In my short time on the road travelling there are some rules I have come to learn and live by…..more to come I’m sure……..
1. Don’t look up – Now, obviously I don’t mean that you shouldn’t look up all the time but there are certain situations where you really shouldn’t. For example, in a public or hostel toilet, in any shower, when walking through any kind of bush land, in any sheds, garages or confined spaces. The reason is simple. If you do look up you will be greeted by an array of Australian insects all happily going about their business, above your very head. Because unlike England the beasties out here are huge, yes I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – HUGE!!! Spiders are the size of small birds, moths and butterfly’s are bigger than your hand, crickets easily the size of a credit card and so on….. They are all above you, at any time, right above your head. So it’s better just not to look. Trust me it’s much easier to have a quick wee without looking at the tennis ball sized spider with the big white/red pouch thing and wondering if he has enough venom to kill a small herd of cattle……
2. “The Frienger” – The Frienger (rhymes with ranger for it’s proper pronunciation) is someone who is technically a stranger but with who you quickly establish a temporary friendship with. As Brits we’re not very good at the instant friend thing but it makes for a much more enjoyable trip if you open yourself up to the Frienger experience. With a Frienger it’s pretty much common practice to share your life stories, be naked in front of each other after about 30mins of meeting (to clarify I mean in a female dorm, hostel, kind of way!), share your plans for the trip, listen to all their stories, tips on where to go etc. You form a temporary bond for an hour, a day, a few days, then they’re gone – or you’re gone and the next Frienger comes along. It really is pretty cool and very interesting. Friendgers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and country’s. By far my strangest Frienger experience was Maggie, a 62 year old lady who had been living at the Coffs Harbour hostel for 6months. My first meeting with Maggie was a rather startling one. I opened the dorm room to be greeted by the sight of her big white knicker clad bottom, stuck up in the air, legs over the back of her head in some kind of yoga position…..Needless to say a humble ‘Hello’ didn’t quite seem right. So I short of gasped, apologised (what for I’m not sure) and sort of stood in the doorway not quite knowing where to look. After the shock subsided I also thought ‘wow good on her, she’s pretty bendy for an older lady’. Don’t get me wrong, Maggie was lovely, full of great stories and a very sweet lady. But her morning/afternoon yoga routines and regular bouts of random nakedness left me feeling a little awkward to say the least….
3. Be a good roomie – The world of the hostel is a bit of a strange one. We’re all travelling on our own adventures, with our own plans for where to go and what to see. Occasionally you’ll meet some awesome people who’ll become friends and move out of the temporary friendger category. But it’s very good to remember that when sharing a room with strangers (or friengers as they will quickly become) you should try, as much as possible to be a good roomie. For example…. try to organise yourself before going out so that if you roll in past midnight you can quickly grab your toothbrush and PJ’s in the dark, quietly sort yourself out then hop into bed – without waking them from their slumber. No one likes the person who crashes into the room, switches on all the lights, says sorry 15 times whilst trying to find a million things from their suitcase, tripping over, then passing out – sorry about that by the way…. but lesson learnt! Being a good roomie also means taking the time to chat, to listen to where they’ve been, where they’re going, what tips they have, invite them out if they’re new to the hostel or on their own, basically take an interest and be nice.
3. Flip Flops are absolutely essential – Flip Flobs or thongs as they’re called out here are the one thing you will need above all other. The humble flip flop has many uses and is vital for the new traveller. For example – Flip flops should always be worn in the shower of a hostel. Always. Never, ever get into a hostel shower bare foot. Seriously, it’s just gross and a whole world of foot fungal joy awaits should you choose to risk it. Flip flops can also be used on the beach, Carrie once showed me a very neat trick of using your flip flop to brush over the sand to make it bump free and create a sort of sandy pillow for yourself. I know this doesn’t sound like much but it does, without doubt, create a wonderful sandy bed for which to lie your towel on. Heaven. Try it. You’ll see what I mean. Flip flops are also wonderfully efficient at killing mozzies, who are without question the most irritating thing about travelling. Those flying blood sucking sons of bitches are everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you coat yourself (every inch!) with mozzie repellant they will still bite you. And bite you. Bite you some more. Then call their friends over to join in the biting frenzy…..and so on. So arm yourself people, get the flip flop and kill them all!!! It’s actually very satisfying to squash one against the wall and watch its little blood filled body stain the wall – ah ha take that you bastard! I know that sounds horrible, but it is very, very satisfying.
4. Say Yes – This is a pretty easy rule to remember and to be honest it’s probably one of the most rewarding. It’s very liberating to say yes, rather than the usual British No, or rather ‘no I shouldn’t, I couldn’t possibly, no thank you’ – which to be honest we’re kind of known for. Instead embrace the Yes. Say it in open abandon to all things that come your way…..by doing so you can open yourself to some absolutely brilliant things, people, places and experiences. Now that’s not to say you should say yes to absolutely everything, ‘do you want to come down this dark alley and look at my stamp collection?’ – is obviously a big fat NOOOO! And if your instincts tell you somethings not quite right the same applies – just say no. However for the most part, saying yes is a great thing to do. Yes frienger I will go grab a beer with you, yes hippy shop keeper I would love to hear your tips on Fraser Island, yes hostel worker please help me with my bag, yes I would like a wristband for a $5 meal and free beer! You see, easy.
So there we go, just a few rules of the road to start with…..I’m sure as my journey continues I will learn SO much more!!