Navigating Asia can be particularly complicated for African-Americans. We fuel our own multi-billion dollar travel movement, but the sight of a Black person in Asia can still be an EVENT. For many African-American travelers, the attention, stares and requests to have our photograph taken can be uncomfortable, bordering on overwhelming.
A Black author is hoping to ease some our potential discomforts with a book detailing his own experiences living in South Korea. The Black Traveler’s Guide To Incheon, South Korea recounts the experience of ESL teacher, The Blerd (Black+Nerd) Explorer. Featuring pictures, anecdotes and illustrations, the book is insightful and honest.
When traveling around Incheon or Asia in general, remember you are an ‘ambassador’ for every black person. Koreans do not interact with people that look like us on a regular basis. Majority of their knowledge of Black people comes from what they see in the media. I had most students compare me to Barack Obama or Lebron James until Black Panther came out, then they started to call me Wakanda Teacher or Black Panther Teacher.
For any readers with dreads, afro or any natural hairstyles, this will make you stand out even further. I have heard about how some Koreans are so curious about our hair that they may attempt to touch our hair with or without permission.
During my time teaching kindergarten and young elementary students, I have been asked to touch my hair. There were times my former students would attempt to touch my hair without permission, and I had to explain to them why it is wrong to touch someone’s hair without consent.
In addition to being Black in Asia, The Blerd Explorer is also extraordinarily tall. Towering over most people in the country at 6’7, his guide also covers budgeting for South Korea, Korean food, useful apps for navigating the country, the best time of the year for travel, amazing hiking spots and a lot more.
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That moment when you realize you’re waaayy too tall for for Asia. This was an old photo from UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hahoe Village in Andong, South Korea. Had to duck through so many doors and gates at this area. For those who don’t know I’m 6.7ft(200cm) tall. Took this photo during the 2019 Andong Mask Dance Festival. Le sigh……The struggle for tall traveler’s continue 😢😢
Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.