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Solo Asian Backpacker

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I've travelled solo before and I loved it!! But as an Asian backpacker I noticed....
10 years ago, November 13th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #93703  
hello everyone,

I've traveled alone before and I have enjoyed it big time. But there are those days where I felt really left out. In the backpacking scene, majority are Europeans and it's really rare to see Asian people backpacking solo. I'm from the USA but of Asian descent..

I noticed how a lot of backpackers stick with their own kind. When I went to Monteverde, Costa Rica i noticed how the Europeans stick with the Europeans etc. One scenario I will never forget is when I went to nicaragua last august. I wanted to share a cab going to my hostel. I heard this guy asking other tourists if they want to share a taxi but then the other group have 5 people already and no more space.

So I approached him and I asked him if he wants to share a ride with me. He's like where are you from? I'm like USA and he's like oh cool let's get a ride then. Inside the cab he told me he thought I'm a Japanese exchanged student that's why he didn't talk to me. (in my head..I'm like wow that's so specific. japanese exchange student lol ummm ) The funny thing is when I went to cr and nica the locals thought I'm Latina and the rest thought I'm from Japan. I always suffer a bit of identity crisis whenever I go travel haha.

I'm planning on traveling for a year or more, but I'm a bit worried that I'm gonna have a hard time sharing a ride, or tagging along with other people, and even finding a job. etc. since I do not fit in the typical backpacker look? is there such a thing??? I really love traveling alone and being independent but it's also nice to get to know other people to share isnights with. and most especially share a taxi with someone..it saves you $$ plus it's more fun.

when you travel do you choose to only tag along with those people from your own country?


gracias,
angela Reply to this

10 years ago, November 13th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #93714  
Hey I just booked a trip to Thailand this morning and my whole group bailed on me. I've never backpacked alone and I'm a little scared. Do you really recommend it? I don't know what to do at this point. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 13th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #93715  
Travelling alone is the BEST!!! Do it! Nobody to piss you off, do what you want, when you want! Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #93717  
Valerie! DO IT! If I can do it..you can do it too!

I freaked out when I backpacked alone, but after a few hours I managed to pull everything together. Of course it's going to be scary at first, but then you'll adjust. Just be smart and you'll do fine.
Don't walk around wearing too much jewelry or wearing something that will catch unwanted attention.
MAke sure you have a guide book and know some basic thai so you can go around easier.

Act like the locals do.. When are you going to Thailand?
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #93718  
My trip is Nov 27-Dec 11. I have never traveled alone but apparently you can't trust anyone to follow through on a trip so I guess I'm doing it. I just bought a travel book and I'm going to research everything out before I go so I have it all planned.

I traveled all over Europe with my best friend last summer and we did ok. I just have a very bad sense of direction haha. I understand foreign travel now but I am a little nervous.

This is crazy!!! Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #93719  
B Posts: 11.5K
I like both your attitude Angela, and the advice you gave Valerie.

There is something special about sometimes wandering around somewhere you haven't been before on your own, just soaking it in. I think the anxiety you may feel by being on your own adds to the experience.

And anyone who intentionally chooses to associate only with fellow travellers from their home country does so to their own detriment, in my opinion. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #93721  
Valerie, I have a very BAD and I mean VERY VERY BAD sense of direction also lol. I got lost so many times in costa rica. I even got off the wrong street!!!! lol I waited for about 5 hours to catch a bus going to Monteverde coz I didn't got off in the right place which is Lagarto lol. But you know I met a lot of interesting people during my stupid moments in costa rica. 😊

yeah Val, do it..do it!! just be very alert and observant of your environment, but don't get all paranoid.



totally JO! 😊
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #93755  

I've traveled alone before and I have enjoyed it big time. But there are those days where I felt really left out. In the backpacking scene, majority are Europeans and it's really rare to see Asian people backpacking solo


I definitely know what you mean Angela. Should I say it is worse for me because I am Asian and I grew up in Asia?! It's part of the travel 😊
Getting left out is something I'm still trying to get used to 😉
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #93765  
Awww I don't think it's that bad. It's very rare to see Asians traveling solo, so we can't really blame if we get a bit left out or something. I met a lot of people during my travels the only time I get left out is when I try and share a taxi but other tourist won't talk to me unless I ask em first and they'd be like "oh I didn't know you can speak english" It gets annoying sometimes but I think it's really funny lol A lot of people also thought I'm a local (when I went to costa rica and nicaragua) so I can't really blame them. As I've said earlier, I always suffer from minor identity crisis when i travel coz for some reasons people get confused about where the ___ I come from. lol

I guess part of the Asian culture is being polite and you know how we tend to only speak when asked..that's why we probably have that "i want to be alone" look?? that will kind of drive people away lol but yeah, unfortunately there are those who only associate themselves to people from their own culture. which is retarded. but oh well.

