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Posts Tagged ‘Crazy Israelis’

Backpacking in the News

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Link to article: 10 Stereotypical Backpacker Nationalities

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Only a Canuck would suntan with the tube socks on.

This article was originally posted on BootsnAll.com by Amy Heading back in July 2009.

I got a kick out of a comment posted on Heading’s article by Beachcombers (05 March 2010): “Not to sure about the Israeli backpacker description. Friendly was not the first thing that leaped to mind. Aggressive, arrogant, rude, nihilistic perhaps….But Israeli chicks are super hot!”

25. Crazy Israeli Guys

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Every country has good and bad citizens. One can only hope that the citizens traveling the world and representing one’s nationality are good ones, people who build a solid reputation for their country. Unfortunately for Israel, a disproportionate number of young, male Israeli backpackers are crazy and thus contribute to a poor international image for their countrymen.

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Just as with my post about Aussie Guys, I initially called this one “Crazy Israelis,” only to change it because it’s really only the males that annoy me. Most female Israelis I’ve met on the backpacking circuit are nice, not to mention, attractive. Their being attractive might be why their male counterparts are prone to peacocking and giving non-Israeli backpackers the stinkeye whenever all three parties meet.

I’m accustomed to foreign guys being protective of their women. That’s normal. This post is not about that alone. I’ve met Israeli guys that display a sociopathic disregard for public decency, a desire to make other travelers feel uncomfortable or even afraid, and an enjoyment of mocking other people and cultures.

I think a lot of their wild behavior is a result of conscription. “The backpacking trip (is) a common custom, nearly normative, among Israeli youth in the period soon after the military service,” wrote Chaim Noy and Erik Cohen, in their book,  Israeli Backpackers and Their Society: A View from Afar.

The direct transition from soldier to traveler implies that many such backpackers may still be shellshocked. Noy and Cohen note that the “massive participation in backpacking expresses the demobilized soldiers’ need to ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’ following the intense years spent in the army.” I would concur, if interpretations of relaxing and unwinding include: being a cocky prick, acting recklessly or even dangerously (see photo below), reacting aggressively to the mildest opposition, yelling and rambunctious diplays while drinking, and general insanity.

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Darya Maoz, who teaches a class at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University called Sociological and Anthropological Aspects of Tourism and Backpacking, described stereotypes of Israeli backpackers in  Outside magazine (Aug. 2005):  “They tend to be rude, to curse the locals, to ruin things if they are not satisfied… they don’t respect local people, they party all night, they take a lot of drugs, and if people say something, some Israelis call them Nazis.”

Crazy Israeli guys are guilty of many of the same offenses as the typical Aussie guy, colored with whatever inclinations a few months of patrolling the West Bank can bring.

It’s a funny comparison when considering a letter written in 2006 on www.ynetnews.com by Nicola Lipman, a Jewish-Australian backpacker:  A message to my ugly brother. Lipman acknowledges the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Israeli travelers: “I realzied it was the loud, obnoxious type (and not the friendly, funny and interesting type) who were immediately identifiable as Israeli and giving the whole country a bad name.”

And that’s coming from an Australian.

Also in 2006, freelance writer Jeff Koyen wrote a column for www.jewcy.com, entitled The Israeli Asshole, in defense of obnoxious Israeli travelers. In the column, Koyen presents arguments as to why Israeli travelers are generally perceived of as douchebags and why it’s OK for them to continue being douchebags.

“Raised in their own land, speaking their own language, Israelis have freed themselves from the anxious self-monitoring still experienced by the Jews of the Diaspora,” he wrote. “The Jews of Israel have learned to stop apologizing. Early Zionists would have taken great pleasure in knowing this day would arrive. Perhaps we should take some pleasure in it, too.”

Uh, sure. We should all take pleasure in things we consider reprehensible, like child pornography and female circumcision. After all, the perpetrators have learned to be unrepentant about their cause. Good for them! Let’s celebrate their offenses as justifiable acts of self-preservation. Koyen has clearly lost his mind as well.

