Archive for May, 2009

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.

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8. The Lonely Planet

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Sure, it’s a love-hate relationship. Everybody already knows the merits of the world’s most popular guidebook. It is, after all, the Elvis Presley of the guidebook Hard Rock Cafe. But let’s take a moment to examine its dark side.

lpOften considered “The Backpacker’s Bible,” the Lonely Planet was created in 1972 by travel pioneers Tony and Maureen Wheeler after they beenoued their way all across Asia, telling one and all about how much money they saved on their journey. Over the next 30-odd years, this enterprising British couple turned their diary project into an international beenou machine, marking the course of nearly every person that beenous their face off about their recent trip as you’re idly sitting at his/her dining room table wondering how it all came to this.

A modern day Ferdinand and Isabella, the Wheelers unknowingly commissioned generations of Christopher Columbi to rape and pillage the peaceful savages inhabiting distant and mythical lands. Just kidding – they published guidebooks about Western nations too. Not as much raping and pillaging there though. More like ass-raping prices. Backpackers are incredibly averse to those.

Does it have to be so big? Yeah, yeah, yeah: “The country-specific books are much smaller and packable. Way more informative, too.” Did you not just read that backpackers are broke? Come on man. We bought the South America on a Shoestring edition because a) we are on a shoestring budget and b) it cost $40 while the books for Argentina through to Uruguay came to $6,076.22.

But we refuse to buy the bootlegged copies. We won’t even take them for free. They’re unbearable and so ghetto.

It’s heavy. It weighs 17 pounds. And it’s so thick, it’s more like a dense cube of paper. Did they ever think about transparent Bible paper? You know, the Gideon stuff in those mini-Bibles. But I guess the ol’ LP is handy for self-defense – you can swing it at would-be thieves like a mace ball since you’re already carrying it in a plastic bag with your SIGG (used to be Nalgene) water bottle and Kit Kat bar. “What? It wouldn’t fit in my backpack, OK? (harsh irony) And I need it to figure out where we’re going!”

Despite its shortcomings, I think the Lonely Planet catches undue flak for being inaccurate. I’ve heard many a begrudged traveler go so far as to call it  the “Lonely Liar.” Take it easy. Things change; people go out of biz; prices go up. It’s not THAT bad. Besides, all of those people were holding one as they called it a Liar. Others will bitch for hours about the maps, but I suspect they’re just cartographically inept. I’ve never once encountered an unforgivably errant map, and I’ve seen hundreds (colossal beenou).

Make it downloadable. The BBC bought 75 percent of the company in 2007. Just save us all the trouble, help the environment (a major backpacker plus) and make all of it available on iTunes you greedy (ahem, bloody) imperialist bastards. I can’t even imagine how awesome it would be to navigate through the content on an iPod Touch/iPhone. I really can’t. But you can get the LP Audio Phrasebook App! Yippee.

Ever look at the contributors? They’re huge dorks. I can’t believe I’m taking advice about “Dance Clubs” worth a visit “if you’re a young twentysomething,” written by some 43-year-old, single “wanderer at heart” who writes for The Economist and spends “countless hours exploring museums, cathedrals and art galleries.” This person will not help me get laid overseas (This shyster [Thomas Kohnstamm], on the other hand, might). For these hapless scribes, it truly is a lonely planet.

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7. Pretending to be “Into Photography”

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

photography

This is one of the oldest backpacker beenous in the book. Give me a break. Yeah, you’re so “into photography.” I’ve got news for you: Everybody and their dog is into photography. Seriously, my buddy taught his German Shepherd how to take pictures – it’s very Littlest Hobo. Saying you’re into photography is like saying you’re into traveling, while surrounded by other travelers. Not very original.

I applaud Woody Allen for spoofing vacationers who fancy themselves vagabond Annie Leibovitzes. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Scarlett Johansson’s character, Cristina, is a confused artist and wannabe filmmaker who spends her time daydreaming and taking shots of children in the streets of Barcelona. She has no idea what she’s doing and it isn’t until she meets Penelope Cruz’s character, Maria Elena (who actually has an eye for photography and convinces her to ditch her digital SLR), that she starts taking decent pictures.

