Monthly Archives: July 2013

Reflection: being Asian in Asia

It’s a funny thing, being an Asian traveling in Asia. Whenever a westerner (white guy) travels around in Asia, he stands out, and gets certain “white privileges” – all the companies want to hire him (if only to walk around and pretend that the company is doing international business), all the girls want to talk to him, and in any setting he enjoys an automatic boost in social status. In contrast, if you’re an Asian in Asia, even if you were born in the West, you get squat. If anything, you lose out – you look more or less like a local, but you don’t speak the local language.

But as I travel and talk to people, I realize that it cuts both ways – if you’re white, sure people will always notice and (in some places) accord you more respect. But you’ll never fit in. In places like Japan, you’ll always be the odd man out, never fitting in even if you speak fluent Japanese. In places like Thailand, you will always pay higher prices when bartering, and people will forever be trying to rip you off.

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Travelogue: Bangkok

Bangkok, the gateway to Southeast Asia. It seems like Bangkok is a favorite of first time backpackers – I met so many folks in their gap year, backpacking for their first time. Compared to all these young whippersnappers, at 27 I’m definitely an old fart :-)

There are two sides to Bangkok – the expensive & modern side, and the cheap & historical side. Unsurprisingly, I (and most fellow backpackers) ended up spending most of my time in the cheap district (paying $7-$17 per night for accommodation!).
Bangkok - cityscape

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