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The Mobile Lawyer -- One Lap, No Jetlag: February 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My 3 Best Kept Secrets

I was tagged by the really excellent blogger, Brooke of brookevstheworld, to do a blog about my 3 best travel secrets. Brooke's 3 Travel Secrets Go read her blog -- it is really good.

Here is what I've got to offer:

(1) Kindle (international edition). As those of you that have been reading my blog for some time know. . . I am a huge book addict. This trip has been great for having the time to rededicate myself to reading, having read somewhere around 40 books or so. The Kindle was a new addition, my parents got it for me for Christmas, and I wish I would have had it for the entire trip. Not only would it have far lessened the weight I have been carrying around on my back, since I usually have somewhere between 7-10 books in there, but the reason that is also the top of my list of travel secrets is something I had no idea about until I got it: free internet from almost anywhere in the world. You heard me right. Free internet. Not off wifi connections, which can be few and far between, but off whatever local cell phone reception you can get, which means you can get internet about anywhere. I have no idea how it is free, but this item is a must-bring for any long-term traveler.
(2) Lion’s Head. Cape Town is one of my new favorite big cities from this trip, along with Istanbul and Budapest. One of the iconic things about Cape Town is Table Mountain, which is the backdrop for almost every beautiful picture of this wonderful city, but frankly there is about no good reason to go up to the top of it. The best view of this incredibly attractive town is after the hike up to the top of the other mountain in town, Lion’s Head. It is a wonderful hike up and the 360-degree view from the top, of the harbor, Table Mountain, and the beaches, is not to be missed. Hike up early with some sandwiches, a bottle of wine and your Kindle and enjoy lunch up top.
From Capetown

(3) Cabo Polonia, Uruguay. I wrote a blog about my days at this great little village – for a longer explanation of why I thought it was a great travel secret goto Cabo Polonia. I think it qualifies as a legitimate travel secret, since I haven’t seen it emphasized in too many guidebooks. Basically it is a small beach town with no electricity, though some bars and restaurants have generators. It is cool, fun, and a great place to pass a few days away, when you want to just chill out.

so now I'm going to tag a few great bloggers to do there Top 3 Travel Secrets: Sherry Ott of Ottsworld Ottsworld and Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads Legal Nomads and since I'm doing the RTW trip with no planes, partly for environmental reasons. . . traveling greener

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photo of the Day: Mancupicchu

From Manchupiccu and Waynapiccu
from neighboring Wanapicchu -- do that hike up -- really worth it.

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It IS a Small World After All

Most of the long-term travelers that I have met have some variation of the “it’s a small world” story that runs in a similar fashion – I ran into so and so a number of countries and weeks after I saw them last time. No matter how many times I have heard variations of this fairly common story, it never ceases to totally amaze me when it happens to me, as it has three times on my trip.

You have already heard the first time this happened to me The People on the Frieghters I took a freighter from Brasil to South Africa with a few people, including Ian. Our ship got to Cape Town in early April. I then went overland, basically up East Africa, from there, until I got to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, around the end of June. Four months and 3,500 miles later. There, in a hotel bar one afternoon, in walked Ian, out of the blue.

The second time was a lot less awe-inspiring. I hung out with a Brit named Stephen for two or three days in Hanoi, Vietnam, when I arrived there. Nice guy, we had some beers, talked about football (international style), and compared notes on what we were thinking about doing in Southeast Asia. The then took off to go to southern Vietnam and over to Cambodia. I went a little further south, then turned west to Laos, then down to Cambodia, then back to Thailand about six weeks later. I had a late-night train from Bangkok to northern Thailand and was killing a few hours in a pub before the train, actually watching some Premier League football, when Stephen walked in. We both had our backpacks with us – he was leaving in a few hours on a bus, going south.

The latest one happened just a couple days ago, here in New Zealand. In February of last year I meet three girls in Ecuador, two from the U.S. and Lily, from Canada. These were the three that I did the bridge jump with in Banos. Since then, I haven’t been in touch with her at all. She went back to Canada, worked, and a few months ago, decided she wanted to toss her life up in the air a bit and moved to New Zealand. This was all totally unknown to met.

So a couple days ago, I hitchhiked from Fox Glacier to a little lake town in the southern middle of New Zealand, Wanaka. A brother and sister from Oregon were nice enough to pick me up and bring me here. The brother had been traveling around New Zealand for a while and once we got here, he took us to a little local pub off the beaten track, with some cheap beer.

