Homecoming: There's More of Us Out There


I’ve been a solo Asian woman traveler since 1996. Throughout my twenties, I rarely met other solo women, nor solo Asian travelers, nor solo Asian women travelers. In 2002, I met some young Asian travelers.

When I met this group of six young Asian men, on the same excursion as me, we were white-water rafting in the jungles of Bali.

Some of them are talking in Mandarin to each other. So I started talking in Mandarin, too. (I studied Mandarin for four years while at college, and had had two six-month stints living in mainland China, during the mid and late nineties.)

I realize that some only speak Cantonese….so we shrug shoulders, and the Mandarin speakers and I groove throughout the course of that day.

Sometime mid-afternoon, one turns to his mate, and talks in a broad Cockney accent. His mate responds in a thick Southern English accent. (The fact that I could tell the difference says a lot about passive exposure to the various English accents through the British influence on Australian television programming during the eighties.)

I blink away my stare of surprise.

And then start talking Australian.

Now I’m getting stared at.

It turns out that they all went to an international high school in Hong Kong, and then went their various ways for college. This was a mini high school reunion of sorts.


I get back to Australia and excitedly tell a friend, “You would not believe it. This young Chinese man had the broadest Cockney accent. And his mate had the thickest Southern English accent. And they stared at me when I started speaking.”

She starts laughing. “It sounds like you’re discovering that there’s more of you out there.”


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