The New v The Old - A Backpacker Perspective

I've often said that life on the road is all about must treat people the way you'd wish to be treated and treat life the way you'd wish life to treat you. On the other end of the scale, in the name of balance, one fabulous, amazing day may mislead even the most hardened traveller into a false sense of contentment/security with a harsh slap round the face the next day! Beware.

Not wanting to sound like a wise, old, tough traveller, far from it, but you can always tell the 'newies' from the 'oldies'.yeah ok, the dreads and beaded jewellery are always a bit of a give-away, but that aside. Having spent most of my life as an outsider I'm compelled to sit on the edge and suss everyone out. The perfect environment for eliminating the 'newies' from the 'oldies' - catch a rusty old boat, which should've been taken out of service a good 50 years ago, from one tropical island to another. Sure-fire result - by the time I reach the other side I'll have everyone figured. Now I don't have proof or any statistics here but I'm certain, in every situation, my conclusions would be pretty damn right!

You see it's not just about those occasions of watching the 'newies' board the boat, a simple task you would think, but remember that 'sense of balance'. Normal practice for boarding any boat (pretty much!) in Thailand for example, (1) arrive at the port in plenty of time to catch the boat leaving in 30 minutes, (2) one hour later there is still no sign of the boat, (3) boat arrives - all the newies grab their sparkling, un-blemished ruck-sacks and leg-it to the boat, (4) newies return to sit patiently with the oldies as the boat is 're-stocked', well, at least the skipper is re-stocked, with pad-thai (5) it's time to board. Now this is no easy feat. To board the boat one must first jump off the port ledge onto boat number 1 - not forgetting the sheer drop of 2 foot and that you are more than likely carrying your house on your back. Secondly, once you have thanked God that you made it you realise this isn't the boat you are to sail on, but the one adjacent. Your next task is to gauge the rhythm of the two swaying boats and when ready, jump from boat number 1 onto the one on which you are to spend the next several hours of your life, yes, the one which should've been sent to the knackers' yard many, many years earlier.

I'm sure you can imagine, this little adventure will give a good insight to the previous travels (or not) of your fellow passengers and their perception of the balance of life. Of course, these little deflections can also grab the oldies by the b*lls at times and give them a good shake up but you see, we are more likely to be prepared for this mis-adventure, or at least, not expecting everything to run so smoothly, in a glorious pre-packed, wholesome, western manner.

We would be silly to think that this wonderful game of people-watching would stop there of course. Now that everyone has settled down and found their place to squat for the next few hours the newies will reach for a beer and chill out. This sequence will undoubtedly involve lots of bragging and how 'boarding this boat was NOTHING man, you should've been in..' You see it takes some newies even years to learn the laws of balance. So I guess that kinda makes my point incredible doesn't it? If it takes them years to learn then they're not 'newies' are they? Oh.I think they are. Maybe it's just my over cynical nature but I think if you're not gonna learn from a situation then you'll spend your whole life being a 'newie'! And maybe, just maybe, there's nothing wrong with that...imagine the adventures you'd have, time and time again!

So aside from the newies and the oldies, what's the answer to this logic of balance, can we really be prepared for what tomorrow may throw at us? Should we not allow ourselves to truly enjoy the 'highs' in fear of the foreboding 'lows'? I guess we should just hold in our minds the sense of balance and keep on treading this path until we're all wise enough to know!

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