One of the things that took me most by surprise while travelling in Asia was how easy it is to make friends. And I’m not talking about people you meet out drinking and then never see again (though, that does happen).
I’m talking about friends that you stay in touch with, make plans with, and actually have a genuine interest to see again. There are so many expats and travellers in Asia ie. people who have become cultured from travelling the world and living abroad. In my eyes, these are the kind of people you can learn something from. And I’ve found that because they are away from their home and family, just like you, many of them are just as eager to connect.
I met more new friends in my few weeks in Asia than I ever thought I would. But more than that, I met people who I could learn from and who inspired me.
Many travellers and expats are the kind of people you would describe as adventurous and risk-takers. You know, the YOLO type of crowd. Now of course, not everyone is like this, but there are so many different kinds of people that live in Asia, that are drawn there for different reasons, so there’s no doubt you will find people that are your ‘type of people’.
In my case, the go-getter types that I was drawn to opened my eyes to a way of life that I was desperately needing to see. A way of life in which you are in control, and anything that you want to happen can happen if you work hard enough at it. A way of life that exists beyond the safe, little bubble we often create for ourselves. It was the inspiring conversations I had with people I met in Asia that led me to starting this site.
So here’s what you have to do…
GO ON TINDER
I promise it’s way better in Asia (at least in Hong Kong and Tokyo). People actually want to meet up, not just match and then never even exchange a message. I found that people were very responsive on Tinder and in almost every case my matches made a genuine effort to get together, which has not been my experience AT ALL in Canada or the U.S.
Also, I found the guys I met to be very respectful. And really, they were just looking to meet people, whether it would lead to a friendship or something romantic. Of course, there are those that are just looking for hook-ups, but it’s pretty easy to weed them out from the get-go.
And it’s not just for dating! In fact, you’ll probably have more luck on Tinder if you DON’T use it for dating.
What I’m referring to is the ‘going out’ feature. If you’re with a few friends, together you form a group on Tinder and set your profile settings to ‘going out tonight’. Then you can match with other groups. While in Tokyo we would even see groups planning on going out to do the same thing as us (for example, their profile would say ‘going to karaoke tonight’).
We had some of our best nights out when we met other groups through Tinder.
It’s how we ended up in Tokyo’s Golden Gai with a group of Scandinavian guys who make these awesome My Guide To posters…
We drank in the Golden Gai’s minature bars (a must) and then sang karaoke with them into the early hours of the morning.
And the network of travellers and expats is smaller than you may think. We ended up on a Tinder date with these two guys in Hong Kong…
…only to find out our friend was already dating one of their soccer mates! What I’m saying is, it’s easy to get quickly connected with a network of expats and/or travellers.
But Tinder is not the end all be all for making friends. As I mentioned, there are a lot of travellers and expats who are looking to make friends like you, and you can easily find them at bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. So go out! Make yourself approachable, or approach a group you think you would get along with. It’s a totally different environment when you’re all foreigners abroad because the majority of people aren’t in a group of friends they’ve had since they were kids. It means they don’t have that ‘no new friends’ kind of attitude that I often find when I’m in a city/country that I grew up in.
You’re bound to make connections, and it could lead to anything from a friendship, to new love, to a business offer! In Asia, you really never know who you’ll meet.
For example, you might meet a fellow Canadian at a Hong Kong bar who just happens to have an 80 foot yacht.
Now that doesn’t happen every time…but the idea is; don’t be shy, talk to people, make friends, and get inspired.