Category Archives: My Top 5’s

5 Things That Annoy Me About Dorms

The 5 things that annoy me about dorms.

Dorms are a big part of the whole backpacking experience and I have made some great friends with my fellow roomies in the past. But last night was one of my worst nights in recent experiences. I had just spent 5 nights in one of South America’s biggest party hostels and had actually managed to get a decent amount of sleep. However at my next destination I decided I would stay in a chilled out hostel and recuperate from all the partying I had done.

I arrived at my new hostel and it was set around a tranquil patio area. No loud music, and not a game of beer pong in sight. Brilliant I thought. I decided to get into bed and read for a while at around 10.30. One guy was already a sleep, snoring his head off. Later a couple came to bed. But they decided that they would n’t go to sleep, they insisted on smooching and telling each other how much they loved each other. A while later a group of around 5 came into the room, all went straight to bed. It was now time for me to get my head down. However someone had left their lamp on illuminating the whole room. The snorer was then accompanied by a friend and they seemed to have a snore off. It was time for the ear plugs! Things went from bad to worst when another couple arrived at around midnight. They had just checked in a thought this would be a good time to turn on all the lights and unpack their backpacks. It got worse when they decided they needed a shower before they went to bed. The snore off continued all night and I guess I got about 4 hours sleep in the end. So much for a chilled hostel!

It got me thinking about what else annoys me about dorms.

Here are my top 5 annoying things about dorms.

1) People who come in drunk and turn on all the lights at 3am

I get drunk all the time and have my fair share of late nights, but I do not feel the need to have a conversation at the top of my voice with my fellow revelers. I can also seem to find my bed, get undressed and get into bed with out turning on the lights!

2) Messy room mates.

Most of the time dorm space is squeezed to the maximum. There is little space to put your belongings but I always try to be considerate and utilize my space fairly. One thing that really hacks me off is when people decide to unpack their entire worldly belongings and scatter them across to the whole room. The result of this is a bizarre game of hopscotch every time you enter or leave the room. In my experience it is the girls who are the worst offenders.

3) Not having anywhere to charge your stuff.

Every backpacker has at least 3 electrical items that need constant charging. I am travelling with 2 cameras, a phone, a laptop, a tablet, a razor and a toothbrush. I find it truly frustrating when a dorm has only one electrical socket. This always seems to be monopolized by the person whose bed is nearest to the socket, resulting in some pretty stealthy tactics to win the prized socket. If only there were 2!

4) Couples in dorms.

I know every backpacker is on a tight budget and we are always looking to save a pound or two. But I just can not understand why couples sleep in dorms. If I traveled with a girlfriend I would n’t even consider it. It really hacks me off when couples sleep in the same bunk, smooch and flirt with each other all night. I am sure if I brought a girl back to the dorm they would have something to say about it. The phrase “GET A ROOM” has never been more relevant.

5) Snorers.

I know snoring is treated as a medical condition and the person can not help their nocturnal noises, but its pretty damn annoying to fellow dorm mates. Ear plugs can contain the worst and I always have mine handy just encase. But when you have a group of snorers or one exceptionally loud one it can get a bit too much. Some of the methods I have tried have been shaking their bed or chucking water over them. One of the most effective I have witnessed was a pillow thrown full pelt at the guilty sleeper’s head.

So there are my 5 most annoying things about dorms. What are yours?

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Top 5 Disappointments

The top 5 things I was disappointed with on my travels.

There have been occasions I have felt a little disappointed with things I have seen and experienced whilst on my adventures. Maybe its hyped up expectations, the weather ruined it or just that they are actually crap. Here are mine.

1) Christmas Day on Bondi Beach

It’s world famous and it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most on my RTW trip. Having a BBQ and beer on Christmas day whilst sitting in your boardies on a beach, surrounded by new friends sounded like paradise. Sadly, this was not what I found. My friend and I had chosen one of Australia’s worst summers in recent years to visit. Christmas day was cold and overcast in Sydney on this occasion. When we arrived at the beach we found the few BBQ areas they had were all booked out months ago. To add to our misery we found all bottle shops were closed in the area so we had to watch everyone else get drunk and have fun while we shivered under our towels. My Christmas dinner was a McDonald’s cheeseburger meal. Orange Fanta my beverage of choice. To round off a truly terrible day we had to wait in line for 1 hour & 30 minutes for the bus back to the hostel.

Christmas Day at Bondi Beach

Christmas Day at Bondi Beach

2) The Terracotta Army in China

I had seen all the impressive pictures and heard all the hype. When I witnessed the sight with my own eyes I was truly amazed. The 7000+ life size clay statues stood impressively in formation waiting for battle.  How detailed and life like they looked. The museum that housed them was huge and they seem to stretch on for miles. However, I discovered that

The Terracotta Army, China

The Terracotta Army, China

virtually none of the statues had been found whole. Most had been rebuilt and restored from 100’s of broken pieces and then positioned into the famous formation which they stood so impressively today. What a rip off!