It's so annoying sometimes, and there are days whe i'm bothered by this but whatever. i'm gonna keep on traveling. 😊

Reply to this

10 years ago, November 14th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #93775  
Hey angela,
Me and my boyfriend have just returned to the UK from a year traveling. We had an amazing time and dont regret one second, even though I broke both my arms in Bolivia then nearly drowned in Venezeula, no regrets what so ever.
I totally agree that some groups do stick together. We noticed this most often with Israelis. A lot of those guys seem to stick together and a lot of other travellers find them rude. We cant say that we found them rude, but definately they stuck to themselves. We heard it was because they get sick of being asked about the troubles in the middle east and they are all in a similar position that the rest of us dont understand, in that many of them just got out of a hard time in the army.
I think most of us hope in our dreamy minds that we will mix with the locals and have an authentic experience absent of other tourists but I think from meeting other tourists we learned a lot and it enriched the experience.
I think most people that have decided to travel are already open minded enough (in that they chose to go in the first place) that you will find that it is generally the rule that everyone mixes together but there are the rare exeptions. I dont think you will have a big problem, dont worry about it, chill and have a good time.
Vik
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 15th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #93788  
People from Israel have a very bad reputation as travelers. Personally any I have met on their own are very nice and cool people. It's when they get into big groups that others feel intimidated by some of them. Some find them rude and that they take over a place. I have met and talked to solo Israeli travelers who will not travel with fellow country men and women for this reason. Also, people are afraid to say anything in case they are called anti-Jewish, when the reason some don't like them is because of their behavior towards others. In Ireland we have had our troubles, but we never packed it in our bags and brought it on holidays with us.

As regards the original post, I was only thinking the other day that nearly everyone that I have met while traveling has been of the same race as myself. This is mainly due to the fact that 95% of people that are traveling seem to be the same race as me. I hate to think that I would prejudge someone before talking to them, but I know I do. Anyone who says they don't is a liar!!

I'm Irish and personally like to meet fellow country people every now and again. We have a lot in common with each other. Also, I feel I gravitate towards English, Scottish and Welsh as they have similar lives to ourselves.

Traveling is half about the sights you see and the other half is the people you meet.
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 15th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #93795  
Actually I've met 2 gals from Israel. I forgot how we started talking, but they are cool. They are quite talkative, and I liked it. I even have one of them on facebook.

Yeah I know..as I've mentioned on my orig. post most travelers are from some part of Europe. You guys have it easy about meeting new people when traveling haha. When i backpack 2 mos ago I only met a few Americans and only one Asian...well Asian American. Surprisingly that guy I met also lives in California and his office is located only a few blocks from my apt. really amazing.

Yeah that's true how traveling is also about the people you meet.... sometimes it's really nice to be alone and have the experience by yourself but it's really different to meet new people. and seeing new sights with someone. it's so nice when happiness is being shared. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 16th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #93837  
I've traveled solo for many years and on my next trip I will go alone again to Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I can say that 90%!o(MISSING)f the locals and travelers I've met are very nice. Often people approached me and wanted to talk with me, that's very nice. A couple of western girls I met in southern Vietnam even asked me if I was a French, no, I'm an Asian girl, while some Vietnamese in Vietnam were surprised why I could speak Vietnamese so well. I think self-confidence, independence and friendly attitude as well as respect to people are important things when we deal with people. Certainly there are rude people but I just ignore them. I don't mind if I have to pay for hotel, taxi etc on my own. I'd rather shorten my holiday and enjoy it than feeling stressful about financing.
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 16th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #93839  
I have the same case also. People get confused of where I'm from. Most of them thought I'm Latina, but I tell them I'm Filipina American. I think it's because I can speak tagalog and I can also speak a bit of Spanish.

that's good for you.Some people tho are on a budget and would rather not spend too much money, but doesn't mean they stress all the time. it's just that if you have an option of saving a penny. Why not?

Reply to this

10 years ago, November 16th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #93841  

I guess part of the Asian culture is being polite and you know how we tend to only speak when asked..that's why we probably have that "i want to be alone" look??


