Just as being human can have its pros and cons, so can being a foreigner.  No kidding, right?

I can blend in throughout a fair amount of the world.  Rummaging through bazaars and souks in Istanbul, Cairo and Dearborn are mostly hassle-free, in many parts of Southeast Asia my doppelgängers run amok and in Northeast Asia, I’m ok – from the nape up.  Unrelated tourist tip: commit to memory, the location and names of a few different neighborhoods of where you are visiting.  Even if you haven’t been there before, pretend to taxis or hotels that you know the score.

But then when the cat is let out of the bag, – for instance, when someone says something to me in a language I don’t understand, or when I use soap to wash my hands – that’s when the adventure starts.  No more sauntering into mosques without a hitch, no more ten-cent falafel and no more wandering into the prohibited parts of town:

Yangon - Foreigners Prohibited

Not that the average Burmese resident would confuse me for a peer, but I wasn’t sure why this section very close to The Strand Hotel in Yangon was closed off.  Judging by her reaction, nor was this vendor.  Naturally, I was very hungry, and all of those stalls in the background were awfully tempting…

Shenzhen - Bar Near Shanghai Hotel (No Japanese)

Although this particular Shenzhen, China bar no longer exists (I took the photo in 2006), it’s rather forthcoming proof of a comeuppance for Japanese visitors.  You see, numerous bars in Japan are not keen on rolling out the welcome mat for the rest of the world.  That is, foreign clients aren’t welcome, but female hostesses are.

In any event, this sign reads, from the left “{Prime Minister} Koizumi worships the devil (at Yasukuni Shrine) Six Times, on the right “Militarism” and in the center “Japanese people forbidden from entering.”  No word-mincing here.  Or here.

Or it could be that only foreigners are allowed:

Colombo- Bally's Lounge (Only for Foreigners)
Bally’s is a discotheque in Colombo, Sri Lanka, though I’m not sure as to what distinguishes it from any other…the presence of restrooms, perhaps?

Pyongyang - Bowling Alley (Only Foreigners)

Likely the most random of the four photos, I shot this at a bowling alley in Pyongyang.

Upon looking up what 좌식변기 is defined as, “legless toilet” seems to be a popular choice.  In other words, Westerners rejoice.

Have you come across similarly alluring signs in your travels?

This entry was posted in East & Southeast Asia, Human Nature, South Asia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Foreigner

  1. Blessedly few but perhaps I’m simply missing the translation… there are still places in Mumbai that an expat can get membership but a desi? Nope!

    However there is also the element of by looks being treated as a foreigner in one’s own home. Take folks from the NE of India who are employed in ‘Chinese’ restaurants as they ‘look’ Chinese. And as my partner is Anglo Indian, he’s often asked “Oh and when did you move to India?” Um… er…”When I was born here 53 years ago!”

  2. Pingback: Japanese Signs: I Could Read Them, if I Could Read Them « buildingmybento

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