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Not quite expected

Orlando, Florida
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Not quite expected

My first trip to England and Scotland last week and it was sadly anti-climatic. I'm a huge anglophile when it comes to the history & literature of the UK. I was really looking forward to visiting. However, I was nowhere near prepared for the subtle and quite blatant racist vibes I received in each city. Just curious if any other Asians visiting or living in the UK have experienced this. It unfortunately put a major damper on enjoying myself fully. Constant stares and double takes get old quick. Several older Brits were downright nasty. One asked if I could read English. Another said there weren't any good Chinese restaurants nearby even though I asked for a good local restaurant. I was walking into the reception area at a restaurant and a lady asked me in a quite nasty tone if I was going to just stand there or take her coat and give them their table. Um, lady, I'm a customer here too. Unfortunately, takes quite a bit of joy out of traveling. Treated ourselves to Jeeves & Wooster and the lady beside me could not take her eyes off I don't think I'll be returning and spending my tourist dollar. And I wonder if there's a sigh of relief from some?

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The English Restaurant
The English Restaurant
332 Reviews
London, UK
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London
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1. Re: Not quite expected

And I wonder if there's a sigh of relief from some?

-------------------

Probably yes. Many people including me, of vastly differing racial backgrounds live here quite happily and successfully.

London, United...
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2. Re: Not quite expected

How did you find London?

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London
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England, UK
Oakham, United...
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3. Re: Not quite expected

Well, I'm sorry to hear about that. The UK has a high proportion of immigrants ; in London 40% of the population was born outside the UK, so mostly I don't think there's a problem, but there's no accounting for unpleasant individuals you may come across. What places did you visit?

The person talking about Chinese restaurants was probably ignorant, not intentionally rude. Maybe they were trying to be helpful.

And I've had the experience of being mistaken for staff in places before, and I'm a boring white UK-born anglo saxon. I don't think that was down to where you come from. I may also have mistaken customers for staff in places, just because they happened to be standing in the wrong place, or wearing clothes that could be construed to look like staff clothing. I'd say that eastern Europeans are the commonest restaurant staff these days, so I doubt that Asian origins has anything to do with it at all.

I'm not saying that some people weren't unpleasant, but I wonder if you're being over sensitive. Maybe peopl were just looking at your clothes, trying to guess if you were an American tourist :-)

Anyway.. it's a shame you didn't enjoy the trip for whatever reasons.. I hope there were some good bits too?

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England, UK
Ossett, United...
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4. Re: Not quite expected

It's a shame you didn't enjoy your visit. Which cities did you visit? Not that it should matter.

I can't imagine any sighs of relief. We welcome tourists and their Pounds from anywhere in the world.

London
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5. Re: Not quite expected

My partner is Vietnamese, and I don't think he's experienced any racism here in the 12 years he's lived in the UK. I'll check with him though later. I know he was subject to a very minor racism in Austria by an old lady, but I think she was a bit batty though!

Is it possible that the person advised you that there were no decent Chinese restaurants in good faith? Admittedly it was untactful, but it didn't sound racist to me.

Likewise, it sounds like the customer in the restaurant genuinely believed you were a waitress. I bet they were embarrassed. It happened to me in Pizza Express once, when I was wearing a similar t-shirt to the waiters. I found it funny though.

I can't explain why people stared at you, but perhaps it was curiosity rather than racism?

Edited: 13 November 2013, 09:21
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Austria
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Europe
London, United...
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6. Re: Not quite expected

I was surprised to read your report. I think you were simply very unfortunate or very unlucky because I think its the first time I have read such comments on TA from a visitor from overseas.

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7. Re: Not quite expected

Very disappointing to hear that you felt you were the subject of racial abuse.

Unfortunately it happens the world over.

Disappointing but true.

When you first mentioned Asian I thought you might have meant Indian or Pakistani.

Interesting how perception works.

Edited: 13 November 2013, 09:50
Dunfermline, United...
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8. Re: Not quite expected

I'm quite shocked that you felt that you experienced racial abuse. Britain is the one country that I have experience of that is least likely to show racial discrimination because we are so multi-cultural.

Sorry if your experience spoilt your visit, but I do think that you were mis-reading locals' responses and reactions.

I would be extremely surprised if some Brits were 'downright nasty'. Once, rarely. More than once, I think the problem may lie with your attitude and insecurities

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9. Re: Not quite expected

I think plenty of Brits could be downright nasty, after all it takes all sorts and not everyone welcomes people with open arms and a cheery smile.

However it is unfortunate that the OP appears to have met more than their fair share of unpleasant people.

For the record I have been mistaken for an employee more than once. It was the colour of my jacket that did it one time, nothing to do with what I actually looked like.

Bucks, UK
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10. Re: Not quite expected

Sounds a bit like there were cultural misunderstandings on both sides. Asians (by which I assume you mean S.E.Asians as opposed to Indians/Pakistanis etc, which is how we understand the term) have been in the UK a long time and are very widely spread throughout the country. Nobody would have stared at you because of your ethnicity, because a Chinese etc person in the UK is a very unremarkable sight. The UK in general is a very multi-cultural society and whilst there are idiots everywhere, racist attitudes are not common and are heavily frowned upon. Racist abuse is a criminal offence.

The "being mistaken for staff" is something that has happened to me a few times, usually when my clothes bear absolutely no resemblance to the staff uniform for that business, and the "do you read English/Chinese restaurant" remarks may have been simply an effort to help/make you feel at home - in other words, well-intentioned stupidity.

I'm sorry if you felt uncomfortable but I think part of the problem at least may have been over-sensitivity on your part.

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The English Restaurant
The English Restaurant
332 Reviews
London, UK