We walked in around 8 p.m. and were the only three customers in there. As we went up to the bar and ordered, from the other side of the bar I heard a quite loud “Michael!” It turns out Lily had landed in Wanaka less than a week ago and just got a job at this bar three days before I walked in. One year later. Literally almost all the way around the world.

It truly is a small world. And we celebrated such a revelation by then going to another bar to torture innocent patrons with our versions of karaoke classics.

So here is what I’d really like to assemble some more of these stories here. If you’ve got a story, post it in the comments section. If you have written a blog post about one of these situations, please feel free to link it here. I love hearing these stories.

Here is a good start from an excellent blogger. Jodi’s Small World Please post more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Movie Time

A quick mini-post. I love movies. And for some movies, there is simply no better place to see a movie on the big screen – watching on a television, no matter how big is no substitute. Lawrence of Arabia. Blade Runner. Star Wars. Saving Private Ryan. And so on and so forth. Plus, just the event of sitting in a theatre is one that I really like.

I haven’t seen too many movies on this trip, which is one of the few things I miss. I saw Slumdog Millionaire in Santiago, Chile, which was interesting because it was in English with Spanish subtitles. Obviously that would normally be good for me, but if you saw Slumdog Millionaire, you might recall there was a good portion of the first half of the movie were the dialog was in Hindi (I think) and there were English subtitles. . . unless you saw it in Santiago, where the subtitles were in Spanish. Made for interesting guesswork on my behalf.

I saw Avatar in Alice Springs, Australia and it may be, in my opinion, the most overrated movie I have recall in my adult lifetime. The script seemed to be written by a college freshman as part of a Intro to Movies 101 class. Horrible. The special effects were wonderful, but ask yourself this, was there a single character that you will remember in ten years (or ten months for that matter). Any Han Solo? And Chewbacca? Hell, not even a R2D2. Sitting here as you read this, do you recall any of the characters names without googling it? No doubt the 3D special effects are cutting edge, but they won’t be in just a small bit of time. If that movie wins the Best Movie Oscar. . . worst Best Movie winner of all-time. In a decade, it won’t even be a debate. People will laugh at how stupid the voters were.

How annoyed am I with the praise for this movie? It is approaching a Andrew Lloyd Webster situation. ‘Nuff said. My Andrew Lloyd Webber Rant Blog

And there endith the rant and my effort of having a short and easily readable blog. On to the two movie experiences I had in New Zealand. I was bored one afternoon in Nelson and decided to go see It’s Complicated. The movie was fine – typical stuff from Nancy Meyers. Some reviewer called her movies “kitchen porn” and that seems about right. What I found fascinating was that it was the first time I’d ever had assigned seating in a movie theatre. When I bought my ticket, the clerk pulled out a seating chart and had me pick out my seat. E-1. Not a big deal, but just thought it interesting that first time I had an assigned seat was in the small town of Nelson, New Zealand.

Yesterday, I went to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Perhaps the worst title ever for marketing. Even if you loved it, you aren’t going to remember the name. It is a Terry Gilliam movie and he makes some wild and weird stuff (Brazil is a true classic). This movie is a bit famous, because it was Heath Ledger’s last movie, before his untimely and early death. Speaking of him, check out many movies he made before he died. Heath Ledger's Movie List I had no idea until I looked. He was a really talented actor, in my opinion, and was quite good in this movie. He died in the middle of filming and the method (and other surprise actors) that Gilliam covered for his loss is perhaps the best part of the entire movie.

What I liked about the experience was the theatre: Paradiso Cinema/Café/Bar. Ripped off name, but great little place. The seats in the theatre are big couches, overstuffed chairs, bean bags, and even a small car, with the top sawed off. You can order beer and wine and bring it on it with you and the same for full meals from the attached kitchen. Really nice concept.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo of the Day: Napa Plant Close-up

From Various old


Friday, February 12, 2010

OK - here is the "heard" part of Sevens

. . . and other notes on the Wellington Sevens Tourny.

As I sat outside the front gate taking pictures of everyone coming in to watch on Saturday, there was a looped recording playing over the loudspeakers talking about things that were permitted and not permitted in the stadium. I toned it out for a bit, but after a few loops I started paying attention.

Funniest offical announcement I may have ever heard. Here are some excerpts:

"Vehicle boot (trunk) parties are not permitted on the grounds. Neither are naked parties."