The overestimation of one’s own photographic prowess runs rampant in the backpacking community. Let’s be frank. You’re traveling. You, like most members of the species, are a visual being. You want to remember the fantastic scenes unfolding before your eyes. You bought an expensive camera on top of paying a fortune to get here, so damn right you’re gonna take a few pictures. That’s fine; so is everybody. We agree that photos are wonderful souvenirs. But don’t go telling me you’re so into photography.

I’ve seen the pictures you take. They’re brutal. You don’t even know how to use that grenade launcher you call a camera. Good for you. You’re struggling with your 30-lb. Lowe Alpine bag that’s a bitch to haul, but “is so worth it.” You talk about aperture, F-stop, depth of field and all that mumbo jumbo to people who  just want you to stop pretending you know what the hell you’re talking about.

Give me that thing (damn, it’s heavy). Which button? Oh, OK. Say cheese… I mean, “Say Facebook!” (Kill me now.) There you go, unforgettable good times captured forever. Yeah, I took a good shot, hey? Perfectly framed, two-thirds in. Did I mention I’m into photography?

Upcoming pretense posts to look out for:

  • Playing Guitar
  • Vegetarians
  • Pretending to be “Into Buddhism”
  • Pretending to be “Into Music”
  • Pretending to have lived somewhere but were actually just visiting
  • Rich kids pretending to be poor
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Article on SchemaMag.ca

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Check out my feature article, Southeast Asia Through Southeast Asian Eyes, on SchemaMag.ca.

Cheers,
POON

long-tail-boat

P.S. - Beenou.

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6. Getting Pickpocketed

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

If you’ve never been pickpocketed before, you just wait. Perhaps you’ve heard stories, but it’s like they say on MTV: You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the story of getting pickpocketed.

Moneybelts suck, but more on that later. Your wallet is in the back pocket of your jeans. Your cellphone is secure in that trusty backpack strap pocket. You are now a target. It’s that simple. Pickpockets are watching you. You’ve been marked before you realize it; you likely won’t realize it until it’s too late.

They wait in train stations and crowded tourist areas, near signs reading “Beware of pickpockets.” As an innate response, people immediately touch their wallet locale upon reading such signs or hearing such announcements over the intercom. Pickpockets watch for this and therefore know where you’re hiding the goods.

But you’re a seasoned vet. You’ve traveled everywhere and heard all the horror stories. In Europe, you watch out for gypsies. In poor countries, you watch out for everybody. Consider the following scenario: A common pickpocket’s ploy is to approach somebody left watching a number of bags. As a backpacker, you’re often stuck with more than one bag to protect: either you’ve got two (Note: Double packers – huge one in the back, small one out front like a pregnant lady – are retarded.), or you’re watching somebody else’s while they take a shit, wait for train tickets, book a hostel room, etc.

Since pickpockets rarely work alone, a decoy will come up and ask you a benign question (e.g. Excuse me, what time is it? Do you know where the nearest ATM is? Where did you get that t-shirt?). In the millisecond it takes you to look at your watch/the ATM/your shirt, an associate has already snuck in from behind and snatched a bag. The decoy attempts to make small talk and holds your attention until the job is done, then graciously thanks you and continues on his way. You’ve been had.

No matter how prepared you think you are, you will not be ready: These people are professionals.

