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Asian discrimination?

Will be traveling to England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Iceland, has any Asian had any negative experiences due to discrimination?

Posted by
484 posts

I’ve been to ALL the countries you listed, and never felt or experienced any discrimination. I’m “Asian via Hawaii.” The only place I experienced discrimination was in the 60s in one of the southern states when the military sent us to one of the bases there.

Posted by
22 posts

Just curious, have your visits to these countries been recent, since Covid? I too am Asian via Hawaii but live in Wa State. Have been anxious about our trip due to increase in attacks on Asians in the USA, including Seattle. Have been to England, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Hungary and Czech Republic before Covid and never had any issues but since Covid I was just wondering what I should be prepared for.

Posted by
484 posts

Husband and I were in Switzerland for about a month last year, with a tour group as well as on our own, in larger cities as well as very small towns. I was always with a group of haoles 😊. (“Hele on to Kauai… 🌴).

Posted by
1178 posts

My husband is Asian and we’ve traveled to all of those places except Iceland. I can honestly say that we’ve experienced more racism at home in the US than in any of those places.

Posted by
5926 posts

Caveat: I'm as white as Rick Steves (that is to say, very), so grain of salt here, but...

My spouse is Asian (ethnic Chinese, and not a native English speaker; she speaks English with a definite accent). We live in WA state as well. We have traveled together extensively all over much of Europe, from major tourist magnets to obscure, off-the-beaten-path backwaters (including two trips after the pandemic started). I've never observed any behavior towards her (or us as a couple), that came across as racist or discriminatory (at least to me). A few times we've encountered someone who just seemed to be an a-hole to all the tourists around them, not singling out her (or us). At least that's what I've observed with my admittedly round and privileged eyes.

I just asked her if she could remember any negative experiences she had in Europe that she would chalk up to racial discrimination, either with me (which I may not have noticed) or when she had traveled there with immediate family members when she was young. Her response was "Nope, not really...That's why I bring you along, so I can benefit from your privilege."

Fair enough. When we go to Asia, she gets to do most of the talking (she's quick to admit I am better at Romance languages; I'm completely useless with every Asian language I've encountered). Shrug.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
241 posts

I think it is a valid question, but I am thinking the same lines as the above post mentioning white privileged. And another with “haole”. Is that OK?
Recent activity on this boards leads me to believe this post will be taken down.

Posted by
6 posts

It is a legitimate question and Asian hate is very real (at least in the US). If such concern cannot be asked in a welcoming online forum such as Rick Steve’s, I don’t know where it can be posted.

I am Taiwanese American and our family will be traveling to Europe soon. I am anxious about the possibility of post-covid Asian hate in Europe too. I have travelled to many Western European countries pre-covid, and the only time we faced discrimination was in Amsterdam. A waiter refused to serve us and purposely ignored us despite he happily served the table next to us.

Posted by
5957 posts

This is posted on the minority traveler forum which makes it seem appropriately placed. I can't imagine why it would be taken down.

I am white, but have the honor of having my daughter and her family being ethnically Korean. I have watched this play out her entire life. (She is 36 now). There are times when she is treated differently because she is Asian. It is a reality that is part of her life. She has learned to deal with this and has not reported any difficulties that she has experienced while traveling.

I know that there are buzz words out there that get a reaction from people. However, I have to admit that my daughter has faced situations that I never faced, merely because of race. She has learned to be cautious in some situations that I wouldn't give a second thought about.

Posted by
22 posts

I want to thank everyone for their honest responses.
Like I posted we have not been to Europe since 2019, (before Covid,) we were in Italy for 6 weeks, with 2 other couples and no issues then.
We are leaving in 2 weeks and we will be on 2 different tours, Ireland, and Switzerland/Austria. The rest of the time we will be renting cars and touring Southern England, Munich, and Iceland on our own. Since we won’t have the advantage of being with a group in the other countries I just wanted to have a sense of what to expect (if anything, hopefully nothing). due to Covid related backlash.
Like Carols daughter, as a person of color you always have your antenna up. This doesn’t stop you from having fun and appreciating the beauty and excitement of the immediate culture you are in but it
is always something you need to be aware of.

Posted by
4843 posts

It is a legitimate question and Asian hate is very real (at least in the US). If such concern cannot be asked in a welcoming online forum such as Rick Steve’s, I don’t know where it can be posted.

It is indeed a very legitimate question and does belong on this forum however certain divisive language does not.

As to the OP's question the term 'Asian' when referring to ethnicity in the UK typically relates to those with an Indian sub continent heritage, those with East Asian heritage are usually referred to by their country of origin or perceived origin.

There are instances of racism as there are in all countries however the UK is widely acknowledged as being more tolerant than others and I don't expect you to experience much, if any, ill treatment because of your race.

