "Why would they stay in my hotel?"

    Despite urban growth, the provincial charms here continue to be a draw, and for the most part the foreigners are eager to keep things quiet and small.

    Johan Schumacher, a German retiree, lived in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya before retreating from their hectic pace and settling with a Thai wife in Khon Kaen five years ago. He prefers this "small town" with its warm-hearted people who maintain a more countrified lifestyle and attitude.

    "I can still keep in touch with my friends and family the other side of the world - the Internet is everywhere," he says.

    Tommi Lehtonen, a Finn, scouted Kanchanaburi and Bangkok last year before falling in love with Khon Kaen. Here he found his future wife and opened the modest Pizza Uno in a small soi.

    The relaxed quality of life is a sharp contrast to his homeland, Lehtonen says.

    "You have a lot more money in Finland, but a much lower quality of life," he explains, looking forward to another evening bowling and enjoying "nice food among nice people".

    "Khon Kaen is the real Thailand - nice people and nice food," agrees Kaye, whose only complaint is that there's no taxi service in town.

    "Chiang Mai is too touristy, while Bangkok is too westernised."

    Will Khon Kaen hang on to its charm when there are more tourists and koey farang arriving all the time?
    "It'll change a lot again in the next few years," Kaye says.

    **Long way from home

    Sirinya Wattanasukchai

    The Nation
    Khon Kaen

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by William
    A decent meal can be had for Bt100, and even the hotel restaurants don't charge much more.
    Quote Originally Posted by William
    Surapol reckons that every family that has a koey farang spends at least Bt100,000 a month during the holiday season on food, travel and personal items,
    must be really fat seppoes to eat that much.....10,000foking expensive meals in a month? ok there is personal items I suppose, are there name brand shops there like Yves st laurent and that?

  3. #3
    better looking than Ned
    Rigger's Avatar
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    Yeh Old KK has alot of expats now has really taken off in the last 3 years. But they really need some more Titty bars if they want to get real serious about getting more expats to live there. Anyway moving back there in the next couple of months. About the only thing that I can say thats is good about moving back there will be hi speed internet. I wonder how long it will take me to get into trouble probably not long if I go vist Heli

  4. #4
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    What does "koey farang" mean? The author uses the expression repeatedly.

    I've been to KK pretty unremarkable place apart from the large number of Islamic banks there (what's that all about)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad_dog
    What does "koey farang" mean?
    i think it means "cock farang" hopefully I am wrong....

  6. #6
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    or cock of farang.

  7. #7
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    i think it means "cock farang" hopefully I am wrong....
    Umm Yes. Koey farang is a 'farang son-in-law'

    cock farang would be koo-ay farang

  8. #8
    I am in Jail
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    Spending 100.000 a month?
    God, there are some rich bastads out there!
    Koey ATM, ...suckers

  9. #9
    Not an expat
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    That's a joke, Khon Kaen quiet and gentle. The city is crowded and dirty. The only good thing, it really is cheap. The Sofitel for example is probably the cehapest five star hotel in Thailand.

    But don't get me started about the women.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabian View Post

    But don't get me started about the women.
    go on! it is the wellspring of all the booytiful LBFM that abound in thailand....

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigger View Post
    Yeh Old KK has alot of expats now has really taken off in the last 3 years. But they really need some more Titty bars if they want to get real serious about getting more expats to live there.
    Right Rigger, they need a few more cultural attractions (ozzie style)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rigger View Post
    Yeh Old KK has alot of expats now has really taken off in the last 3 years. But they really need some more Titty bars if they want to get real serious about getting more expats to live there.
    Right Rigger, they need a few more cultural attractions (ozzie style)
    Jaysus - you r in trouble... aussie titty bars are complete Crap!

  13. #13
    Tonguin for a beer
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    I took some friends there once as I wanted to show them a bit of real Issan music in a proper pub, nearly 500 bloody k's round trip and do you reckon we could find anything?

    Only crap western cover bands and we ended up in the basement of the hotel we stayed in where they had some sort of cha cha cha music that was just wierd enough to amuse us. All oldies dancing around and right near the end of the night the old birds came out in bikinis for a bit of raunch before bedtime.

    My friends loved it but I was dissapointed there was seemingly nowhere to have a few beers and hear some real live Issan music.
    Fahn Cahn's

  14. #14
    I am in Jail
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    It's a shithole with a nice 8 lane highway going through

    Birds are nice but they usually stay outside the city

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    i think it means "cock farang" hopefully I am wrong....
    Umm Yes. Koey farang is a 'farang son-in-law'

    cock farang would be koo-ay farang
    Yep my MiL usually refers to me as Luk Koey son-in-law.....well I hope it is

  16. #16
    better looking than Ned
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwillyhggtb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rigger View Post
    Yeh Old KK has alot of expats now has really taken off in the last 3 years. But they really need some more Titty bars if they want to get real serious about getting more expats to live there.
    Right Rigger, they need a few more cultural attractions (ozzie style)
    Jaysus - you r in trouble... aussie titty bars are complete Crap!
    Crazy horse in Adeliade use to be pretty good about ten years ago would make most gogo bar in Thailand look like crap. But can eat away your cash pretty quick as those girls dont root for no 1000bht a night

  17. #17
    Not an expat
    Fabian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bung View Post
    My friends loved it but I was dissapointed there was seemingly nowhere to have a few beers and hear some real live Issan music.
    You should have gone to a village party for that kind of stuff.

  18. #18
    Not an expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwillyhggtb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fabian View Post

    But don't get me started about the women.
    go on! it is the wellspring of all the booytiful LBFM that abound in thailand....
    You mean those uneducated thieving cheating bastards?


    (Do I sound a bit sour at the moment?)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan
    cultural attractions (ozzie style)
    Had to Google "Australian Culture". Now I know.


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by William
    opened the Kiwi Cafe next to Kaennakorn Lake.

    Tommi Lehtonen, a Finn, scouted Kanchanaburi and Bangkok last year before falling in love with Khon Kaen. Here he found his future wife and opened the modest Pizza Uno in a small soi.
    Hmm, these are the only 2 locations which sell decent 'western' food. OK, there are few more bars and stuff around that famous 5 star hotel, but I really wonder where all these western intruders in KK should rest..?

    Been searching for a decent place for breakfast last sunday, you know these stylish places where you can have some 'quiche', a couple of coffees and use their W-LAN for a couple of hours, while resting on the sofa. Did not find any, except the one named above...

    Oh yeah, since this is my first post on this gracious forum: HI everyone!

    Cheers,

    A.

  21. #21
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan
    cultural attractions (ozzie style)
    You should never use the words "cultural" and "Australian" (or its derivatives) in the same sentence. Or paragraph for that matter.

    It some sort of strict grammar rule I believe.

  22. #22
    better looking than Ned
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    Quote Originally Posted by and1
    Been searching for a decent place for breakfast
    Erics bar

  23. #23
    Not an expat
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    Has anyone been to Duan's? It's run by a german, Johann.

  24. #24
    RIP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by and1
    Been searching for a decent place for breakfast
    Erics bar
    Agreed - I think he also has W Lan internet connection now.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabian View Post
    Has anyone been to Duan's? It's run by a german, Johann.
    Always wanted to go, BUT I look a bit jewish and he might pop me in the oven.

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