Atop Koyen’s column is a photo of a sign, from Bella Bella Guesthouse in the Khao San Road district of Bangkok, saying that it does not accept Israelis because of problems it has had with them in the past. Coincidentally, I took a picture of the same type of sign when I stayed at Bella Bella in 2007, but this one had a damning newspaper article attached to it:

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Few bad reviews can compare with a simple refusal of service. It’s pretty crazy, really.

15. Dormitories

Friday, June 26th, 2009

If you don’t know what it’s like to sleep in a dormitory, you’ve obviously never backpacked in Europe (beenou), North America  or Down Under. The reason there’s a difference is because backpacking in the developed world is expensive as hell (See 8. The Lonely Planet). Meanwhile, in underdeveloped countries, one can procure a luxurious private hotel room for the price of a Happy Meal in Western currency.

hostel-dorm1Because affordable lodging space is so limited in the former, it becomes possible to charge a premium for not only a room, but for a tiny fraction of a room (literally one-16th). There are, of course, varying levels of expensiveness. For example, North American backpackers know what it feels like to pay outrageous sums of money (after converting their meager dollars to English Pounds or Euros) for half of a bunk bed. It’s a sensation akin to non-consensual jailhouse sodomy (i.e. ass rape).

Aside from obvious disparities in global currency and real estate values, the inflation in high-traffic tourist areas is senseless. The average minimum cost of a dorm bed in Prague in July is 15 Euros (21 USD) per night; 23 Euros in Rome; 26 Euros in Barcelona; 22 Pounds (36 USD) in London; 30 Euros (43 USD) in Paris;  and a whopping 35 Euros (49 USD) in Amsterdam. Go to the same cities in, say, November and the price is 30 to 40 percent cheaper. That’s the beauty of supply and demand, folks.

Remember: a) this is for a wretched dorm bed, and b) backpackers have no money.

So what makes dormitories so awful? Hygiene is a major issue. Before going on my first backpacking trip, I brought a sleepsack (a bedsheet folded over once and sewn) as it was suggested to me to avoid using hostel bedsheets, which could have bedbugs. Long story short, the sleepsack was excess baggage and I’d overpacked to begin with, so I ditched it early on. Besides, I was too lazy to use or wash it, so I went ahead and used the hostel bedsheets. Bad idea. I got bitten by bedbugs and it was terrible - but that’s for another post altogether.

hostel-dorm2Regardless of the hundreds of online reviews you read about competing hostels, they are all dirty. It’s not the hostel’s fault. Consider their clientele. A typical backpacker’s day consists of sightseeing and heavy drinking, both of which involve perpetual movement and perspiration. Piles of unwashed and reworn clothes, especially socks and underwear, contribute to the dormitory’s signature potpourri. At capacity, there can be 8 to 16 people in a room (on 4 to 8 bunk beds), depending on its size. The room smells of other people’s feet, breath and sweat. It’s disgusting. Every morning, a sour, humid stench hangs over the place as sunlight begins to cook it through the windows.

The mattresses are uncomfortable and sometimes squeaky. The really bad ones have uneven springs that dig into your back. So, it’s hard enough to fall asleep, and then there’s the element of noise. Whispering, giggling, snoring and, God forbid, fornicating. Like bedbugs, dorm sex requires its own post. There are also the drunks that stumble in, yelling belligerently, turning on all the lights and crashing violently into their bunk… which is incidentally right beneath yours.

Because other backpackers are generally untrustworthy, there are often large lockers in the corners of the dormitory, consuming whatever residual space that would have allowed for orderly room navigation. Lockers must be large enough to fit a 90-liter pack. Thus, occupants bump into and step over each other attempting to get from one end of the room to the other. Doing so in pitch darkness, while drunk, is no easy task.

Sleeping in close proximity to foreign strangers is creepy. Movies like Hostel or Taken are not particularly inspiring cinema to watch prior to going on a cross-Europe dormitory tour. You never know what kind of nutjobs are sleeping in there - above you, under you, or beside you. Some of them are Aussies, others are Israeli - both are crazy. Sweet dreams, everybody.

