Farangs are Celebrities in South East Asia: Picture taking, staring, and kisses

The obviously inebriated woman grabbed my husband's face to pull him in for a kiss.  "Call me", she motioned as we all struggled to jump on the train, 10 bags in total, a 4-year-old swinging on our already heavily loaded arms and exhaustion written all over our faces.  It has reached a breaking point...no not my marriage ..our celebrity status here in Asia!

Now, I must admit that my sons and my husband are all quite handsome but honestly most days you would think I was traveling with the Beatles during their craze in the UK!

There were people all around lined up for their "turn" with my husband!
When we decided to come to Asia a few months ago I knew that we would stand out a bit but I was not prepared for what was to come when we actually got here.  After living in Costa Rica for many years entrenched in a culture that adores babies, we often garnered attention when walking the streets with our blonde little boy.  But nothing like the celebrity status we found in Asia!

We were a big hit at the caves in Chiang Dao, Thailand

Every place we go, my boys stand out, get touched, have their photos taken, and are generally gushed over.  My husband being blonde, blue-eyed, and very tall also gets attention when he goes out and we often joke that if we set up a booth and charged for photos we may be able to fund that trip to Australia!

Recently we were at a beautiful temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand.  The kids and I were discussing the history of the temple and town in general and waiting for our turn on the photo op platform (all we could access due to the damage during the floods), when a couple girls asked if we wanted them to take our picture so we could all be in it.  I don't get to be in many of the photos because I am usually the one taking pics so I jumped at the chance.  Little did I know their true motives.

After taking a quick (head chopped off actually) photo of us, all of the girls jumped in the picture and the onslaught of awkwardly posed photos began.  Ten minutes into the photo shoot and we were all ready to run away, but the photos were just starting. It seems that once one person is brave enough to request photos with the farangs (slang for caucasian foreigners in SE Asia) then people seem to ooze from every corner to jump in on the action.  We stood there in front of this amazing structure for over 30 minutes having our photos taken with complete strangers.

The person with my camera just kept snapping away:)
We really don't mind and it usually is an opportunity to strike up a conversation with people from all over the world, but the last day at the train station was really just a bit over the line.  It started innocently enough with a beautiful Thai woman engaging my husband and our 4-year-old to take pics with her adorable daughter. But 5 minutes later we realized it was going to make a great story one day as she heavily hit on my husband right in front of me.

So, if you've ever wondered what it was like to be a celebrity and have paparazi fawn all over you, taking photos when you least expect it, just head to Asia and you'll know exactly what it is like!  For us I think we've learned that being a celebritry is not all it's cracked up to be, but maybe that is just because we don't get the money to go along with the papparazzi!

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a monk stalker myself with a camera. So I understand the urge to take pictures of people who are clearly different from ourselves.

If you had an experience like this we'd love to hear it.  Please comment below.

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  1. We just got that today, here in Phuket!!! But it is really all throughout Asia. When we lived in Korea, we got stopped in the street to have our picture taken. It was funny.

  2. Ha ha ha! Well that is just hilarious! You seem to be taking it well, though. What an interesting side of traveling in Asia!

  3. Yes Stacey, the train station incident was hysterical. After she saw me she started trying to kiss me saying how sorry she was. It was, shall we say, a bit uncomfortable:) We were so exhausted it was so funny that she just didn't see it.

    Being a celebrity is fun for a little but even Theo is getting tired of it!

  4. We get this all the time, too! People are constantly asking to take pictures of our kids or our family, even here in Japan where people are more respectful about it. Our heaviest dose was probably in Peru, though, where we were stopped 5 times in about 5 minutes on the walk back to our hostel. My kids have gotten really sick of it. It's hard to even get them to smile now. Guess we wouldn't make good celebrities. :)

    1. Yes its cute for about 5 minutes and that's it! After 2 years we were DONE! Cambodia was the worst for us. But the kids now know they have NO interest in being famous!

  5. I can pass for a local, and my kids who are half-Asian are not exotic enough to draw attention. It's actually been nice to fly under the radar. I went to Songkran with my farang friends, and I was amazed at how much more they got squirted than I did.

    1. That is so funny! I was happy to be a target at Songkran though. Damn bummed we couldn't do it again this year:)