I just finished reading an article inon travel section about backpackers are equal to “destroyers” and also an article from random blog that been written more than a 2 or 3 years ago about White-trashes in Vang Vieng, Laos. Those 2 articles somehow “force” me to look back at my more-than 3 years backpacking journey. What have I learn? What have I done to myself? What is my contribution for the local society or economics? Why the locals are 2-faces towards people like me? And lots of questions come into my mind that suddenly makes me feel that I need to share my opinion about us, the backpackers.
Reasons why I always stays a little bit too long at one place when I can stay just for 2 or 3 nights is because I want to learn the people, the culture, the customs, the food and possibly the language (basic) beside visit the regular tourists attractions. For me, one can travel to all the country in this world, get his/her passport full with stamps but if he/she not staying and try to live like the local, he/she will learn nothing. By staying, means not to be like “regular” backpackers/travelers/tourists which always want to be in their own circle and get drunk every single night and waste half a day the next day trying to recover from hangover. I know that I sound rather judgmental here but hey, everybody entitled for their own opinion!
Along my journey, backpackers that I met the most are fall on below categories:-
1) Drunkards – Alcohol is a must. They’ll die without alcohol. These people, I am not sure if they learn anything about the country/place that they visited because like I said earlier, they wasted the next day trying to overcome the nasty hangover. I don’t get it when people drink to get drunk. Why do they want to get hammered? Why? Where is the fun when you’re too drunk? What do you know about things around you when you are totally smashed? Well, yeah, they took lots a pictures but when they look back at those pictures… “Oh, who is this?” or “Where is this place?” or “When was it?” or “Oh, I really look that shit?” and bla bla bla… I do drink but only few times a week and normally only 1 or 2 bottle a night.
2) Drug users – Weed is a popular demand. Well, some of you might disagree that I put weed in a same category as drugs but that what it is! If you go to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and any other South East Asia Country with excessive amount of weeds, you know what? You might get death penalty as it is fall into drugs categories. It is not like I don’t smoke weed, I do but I am not like some crazy asses that always looking for it and need to keep some stock for every day/every night usage. I also met lots of backpackers who always on hunt for cocaine, mushrooms, acid, lsd, mdma, speed here in South East Asia just because it is cheap but I guess what they get is probably 40% rat poison mixed with 20% bleach or just a baking powder. LOL!
3) Sex hunters – These people they take sex like a game. Which nationalities? Local driving license? What’s the magic number? Who is the best? What kind of man/lady? And the who-to-bang list goes on and on. These kind of travellers, they’ll go out almost every single night getting between sober and drunk/high and flirt around with any potential prey(s). They’ll bang their so-called partner (normally just a ONS) in various places – dorm, alley, private room, dorm room, toilet, bar, rooftop, elevator; anywhere that convenient based on their horny-ness, “urgency”, budget, thrill-seeking adrenaline rush, oh well, their pervert-ness. LOL! Well, I am not exceptional; except I don’t do it every night, only when I feel like I need to get laid which not always.
4) The party-goers – I met lots of backpackers who cannot live their life without going to party scene (bars/clubs) every night. It’s a must for them. Worst, I met also loads of them, especially gap yah or youngster between 18-25 years old that travel half the world just to go to full moon party (in Thailand) or tubing (in Laos) and then go back home. WTF? Like seriously, why they have to waste their money or their parents money just to travel to the other side of the world to party when they actually can have loads of real party scene like music festivals and such in their own or neighbouring country? UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, US, Sweden… you name it, all have much better party scene than overrated, commercialized full moon party in Koh Phangan or Vang Vieng. I am glad I am not fall into this category at all. Nope, I never check on full moon calendar.
5) The culture-insensitive – Sad, sad, sad… When these people treating, behaving in South East Asia like they did back at home. Not sure if they are just ignorance as hell or never want to learn the local customs and culture. Example – in Vang Vieng which pretty clear when they go to the tubing-rental place there’s a sign of no bikinis, no spedos but they still wear it not only on the river where they enjoy the tubing activity (and get high and drunk) but also walking half-naked in that small town, making the local people frown, raise their eyebrows and feel uncomfortable with their presence. Also the PDA (public display of affections) behaviour which pretty much not a culture in South East Asia. Well, holding hands, hips hugging, a quick peck on lips and cheeks are OK but steamy French kiss, overly grobing, and sex act is totally no-no in public. It is pretty alright if they do it in a bar or club as the locals are kindda use to it but on the street, in public places like restaurant, by the lake, on the beach and such… please, NO!
