Two African-Australian girls in Asia

January 15, 2013

Guess who back, back back. Back again ‘gain ‘gain. Afroklectic is back, back back, tell a friend friend friend!

Yes that is correct. Afroklectic is back for for 2013. There is no plan for this year, except to give you more, more and more!

The Afroklectic team has been busy exploring this summer break. Sefakor is currently chilling in Ghana with her family. Samira went back to her motherland Somalia. You can read about her experience ‘Once Upon a Time in Mogadishu – Arriving Home‘ on her site. I just spent three glorious weeks in Asia with my friend. Six days in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), six days in Koh Samui (Thailand), four days in Koh Tao (Thailand) and five days in Bangkok (Thailand).

I don’t even know where to begin with our trip. Tasty inexpensive food and drinks, buzzing nightlife, never-ending shopping, breathtaking landmarks and landforms! In Malaysia we did everything from shopping till we dropped, a mountain trip to the Batu Caves and the Genting Highlands, waking up very early to line up for tickets to explore the Petronas Twin Towers in the night. We lined up for about 1.5 hours, praying that we wouldn’t miss out on tickets and then ended up sleeping in, running for our lives to get to the towers on time. Only to miss our session by minutes. We were allowed into the last session of the day which was even better because we got to see how the towers were shut down for the night.

In Koh Samui we stayed along the ‘Oxford Street’ the island – Chewang Beach road. It took us 3 days to conquer only half of the 5km stretch of road! Massages, fine dining, happy hour and market stalls were ‘our thing’ for three days. New Year’s eve was spent on the beach with illegal fireworks exploding metres from us. We did a jungle safari which was AMAZING! Our driver was crazy – actually, he was high! We saw him smoking pot half way through our safari trip. By then, there as no turning back! We went elephant trekking, swimming under waterfalls, visited the Big Buddha, sat on top of the jeep with no seat belts (just imagine being on a rollercoaster with no belt), ate lunch on the mountain top with picturesque view of the island below. That’s only the half of it. I don’t even remember the rest! I would have to go through photos!

Koh Tao was just relaxation by the pool, crêpes, beaching and food poisoning! A trip to Asia is not a trip without food poisoning!

Bangkok….. our least favourite place. Had a rocky start there. Taxi-drivers and touk-touk drivers trying to make an extra buck at our expense. The night markets, mall shopping and Chatachak markets saved us from being very angry at Bangkok.

I haven’t even mentioned the minor-motorbike accident I got into approximately three minutes after I hired it in Koh Samui. It was minor compared to the scores of people we met with broken arms, bandaged ankles and busted shoulders. As I mentioned ‘minor-motorbike accident’ I got into! Best thrill of my life, but probably the most stupid thing I have ever done! I have recovered from my bruised knee and I now have a ‘Koh Samui tattoo’ on my elbow. In other words, a motorbike scar from Koh Samui. I don’t even remember what else we did. Just shows how much we did!!!

This post wasn’t to bore you with my trip! This post is about our experience as two African-Australian girls in Asia.

We were often asked ‘Which part of Africa are you from?’ or ‘Are you from London?’ or ‘Which state in America are you from?’. People were amazed that we were two African girls from Australia. Mind boggled when my friend would tell them that she has been in Australia for eighteen years and I was born there. The same kind of reactions I was getting in London when I told people I was from Australia. Africans in Australia just seemed absurd to them!
In Malaysia people initially thought we were Nigerian, because there are quite a few there. Mainly known for being in the drug trade or as one taxi driver said ‘They sell drugs and steal our women!’. Funnily enough, there were some people especially in Thailand who were able to pick up our accents and acknowledge that we were from Australia. We started getting ‘Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie’ and we would respond like hardcore Aussies!

We would walk the streets and markets and people (men in particular) would call out ‘Waka Waka‘ or ‘Hakuna Matata‘. We would laughed because we understood that the Lion King and 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa anthem was the only association they had with Africa.
After I heard ”Waka Waka‘ a few times, I was frustrated. Shakira in that song ruins the connection for us to Africa!!!

Then there was people’s fascination with my hair. My hair was in small braids just below my waist. Wherever I went locals would stare, come up to me and ask to touch it. Male and Female!  Waitress’ serving us would take our order, stare, and then come back to ask if they could touch.
I remember a Malaysian girl probably around seven years old whose mouth dropped when she saw my hair. Her reaction was priceless. I have actually never had a reaction like that before. She didn’t hide her stare and she said ‘WOW. Nice hair!’. It was the kind of reaction who see in movies when someone sees a UFO in the sky. That’s honestly how dramatic it was.

I had a few Ladyboys touching and admiring my braids in Koh Samui as well. I told one Ladyboy that I will do it for her and she told me no it’s suits me only! I joked with a Thai lady who worked at a salon/spa which was advertising their braiding services that she should do my hair and she told me that she wouldn’t because my braids are quality compared to what they know how to do.
I even had tourists asking to take photos with me because of my hair. I told my friend that we should start charging people to touch, my hair was becoming an attraction. It became a running joke. People would ask to touch and we would tell them there is a charge. Some thought we were serious. We would laugh and let them touch.

People’s interaction with us, was an experience for us! These people don’t see Africans like us in their country or in the media. We could see people talking about us as we roamed the streets. Stares when we walked into stores. Amazement when we basically cleaned out the stores with our purchases or asked an enormous amount of cultural questions to feed our curiosity. For us, just being in that space was different, sometimes uncomfortable and yet amazing because we were learning something new every moment!!!

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