"You may be prohibited entry if you are mashed, smashed or generally off your face on alcohol or illicit drugs." (I like the 'may' part of that, in addition to the language).

"Banned items include -- alcohol, flasks, beverages other than water, witchcraft paraphanalia, picnic baskets, large bags. . . especially if they contain illicit drugs, water pistols or anything that looks dangerous. If you've got anything dodgy, do yourself a favor and dump it before we catch you."

"Throwing objects along with drunk and obnoxious fans can be really, really annoying. . . and might just get you evicted."

The entire weekend has a sense of humor.

I ended up watching a lot of the event on television in a couple local pubs. I couldn't get tickets, since they were sold out well in advance, but it is a sport that does well on television anyway. A couple of notes from watching on TV.

The TV announcers and sideline reporters were also dressed in costume. The sideline announcers were dressed as a gladiator, a geisha, and a Catholic Cardinal one day. The next day, one of the guys was in a Cinderella outfit.

Between the quick games, the announcers would go over the current betting lines on upcoming games and the betting odds of certain teams to win the entire tournament. Coming from the U.S., I found this particularly amusing (and great). At one point, one of the announcers said to a sideline reporter, "Well I put $50 down on Fiji this morning minus 8 points in this game. What do you think about that wager?"

How little support does the U.S. team get back home? Our team's official main sponsor, right across the front of our jerseys: Emirates Airlines. The official airline of the United Arab Emirates. We couldn't even get a U.S. company to sponsor our team. Even Kenyan Airlines was willing to sponsor the Kenyan team (which performed a lot better than we did).

It is not often that I don't recognize a country. I am pretty good with geography, but one of the participants got me in this event: Niue. Actually, now that I look it up, "Though self governing, Niue is in free association with New Zealand, and thus lacks full sovereignty." Whew. Perhaps that doesn't count as non-knowledge for me. . . at least on this particular score.

Speaking of Nuie, one match was Nuie verses Wales (another non-country, now that I think about it). Has there ever been an international match of any two "countries" with less total population? Nuie = 2,000 people. That is not a misprint. 2,000. There were 10-11 people on the team, including substitutes. Plus some coaches and trainers and such. . . and fans. I think they might have just shut the country down for this weekend -- there was a pretty good chance that 10% of an entire country's population was in attendance at this event. Population of Wales = under 3 million. Well, now that I look it up, I didn't think Wales had that many people.

At one point, as the television cameras panned through the hard-partying crowd, the one annoucer proclaimed: "There are gunna be some headaches in the morning."

So, of course you want to know how the mighty USA team did, I'm sure. On the second day of the tournament, they have a series of elimination games for all the teams, based on how they did on day one. In the end, they award four trophys. The Cup goes to the winner of the whole thing. The Plate goes to the winnner of the next bracket. The Bowl is below that and the Shield is basically the best of the losers' bracket.

We won the Shield -- USA (population 300 million) over Scotland (population 5 million) 19-12 in the Semi-Finals and then USA just getting by Tongo (population 120,000) 17-14 in the Finals.


From Wellington Sevens


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Seen on the Bus

I have written before about some of the joys of traveling overland and avoiding planes. There are some downsides, for sure, but being able to feel the miles go by and see some of the things you see out the window of a bus, car or train (instead of the world literally flying by at 20,000 feet) is something that I really cherish about this particular trip.

Today I took a short one-hour bus ride from Nelson, New Zealand up the road to Motueka, which is closer to the Abel Tasman National Park, since I'm going to do a little boating and hiking there tomorrow. I don't have any New Zealand guidebook, so I have no idea if this is mentioned anywhere, but as I was daydreaming and listening to my brother's iPod and looking out the right side of the bus as we drove by the Moutere Inlet on the Coastal Highway, I saw a sight that put a big smile on my face.

There were a bunch of messages spelled out in the tidal flats in rocks collected from nearby (though I couldn't see any big supply of rocks around). People's names -- "Angie," "David and Susan," "Thomas was here/UK" -- messages "Live Proud," "Backpack=Life" -- and others. It went on for quite some distance; I estimated a couple miles.

I had seen people spell out things with rocks before. There is a series of similar things just off the path on the last day of the hike I took up Kilimanjaro. What I particularly thought was nice about these messages is that they would be completely submerged for half of the day, when the tide was up, only to emerge each day as the tide receeded. Messages straight from the life-giving ocean.

