My first trip to Asia was over 15 years ago (god, has it really been that long?), and I remember it being one of the weirdest – and most fascinating – experiences of my life. Keep in mind that I’m white as white guys get, born and raised in the midwestern US, without having much desire to learn about other cultures until my late teenage years. All I knew was midwestern small-town farm life, surrounded by nothing but smelly cows and other white people. Yep – my world was rather small back then.
But that first trip to Asia back in 2002 made me feel like an outsider more than any other time in my life, and it was a wildly challenging experience for me. I felt so out of place. White, tall, not looking like anyone else. The worst part about it by far was the feeling that everyone was looking at me like I was a weirdo. I had never felt anything like that before, and I suddenly gained a new appreciation for minorities back home in the US who struggled with that sort of thing on a daily basis. They weren’t kidding when they say that travel is one of the most educational things a person can do – I learned quite a bit from that trip.
I still travel to Asia on a semi-frequent basis, and two months ago, I traveled to Taiwan for a quick 4-day vacation. I’ve never been to Taiwan, but I found a pretty good deal on airfare and hotel accommodations in Taipei that I couldn’t pass up. Who cared if I didn’t know a thing about Taiwan and it’s culture? That’s the beauty of travel – you can just hop on a plane and go and find out for yourself! And that’s exactly what I did…
There aren’t so many western people in Taipei
Out of all the places I’ve been to in Asia so far (Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore), Tawain surprised me the most I think. For some reason or another I expected there to be a larger number of western people living in and visiting the city of Taipei. My experiences in Hong Kong have probably skewed my line of thinking a bit, since that is one of Aisa’s most “western” cities and it’s close proximity to Taipei made me naturally assume there would be more white people here. But there wasn’t. During my four-day stay in the city, I think I saw less than 10 other western people, and all of them were tourists wearing backpacks and holding maps.
Meeting women in Taipei
For you white guys out there who might be wondering what the “female situation” is like in Taipei, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Keep in mind that I’m currently in a relationship so I wasn’t there to meet other women, but I think a single caucasian guy could do well here. Taiwanese people are incredibly friendly and open, and I met a lot of really nice people who were proud of their culture and eager to offer me tips and suggestions for making my stay as enjoyable as possible. If you’re a single guy, I can’t imagine it would be difficult to find single ladies who would be happy to play tour guide for you during your stay. The people of Taipei love showing off their beautiful city to visitors.
White guys (and gals for that matter) traveling to Taiwan are likely to feel like they are standing out in the crowd. No, you won’t get ridiculed or stared at, but right away you will feel like you don’t belong. But that that’s what makes travel so fun and adventurous. It’s good to step outside of our comfort zones, and there’s no better way of doing that than being the only person of your kind in a new and unfamiliar place.