Call yourself a backpacker? With scruffy hair, dozens of bracelets tied around your wrist and mismatched flip flops, you certainly look the part. But have you truly entered into the South East Asian backpacker spirit yet? Have you left the old, (clean) ‘you’ behind to discover a new ‘travelling you?’ Someone who is a lot less fussy, a load more spontaneous and maybe, just maybe a little wiser?
There are times during your travels when you will even shock yourself with how well you have adapted to your new backpacker lifestyle! Do any of the following sound familiar? If you nod in agreement to any of these statements then you are well on your way to earning your backpacker stripes…
1. You confuse Baht with Kip, mistake Rupees for Ringgit or Riel, but still manage to argue the price down.
2. You spontaneously decide that tomorrow you’ll go to another country.
3. You don’t know what month it is and you’re not positive that you have the correct year either.
4. You start thinking in an Asian accent.
5. You see a storm on the horizon and you still set out to sea in a boat that you’re pretty sure may leak.
6. You think it’s a little cold if the temperature drops below 28°C.
7. There are ants in your soup but you keep on eating.
8. You pop a squat on perfectly western toilet.
8. You use the acronym ‘SSBD’ instead of saying “same same but different.”
9. You’re ‘guess-that-nationality’ game accuracy becomes 95%.
10. You ask someone who you’ve been having a 20-minute conversation with, “which country are you from?” and they tell you they’re from the same country as you.
11. Taking three different types of transportation on a journey is standard… things only get interesting when it’s five or more.
12. You JUST figured out the currency and you have to leave the country that day.
13. You can arrive in a new country at 3am with no sure idea of where you’re going and instead of being nervous you see it as just another day on the road.
14. You’re about to order your noodles and see a huge rat in the kitchen, you shrug your shoulders and order anyway.
15. You know that tiger balm cures all.
16. You wake up at noon and chug the beer you left on the nightstand when you went to bed six hours before.
17. You think that going shopping and spending more than US $5 on any one item is outrageously expensive.
18. You forget to put your shoes back on when leaving a restaurant.
19. You go from writing OMG to OMB (Oh My Buddha) on your Facebook page.
20. You can say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in four different languages… but can never get the right word in the right country.
21. The closest approximation you can give to your location is… ‘Thailand?’
22. You know that lion, tiger and kingfisher are better enjoyed cold from the refrigerator than in a wildlife reserve.
23. You can dump your backpack on a boat and only check to see it’s still there when you return five hours later.
24. “Mai pen rai” has become your quote for every tricky situation.
25. You automatically reach for the bum gun when you are in a swish place.
(The points in this article were written by Jennifer Rowe, Danielle Walker, Courtney Muro, Kaberly Doerr, Jacqui Peters, Nikki Scott and a whole load of travellers at the Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel in Vietnam.)