Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.
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I'm wondering what are the hardest and easiest Asian countries for a Westerner to get accepted into, in ranking order. For those of us, who are just looking for a better life, a change of culture, or work opportunities, or for those who are looking for a great wife, etc. (not my case).
My guess, from the postings is that Thailand and Vietnam are the hardest, and China may be the easiest, but I'm probably wrong. I'll defer to the experts.
Philippines is top
Korea should be bottom
I do not think anyone is ever fully accepted in any other foreign country but if, in a country, you can:
1) date and possibly marry average girls without daily hoots and racial insults directed at you or her; or the majority rejecting you because of race reasons. Or if there is one, it is once in a blue moon instead of daily.
2) walk down the street with only an occasional bad look ( every 5 months or so, instead of several times a day)
3) enter entertainment establishments ( ir any other business) without being kicked out or barred.
(Korea nas been known as the worst, guilty of the bad things described above. !#$%^&* Korea!)
Then you are doing pretty good.
American racism has been studied thoroughly. Not Asian racism. These can be even nastier and more racist than White Americans. It is just it is not well known, not described in Hollywood movies and never mentioned. But Asians are just as bad although admittedly not as violent.
Last edited by ladislav on Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
From easiest to hardest. My rankings based on what I know from traveling or from meeting a large cross section of the people and culture.
Phillipines - I've never been to the Phillipines but i've met a LOT of filipinos everywhere and they are always nice and welcoming. Based on what i've read on here and elsewhere they seem to be the same way in their country.
Cambodia - The country is destitute with shoddy infrastructure but the people are non judgmental and nice. Full of corruption and social problems (drug abuse) though.
Laos - Poor but the people are pretty nice overall. Much less "hard nosed" or nationalistic like Thais but shares a similar culture.
Malaysia - It's a muslim country but not really strict. People are friendly enough here if you are a westerner. I see a lot of older wealthier retirees in Malaysia and it seems to be the cleaner choice over Thailand for those who don't want anything to do with bargirls or nightlife.
Indonesia - Contrary to the terrorism news hype they are actually pretty friendly to westerners in general. I would not live here as an asian-american because the country has a history of violence against chinese-indonesians but for "white" people it's probably a good choice.
Singapore - The people are mostly middle class by developed world standards. It seems boring and small but if you have a marketable skill aside from teaching English you can make quite a bit in Singapore. Singaporeans are not as friendly as other SE Asians and take longer to know but they are good people in general..ie not flakes or have ulterior motives. It's easy to assimilate no matter your race because it's a multi-ethnic society.
Taiwan - Despite what Winston says I think Taiwan is a decent place to live and It's a relatively polite and respectful traditional Chinese society. People may not be as open or superficially friendly but it's probably not difficult to make friends there if you are sociable and willing to go with the flow a bit. It's also a developed country and you can make real money here if you have skills. However, people here do look at you based on your occupation and social class. If you like to whoremonger or party everyday I think most Taiwanese people can suss it out and can be judgmental about things like this.
Thailand - I see a lot of "white" expats here..actually expats of all races and nationalities but then Ladislav says he was mistreated here so I don't know. I would rank this easier than even Indonesia (as an asian-american) but comments from Ladi and a few other people i've talked to recently have made me consider that people have very mixed experiences here. It's good enough for me but for Thailand to be really a comfortable place to live you need to speak Thai and know how to play off Thai quirks.
China - i'd rank this on the same level as Thailand. It's good for some and others seem to hate it. It's such a big and varied country I think you'd have to break it down to specific cities and that's pretty complicated. If you're "white" maybe Shanghai or Beijing will suffice. I don't know. For someone like me who speaks mandarin I thought it was pretty easy to socialize. When you start a conversation people are willing to chat. Regular women seemed very approachable from my perspective.
Hong Kong - cold and efficient is pretty characteristic of Hong Kong people. Don't ever mistake the culture with "mainland" Chinese because the Cantonese Chinese have a certain way of doing things. Seems more difficult to make friends and people were a bit stand offish even in normal situations but it's a good environment if you want to start a business or have a bankable skill. A lot of people speak english and the infrastructure is top notch. If you speak Cantonese it probably makes things a lot easier socially. Women seem to be a mixed bag..there are hot ones but there are also filthy rich and fashionable HK guys at every turn so the competition is probably high. If you look like Edison Chen the world is probably your oyster though.