HAHAHA ... true ... true ...
... but for sure, Asians i don't bite 😉
i don't really mind being left alone but there are just these awkward moments when people gather in groups while i sit alone at the corner counting flies...hahahaha

...but I tell them I'm Filipina American


Kabayan! Reply to this

10 years ago, November 18th 2009 No: 16 Msg: #93972  
B Posts: 847

....unfortunately there are those who only associate themselves to people from their own culture. which is retarded. but oh well.



Yeah, best to ignore them. But I do wonder how true this is for most backpackers on TB whom I presumed to be more open-minded. Those prejudices are certainly out of fashion now, but still rings true sometimes.

Reply to this

10 years ago, November 20th 2009 No: 17 Msg: #94168  
B Posts: 38
Hey this thread is along my alley. I'm Asian, and I love traveling alone and have done that in the past in several occasions - I have many good and bad experiences, of course.

IMO, it's very true that majority of the world assume that Asians don't speak any English, we all speak 'Asian language'. I've been asked before, randomly, to translate some conversations in Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese into English. Ha.
As the result, other travelers typically ignore a solo Asian traveler until s/he opens her/his mouth and mutter something in English.

During my last solo trip to Hong Kong and Macao, I had several conversations with locals regarding my background. True that I'm Chinese decent who appears to be a Chinese, but since I grew up in the 1960s-2000s Indonesia where Chinese culture and languages were banned, I can't speak any Mandarin. As a result, I received several insults as a non-Chinese-speaker Chinese, who abandons his culture 😞

My observation: majority of Asian solo travelers, if any, usually gravitate towards other Asians too. Of course I'm talking about those who live in a strong Asian cultures (ie Asians who don't really exposed to many other races). This is not a racist thing, just a comfort level as naturally exist inside any person's mind.

Since I'm an Indonesian who lives in the States, majority of my traveling friends, if any, are Americans (uhm, it is true that Indonesians typically don't travel that much around the world, they're touristing around the world!). But that doesn't mean that I only stick with Americans, I usually open to other travelers whom I met along the way. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 26th 2009 No: 18 Msg: #94529  
haha Halef!! that happened to me as well!! it's pretty funny. I just laugh at it! Sometimes I give em wrong translation but of course I'd be like; I'm JUST KIDDING!

That's true. I can understand those type of travelers. It doesn't always mean they're being a racist or something negative. It is mostly about comfort level. Plus it is easier to travel with someone who can understand where you come from, meaning more commonalities. But then again some people tend to e too territorial. which sucks. 😞

I'm sorry that you cannot speak Mandarin. It doesn't mean you're disgraced or something. Just incase you want to learn tho, you know you can always take classes to learn Mandarin. My friend is American born Chinese and he seriously self studied Mandarin...now he's fluent. The accent tho is a little weird but at least he can speak it now.

That's good that you open yourself to other people when you travel. That will make your trip more fun and interesting. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 26th 2009 No: 19 Msg: #94530  
Mabuhay Tinnie 😊 you count flies. I do too sometimes LOL!

'm glad you travel a lot. It's very rare for young Filipinos to travel especially abroad. The Philippines is not the richest country in the world and that gives us a hard time finding the funds to support our travels.

Keep traveling 😊

Angela Reply to this

10 years ago, November 30th 2009 No: 20 Msg: #94814  
Hello Angela 😊

Looks to me like that guy had a bad experience with a Japanese exchange student, and is determined to not repeat it. Reminds me of the strangers who introduce themselves to me and then presume I will be willing to help them with their English. They dont seem to realise that not everybody is interested in learning their language in exchange for being a sounding board for their English. Maybe this guy had such an experience with a Japanese student. Getting out of these situations is not easy, because rejecting somebody is uncomfortable, especially if they are persistent.

As far as travel hang out buddies are concerned, I dont think race, gender, age.... is important, but I do think that hang out buddies need to be compatable or at least independently minded. For example, if you want to practice your English, chose somebody who is interested in doing this with you. If you want to hike, likewise. Choose somebody who is interested.

Also, to avoid being unnecessarily rejected try to pick up on the signals that let you know if somebody is approachable or not. And more importantly, try not to take the behaviour of people you dont know personally. How somebody behaves when they meet you can have more to do with previous experiences, than it has with anything about you. They may be needing space, they may be lonely, they may be tired, they may be uninterested in speaking in a foreign language right now....

Mel Reply to this

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