1. Aussie Guys

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

pamplonaAnybody who’s ever been to San Fermin in Pamplona knows what I’m talking about: Most people are hung over from all-night partying and nauseous from the stench of leather-winebag-induced vomit and urine filling the narrow cobblestone streets. Yet these perpetually sunburnt ruffians are still drinking at 6 a.m. when the wooden retaining fences swing open. Those who slept slept poorly, cold and in the streets for chrissakes.

The Aussies are already rowdy as hell. They’re chanting, slapping each other across the face, wrestling, laughing hysterically - getting pumped up. One Aussie is literally climbing up the wall as we wait for the bulls to be released. His buddy is spraying beer into the crowd. It’s six in the morning. We, the foreigners, the parasites (à la Robert Carlyle in The Beach), have been flocking to this quaint, Basque, mountain town for decades to experience an event Hemingway beenoued* so eloquently about. The Aussies are reminding the locals and staunch traditionalists what a sham it’s become. Aussie guys are backpacking culture cranked up to Volume 10.

The gunshots fire and chaos ensues as the bulls and people run through the town to the bullfighting arena.

Once the bulls have crossed the arena and are locked in their pens, the excitement subsides. But the capacity crowd wants blood. So the event organizers release smaller bulls into the huddled mass of dazed bullrunners. The crowd is delighted as the little bulls run amok and disperse the frightened men, many of whom climb over the guardrail and out of harm’s way. But the Aussies are wily and unafraid. One of them grabs a little bull by the horns and wrestles it down to the ground. Another Aussie gets a hold of a bull’s tail, then its hindquarters and climbs on for a few thrilling seconds. Meanwhile, the locals in the stands are jeering and whistling (Spanish for booing) their disapproval. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Remember the World Cup 2002 Beckham faux-hawk? You know the haircut. Everybody outside of North America was rocking it. (Canadian guys weren’t cuz it was gay and jived with neither hockey nor Mountain Equipment Co-op. American guys didn’t cuz they’re style oblivious and rocked faux-worn-in Abercrombie hats instead. Mexicans like soccer enough to but prefer to slick it all back.) Swedish guys enjoyed the haircut, but not as much as the Aussies. THEY ALL HAD IT. Perhaps it’s a testament to how trendy Aussies are (think trucker hats during the Kutcher/Pharrell era), but seriously, they are still rocking the haircut to this day. Seven years later, they just turned it into a mullet.

Speaking of mullets, Aussie Rules Football is rife with them.

aussie-rulesAussie guys steal all the broads. It’s not hard to figure out. Their accent is pretty money. I can admit that. For the most part, they’re ripped, largely due to knowing how to surf and excelling at summer sports, much to the chagrin of other backpacking males. They’re a nation of X-Gamers. They’re fearless and cheesy. Chicks dig fearlessness and cheese. Canadian guys are particularly prone to hating Aussies since, given their propensity for board sports and presumably cool personae, Aussies regularly invade the Canadian slopes to snowboard and bed local girls - enjoying much success in both pursuits.

I have no reason to dislike Australia, save for a few racial issues I’ve heard about but never witnessed. Vegemite is disgusting. I know that much. I don’t mind the taste of a fried egg on a burger, but it’s still weird. You produce damn good Hollywood actors and actresses and your endemic wildlife is neat. But please Australia, please. Tell your backpacking male travelers to calm the F down. And don’t even get me started on Crazy Israelis.

*Beenou (verb, onomatopoeia): To toot one’s own horn. To boast, brag or draw attention to one’s own superiority. A common flaw among backpackers. Can be done both explicitly (e.g. blatant beenouing: “I am awesome at Ultimate.”) and implicitly (e.g. back-handed beenouing or fishing for compliments: “Have you seen me throw a Frisbee?”). Can also function as a noun (e.g. “This blog is a huge beenou.”) Origin: Mimicry of jazz trumpet sounds, scat singing.