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.