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33 types of people you’ll definitely meet travelling around Southeast Asia

  • 26
  • 08
  • 2016

From Hanoi to Singapore, there seems to be a never ending stream of grubby, backpack-hauling, bus-riding Western youths trudging between the last “most mind-blowing experience of their life” and the next one.

Oh ok, so we’re painting a pretty unfair picture. Travelling around Southeast Asia during your gap year is an experience of a lifetime. And you’ll meet some really cool people on those buses/beaches/snake-wine tours.

But the backpacker trail does seem to attract a certain type. Below are a few of the stock characters you’ll meet along the way.

Backpackers get off bus in Southeast Asia
(Ryan Porter/Flickr)

1. The tank top wearing bro, likely to be wearing Nike sliders and carrying a three-litre water container to compensate for not lifting.

2. The girls who talk proudly about the fact that they’re “absolutely not” going to Bangkok or a full moon party.

3. The preppy Americans who talk deeply about ‘Nam in Starbucks.

Starbucks in Saigon, Vietnam

4. The boy who’s travelling alone but has all the Go Pro equipment. Don’t feel bad if you want to integrate him into your group to exploit his selfie-stick.

5. The girl who sleeps all day in the hostel dorm room and will lose it if you unplug her phone charger.

6. The kid who’s only there because he’s doing an internship in Asian finance. He looks down on your backpack, and your life choices.

Businessman on laptop sitting on floor in Ho Chi Minh Airport

7. The group whose day plan basically revolves around the search for free wifi.

8. The girl who, when her tour bus drives past an H&M factory, starts planning her Guardian-esque exposé. In a moleskin, obviously.

9. The two 30-year-old best friends who quit their job in recruitment and sold everything they owned. They’ll make every bus a party bus, but find them a bit drunk and they’ll be looking dolefully into their buckets of blue drink.

Older blokes in club having a moment
(Mark Vegas/Flickr)

10. The bleary-eyed posh boys who took too many sleeping pills on the bus and think they’ve arrived in Bangkok rather than Cambodia.

11. The naive kid just out of sixth form who thinks a “ping-pong show” actually involves table tennis.

12. The recently graduated students who’ve bought five tailored Vietnamese suits each for job interviews back home. And are now trying to work out how to get them there without wearing them all on the plane.

Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner/Flickr)
(Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner/Flickr)

13. The lairy joker who’s “so up for eating locusts” – until it comes to the point he has to put one in his mouth.

14. The group of girls who thought a trip to Thailand would be exactly the same as the Costa del Sol, and refuse to leave the beach for fear of having to interact with “the locals”.

15. The dreamy diving instructor who won’t shut up about how precious the oceans are… but never explains why he then makes his living by taking hundreds of clumsy tourists to fragile coral reefs.

Diver picks up shell
(Joshua Sera/Flickr)

16. The person with their head between their legs on the bus as the street food catches up with them.

17. The kid who’s gone to every listed monument and scrolls through his iPhone albums to show you.

18. The Israeli guys who’ve just left national service and insist every activity needs to involve a punishing hike and jumping off things.

Israeli martial artists on hike
(Akban Martial arts academy/Flickr)

19. The 50-year-old backpacker who never left and now actually owns the same freakin’ hostel he checked in to 30 years ago.

20. The Gap Year students who’ve started wearing earth-tones and look offended when you get out a Lonely Planet guide book.

21. The “total lads” who won’t shut up about how wasted they got tubing in Laos and that they’ve heard you can blow up a cow with a bazooka somewhere in Cambodia…

Cambodian cow tied up
(Neil Rickards/Flickr)

22. The group of girls who stop to take the same picture of the same moment at the same time for their Instagram accounts, but manage to distinguish themselves by their choice of filters. (#individuality)

23. The people “backpacking” without backpacks. Enough said, really.

24. The strange man who gets high on valium, steals your flip-flops, then refuses to admit he’s wearing them – even though they’re visibly five sizes too small.

Flip flops on beach with chihuahua
(dana robinson/Flickr)

25. The tribes of smug, elephant-patterned-pyjama-bottom wearers, who continue to wear them months after returning home.

26. The kid who secretly organised and labelled his belongings in clear, re-sealable bags in his backpack. If you wondered why he was in the bathroom for 30 minutes it’s because of his insect-repellent application ritual.

27. The girls who made a Facebook thread to coordinate the shade of neon they would wear at beach parties, 12 weeks before the trip.

Neon clubbing girl
(James Kendall/Flickr)

28. The kids who start to talk about their day-napping scientifically. “20 minutes yields stage two”, “45 minutes may give you rapid eye movement”, and the like.

29. The iPhone photojournalists.

30. The one who has a guitar with him. Don’t take your guitar with you.

Guy with guitar on beach

31. That girl who insists on reeling off the names of all the places she’s visited with the regional pronunciation.

32. The weathered-looking guy who’s always sitting by the front desk in the hostel. He could be 39, equally he could be 20; you’ll never know, but that’s okay.

33. The girl who tells you she’s going on to teach English for two weeks in a Cambodian school. Meaning she’s gong to spend two weeks taking group selfies with little kids in a Cambodian school.

Gap year guys in Asia

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