It was a nice moment to remember why I've liked staying earthbound on this trip.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heard (and seen) at the Wellington Sevens

I randomly stumbled -- random good stumbling has been a hallmark of my trip -- into an unexpected pleasure last weekend in Wellington, New Zealand. It was the weekend of the annual Wellington Sevens Rugby Tournament.

During the trip, I've had the chance to watch some rugby on television with people from countries that (a) care about the sport and (b) were nice enough to explain some of it to me. Normal rugby is played with 13 or 15 players on each team, Rugb League and Rugby Union rules, respectively. Don't ask me why there are two different kinds of the game. For Americans, the easiest way to think of rugby is basically American football without the forward pass and without any breaks in the action. There are some other rules, but basically it is similar to American football with just lateral passes and running for the end zones. . . and the ability to kick "field goals" on the run as the action is going on. O' yea, as the rugby people out there will point out, incessently, "no sissy helmets and pads, like you wimpy Americans.

Pretty cool game to watch, actually. Though I think if America took it seriously and put out a trained team of our football players on the field, they might not think we were that wimpy.

Turns out there is another type: Sevens. Needless to say, in this version there are only seven people on the team. I think the size of the field is the same for all the games. Since there are fewer players, there is a lot less defense, and a hell of a lot more action in Sevens. So much action and running, in fact, that the entire game is only about 15 minutes long, with a very brief break for halftime at the 7 minute mark. They play 24 preliminary round games on Friday and another 20 or so elimination games on Saturday to determine the winners. Non-stop action.

The Sevens Tournament is an annual international event with 16 nations competing. It is part of something called the IRB Sevens World Series Circuit -- basically, these teams travel around the world and have these two day tournaments. In fact, this upcoming weekend they are in Las Vegas. If you are close by -- it would be well worth your effort to go watch. It really is a blast.

But enough about rugby. The reason this tournament is really interesting is that all the spectators dress up in costumes. I really do mean everyone. I sat outside the entrance gates for a couple hours and took pictures of people showing up to watch. I'd estimate a full 90% of the crowd were dressed up. And not only the people showing up -- there were hundreds upon hundreds of people just wandering around town for these two days in costume also.

If you like Halloween, this is a must-do event for you.

From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens
From Wellington Sevens

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Hitchhiking and General Niceness in New Zealand

Pretty much every person back home that I know that has visited New Zealand thinks it is the best place on the planet, both because of how friendly the people are and the scenery. I haven’t been motivated enough to see enough of the scenery to make any sort of complete comparison of other places I have seen, but I have met enough Kiwis to say they may be the nicest people in the world.

Before I got to New Zealand I sent out messages asking friends if they knew anyone that lived here. Between friends of friends and Kiwi’s I’ve met on the road, I had a nice base of people to give me advice about these two small islands. One thing that a number of them asked me if whether I was going to do any hitchhiking. I hadn’t really thought of it before then. In Africa, I had to do a little bit of it to get around some areas without public transport, but I’d figured I would just be taking trains and buses here. Once I got here, some other travelers I ran into in Napier also said it was the best place in the world to hitchhike.

So I did. When I went to buy a bus ticket from Napier to Martinsbourgh, the ticket lady told me the bus only went as close as Featherston, which is about 20 kilometers from Martinsbourgh. She said, “you won’t have a problem getting a ride from there.” OK, sounds good to me.

I took a couple buses down to the southern part of the North Island, at Featherston and got off in that small village. After taking a quick look around, I saw the road sign for the Martinsbourgh and started walking down the road. Sure enough, the third car that drove by stopped and picked me up for the 20-kilometer drive.

Shawn was a Kiwi from Wellington, which is the capital of New Zealand and is about an hour’s drive from where he picked me up. He was on his way to his new fiancée’s parents’ house for what was essentially and interview with them, as he put it. He had only been dating her for ten weeks and had proposed just a few days before. He was now on his way to meet her parents for the first time.

What amazed me what that he told me: “They are having a BBQ tonight. I’d just bring you on over, but it might not be the best night for that.” And he was dead serious about just bringing a total stranger that he met 3 minutes before over for dinner with his soon-to-be-in-laws, who he hadn’t met yet. Amazing Kiwi hospitality.

