I won’t lament the fact that people don’t believe I’m Canadian or that I feel the need to explain that despite my “Eurasian” heritage I’m a third-generation Canadian (or did I just?), but I have noticed a marked difference between how I’m treated vs the waspier looking foreigners.
If I’m with the “blondes” in a restaurant or bar, we get asked to have our picture taken. Usually while holding up our beer bottles. Strangers say “Hello teacher!”, and young girls sneak pictures of the Caucasian men. This never happens when I’m on my own.
A little girl spent an entire dinner staring at my flaxen-haired friend. Finally, she came with her mother to say hello to the teacher. Then, very delicately, she petted Flaxen’s hand, like the teacher might disintegrate on contact. The girl’s infatuation was adorable, but also creepy.
Another teacher has golden locks down to her waist, and we share a Thai co-teacher. Every class the co-teacher says to me, “Golden. She is so beautiful.” “Yes, I know,” I reply. “And the students love you,” she tells me. Thanks. Some students say they want to grow up to be Golden.
Meanwhile, sometimes the locals think I’m Thai. When I was picking a friend up from the hospital, the nurses started to speak to me in Thai because they thought I was there to translate. When I filed the police report for my accident, the police asked if I was Thai. This always surprises me because in a room full of locals, I feel that I don’t look like any of them.
Thailand isn’t “ethnically homogeneous” (thanks for the phrase Lonely Planet), so perhaps I look Thai-ish enough to be mistaken for a local.