3. Hating Backpackers

The bane of every expat falang’s existence in Laos is their own unfortunate resemblance to the “wrong kind of falang”—the backpacker.  Nothing offends a falang more than being asked “How long are you traveling for?”  Avoid this pitfall by recognizing the common traits of the homo backpackeris:

photo via: travel.cnn.com

photo via: travel.cnn.com

  • Tubing in the Vang Vieng tanktop
  • Dreadlocks
  • Many conspicuous tattoos
  • Unshowered appearance, sometimes accompanied by an unpleasant odour
  • Shirtlessness or general inappropriate show of skin
  • For women, tattered denim cutoffs; for men, “bro-tanks” with massive arm holes
  • Lonely Planet book
  • Beerlao bottle in hand walking down the street
  • And the dead giveaway: a giant backpack

If, despite your best efforts, you fail to distinguish the two, dig yourself out of this hole by complimenting the expat falang on their bravery to live abroad for so long. (Yes, this even applies to those falang who have lived here for three weeks.)

Falang will go to extreme measures to differentiate themselves from the “wrong kind of falang.”  These efforts include wearing sinhs, greeting restaurant staff in Lao, carrying a motorbike helmet as if it’s an additional appendage, and denouncing traditional backpacker activities and “lack of cultural awareness.”

If you’re hanging out with your falang friend and conversation stalls, ask their opinion on shirtless backpackers.  Expect them to give you an earful as they posture to distinguish themselves from their maligned alter-egos.

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5 thoughts on “3. Hating Backpackers

  1. […] allowed to just like it) might be the single common denominator between falang, Lao people and the-wrong-kind-of-falang.  Beer Lao muscle tanks, however, are another matter […]

  2. […] falang passion for sinhs is that it is a clear indication that one lives in Laos, and is not the “wrong kind of falang”.  Female falang appreciate that Lao people often comment on how nice they look wearing a sinh, […]

  3. […] and enjoy identifying backpackers by their need to look at the menu outside.  Occasionally the wrong kind of falang will infiltrate Sticky’s but generally they are kept at bay by the sheer multitudes of […]

  4. […] The ‘wrong kind of falang‘ […]

  5. […] misguided wrong-kind-of-falang, who have been fooled by Lonely Planet into thinking they’re paying for one day at a luxury […]

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