After wrapping up my two walking tours of the day, I popped into Mc D’s to use the WiFi and book a one-way flight to Bangkok. Then I headed home to the hostel.
There were about a million people hanging out in the lounge, so despite my intentions to get a little work done before bed I ended up socializing until well after 2. Man hostels are fun! Even if they do make it utterly impossible to be productive 😛
Just a few quick thoughts from the evening:
1) This was one of the first times I really felt like a backpacker in ages. Although I do still travel long-term and on a relative budget, for the last few years the vibe has been decidedly different. It isn’t so much the carefree trips of my youth, where I’d sit around just chatting or idling for hours; instead, I do the tourism, go out at night, or stay in my own private room to work. But now that I was in a hostel with tons of other backpackers the vibe had returned. It reminded me strongly of my first independent trip through Europe in 2004; a nice little refresher of what real backpacking is like. Flashpacking definitely has its advantages…but it’ll never be quite the same as true backpacking 🙂
2) While I was there, a Korean guest was suffering severe back pain. It just so happened that another traveler, an acupuncturist from China, was more than willing to help. So for the next several hours we all got to watch him riddle the guy with needles as he writhed and moaned in pain. The doctor didn’t speak a word of English, so another guest – from Taiwan – helped to translate. Interesting, and definitely a first.
3) I made friends with an engineer named Rick who was in town for work. After graduating from MIT he moved to Singapore to get his MBA, then continued to China to start a business manufacturing mechanical cellphone chargers. We had a great time nerding it up and sharing stories from abroad – and from our various engineering pursuits. It’s rare to meet someone actually interested in (and understanding of) the mechanics behind Ground-Penetrating Radar (my main employment contract), and I think he liked that I could give him some meaningful feedback on his product designs as well. The craziest part: he was good friends with someone I knew from UC Irvine!
4) It honestly seemed like half the people at the hostel were in Singapore for job interviews. Is their economy really that booming?
Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Monday, February 21st.