Posted by
1 posts

Thank you for posting this question, bkkroman. It's a question that I've also had while planning a tentative trip to Prague later this year. Husband and I are also Asian American via Hawaii. We also travelled around Europe multiple times in the past without much problem. We were thinking of doing a day trip to Dresden, Germany from Prague this Fall. Goggling "Anti-Asian violence in Dresden, Germany" however, yielded at least a couple of dated, but still concerning articles:

https://www.dw.com/en/pegidas-fourth-anniversary-thousands-in-dresden-for-rival-rallies/a-45974310

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/2/eastern-german-city-dresden-declares-nazi-emergency

I do not know if the annual anti-immigration rallies by the far right in Dresden are still being held, If they are, the 2022 rally will unfortunately be right about the time that my husband and I were planning on doing a day trip there. Although we are not "immigrants" to Germany, we know that even in the USA, we are sometimes perpetually perceived as foreigners or invaders based solely on our looks.

It's a sad unfortunate reality that we have to consider these things as we move about even in Western countries.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you Madison for the links and for the validation of the anxiety I feel at times,
although as I stated it will not stop us from enjoying this adventure through Europe. We will be traveling for 2 + months and are so excited to be traveling again despite the Covid cloud still hanging around.
I want to wish you and your husband safe travels this fall and enjoy yourselves. Pomaika’i !!! 🤙

Posted by
15 posts

This is a legitimate question and truly in the minds of folks that look different. And it has been in my mind more with being a part of a tour rather than the treatment you would receive in the country you are visiting.

I am an Indian American, having lived in the US more than half my lifetime. I have traveled some, so far London, Scotland, Ireland, Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, Oman, Thailand and Hong Kong. Every country viewed me as an Indian until I opened my mouth. The reaction would normally be, ‘which part of India are you from?, soon after I say the city I grew up, the reaction, is, ‘oh, you are not from India, are you? When I say, I am from the US, the conversation kind of stops. I guess, as an Indian, I appear mysterious and people want to hear about the Indian culture.

Honestly, outside of the US, I feel like people are more tolerant( like another contributor mentioned) or maybe the locals outside of the US are just being polite and nice to me because I am a tourist.
Also, what is considered rude and nosy in the US, is a normal attitude in other countries.
So, don’t worry about your concerns
I am more concerned about how the tour members would react to me. I am big girl and I can handle that but still worries me..

Posted by
7139 posts

ava, I think as a white-American traveler and tour group member, I would have the dilemma of wondering what is appropriate: acknowledging your anxiety and discomfort, and trying to mitigate that; or ignoring it and treating you like it shouldn't be a problem. I suppose that its dependent on the individual, but its not something for which the right thing to do is obvious.

In my midwestern big city with no long history of Asian immigration, there are those who still think anyone with South Asian features is an Islamic terrorist, but more who assume you're likely to be a STEM genius. The large middle doesn't think at all.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you for all your responses.
I am happy to report that we are 6 weeks into our trip and all is well. We have been in England, Wales, a 2 week tour in Ireland, just finished a week in Munich. And are flying to Zurich tomorrow to start our 2nd 2 week tour of Switzerland and Austria,

Then on to Italy and ending in Iceland for our last week.
In every country so far, the people and businesses are so happy to see tourists traveling again they have been very welcoming, helpful and friendly. It appears that the discrimination I was anxious about, sadly is more in my own country, the USA. Europeans have been commenting on the growing gun violence and mass shootings in the USA.
Surprisingly on the Ireland tour we met a lovely Caucasion family from Tennessee that we came to know. At first they were shy and cautious with everyone but at the end of the trip the whole bus load of strangers transformed into a family. At the end, the father from Tennessee confided that they almost cancelled their trip because they were afraid of how they would be treated by strangers because of their Tennessee accents. He said in the past they have experienced all kinds of discrimination when traveling across America because of the way they speak, ( he reported that people assume they are “dumb, uneducated, white trash etc) but he said he was surprised by how accepting, friendly and nice, folks on the bus were. They had a great time and so did I!
I understood then that discrimination in America and elsewhere comes in all colors, shapes and sizes and effects everyone.

For the American woman of Indian descent that is going on tour, please do not fret. It has been my experience that people who use tours for travel not only like the convenience and safety of group travel but also like to meet new people. My husband and I have been on more than 10 tours as well as cruises and independent travel and I just feel that travelers in general are justmore open to the world and new experiences, are flexible, creative and just plain fun for the most part. I think you will enjoy your tour and enjoy meeting new people. Travel is still great! I am encouraged by our experiences so far and my previous anxieties are waning with every country we travel through. Will post more updates.

Posted by
8 posts

Aloha. I just got back from my first RSE tour of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. I to, am an Asian American from Hawaii. The only thing I faced was a comment from my guide (I don't think it was racially motivated). We had fresh fish from Lake Halstatt for dinner our only night there. I'm not crazy about fish because of the bones but I ate this fish because I wanted to try the local food. In doing so I ate the fish head because to me that is the most flavorful part.

"What happened to the head?" my guide asked.

"I ate it," I replied.

"Interesting how different cultures see things."