9. The Tourist
Standing in front of the pyramids, I’m that guy taking pics of himself. With my arm extending from the corner of the pictures, I’m grinning like a squirrel on meth. This photo here. That’s me and the salesman at the ‘I love Khao San merchandise’ table. No, I don’t think his smile looks forced. He loved being in the photograph. Then I bought all his shirts, because nothing says ‘I saw a place’ like a T-Shirt saying ‘I saw Place’.
10. The Saver
$1 for this street food?! Sheets? Who needs sheets? Can I sleep without the bedding and get a discount? Every dollar saved is another hour I can spend bitching and haggling for every little inch I can get with shopkeepers, hostel managers, and food vendors. Forget the Pilgrim, there are ascetics whose daily travel expenses can’t get close to mine.
11. The Voyeur
Being shy on the road is completely manageable when you have a 70-200mm USM L lens. I feel too awkward to ask people for permission for every pic, but thankfully I don’t need to, being able to simply stalk people and their kids from a distance. Like a paparrazo who has just struck paydirt at the Berlusconi mansion.
12. The Journaler
I don’t travel without a half-dozen moleskines, whose virgin pages I transform into works of art. Into Beauty. Join you at the bar, Party Animal? No thanks, I think I’ll just sit over here and Hemingway the stuff I’m seeing. I’m too busy capturing the metaphor, the beauty of the eternal human story.
13. The Native
When I return from adventures abroad, I’m practically Filipino. Forget the Discovery Channel; I can tell you all about ways of life and culture. And all that other stuff. I saw it, man. I ate the street food. A wise man with cataracted eyes reached out and told me something in the local language. I think it was that he felt as though we connected at some deep level. I am, like, totally down with the cuisine, the politics and eating with my right hand.
14. The Colonist
I took the pygmy tours in Borneo, the Township Tours in South Africa, and am desperately good at finding anything calling itself a cultural village. I love when the locals put on cultural performances. It’s so rare to see the people behaving authentically like that nowadays, what with all the brick houses being built and people wearing shoes. If it doesn’t involve wearing feathers and dancing in a strange language then it’s not a real experience.
15. The Humanitarian
As I stare dramatically out the window of the minibus, I insist on engaging with my friends (or the closest listening face) on how terrible the socioeconomic circumstances of (third world travel destination) is. I might blame it on American imperialism, or quote Noam Chomsky. I almost always have a suggestion (or ten) about how everything could be turned around. Sure there are dozens of qualified development specialists and local leaders working on the issue, but it’s not really as complicated as people make it out to be. All you really need is to just quickly fix education. I mean, how hard could that be if you just put in the effort, right?
16. The Drifter
I resolutely refuse to make decisions. What will be will be. Life will find a way. I packed some clean underwear and the phone number of the first hostel I found on the Internet. I’m gonna wing it from there. I’m cool like that. It’s just the road unfolding ahead of me.
BNT editor, Carlo Alcos, has pondered about the masks we wear and the roles we play at his personal blog.
What masks have you worn on the road?