6) The work-for-alcohol-&-sex – These also one of very popular kindda backpackers. They are sucked in to the town that very sleazy which lots of like-minded travellers – drunkards, drug users, sex hunters, party goers that finally “forced” them to get a job in a bar so they could get free accommodation and boards (which mainly booze) so they can continue party every night, get drunk every night, get high every night, get lucky every night… and totally forget about their future and the main reason of their journey. Well, I am currently working in a backpackers hostel here in Hanoi, Vietnam. I work in a hostel’s bar but I am glad I have yet to turn an alcoholic (although I’d get as many booze as I want every night) or nymphomaniac every time I sees a hot guy because I am much of an observer. If I get lucky, it is just I am lucky. To get drunk? Nahhhh…
7) The negotiators – Or should I say hardcore hagglers? Well, who doesn’t haggle when they are in South East Asia? But there’s 2 type of hagglers. 1) A reasonable hagglers. 2) A hardcore hagglers. A reasonable hagglers normally will cut off the said-price to half and then they’ll figure out if the price is reasonable if compares back home or not and then it depends on them if they want to buy it or not. Usually these reasonable hagglers negotiate on stuffs which normally imitation stuffs like shoes, electronic devices, clothes, etc. Some of them just want to improve their haggling skills. The hardcore haggler annoys me like hell. Not only they haggles more than half from the said price on said items above but sometimes they are like someone with empty skull (not having a brain) by haggling on food items to the ridiculous price like they those food vendors don’t have to use any start-up capitals to buy raw ingredients, gas usage, water, energy & time. Example – a sandwich priced at $1 and haggle down to $0.50? Seriously? Go buy those ingredients to make a sandwich at $0.50 and see if they’d get any. D’uhhh!!!
8) The I-know-it-all – Alright, these kind of people really get on my nerves easily and most of them will never take an advice, an opinion or a view from other people because oh well, they think they know it all! But funny things about these kind of people, most of them voice out their so-called knowledge from what they heard from other people experiences and from Lonely Planet. I met this girl who talked pretty much negative stuffs about Malaysia when she only spent 5 days in (peninsular) Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Malacca only and when I asked her more about Malaysia she just told me exactly like the information that you’d get in Lonely Planet or Wiki Travel. And when I told her things to do, food to eat, all nice places in all 14 states and 3 Federal Territories in Malaysia, she just walked away. Embarrassed, maybe?
9) My opinion-matters, yours-not – Let me tell you one of experience I encountered with these kind of people. I met this medic student from Netherlands, she is very argumentative. She loves to tell (or should I call it “advice”?) people on where to go, what to do, this place is shit, this place is cool, don’t go here, don’t go there and such. When I disagree with her and give my point of view, she will go “Nahhhhhh…. you are wrong”. One night bunch of us backpackers talking about Cambodia and she very firm about her opinion on Cambodians and when I asked her how long she spent time in Cambodia, she said 3 weeks (covering only Siem Reap, Phom Penh, Sihanoukville and Kampot). I told her to shut up as I spent 3 months in all over Cambodia, worked there and also at some point lived with local family, she just went mental. For her, I am (and everyone else) wrong and she is right.
10) The long-time travellers – (A) “I’ve been away from home for 6 months for now and I still want to go around” … (B) “I’ve been travelling for 1 and half year. I am so tired now.” … (C) “Oh, I come on, you guys are nothing, I’ve been traveling the world for 3 years and 12 days up till today” … (D) “Really? Wow, you are all so impressive! Tell me what do you guys learn along your journey?”. And all (A), (B), (C) starts to be a person that in category 8 and 9 in order to impress (D) who clearly not really impressed because these people apparently also fall into people in category 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Well people, obviously it is not how long have you been on the road but what have you learn along your traveling.
11) The food-hunters – These people are everywhere in general. I would say almost every single travelers are food hunters. They love to try the local food and they will take a picture of the food and write about the food in their blog, too. They will recommend others to eat this, eat that, go to this restaurant, go to that restaurant, try this street food place, try that street food place. And when you talk about food, nothing could go wrong because everybody loves food and food basically able to bring backpackers together, for sure! The best part if you meet a person that able to tell you about their experience about exotic food like snakes, crocodile, squirrel, and others because either it makes you want to try it too or just want to throw up but still keep on listening. Take note, you should try if the recommendation comes from a chef because they definitely know what are they talking about because not only they are food hunters but sometimes they also travel to learn a local cuisine to bring back to their own country and serve it in their restaurants. Good eh?
12) The adrenaline-rush junkies & sports junkies– Diving, cage diving, canyoning, abseiling, white water rafting, sky diving, base-jumping, bungee jumping, rock climbing, kite-gliding, free diving, dirt-bike road trip, and all type of sports or activities, you name it. There’s always a travelers out there looking for a place that offers these activities to challenge their braveness or to improve their already top-notch physical and mental state. And these people they don’t really care about spending money on the activities they want or love to do as long as they get to do it. They normally only mingle around their “kind” because that’s what they talk among each other all the time but not all are like that. If you are not one of them, you still can be around them and if you show even slightly interest on things that they are doing, they’ll definitely going to be really interested in you because they want you to join them and feel the adrenaline rush too!
