A travel fundi with constantly itchy feet, with the good comes the bad; Alex Hoy shares with us six things she hates about travelling (in Asia, in this case).
Probably the least of my travel gripes, but still undeniably annoying, is trying to understand local dialects. I found this particularly difficult in Vietnam where, quite often, locals would leave out certain letters. So the simple sentence, “Do you want ice coffee?” would become “You ant I café?” I think the hardest part of trying to converse with someone who speaks like this is not the intense listening you have to do, but rather the constant smile that you have to fix to your face. The room for misunderstandings is endless but, since we are guests in their beautiful country, we smile – no matter what the outcome is. And hey, who cares if you ordered fried rice and got dried mice instead? It’s all part of the experience, right?
One of the most confusing things about going to a new country is learning its currency. Having come from China, we were familiar with the yuan, but in Vietnam they use the dong. To make matters worse, we couldn’t directly exchange our yuan to dong, but rather had to buy US dollars instead. So at one point, we were converting the price of a bottle of water like this: 20 000 dong = 1 US dollar = 6.3 yuan = R8. It was exhausting!
This is a very lame complaint and no matter how I try to make it sound like a big deal, it will always remain boring because that is the very nature of this task. Packing. Or more specifically, packing then unpacking then packing then unpacking then packing then unpacking then packing then unpacking then packing then unpacking then packing then unpacking... I think you get the idea.
In fourth place is the irrefutable annoyance of being ripped off. No matter how small. Coming to a new city is like trying to find your way out of a maze of bad deals. Every hawker has the potential to turn on you and overcharge. Every vendor eyes your gullibility at a glance. Even innocent pedestrians become professional pickpockets in this sea of scams.
One of the greatest things about travelling is the people you meet along the way. However, they can also be fairly annoying.
There are definitely two types of holidaymakers: The first is the Traveller. These people believe that doing anything touristy is lame. They scoff at the tourists who walk around the temples with cameras hanging from their necks. They would rather die than join an organised tour group, and are famous for talking loudly about local cuisine. They can easily be identified by their shoelace bracelets, baggy pants and tie-dye paraphernalia. They like to think of themselves as lone wolves seeking danger and adventure, although obviously not that much danger because they stay within the safety of the hotel.
The second group is the Tourist. Tourists are unashamed of their intention to take as many photos as humanly possible and wear their cameras with pride. They have an organised itinerary and love the thrill of ticking off boxes from their list. They don’t like to ‘rough it’ and are willing to pay extra for creature comforts such as air con and hot water. They can easily be spotted for their choice in clothing. The Tourist likes to wear T- shirts with city slogans such as 'I love S.G.' or 'I drink Tiger Beer'. They wear jeans and moon bags and are usually a bit older than the common Traveller.
The two groups are long-sworn enemies and the rapid-fire questions can often be heard in hotel lobbies. “How long have you been here?” asks the Traveller. Without answering, the Tourist may reply, “What have you seen?” And so it will go back and forth, each man fighting for his ideals on how the world should be seen.
Last but not least on my list of travel gripes is transport. And any form of it. And top of the terrible transport list is, of course, buses – especially buses without loos and with crazy drivers who think they are Michael Schumacher. I could drone on and on about it, but that would be about as boring as having to go on one. So take it from me: buses are public enemy number one.