Nevertheless, I’ve attempted to break down the elements of a pickpocket heist, from personal experience (beenou), as a sort of cautionary tale:

  1. Crowds – The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Khao San Road in Bangkok and Las Ramblas in Barcelona are typical pickpocket havens. Naturally, if people are bumping into each other, it makes the job easier. And unless you grew up in downtown NYC or Tokyo, you’re pretty uncomfortable in a sea of bodies ebbing and flowing through the street. Pickpockets are like hyenas – they quickly single out the weaker prey. For example, if you’re wearing baggy pants, you could be in trouble (I was).
  2. Diversion – The main purpose of the diversion is to get into your field of view. Often, they catch you off guard with old women selling bouquets, children selling maps, or blind beggars stumbling into you. It may be as insignificant as a light shove in a packed subway car when the train sways unexpectedly. In my case, it was a gypsy/beggar dropping a handful of change in a mosh-pit-like crowd.
  3. Teamwork – As mentioned before, pickpockets rarely work alone. As the change – we’re talking pennies here – hit the ground, I was both baffled and surprised. I thought, “Why pennies?” Then, “This dude is dirty and scary looking, with piercing yellow-green gypsy eyes like the Afghan broad on the cover of National Geographic. I should get out of his way.” As I tried to step aside, he grabbed the base of my pant leg, insisting my foot was on some of his change. He started yelling in a foreign tongue. I shook my head and struggled to free my foot, but he twisted the material tighter and yelled louder. He refused to let go, so I reacted violently, punching him in the shoulder a few times.
  4. Forcing You to Make a Choice – I braced myself for a counter attack, expecting him to hit back. Instead, he let go of my leg and sprinted off. Again, I was confused. Then it hit me. I reached back to feel my vacant back pocket. They got me. I wasn’t forced to make a choice, but in cases where only one of your many bags is stolen, you may be. Chase after the thief, and you risk leaving your bags unguarded. Stay with your bags, and the stolen one is gone.
  5. The Aftermath – I went to the police station to file a report on my stolen wallet. A few days later, it turned up. Most pickpockets just take the cash out and ditch the ID, bank cards and credit cards with the wallet. Just another example of criminal ethics, like how rapists and child molesters get their asses kicked in prison. At the police station, there were so many similar pickpocketing cases, it felt like a support group. People were crying, consoling each other, and comparing elaborate pickpocketing scenarios. Cops shrugged and told us there was nothing they could do. I spoke with people who not only lost wallets, but bags containing cameras, laptops, passports – everything. Those people were going home. Their trip was over. So remember: Even when you think you’re in dire straits, there’s always somebody worse off than you.
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5. Available Multinationals

Monday, May 18th, 2009

mcdonalds-russia“I just need to get away from it all” is standard rationale for departing on a long backpacking adventure. You want to switch it up. You envision exploring new lands, meeting fascinating people from all over, interacting with locals, experiencing foreign culture and at once absorbing the jarring visceral stimuli that surround you.

While all of those objectives may eventually be met, a few common hiccups occur. A few examples:

  • Coca-Cola: So charming in that timeless glass bottle.
  • McDonalds: Sushi in Japan, deep-fried camembert in France, who says this stuff isn’t local?
  • Marlboro: Even if you don’t smoke, you will. “It’s so cheap here!”
  • 7-Eleven: Everything you need. Condom labels you can read. Gatorade for that hangover. Mmm, Pringles. Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, Pfizer – only the essentials.
  • KFC: Regardless of religion, race or creed, people like fried chicken. Not just black people. All people.
  • Starbucks: Combine elements of otherwise conflicting yuppie and backpacker culture in a modern and urban setting! Also available in fair trade blends for the most delicate of consciences.

Ironically, most backpackers stay close to the herd. The beaten path is by no coincidence dotted with the above brands and companies. The convenient access to all these familiar flavors and comforts makes it nearly impossible for backpackers to resist temptation and indulge in them.

Doing so, however, runs contrary to the idealistic tenets the prototypical backpacker ascribes to, such as respect for the environment, leftist ideals, support for local economies and equitable labor practices. Sanctimonious, tree-hugging and bleeding heart principles the likes of Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity and Adbusters want you to believe in.

marlboro-thailand

That's NOT Manny Pacquiao.

