Posts Tagged ‘Internet cafes’

Backpacking in the News

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Link to article: 12 months, countless countries, one bag

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Roberto Rocha with all his gear.

Canadian traveler Roberto Rocha put together a sound list of things to bring and not to bring on a long backpacking trip. “No room for dead weight,” he writes. “Lose the long pants and travel gadgets, but hang onto the camera and Swiss Army knife.”

I concur: I’m all about the camera and Swiss Army knife. Laptop, however? Not so much. I never backpack with a laptop; I opt for Internet cafes (see 9. Lost e-mails).

What to pack: Thai fisherman’s pants, shirts made of light material, travel-size toiletries, three must-haves (Swiss Army knife, camera and MacBook).

What to ditch: long pants, towel (they come with rooms everywhere), travel gadgets (e.g. flexible silicon bowls, foldable water bottle, waterproof wallet bag).

Oh, and like me (see 16. iPod Thieves), Roberto’s had his iPod stolen. Go figure.

For more on this topic, check out What not to bring backpacking: 10 things to leave at home.

42. Facebook

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy, but not too busy to write. It seems I’ve been preoccupied: I bit the bullet and joined Facebook. I know, I know. I’ve long been an outspoken Facebook detractor and have gone as far as calling it gay, self-indulgent (see 4. Nobody Gives a S#%&) and downright unnecessary. Which it is.

Ashamed, I even tried sneaking a Facebook reference into my previous post (see Par. 2), meekly justifying it as a means of staying informed and feeding my journalistic appetite.

There were reasons for feeling defeated:

  • I worried that joining Facebook and shooting my creative load through daily status updates and random witticisms would be detrimental to my blog productivity, and I was right.
  • Facebook is for people who love the sound of their own voice. I knew it would consume me.
  • On the flip side, Facebook is terribly invasive. If curiosity killed the cat, then Facebook is the Cat Auschwitz of the Internet. Again, I knew it would consume me.
  • For the longest time, I argued: “Facebook opened an ethical can of worms, which allows people you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with to get in touch with you. And you can’t ignore their friend request because next time they see you in public, they will know you intentionally didn’t keep in touch with them, for a second time. That’s insulting and before Facebook, it didn’t have to be.” I am weak and I accept everybody now.
  • There are obvious benefits to be being on Facebook, but I’m not going to get into them because this blog is all about tearing shit down. Facebook is successful because of these benefits. Let’s leave it at that.

So, the following are things that truly annoy me, a late adopter, about Facebook:

  • Rampant beenouing.
  • Bad spelling. Examples: “To funny. Its awesome. Definately! Your so right.”
  • People trying to be photographers (see 7. “Into Photography”).
  • People trying to be models. The faux photographers are 50 percent to blame for the emergence of 50 percent of faux models. “Come, let me shoot you and we’ll add the shots to both of our portfolios.”
  • Girls taking photos of themselves blowing kisses. And especially taking such photos in front of the bathroom mirror after finishing their hair and makeup before going out.
  • Commenting on something just to be nice and being subsequently notified about everybody else’s lame comments. I was trying to be nice, but I don’t give two shits about what some stranger has to say about your new haircut.

How is any of this relevant on a blog about backpacking? Because all anybody does on hostel computers or in foreign Internet cafes now, is go on Facebook. Facebook is the world. They’re making a movie about Mark Zuckerberg, for chrissakes. My ninth post has quickly become obsolete.

While on the road last month, I realized that I wasn’t asking anybody for their e-mail address anymore. I was asking new acquaintances what their last names were. Kinda creepy. But not as creepy as I thought it would be. Most people readily told me their last names; some even spelled them out for me, with the knowledge that I was gonna add them on Facebook. There’s an unspoken understanding now, when you ask somebody what their last name is.

The sun is setting on the day when two travelers meet, have a good time and exchange e-mail addresses. Or maybe I just got here in time to catch the last few flickers of light before it disappears behind the horizon.

Either way, I hate it.

Backpacking in the News

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Link to article: What Type of Backpacker Are You?


That's Matt, in Australia

This article was originally posted to in July 2009 by Matt from Boston, a self-professed travel junkie.

Some things I like about Matt (from his About Me page):

  • His favorite country is Thailand and his favorite city is Amsterdam. Both solid choices.
  • He’s down with buying bootlegged movies on the street in Asia.
  • Everything he owns fits into one bag. Very Clooney, on Up In The Air!
  • He hates people who brag about travel. “(They) are insecure and aggravate me,” he writes.
  • He wishes he had a better ear for languages. Don’t we all.
  • He doesn’t have a strong desire to go to China. I’ve also felt this way.

17. Long Distance Relationships (LDRs)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

“hey stranger”

What’s that? Don’t act like you don’t know. You’ve been backpacking on an LDR and your significant other has hit you with the above e-mail subject. Don’t feel bad. It’s common.