Shawn dropped me off in the center of town and I wished him well in his interview. He gave me his email and told me to drop him and line so we could have a beer down the road. I then walked into the Martinsbourgh Hotel and asked them if they had a room available. The woman behind the desk looked at my backpack and me and said quite nicely: “We only have one room left tonight, but it is $200.” As she said this, she didn’t even wait for my reply but pulled out a local map and said “there are a couple other places in town that might be good for you” as she made a couple X marks on the map and told me the names of them.
As she is pointing out the two (cheaper) other places in town, a guy walks by and says, “hey Allie, why not just call the motel and see if they have a room. If not, I can drive him over to the place outside of town.” Yet another nice offer from a total stranger. She called the motel, which was close enough to walk to, and sure enough, they did have one room left for $65 a night.

When I got to the motel, I was met by the husband part of the husband and wife team that owned the place, Colin. He asked if I knew the deal for the room and I told him that I thought it was $65 a night. He said, “yea, usually, but the room is a bit small. How about $60. Does that sound OK?” Since I’d already said $65 was fine, I wasn’t going to argue with him bidding against himself.

I had a great couple days in Martinsborough. I rented a bike the next day and rode around to about 8-10 wineries on a beautiful, clear, sunny, 70-degree day. It was a Thursday and hardly anyone else was tasting. It was a really nice day.

When I left, I needed to hitchhike back to Featherston, where I was planning on catching the train to Wellington. This time it took me a lot longer to get a ride – almost fifteen minutes. Then Carl, Carol and Rob pulled over to pick me up. They asked where I was going to and I told them Featherston. They said they weren’t going that entire way – they were turning off about halfway there to head north – but asked if I wanted to get a ride with them until the turnoff. I hopped in, we set off, and Carl, the driver started asking me about my trip, how much cars cost in The United States, my trip and so forth. After a few minutes he said, “well, I guess we can just go to Featherston and take the roundabout, scenic route back home.”

Seriously, the friendliest people I’ve ever run into, I think.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photo of the Day: Costumes at Wellington Sevens

From Wellington Sevens


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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Funny Wine Tasting Notes

I love wine. I am pretty sure that I have written here on this blog at some point that I’m quite likely going to be the guy at the A.A. meeting in the future that stands up and says, “My name is Mike and I’m an alcoholic. But I’m just not going to be able to give up the red wine. Sorry.”

Although I’m a huge wine fan, some of the wine snobbery makes me laugh. Part of the reason it amuses me is pure jealousy – I don’t have that great of a palette or nose. As much as I love wine (and this goes for food also), I really wish that I had a more developed sense of taste and smell, so that I could both appreciate and describe what I like even more than I do now.

Tasting notes at wineries or restaurants can occasionally be a good source of fodder. Here are a couple of my favorites from the Martinsbourgh region in New Zealand: one from a winery and one from a wine bar/restaurant.

River’s Edge, Margrain, 2007 vintage
Deeply scented black cherries fuse with toasted marshmellow, sweet custard pie and cinnamon sticks. Well seasoned oak supports the floral scent of musky black roses and a savory thorny understory like a briar growing through straw mulch after a recent rain.

Well that pretty much sums it up, I guess.

Vynfields, Reserve Pinot Noir, 2007 Vintage
Earthly wooded forest floor, Autumn leaves and dark brooding fruit. The palate is elegantly structured with finely grained tannins. Try with our French terrines.

Yep, brooding. I wish it would have been in a better mood when I tasted it. Perhaps I would have liked it better.

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Photo of the Day: Venice

From Various old

Just love this city. Shocked that I do, but can't go back enough.

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Photo of the Day: Sunrise Zanzibar

From Sunsets

East side of the island, obviously. Just liked the tide being out and the sailboat temporarily beached. Sort of a neglected and decrepit look to the pic.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Irish Pubs on the Road

There is an Irish pub in about every city in the world. And I've been to most of them. In Cuzco, Peru, I supposedly went to the "highest" Irish pub in the world. Had a pint in Instanbul. And a few other spots. Sometimes there is no substitute for a good Guinness on the road.

And speaking of which, I've had a pint or two in Rosie's, here in Napier, New Zealand this week and absolutely loved the Guinness poster that was up on the wall there. Supposedly the first national ad for the best beer in the world. The Daily Chronicle from Feb. 7, 1929. And I quote:

"Its Health Giving Value
Guinness builds strong muscles. It enriches the blood. Doctors affirm that Guinness is a valuable restorative after Influenza or other weakening illnesses.