3) Manaus, Brazil

Since I was a youngster, I had dreamed of going to the Amazon. Images of exotic animals, towering trees and cannibalistic tribes had intrigued me for years. Manaus is in the heart of it, a city within a jungle. What I found was a sprawling mess of a city which felt as close to the mighty jungle as my own home and a McDonald’s which charged me the equivalent of £11 for a cheese burger meal. Not a monkey or poison dart anywhere to be seen!

4) Taganga, Colombia

I had heard many a great thing about this little beach town in northern Colombia. Paradise and the new Thailand to name a few. What I actually found was a shabby shit hole full of gap year kids on the hunt for cheap coke. A dirty stony beach where floating condoms and diesel spills graced the shore and an abundance of shady characters lined the streets. Give me Ko Lanta any day!

5) Creamfields, Buenos Aires

I am a huge lover of electronic music and I love a good festival. I had heard about the legendary night life of Buenos Aires and the how hard the Argentinians liked to party. This seemed a perfect situation. What I found was far from this. A festival which did n’t really get going until 11pm, which only served beer and wine for alcoholic beverages was what I really found.

Sun rise @ Creamfields, BA

Sun rise @ Creamfields, BA

So there are the 5 things I have been most disappointed with from my travels. What has let you down? Has something not lived up to the hype? Was lonely planet wrong?

The Top 5 Things I Miss About Home

Although exploring wonderful new countries and cultures is probably one of the best experiences you will encounter in life, there are always somethings that you really miss from home. Here are mine.

1) English roast dinners.

A traditional English roast dinner.

A traditional English roast dinner.

I have tasted some really delicious grub on my travels and some not so good. But one thing I always crave when I’m away is a traditional English roast dinner.

2) Watching football. 

Football is a huge part of my life. I have been a season ticket holder with Southampton F.C. for over 20 years. There have been lots of highs and lows, the latter more common, but there is nothing better than having a few beers with your mates and cheering on your team on a cold Saturday afternoon.

St. Mary's. Home of Southampton F.C.

St. Mary’s. Home of Southampton F.C.

3) Friends & Family.

When you are away for extended periods of time it is inevitable that you will miss the people who are closest to you. I am lucky enough to have an amazing group of mates who I have been friends with since school.

Me & my mates

My friends wedding Aug. 13′

4) Having my own room.

Dorms are sociable and can be heaps of fun, but nobody like a 3 am dorm party when you have an early morning bus. Snorers and nocturnal bed wetters can become a problem too.

5) Being able to throw paper down the toilet.

This might not sound a massive issue, and to be honest I don’t really find it a problem when I’m away. But its when I get home I truly notice it. The convenience and the cleanliness of tossing your dirty rags down the can is a luxury we take for granted. Plus there’s nothing worse than an overflowing bin of crap sheets at a hostel.

Top 5 regrets from my travels

I got the idea for this post from a fellow backpacker’s awesome website (Backpacker Banter). It made me think that even though every backpacking trip has been an unbeleivable experience, there are always some regrets. Maybe I spent too long somewhere, stayed in the wrong hostel or just had that one too many Sangsom buckets!

Anyway here are my top 5 regrets.

1) Not discovering backpacking/travelling at a younger age.

My first trip was n’t until I was 27 years old. Now in my 30’s, should I be thinking of settling down and wearing slippers instead of jetting off round the world?

My first ever day as a backpacker in Beijing. Oct 2007.

My first ever day as a backpacker in Beijing. Oct 2007.

2) Not cage diving with great whites in South Africa.

I had paid the full amount for the trip, went out on the boat, watched my friend do it, but ended up bottling it. It was cold!!! And I felt ill, honest.

Cage diving with Great Whites

Cage diving with Great Whites

3) Not taking the opportunity to get a working holiday visa for Australia or Canada.

Seems a bit unfair that you have to be under 30.

4) Not completing my Latin America trip.

The plan was to travel around South America and right up through Central America. I was away nearly 14 months, spent too long in certain places, made a few bad choices and kind of run out of steam. Colombia was as far as I made it.

Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

5) Not upgrading my backpack sooner.

I struggled on numerous trips for over 5 years with a top loading only pack. I could never find anything in it, or at least anything I wanted. My new pack is like a dream, I can not wait to road test it.

Conclusion 

Despite these regrets, I try not to dwell on things too much. I am a strong believer in things happen for a reason, good or bad and every experience leads you on your own unique journey and ultimately to where you are today.