Being an Asian (in the Land of Vikings)

The tough, brutal Vikings sailed on their Viking ships to faraway places, lands and countries to rob, taking what they wanted and living a very tough, hard life. They appreciated food and women, as men in all societies do, and often brought both back home with them. The typical Viking was a strong, tall, blond, macho man who knew how, or maybe how not, to treat women. Wild parties, plenty of mead and meat, and lots of blonde, pretty women to make the party complete.

And now, in 2012, some 800 years after the Viking era, another type of man has entered the Northern arena. These days the man of Viking heritage still has his hunting instincts intact, except that the Viking ship has retired and given way to Seven-Four-Sevens, and the destination en route to exotic women to bring home is no longer so much England, Germany and France but the far East, such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Why there? Mostly because of Western women’s demands for liberation and equality these days. They think that Asian women don’t demand or even think about such things. They’re looking for someone who will do as they wish, serve them well and take good care of them. In poor countries the only thing that counts for the family is to find a good husband who is rich and kind, and is willing to support and take care of their daughter. Or at least that’s what the Norwegian men seem to think.

There are some places in Norway with more mixed couples than others. In particular a place called Tresfjord, also known as Thaifjord for more or less obvious reasons. There’s even a TV series portraying the many couples of Norwegian men and Thai women who live there. I often say as a joke to my Norwegian Viking man that we should go there for a visit, because we’d fit right in. And the people would say, “Oh, look, he couldn’t get himself a Norwegian woman, so he had to go to Asia to find someone who would take him”. Many see the “import” of women as a last resort if they can’t find any local woman willing to get married. I’m sure that if we do go, the locals will say “Ah, there’s a new couple moving in. Poor guy!” 😉

In most cases, the men who get involved with Asian women in this way are honest and well-meaning enough. But they run the risk of getting a bad reputation because of the so-called “sex tours” where men, less honest, less well-meaning and often older, travel to Asia simply for the carnal exercise, or to use their image as wealthy Westerners to find themselves young, submissive women that they will bring home to serve as willing, obedient wives.

So what does this have to do with adoption? In a word, discrimination. People in Norway can’t tell apart an Asian adoptee and an Asian imported wife just by looking. I’ve had one awkward experience myself. I was at the supermarket, shopping, when a drunk man shouted at me, loud enough that everyone could hear, “How much per hour?”. I was so embarrassed, I could barely speak, and felt myself blushing like I had never done before. I noticed that everybody else were looking at me, and finally managed to stammer that “I am not that kind of woman”. It’s just about the rudest thing anyone has ever said to me. Looking back, I should have answered “More than you can ever afford in your lifetime”.

Some men seem to think that just because a woman looks Asian, it’s perfectly all right to treat her as a hooker. Even today, some people tend to treat me like a lesser person until they hear me speak Norwegian fluently like a native, proving that I’ve lived here my whole life. This may be typical for Scandinavia, since there are still very few coloured people compared to the white majority. I hope the future will look better, and that mixed couples will be more accepted. People are moving in from different countries, but it will take time to get accepted for what you are, and not be judged by your colour.

In the future I hope to find myself a little piece of Norway somewhere. I love the nature and the fjords of this country, since it is the only thing I know, although I come from far away and did not choose it myself, despite my looks which gives me away and tells everybody that I come from halfway around the world, from the Land of Morning Calm.

Half my heart and half my soul have embrace with love this country that I was sent to. The other half belongs to my land of birth, now alien to me, where my birth parents lie in their final resting place. Since I cannot meet them, I wish instead to go there and put upon their grave a rose, a little Norwegian flag and a beautiful, shiny stone from the Norwegian coast as a symbol of timeless Norwegian soil that has lasted from the Viking age, and long before that. I’d also like to play a musical piece, a sound of Norway, something to complete the circle that has so far lasted for more than 40 years.

Some candidate tunes:

And since I admire the Viking age, I’ll end with a few Viking quotes from the old Hávamál:

Go you must.
No guest shall stay
in one place for ever.
Love will be lost
if you sit too long
at a friend’s fire.

Be your friend’s
true friend.
Return gift for gift.
Repay laughter
with laughter again
but betrayal with treachery.

~ Khara

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