Its Nourishing Properties
Guinness is one of the most nourishing beverages, richer in carbo-hydrates than a glass of milk. That is one reason why it is so good when people are tired or exhausted. Guinness is good for you."

Why yes. Yes, it is. God Bless the Irish.

Photo of the Day: Artist at Work

From Various old

and offshoot of my fascination of people taking pictures of people/things


Monday, February 1, 2010

Hostel/Dorm Etiquette

Have been thinking about basic "don'ts" when staying in hostels and dorms, now that I've got a year under my belt, so here goes a little list.

1 -- Be quiet. Look, this is simple and clearly the most violated rule of dorm rooms. From about midnight to 8 am, give or take, people are actually using the dorm room for sleeping. Try to be respectful of that. Don't have a huge drunken conversation with your best buddy in the middle of the room at 3 a.m., when you get home from an "epic" night at the bar. Don't party in the hallway right outside when people are trying to sleep. Just shut it.

2 -- Keep areas clean -- you Mom isn't there to pick up after you. Common areas, kitchens (especially), and please God, don't eat in the dorm room and leave your frickin' dirty dishes there afterwords.

3 -- No sex in the dorm room. First, yes, we can hear you. This is not an activity that is done in complete silence, at least if you are doing it with any degree of proficency. And look, if you want to do it in public, don't get all pissed off if I pull up a chair and offer play by play critique. FYI -- this particular prohibition includes having sex without a partner. It is never appropriate to hear "Fire one!" in a dorm room.

4 -- The dorm room is not the laundry room. Don't string up a line down the middle of the room to dry your clothes. Even worse, don't spread them out on my bed or hang them off my bed. I really don't need to be that close to your wet socks after you got in from a five day hike.

5 -- I shouldn't have to say this, but don't steal anything. Travel karma is a bitch and more importantly, there is a truly horrible place in hell for any traveler that steals from another.

6 -- Speaking of travel karma, pay your tab with the hostel. A lot of them are cool enough to let you run tabs for staying there. Try not to ruin it for those of us that aren't trying to scam the system and appreciate business people trying to make a living and make a traveler's life a litte easier.

7 -- Be friendly. Introduce yourself around. Hostels are a great way to meet people, especially if you are a solo traveler and for those of us that are mostly travelling solo, a friendly hello and an offer to go get a beer with you and your friends is quite welcomed.

8 -- If you are leaving in the morning. PLEASE pack your stuff up the night before. Having someone pack their backpack at 5:30 a.m. is really, really, really annoying.

9 -- Hostels are not clothing optional -- what is the deal with 20something guys just wandering around all day without shirts on? Yes, I'm sure the girls think you are "all that," but put a damn shirt on and act like a grown up for once.

10 -- On that topic, sleeping naked is not an option, or at least, not an acceptable one. Last thing anyone wants to see when they wake up in the morning after a good night out is you rolled over away from your blanket, letting it all hang out.

11 -- Carry a flashlight or torch when you go out at night. Coming home at 2 am and turning on the overhead light to find your locker and/or bed is completely unacceptable.

12 -- Turn your cell phone ringer off at night. Some guys in my dorm room in Cape Town were getting text messages all night one night. Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Closest I've come to flushing an electronic device down a toliet.

13 -- Hell, just turn the damn cell phone off entirely. You are in Bangkok and your emotional boyfriend wants to check up on your night out and talk about your relationship. You know where it is appropriate to have that conversation?? Not in my bedroom. At least take it to the hall, or better yet, the common area or outside. Check that, just book a flight home -- I'm sure you two are perfect for each other. Start the marriage now.

14 -- Buy your hostel workers a drink every now and again. Most of them are just fellow travlers working there for a free place to stay -- they aren't making any reasonable money. Offer to get them a drink. They deserve it for putting up with the idiots they have to deal with every day.

15 -- Glad you had a great night out. Throwing up in the dorm room is unacceptable. You can make it to the bathroom. Promise. Or at least the hallway.

16 -- You know why the food in the 'fridge has a name written on it? Cause it is not yours. Don't take other people's food.

17 -- I know we are now in the ones that make those of you that have never stayed in a hostel say, "really? People do this?" The answer is yes, they do. Don't borrow other people's things without asking them. That is not a community towel -- I promise. And if I wanted you to watch my DVDs, I'd offer to watch with you. Just buy me some drinks.

18 -- Did I mention to be quiet?

I'll have more when I stop to think about it some more. The things people do out here. . . .