Japan - Japanese people are superficially polite and pleasant to be around. However it's pretty difficult to ever get beyond this politeness into anything substantial if you want to integrate with the culture. The women are reasonably approachable from what i've heard and seen. It seems there are a lot of unmarried 30 something Japanese women who are known as being easy to approach for expats.
Korea - Generally Koreans don't like foreigners dating their women, period. Koreans are kind of standoffish in general but you can find nice and accepting people like anywhere else. They tend to be pretty nationalistic and more than a little racist in their worldview. Some people i've met who lived there swear it's like the 9th circle of hell but others said it's like anywhere else. I've dated Korean-Americans and know a lot about the culture. They are pretty cliquish in the U.S. and from what i've heard they are far worse in Korea in regards to this.
**I left out Vietnam because I just didn't have enough input.
China is the easiest to get WORK in, especially teaching. They need teachers to bridge them into the West.
Next in order of ease of work:
Fitting in, or assimilating, is entirely different and has been addressed above.
A couple things I forgot to mention. I don't really consider Laos to be all that livable based on daily living inconveniences. The entire country (even the "major" cities) has a somewhat sleepy rural feel to it and stuff like high speed internet access is inconsistent and annoying to get on your own if you rent a place there.
Plus they have mandatory curfews at night and other stuff that's pretty annoying if you're a night owl like me and like to go out sometimes.
Culturally the people are pleasant enough and I don't think it would be difficult at all to meet a nice woman there for marriage or otherwise.
There is plenty of wisdom in your post if people will listen. Fitting in or assimilating is pretty well impossible, and may not be desirable. The critical measure you point out is ACCOMMODATION, meaning will they live and let live enough for the foreigner to
live his life as he wants. Too much of an effort to "fit in" may in fact not received well, as it seems phony and ignores the obvious- you are not one of them and never will be. I make no effort to "be Pinoy", I simply accommodate and many Filipinos accommodate me nicely..to a point. A better destination is that- accommodation and a certain level of mutual respect.
While the usual daily manifestation of racism may be less violent, when it does boil over it can be horrific. There have been numerous uprisings against Chinese populations in history, and the Japanese conquest of Asia was a horrible exercise in racism that left about 30 million people dead.
And in very recent times, the racist anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia involved the assault, rape, and murder of thousands of Chinese and the arson of countless homes and business. I know witnesses to these events. It is beyond the pale...thousands of Chinese women and girls raped, some raped to death...men chopped up in the streets with Machetes or axes..or shot...
it was an orgy of incredible brutality not matched even within the USA civil rights struggles, and those attempting to document these crimes were killed, beaten, cameras taken, and if they were lucky, got away with their lives. Especially targeted for rape were Chinese Christian girls. (The Muslim conquest of the Christian female body)
The USA has made great strides in race relations. What progress has come in Asia is tenuous at best.
Lest anyone think otherwise, you cannot ever become part of Asian culture. You can marry, settle down, have a family, buy a house, reach a kind of detente with the locals, but you will never, ever be one of them. The key is, as Nate posted, whether they will allow you to peacefully co-exist and are accommodating. They will often consider your children better looking than theirs and be very happy for you to bring your hard earned money to their nation but you will never fit in or be one of them if you are non-Asian.
A good litmus test for actual racial tolerance is how many ethnic minorities are involved in politics/government or allowed to gain citizenship in the country you're in. In Thailand there are roughly ZERO people of "white" european descent involved in official government positions here. There are a few notably white western businessmen with Thai nationality like the owner of Minor Food group but it's pretty difficult to gain any sort of traction outside of pure corporatist money influence.
The Japanese Diet has one white guy who's been a Japanese citizen for like 30+ years and he had to campaign forever to get a relatively minor seat with almost no influence.
Then again you'd have to say Europe is really discriminatory in this regard as well. There are very very few racial minorities in any western European parliament which is a big difference to the U.S. which has a fairly representative and visible group of minorities in various areas of the government.
Asia is a lot like tradtiional western European thought in this regard..seats of power are reserved for long standing political families and people of influence who are most like the native population. It's an unsaid form of racism but a lot of it comes from the tumultuous history both regions have faced due to empire politics.
The thing is countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia are new..so the progression away from institutional discrimination is a rather new thing. Even then..look at how many people bitch about Obama because he's black.. heh. This stuff doesn't entirely go away..
