Posts Tagged ‘missing flights’

34. ‘Departures’

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It’s a fantastic show, made by my fellow Canadian backpackers, but I hate it.

The award-winning reality show drives me up the wall with jealousy. Having done the buddy travel thing so many times (beenou), watching Departures on OLN Canada continually brings back me to the same question: WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?

Well, I don’t have a cinematic genius of a third friend willing to accompany buddy and me on trips to obscure and exciting destinations. Wait a second. I do have such a third friend. What the hell am I doing working a nine to five?!

See what I mean? The show drives me crazy.

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I’d been able to avoid the show as much as possible until two days ago, when I came across a Lindsay Post article  (by Brian Gorman of ZAP2IT): ‘Departures’ a dream come true for three adventurers. Damn you, Gorman, for reminding me of missed travel, TV stardom and wealth opportunities!

I feel like one of the pimps on Dave Chappelle’s sketch “The Player Haters’ Ball,” where each character takes his turn ripping into the other, as well as into celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and The Osbournes. The pimps pull no punches, regardless of their victims’ good intentions — it’s all for the sake of hating (see 27. One-uppers). Is the hatred driven by jealously? Probably. But my job, as with theirs, is to hate and hate well.

The reality show is successful — it has “a cult following and eight Gemini nominations under its belt, including a best photography win for (cameraman Andre) Dupuis,” Gorman writes — because it’s genuine. The two travelers, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, are longtime buddies from Brantford, Ontario (indeed, the hometown of another affable Canadian hero, Wayne Gretzky). Their conversations, tribulations, discoveries and overall enthusiasm are candid, but more importantly, they’re believable.

I understand that saying a reality show is good because it’s genuine may be stating the obvious, but after watching the shit-eater supreme Jake Pavelka compete on The Bachelorette last year for the affections of Canadian Jillian Harris (That’s the third Canadian reference this entry. Call it post-Olympic patriotism, people. I kinda hate the Olympics too, by the way), only to be granted extended C-list fame with his own show entitled The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (Note: Pavelka is a commercial pilot), let’s just say my faith in reality TV, not to mention in the intelligence of the general public, has taken a nose dive.

I digress. From one honest episode to the next, the Departures duo struggles with common backpacker issues, including money transfer hassles, long-distance relationships and break-ups, scheduling stress and missed flights, travel companion tension, foreign hospitals, constant hangovers and homesickness before the otherworldly backdrops of Antarctica, Ascension Island (in the South Atlantic; I know, I didn’t know it existed either), Libya, Mongolia, the Cook Islands and Iceland. Not your typical backpacking haunts. To call what they do a dream job is like saying Kevin Durant is proving to be an alright NBA player.

“The biggest quest for us is to find real authentic places that, when you walk up to people, they look at you like you’re from another world,” said Lukach, in the article. “We have found those places, but it takes so much to get to those spots. We don’t get off a plane and drive for an hour. We get off a plane and trek in the jungle for three or four days.” BEENOU.

So, to Andre, Scott and Justin, I say: Kudos and keep up the good work, fellas. Keep living the dream. And, I hate you all.

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28. Rich kids pretending to be poor

Friday, December 4th, 2009

As I mentioned a couple posts ago (see 27. The Light Skin Paradox), human beings long for what they don’t have. Undiscovered people want to become famous. Famous people want privacy. Poor people want to be rich. Rich people want to, well, blend in.

Sure, there are wealthy people who are more than happy to floss on the regular, but backpacking is the antithesis of flossing. Makes sense because just like hot women, rich people don’t usually backpack anyway — they stay in 5-star accomodations, not 16-bunk dorm rooms.

A small minority of affluent travelers, however, are willing to slum it on the backpacking scene. These people are invariably young, adventurous types from good families, with good educations. Bursting with idealism and a desire to “see the world,” these rich kids quickly adopt the typical backpacker affections for leftist politics, environmentalism, spontanaeity and frugality.

Obviously, it’s the frugality part that is unconvincing. I’d compare it to how rich kids shop at thrift stores to find grungy retro duds, while poor people are there out of necessity. Backpacking is about survival, about scraping by on nickels and dimes, eating sparingly and sleeping on trains to avoid paying for a night’s stay in a hostel. Most backpackers would rather stay in nice hotels, but they can’t afford to, so they go backpacking and in doing so, learn to appreciate the minimalist charms of traveling on the cheap. Indeed, rich kids learn to appreciate them too (maybe mom and dad only give them cash in certain increments, I don’t know), but they occasionally slip up.

Common slip-ups include:

  • Getting drunk and buying the entire bar a round of drinks.
  • Staying in a hotel after scouring the city for two whole hours and discovering all the hostels are full. Meanwhile, your friends opt to sleep in the train station, but you insist they should stay with you. But they get denied in the lobby as the hotel is hip to your game and they end up sleeping in the train station after all.
  • Missing your flight, but miraculously arriving at your destination on the next possible one.
  • Buying lavish souvenirs and shipping them home immediately.
  • Consistenly buying expensive meals and playing it down as taking advantage of a favorable currency exchange rate.
  • Calling home all the time, on mom and dad’s calling card.
  • Enduring what normally would be a trip-ending calamity and not having to go home at all.
  • Telling everybody back home you’re going to said country to work for six months to a year and spending six months to a year traveling and not working at all.

Why have I paid such close attention to the mundane tendencies of rich-kid backpackers? I’m just jealous… and poor. And poor people want to be rich.

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