Posts Tagged ‘souvenirs’

30. Female Backpacker Type B

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

female-backpacker-type-b11The majority of female backpackers fall under two main types: the Type A and the Type B.

Female Backpacker Type B is a bookish explorer. She gets straight As. She used to sing in the high school choir, or play clarinet in the school band. A self-declared “citizen of the world,” she turns her nose up to the general crudeness of the “party backpacker” scene (a scene openly embraced by her counterpart, Miss Type A).

In a movie, she’d be played by Emmy Rossum, Erika Christensen or Rebecca Hall. Who the F are they? Exactly. That’s why those actresses play her. She’s not a scene stealer. More like a cute dork. But make no mistake : She is NOT HOT.

She studied psychology, anthopology or art history in university and has no idea what she wants to do with her life (a common condition among post-grad backpackers). She’s considering teaching English overseas or working for an NGO before making a real career decision (also a common condition among backpackers).

Female Backpacker Type B is a militant vegetarian and can be seen making a stink about the lack of vegetarian options on the menu, in restaurants the world over. Due to her keen sense of social justice, she is more than happy to cause a scene defending her rights or somebody else’s.

She is unafraid to fuse styles and resemble a crazy old hippie lady, wearing local souvenir garb alongside designer sunglasses and quality outdoor gear (see above photo). She wears grandma panties and refuses to show unnecessary cleavage. In spite of her conservative dress, she may have a tattoo about the place or engage in some uncharacteristic drug/sexual experimentation while at the place. She is human, after all, she confesses.

female-backpacker-type-b2A reader of this blog, Maya, describes Female Backpacker Type B as follows: “what scares me much more (than alpha females) are those chicks… sort of intellectual, specky, vegetarian, tea drinking, not using the f-word, wearing tie-dye stuff and organic hemp bags, etc. i’m sure they are all really nice girls… i consider myself a feminist (yeah, being feminist doesn’t actually mean one has to become a total dude) but somehow they always make me think they should just buy some really slutty underwear instead of the terry pratchett books!!!!!!”

Agreed. But I have no idea who Terry Pratchett is.

Speaking of books, she ALWAYS reads the book about the place en route to the place (or while at the place). She has a voracious appetite for sightseeing; she goes to bed early and gets up early, so to beat the line-ups at the Louvre, the Vatican City, Venice, the Egyptian pyramids and Angkor Wat. She is planning a hiking trip to Macchu Picchu with her girlfriends but worries that if she waits too long, they will all be settled down, having babies and averse to adventure. Perhaps she’ll simply do it on her own (after teaching English overseas or working for an NGO).

Like the aptly named Natalie Keener, Anna Kendrick’s character in Up in the Air, Female Backpacker Type B is lost in a dichotomous idealism: a hurried checklist of things she intends to see and do before reaching her goal of having a successful career, settling down with the perfect mate (with a lengthy checklist of necessary traits), having babies and somehow remaining as ambitious and adventurous as ever. Good luck with all of that.

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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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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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