Thus, most members of the backpacking community are conflicted. It’s understandable. You didn’t drop two grand on a plane ticket to eat the same noxious crap you can buy at a strip mall in your hometown.

But you get homesick. You tire of local food or rolling the dice on substandard hygenic conditions. You just want something familiar for a change. No surprises. Besides, how could something so corporate and evil taste so good?

So you swallow your pride with a super-sized Coke to wash it down. You resign to the notion that globalization is an inevitability in our forever capitalist, commoditized world. One little purchase can’t hurt…

Globalization is a bitch ain’t it? It’s like the atomic bomb – somebody else invented it. Not your problem. Enjoy your Bic Mac. We’re no holier than thou. We all savored ours.

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4. Nobody Gives a S***

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I don’t. You don’t. Nobody does.

You come back from a “life altering” trip and want to tell your friends all about it. “OMG! You have to tell me everything!” they say. That is complete bullshit. They don’t want to hear everything. They don’t care about the travel minutiae, pointless explanations about how cool this Irish guy you met randomly and traveled with for three raucous days of shared self-discovery was or how insane it is to take a piss in a bathroom with geckos running across the wall.

People are haters. It’s not malicious. Most of the time, it’s unintentional, subconscious even. They don’t care to read the book, just its synopsis. Don’t print them out the full job description; hand them a business card.

“How was it?!” they ask excitedly, when you run into them at a bar. Although they genuinely want to hear how your 6 months overseas were, they only wanna hear it summarized in five sentences: “It was awesome. I covered 12 countries on two continents. I got laid four times. Saw Radiohead in Prague. Sucks to be home.” Note that the five sentences explain a lot: awesomeness, geography, sex, the highlight of the trip, and confirmation that the listener is missing out big time. That’s all they want. If you give them more, they’ll zone out and start checking out some one night stand candidate across the room.

Sorry, but people are caught up in their own lives. And fair enough. Reality is not spent sleeping in hostels, eating pad thai on the street, screwing foreigners or hopping from bus to train to airport terminal and back to bus again. It’s spent in a mind-numbing litany of commutes, cubicles, grocery stores, TV programs and beds. We lock into monotonous routines, not exhilirating spontaneity. Everyone can’t just quit their jobs, pack up and go on a big trip. We need to keep our jobs, move up in the company, pay the bills.

“But keep in touch, OK? Take lots of pictures and send us e-mails! I wanna read all about it,” they say. They won’t read it. They’re too lazy to. Just send pictures. Feel free to e-mail updates, but don’t expect more than a 2 percent response rate.

They won’t read the book, they might even pass on the synopsis, but they will watch the “movie.” YouTube and Facebook killed the e-mail star. While Facebook is a convenient multimedia delivery mechanism for both parties, it may very well be the most self-indulgent invention in the history of mankind. Even more self-indulgent than this blog. It’s also as gay as rollerblades. More on that later.

Don’t take it personal. It’s just that your journey of self-discovery was precisely that – for yourself and about yourself. That’s why it’s more irrelevant to others than you’d often like to believe.

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3. Where are the Hot Girls?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

female-backpackers

Not backpacking, that’s where. It’s a known fact that hot chicks don’t rough it. Granted, there are exceptions to every rule, but make no mistake: The vast majority of good-looking women will refuse to strap on a massive rucksack and throw caution to the wind. The ladies you meet on the backpacking circuit are of two predominant types – more on that later.

So why don’t the hotties pull a Sir Edmund Hillary? Come on. Think about it. The prospect of spending months overseas, on a tight budget, sleeping on shoddy trains, ferries, buses and dorm bunks, washing sparingly, shaving legs and armpits rarely, abandoning make-up, hairspray and nailpolish, trading designer handbag (or clutch) in for cumbersome moneybelt and being away from Facebook for inordinate periods of time simply doesn’t appeal to sexy bitches. Oh and I forgot to mention getting hit on FULL TIME by a constant lineup of desperate, broke, smelly dudes. And getting harassed by local pervs at every turn, who, in some countries, will go so far as to masturbate as you walk by in your bikini. Happy trails.