13) The my-own-people-only – Right. These kind of people should not travel in a first place. They should just stay at their home country. What I mean here is, well, example: the Germans only want to hang out with the Germans, the Whites only want to hang out with Whites, the backpackers only want to hang out with backpackers, the Asians only want to hang out with the Asians, and the group of Swedes only want to hang out within their group. Well, these kind of people exists! Really! How to notice them? Try to mix with them, you can immediately feel the awkwardness. Not they are not friendly, they will basically replies to your HI and chat with you some basic stuffs like “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been traveling?” and such but that’s about it and few minutes after the so-called conversations, they’ll back to their group and ignoring you and yes, you’ll feel unwelcome out of sudden and awkwardly try to walk away.
14) The local-only – The overly enthusiast travelers that seriously want to learn about the culture & customs of the locals. These people basically will travel to a place which is not popular among backpackers, off-beaten tracks, hopefully they will not bump into another travelers. If they see another travelers, they’ll try to avoid them as soon as possible by hiding or ignoring them. They only want to talk to the locals. They even try to imitate the locals life – from the daily activities/routines to food the local eats and even learn their language at super-fast pace. Well, nothing wrong with these people, in my point of view; because they really travel to learn. But to the point of trying to avoid another backpackers (these also means not wanting to share their knowledge), well, that’s not really nice. And yes, these people are also exists just like the one above (no. 13).
15) The DIY – They are the people who refuse to pay for tour especially if they know they can do it by themselves. Nothing wrong with these people. They are just adventurous and they want to do things their own way like taking a local buses or train, try to arrange tour by themselves although sometimes ended up paying more than if they take a tour but it doesn’t really matters for them because they satisfy with their own way. Vietnam is one of the popular country in South East Asia where many backpackers buy a motorbikes and cruising from the North to the South or the other way around by themselves (or their group) which is good for them because they can explore the country more than people that take a buses or train or plane. They can stop wherever and whenever they want to!
16) The tour-junkies – They might willing to pay but these people are not easy to please. They normally want more than what they pay or at least worth the money they pay but who doesn’t? They will go from one travel agency to another trying to find the best bargain which is not just about the price but everything including the activities, meals and accommodations provided in the tour package (if any). But many of these type of people that I know, especially that go for the cheapest tour, when they come back from the tour, they voice out their dissatisfaction over the tour that they bought. I always told them “You get what you pay, mate!”. But, also, not every expensive tours are worth the money either because some of the tour companies purely just happily ripped off these poor travelers because for them we foreigner are walking ATM machines. Damn it!
17) The flashpackers – Obviously based on their “label” they are not regular backpackers. They are the type that splurges their money. They also the type of people that travel for a short period (normally because they doesn’t have so much time for holiday as they tied to their job back at home) and this explained why they doesn’t really mind to spend their money. These people, they only stays in a fancy hostel or good hotel, get their own private room with TV and proper shower with buffet breakfast, eat at good restaurants, wear expensive (and perhaps original) brand of clothes or shoes, buy expensive souvenirs for their family and friends back home, and so on. Well, being a flashpackers certainly not a bad thing especially if you have a good buying power so you basically contribute towards the local economy.
18) The whole-house carrier – Mainly girls. I really don’t get it when I see a female backpackers that travel around with 80lit backpack and when they open their backpack they actually carry 3 pair of high heels (beside flip-flops and trainers), a whole cabinet of make-ups and toiletries, the whole wardrobe of dresses including pantyhose, the whole cabinet of panties and bras, the hair straightener and/or hair dryer and well, basically the whole house on their trip if possible! Why oh why do you need to carry the whole house together with you when you are traveling? And do you really think the boy backpackers care about your high heels, your flowery dress? If they want you, even you are in bermudas and t-shirt, they will try to get you. But is that your point of traveling? Dress to impress? Dress to get a guy? Don’t bullshit me by saying dress-up boosts up your self-confidence. I don’t buy it.
19) The hoarders – Well, probably the word “hoarder” are pretty harsh but I totally don’t understand people that are super messy! How on earth they can sleep in their bed that full of dirty clothes next to them? How on earth they can wear their smelly dirty t-shirt again and again and again? How on earth they could sleep with pile of from yesterday and day before yesterday take-away polystyrene box and empty coke cans next to their bed? How on earth they don’t feel they actually make other people in the same dorm uncomfortable by their messiness? Like seriously HOW? I might don’t get it due to my acute OCD (which always make me stress, depress to the point of I feel like crying when I see a messy place but not being able to do anything because I can’t other people’s belongings unless they let me so!). Please explain to me if you are fall into this category.
20) The judgmental assholes – one of them is me. I tried to understand these people and when I failed to do so, well, it turns me into this judgmental asshole that judging them based on their behavior towards themselves and the locals society. But please don’t bullshit me when you say you are not judgmental, you are just have this so-called analytic minded that analyse everything. No one going to believe you because trusts me, every human are judgmental in their own way, most of the time without you realizing it. At least I know and admit I am one. LOL!