Unfriendly Foreigners in Foreign Countries Are Fascinating Creatures


This is a rare “thoughts” update on something that really annoys me. It’s the important matter of unfriendly foreigners in foreign countries and how they fascinate me, really.

I am perplexed at how some people can be so introverted, unsure of themselves or just cold that they don’t even give a head nod to other foreigners when we represent less than 0.002% of the population. Just because we’re both from far away lands doesn’t mean we should have lengthy conversations or become BFF’s or any other BS like that… I’m just saying if you are off the “tourist trails” and you run into someone else who looks like they are from your country, why not send a smile, a nod, a gesture of “good day and best regards”.

I’ve found in Asia, the local people are all incredibly friendly. Everywhere you go, if you make eye contact 9/10 times they will send a smile, a head nod or another friendly gesture that they notice you. Not only is it friendly, it’s the polite thing to do. Send some good energy into the universe and get it back somewhere else. It’s elementary, dear Watson.  So many times I’ve run into people when I haven’t seen anyone else who probably has the same mother tongue as myself and they are just cold, like the countries they come from. They should go back to their cubicles and choke on some coffee while coughing with a  common cold.

Stop having a boring life you introverted ingrates, seriously. If they aren’t willing to extend pleasantries even through non verbal communication, I can only imagine how hopelessly  boring and uneventful their trip must be, let alone their life. Not only boring but incredibly isolating. Today I was at this mall and this isn’t a very touristy part of the world compared to the rest of Asia that I have visited. I saw this couple and they saw me, I sent them a nod AND a smile and they looked away like I was some kind of crook, criminal or crazy.  I was thinking, really? I have only seen maybe 5 people that I could openly converse with and NO ONE in this mall and you’re not even acknowledging my presence? I think that’ s as cold as my climate back home. We all know how I feel about that place this time of year.

So seriously, if you’re traveling, lighten up a bit and send a smile. If you just keep your head down and refuse pleasantries, don’t expect good things to come your way. When I see someone who looks like they speak fluent English, I am usually into having a chat. I’m like a retired guy hanging out at the local coffee shop, I have nothing but time, “top of the morning”.

I met some cool Australians today and ended up having dinner with them. The conversation was fun and informative and it all started with a simple head nod. I also ran into a couple in their late 50’s from England and the gent gave me a wave and a smile, I said “What’s up” they sat down next to me and said they were going to Bali. I filled them in on travel arrangements and even walked them to a local tour place as it was the best deal I’d found anywhere. I found the place through a head nod with a local guy who turns out to ship furniture overseas to Toronto, Ontario.

I’m curious how totally boring a trip must be if the only thing someone consults with is a guide book. How lame and it’s truly a shame as they are missing out on what I find the most fascinating thing about traveling; making new friends and learning / growing in the process. Sights are cool but I travel to meet people, learn, grow and expand my comfort zone…  Not hide in it’s confines like a tiny rabbit, scared of the world, peering at it from its hole.

Tips hat,


  1. naphi

    January 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

    think the couple that you saw at mall, just worry if you try to talk to them after you gave them your smile. It happen a lot here. XD. they just shy thats all. my friends does a lot.

  2. Nomadic Chick

    January 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Ha! You’re very PC to leave out which countries produce the ice cold ones you’ve encountered. Not to name names, but I’ve always had run-ins with the group who attend boarding school and smoke fags…

  3. Desiree

    January 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Oh SO true my friend! My trip would have been oh SO boring had I not met all the cool and crazy fellow foreign travelers like yourself all with a simple smile or head nod. So like you said, just send a little positive energy out into the world. Love reading your work, entertaining to say the least 🙂

  4. Rob

    January 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Naphi – Those shy people need to lighten up. 😉

    Nomadic – I always “try” to remain PC. Seriously, there are cool and not so cool people from every country, it’s all a mixed bag. Some more so than others though…

    Desiree – That’s what I’m talking about. When you “get in the mix” the trip takes on a life of it’s own and the possibilities for fun, adventure and everything else are endless.

    Cordially yours,

  5. AdventureRob

    January 4, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I found this recently in Australia. Driving the outback in a campervan I try to wave to everyone I can when driving. I got a wave back 90% of the time, especially in Western Oz, but in the south east where the main tourist cities are (Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney) I got about 10% return on my friendly waves, maybe it’s because they were all recently in a busy area, but the further out you go the friendlier the response seemed to be.

    • Giselle Tadman

      May 8, 2012 at 6:31 am

      Your post has made me feel so much better! I came to Asia after travelling in New Zealand for 5 months where I was used to having random chats with strangers and people being incredibly friendly. When I got to Asia I thought that the other backpackers would be just as friendly but whenever I smiled or said hello people would look at me as if i’m doing something wrong, and it made me feel a little unsure of myself. I think it’s such a shame that it’s like that it can be like that. Even worse now that backpackers are travelling with laptops and phones with internet access on it. It makes making friends a lot harder and travelling more lonelier. I hope there are more backpackers like you out there!

      • Rob

        May 9, 2012 at 5:32 am

        I hear ya!

        I do carry laptops and phones but it doesn’t change who I am. Will agree that many who are already a bit “in their shell” tend to retract into it and just stay glued to screens.

  6. Christian

    June 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I find your statements to be so true, I even would venture as far as to say that fractions of the local language will suffice in instant conversation. I was traveling through Austria to Germany and met a young Hungarian man on the train. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Hungarian but through bits of German we both knew we actually held a conversation about why he was traveling, he showed me his girlfriend and we talked about my travels. I still have him as a friend on fb. Long story short, making an effort to meet people and get past that initial 3 minutes of uncomfortableness goes a long way

    • Rob

      June 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Indeed it does.

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