That’s bullshit, you say. There are plenty of babes out there backpacking. Yeah, there are. With their boyfriends.

Hot chicks travel with luggage. Rolling luggage. They drop the S out of the word “hostel.” They take cabs, not rickshaws. They don’t like being away from essential amenities and services, namely Starbucks (although it’s basically integrated with backpacker culture nowadays; see 5. Multinationals), a 12-lb. make-up crate, a blowdryer and hair straightener, and real-time gossip technology. They prefer rich, well-dressed, groomed men. They choose luxury over practicality seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Most of them pretend to care about world issues, politics and poverty, but they really don’t give a shit. They do, however, know everything about The Hills.

Yet some exceptions do exist. Consider women in the military or lady cops. Not a lot of hot ones. It takes a certain mental constitution to really get dirt under the fingernails, to tear the meat off the bone of traveling. Backpacking is like farting. It’s raw, curious, savage and, at times, inhumane. It’s generally more of a guys’ thing.

Indeed, some hot chicks are adventurous. Some will brave the aforementioned perils (and let go of their familiar comforts), without a b.f. in tow, to try something new. And that something new is Europe (see Star Picks Backpacking Over Work or Taken). Or Australia. The developing world? Sure, but preferably with a girlfriend or two… and expect tension if not a mid-trip parting of ways. Yeah right, a smokin’ hot broad rolling solo in the developing world. Now, you’re really pushing it.

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2. No Toilet Paper

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

cpsYou don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. You won’t appreciate the luxury of a good, delicate shit ticket ’til you sprint into a foreign stall, turtle head popping out, and proceed to unleash hot fury, only to discover you’ve got nothing to wipe with except your imagination. Spare me your advice. Sure, you ALWAYS remember to pack your own roll. But even packaged Kleenex gets forgotten at times of urgent need.

You’ve never hit rock bottom until you’ve had to reach into the bowlful of feces to hunt a clear patch of water to draw from. That’s when you begin to appreciate the in-stall hose attachment. And you used to wonder what it was for. Now you know.

Now you appreciate the ol’ bucket and ladel (sometimes a small pail or yogurt container) within arm’s reach. You try not to let your mind wander as to what insects may have already laid their eggs in the bucket water. You’re way beyond that. This is all business.

You’ve mastered the art of the Water Wipe. You cup the water in your hand – always the left hand, mind you – and deftly reach and splash your underside in one, sweeping motion so not to lose a drop. The ends justify the means. Like Kerouac in Big Sur, you realize your butt is cleaner than it would be from toilet paper. Your anus is enlightened. It remains wet, though. No paper. That’s the perplexing part…

Still, your ass-wiping apprenticeship is going great. It’s even curbing your bad habits. Southpaw nosepicking and nailbiting are ancient history. You haven’t kicked cigarettes but now you smoke (and eat) exclusively with your right hand.

After hundreds of unpleasant encounters with ill-equipped thrones (soiled, cracked or absent seats being the norm), you develop a respect for the Classic Porcelain Squat, or CPS. A seeming anachronism in many of the world’s most technologically advanced nations, who knows how many ingenious ideas were born upon it over the centuries? As the CPS’ moulded, corrugated foot grips hold your suspension steady, you get it. You figure out proper technique – with your hamstrings pinned to your calves, your heels planted – and the turds roll out like Cosby kids in a chorus line. The angles are sound. You barely need to wipe.

You’ve seen it all. Wet floor? Hang up your pants and underwear. No coat hook? Just clutch your pants and in a ball with your right hand (You’re not wiping with it anyways!). You’ve learned that keeping baggy shorts off the floor in mid-squat becomes an uncomfortable hammock building exercise, so you go bottomless as a rule. No stall door? Whatever.

No toilet paper. Ha! I’ve got hand sanitizer.

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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 exemplify backpacking bro 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 Euro trashy 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.

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