Europeans have an amazing level of easy access to diversity. I can in to dinner at a friend's house in another country (different political education systems, different culture) on a metro train system. Less than an hour's travel time. No passport required. No hassles. A valuable benefit of the European union.

Can the same happen in Asia? Certainly South East or East Asia could work given the large number of nations and cultures in close proximity. Coincidentally I read an AFP report quoting Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama “Japan must look to Asia as its new ‘frontier’ for growth … [to] work towards … an East Asian community modelled on the European Union.”

The Singaporeans and Malaysians have some sort of cross-border arrangement sorted out that enables some level of easy movement of workers. It is conceivable that could be extended to cover the region, and of course to be simplified to the extent that passport control is unneeded. One day…

The same is a tad harder for Australia (and New Zealand) because of their isolated geography and resources. The main population centres are about as far removed from their closest neighbours in Indonesia and Polynesia as they could be, clustered around the southern rims of the continent. It is not really practicable to “pop up to Indonesia for dinner” from Sydney or Melbourne.

(I would like to see basic infrastructure like Sydney’s CityRail actually running properly for starters, as well as say a high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne that runs once every hour but I digress.)

The saving grace for Sydney and Melbourne is that there is a lot of diversity in the many sub-cultural pockets within the cities. How well is this leveraged by businesses and resident consciously or otherwise? Do enough people make a point of spending time in the different pockets regularly?

What's it like in New Zealand?