Yeah but then again these societies have been changing and are quite complex. Pan-asian acceptance is usually the first step towards complete acceptance. Aside from the big 3 racial/religious Xenophobe nations (Indonesia, Korea, and Japan) the other asian societies are in fact multi-ethnic.
Look at the composition of Malaysia, Singapore, China, and even Thailand. Most of the people in power in Thailand are of Chinese-Thai descent..a clear minority. There just hasn't been much of a acceptance of white westerners because the number of actual genuine white immigrants are very very rare in asia.
A lot of great responses so far. Here is my â€˜2 centsâ€™ from a purely practical point of view.
What do you mean by being accepted? Letting you exist and go about your life within social, work, and family circles peacefully or allowing you to completely assimilate and become another local? I will assume the former. So letâ€™s consider the 3 key factors which distance you from locals and perhaps make you feel more like an outsider - economic differences, racial differences, and cultural + language differences.
1. Economic differences: In poorer countries (Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and to some extent Malaysia) people will view you as being affluent just because you are from the first world. Deep inside, some may feel resentment or jealousy towards you and believe their country has been unfairly exploited by yours. They may rationalize that you owe them some of what you have so cheating you or asking for a hand-out is completely reasonable. And a large percentage of people from the poorest countries in this group (all but Thailand, China, and Malaysia) are so desperate for financial help, they will do about anything to associate with you.
In contrast, the tiny rich classes from these same countries will probably see you as a commoner and below them. Unless you have a very high powered / status job or a special family background, you not likely have access to these people. You are useless to them and of no interest.
2. Racial and Ethnic differences: These divide people in many places. Just look at Malaysia (Malays, Chinese, and Indians), Singapore (similar to Malaysia w/large expat groups added), Indonesia, Hong Kong (Chinese, Filipinos, Expat groups), Thailand (many ethnic related class divisions, Indians, and Expat groups). In some cases, the different groups co-exist peacefully (Singapore, Hong Kong) and in others, there is more conflict or mutual contempt (Indonesia, Malaysia, and increasingly Thailand). But in either case, different racial / ethnic groups tend to stick with their own. Its only natural, â€˜birds of a featherâ€¦â€™. The States is no different.
So which countries will people look down on for being Caucasian? Well the usual suspects are South Korea, Japan, and Thailand where you might suffer overt double standards â€“ Japanese landlords who wonâ€™t rent to you, Koreans who make rude slurs to you under their breath in public areas, Thai police officers and a legal system which discriminates against you. You may get a bit of this in China too. But the PRC huge with diverse opinions, even among the Han Chinese themselves. I found many places very accepting not only of white Americans but even of African blacks. Chinese tend to too pragmatic to focus on race.
As a white person, you will be largely free of problem in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan as long as you present yourself well and behave within the bounds local social norms. If you bring rare skills or a large amount of capital, Singapore may offer attractive incentives for you to become a citizen. In both Hong Kong and Singapore, the well developed expat communities offer you many social options. In Taiwan, a prolific social life is easy to come by if you: a. Are a 20 - early 30 something who likes to socialize, go clubbing, or get out and about with like minded locals and foreigners, b. Learn and absorb the local language and culture to a fair degree and make proactive efforts to connect with locals and long term expats, c. Hook up long-term with a decent local girl and automatically plug into her extended family and social circles. A foreigner may also become a Taiwan national after gaining permanent residency status (5-7 yr. process) as long as he is willing to revoke his original nationality and passport.
3. Linguistic and Cultural differences: The differences in values, sense of humor, and especially spoken language can be a critical barrier between you and the locals. This is a much bigger issue in some countries than others. You really need local language skills in South Korea and Japan, they help dramatically in Taiwan, China, and for different reasons, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, but are a lot less important in the Philippines or Hong Kong. In Singapore, you are completely fine with just English as long as you obey the laws and respect local sensibilities. I really don't know about Laos.
Finally, a countryâ€™s style tends to shape the type of expat communities it attracts. Hong Kong is full of high flying money focused foreigners, Singapore is similar but with more emphasis on family and quality of life, while Thailand attracts every kind of party animal, monger, and riff-raff from all over the world. The handful of foreigners you come across in places like Taiwan, Korea, or China tend to be a lot more down to earth, eccentric, or intellectual. And these 3 countries also have a substantial number of expat English teachers.
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