It’s a common mistake. No offense if you’ve successfully done it or if you’re trying to convince your significant other to let you go backpacking, but come on. Get real.

(Cliche warning! Cliche warning!) Backpacking is about you, about discovering who you are. What makes you tick. How social you are in new and unfamiliar settings. How good you are at picking up members of the opposite sex. What you want to do with your life (if you don’t end up teaching English). How much you appreciate your family and where you’re from. Don’t fuck with it. (Without fear of sounding like the older brother of the LMS* douche from Rookie Of The Year, on American Pie 2): It’s a sacred rite of passage.

You know because you’ve seen it tried before. Maybe you’ve been that person. Maybe you broke up before your trip, maybe you didn’t. Maybe it was painfully ambiguous. Maybe you’ve travelled with an LDR backpacker. Whatever the case, you’ve seen somebody showing the symptoms: constantly stressing to check their e-mail or get to their phone, wondering what time it is back home, scrutinizing their significant other’s Facebook page with a detective’s eye for detail, sitting in dingy Internet cafes talking on Skype (”Can you hear me, now? How ’bout now?…  Haha, now?”) while other backpackers are out having fun, eating poorly, drinking heavily, losing sleep, talking to you about it endlessly in the hostel and making you lose sleep, trying to pick up chicks/guys but failing miserably because their heart’s just not into it, feeling bad because they’re being THAT person. That LDR backpacker.

So yeah, don’t do it. Break up and get back together afterward. Or if you really love her/him and you can’t let him/her go, just travel together.

*LMS (Little Man’s Syndrome): Pronounced “elms,” this syndrome is commonly known as a Napoleonic Complex, exhibited by men who are short in stature yet display aggressive and overcompensatory personality traits. Prone to peacocking, contact sports and rough horseplay (see 1. Aussie Guys), men with LMS often lift weights in order to “get jacked” and offset their unimpressive height. A common LMS greeting involves an iron-grip handshake, low-voiced laughter and a hug that turns into a lifting-taller-friend-off-the-ground (and thus displaying their great strength) exercise. Sometimes, LMS just applies to short guys in general.

9. Lost (unsaved) e-mails

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

If it’s not the best e-mail you’ve ever written, it’s in the Top 3. The recipient (mom, significant other, best friend, etc.) is in for a spectacular read. You spent hours poring over its myriad descriptions, explanations and terminology. It’s a legitimate piece of travel literature. You’re just about to put the finishing touches on it and FIZZT! The power cuts out. Everybody in the Internet cafe lets out a collective shriek.

You gasp. Your heart races. Your pupils dilate. Your face is flushed with heat and beads of cold sweat percolate upon your forehead. Nooo!! It can’t be. It’ll still be on the screen when the computer turns back on.

Please, please be there. But you know it won’t be… It isn’t. (Insert expletive here), it’s lost.

You didn’t save it. This isn’t the first time this has happened. You typed out an entire eight-page report about “Pandas,” at the last minute, on WordPerfect back in the 6th Grade, didn’t save it, and the computer froze. Gone forever.

So now, just like back then, you’re at a crossroads. Do you start it over again right away, just hack it out and who cares if it’s not as good, it’s still fresh in your mind and fuck it, you’re getting this thing done (you got a good grade on “Pandas,” after all) or do you pack it in, flee the Internet cafe, get drunk and forget about it?

As you contemplate both outcomes, the Internet credit you prepaid for is ticking away in the bright blue rectangle on the bottom right of your screen. Fuck. It’s almost midnight and you’re exhausted. Why didn’t you just write the e-mail in Word (saving it intermittently) and copy it into an e-mail once you were ready to send, like that South African dude told you to do after the same thing happened to him?!

It’s lost. You cannot resurrect it or rebuild it to its former glory. All your friends are already at the Irish Pub down the street and that Swedish babe you’ve been dying to screw is gonna be there… Your eyes wander, scanning for sympathy, but nobody looks over at you. The place is full of backpackers staring into glowing monitors, hunching over keyboards, typing  rapidly. A couple people are visibly crestfallen - heads hanging, pulling at their hair. They didn’t save theirs either. Hey, concentrate. You’re going on a three-day hike into the mountains tomorrow and the bus leaves at 5 a.m. Mom/Significant Other/Best Friend hasn’t heard from you in weeks and is trying not to appear worried sick about you, as indicated by his/her previous e-mail (Subject: hey stranger). Write something.

You slap a new message together haphazardly. This will have to do. What was once gorgeous, flowing prose is reduced to point form. You hit send and the monkey is off your back. With a clear conscience, you make a beeline for the Irish Pub to lament your original draft. Over flaming Sambucas, you tell everybody what just happened to you and you’re met with nodding heads. They get it. It’s happened to them before, too.

And adding insult to injury: The Swedish babe already left to go to bed.