Black travelers in SE Asia
4th March, 2010
Heading to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in next month with my fiance.
Just wanted a heads up on the general attitude towards minority travelers. Anyone have any input on this?
#1 Posted: 17/3/2010 - 21:54
12th May, 2006
Total reviews: 31
Well, my wife is black and we've travelled together in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, so I have some experience in this regard. We never had any problems or noticed any overt discrimination. In many SEA countries there does exist a beauty standard and social hierarchy where lighter-skinned people are generally higher up. However, foreigners (at least non-Asian foreigners) are on the whole pretty much outside this system of thinking in any case, so apart from individual cases, darker skinned travellers won't be treated much differently.
Especially in more remote areas people probably stared at my wife even more than they do at other foreigners, and many were curious as to where she was from etc., but other than that, it was not an issue in any way. I speak reasonable Khmer, and from what I understood from conversations around us in Cambodia, quite a few were surprised to see a black traveller and made comments about this, but not in a malicious way.
Depending on how dark he/she is and with what kind of features, a black foreigner might be assumed to be a local in some areas (e.g. there are very dark Malaysians). This can change the expectations as regards behavior, until it becomes clear he/she is not a local.
If you have any more specific questions, fire away.
#2 Posted: 18/3/2010 - 00:20
4th March, 2010
Thank you, Lother, for your reply.
My fiance and I are an interacial couple and have traveled a bit. Im accustomed to the slightly longer stares and general curiousity. I sometimes wonder if its being a black traveler or being an interacial couple that attracts the stares.
In either case, Im happy to hear that your wife did not encounter any unpleasant experiences.
The attitude in SE Asia seems to be similar to other parts of the world.. which puts me at ease.
#3 Posted: 18/3/2010 - 01:00
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