Adult Content Warning

This community may contain adult content that is not suitable for minors. By closing this dialog box or continuing to navigate this site, you certify that you are 18 years of age and consent to view adult content.

Gamboling

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
    Expand Collapse
    The White

    Reputation:
    23
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,579
    Recently I went on a vacation that was a huge grand tour - a train ride into a place followed by nearly 2,000 miles of driving all around seeing everything there was to see. Planning the whole thing was a huge effort. About 60% of the trip was pretty well filled in - specific things to see and do in the various places we were going. About 40% of it, though, was "go here, find something interesting to do, and do it." Amazingly, we were always able to find something interesting or fun to do, and the trip worked out great.

    Some trips you plan down to a T, and others you just sort of go with it. As Matt Weatherford says, if you go to Vegas, you're either Gambling or you're Gamboling.

    FOCUS: What exceptionally good (or exceptionally bad) experiences have you had while traveling without specific plans? What have you discovered, or done, that you never would have otherwise?
     
  2. Harry Coolahan

    Harry Coolahan
    Expand Collapse
    Disturbed

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Messages:
    329
    When I was in Morocco, I checked out of my hotel so that I could leave on a moment's notice without even needing the time to pack or settle my tab. In the following three weeks, I slept outdoors in abandoned caves, gravel rockbeds by the river, or under the tables of random street shops. During the day, I kept a day-pack with my wallet, bottle of water, and a book, and stashed everything else in a cave.

    As if traveling didn't feel liberating enough, I was able to leave in a moment's notice.

    A few days later a few Berbers I was friends with invited me to go with them on an impromptu trip to the Sahara:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. AlmostGaunt

    AlmostGaunt
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,040
    I learned to travel from my folks and brother, who plan everything to an excessive degree. In my brother's case, I'm talking spreadsheets with daily activities on them. There are some advantages to travelling this way (less stressful, less wasted time), but overall I think it's a mistake.

    My most recent trip I booked a return flight to Vietnam and said fuck it, I'll figure it out as go along. The absolute highlights of my trip were: meeting an awesome English girl playing beer pong (she beat me. whore.), and randomly travelling with her for a few days to Cat Ba. Just spending a night curled up under a duvet (platonic), sharing music and card games and cheap Vietnamese beer, was fantastic.

    A couple of weeks later, I actually met up with her again in Vang Vieng, a lunatic village in Laos centred around tubing down rivers while totally off your face. By this point, I'd met more awesome people - a Canadian tv editor who was cool as fuck, and a group of Swedes who were very serious about their partying. We ended up staying a week longer than planned, and having a fucking ball. Meeting a bunch of good people, fitting in, and chilling together actually healed my somewhat dim view of humanity and significantly improved my overall outlook on life, much to my surprise. Having the freedom to adapt your plans to the people you meet is just excellent, and I doubt I'll return to my previous planning ways.

    However - there are some things that you need to plan. My housemate spent about 4 days sleeping on a filthy floor in a Laos airport because he hadn't organized a Visa, and you need one. He was refused entry to Russia for the same reason. In Germany he picked up some unpleasant eye infection from sleeping on a floor after not being able to secure accommodation. I've spent a bit of time sleeping in bus stations etc in various towns when I hadn't realized that a religious festival or huge sporting event was on, taking all the accommodation. It's a gamble, but the risks come with high rewards.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. ghettoastronaut

    ghettoastronaut
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    70
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    4,917
    Based on my experiences - and the experiences of everyone I know who has travelled to Europe - finding yourself in a European city in the middle of a major sports festival or religious pilgrimage is an essential part of travelling there. Hell, within the span of two weeks, I found myself in the middle of both. The Brazilian guy I met in the hostel was optimistic. "It means lots of Catholic girls dancing at the discotheque." I think Catholicism in Brazil is not the same as it is in Munich.
     
  5. AlmostGaunt

    AlmostGaunt
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,040
    You are quite right. In a European city, it's phenomenal. I was in Spain when they won the World Cup, and I've never seen anything quite like it. I was thinking more of smaller places - I spent an unpleasant night or three in a Thai park because the Chinese New Year was on and all accommodation was booked, and I went hungry in a small Italian village because some religious festival closed the shops. On the Thai trip I wasn't planning to be backpacking and I had inexperienced travellers with me, and the girls were understandably nervous about sleeping in the middle of a park with no knowledge of local laws / rapists.

    Edit to add: this could have gone in either thread, but 2 years back my brother and I couldn't decide which city to go to, so we flipped a coin - heads for Budapest, tails for Bucharest. We ended up at a Romanian water park, which had awesomely unsafe slides, served beer to you in the pool, and most importantly, was topless. It was a lot like I imagine heaven to be.
     
  6. RCGT

    RCGT
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,769
    Location:
    wandern
    During a school holiday in Egypt, I had taken a trip to Bahariya Oasis at a time when most of the other students were going to Istanbul and Beirut. It's a shitty situation - people literally tear down old houses to get the bricks to build new ones - but somehow the residents get by. Though the accomodations were pretty substandard and there wasn't too much to do, the trip gave me the impromptu opportunity to travel with a Bedouin guide into the Sahara desert with another guy and two girls. That trip was fucking awesome - going to stay with the Bedouins, sitting at a music festival doing shisha and hash until I was baked out of my gourd, shisha with breakfast, shisha with lunch - I must have smoked more shisha that trip than the rest of my time in Egypt put together. Ultimate relaxation. Then the next day, waking up early in the morning to take a Landcruiser into the Sahara Desert, bouncing around the dunes like a retard, collecting petrified flowers, then going out into the Western Desert and Black Desert (parts of the Sahara) to see the beautiful view. We finally ended up camping in the White Desert for the night, eating roasted chicken and chilling with this guy:
    [​IMG]

    None of the places I went in Egypt were planned well in advance, but somehow I ended up having fun anyways.
     
  7. Frebis

    Frebis
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    339
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,502
    Am I the only one that is disgusted by the idea of going on vacation to sleep on a floor, or in a hostel? I enjoy having a comfortable bed, and my own personal space. What some of you describe as vacation, sound like my idea of Hell. Maybe I'm just weird.
     
  8. lust4life

    lust4life
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,562
    Location:
    Deepinthehearta, TX
    While honeymooning in Ireland, we happened upon U2 filming a video in Dublin as we were taking a walk after dinner one evening. Wouldn't have happened if we turned left instead of right at the river. Providence, I tell ya. We also spent a couple of nights in Galway, the only part of our itinerary that didn't include reservations with either a B&B or hotel. We checked into this big hotel on the square (we wanted to take a decent shower--B&B owners seemed very apt to putting those water conservation things in the guest bathrooms, so it was more like "taking a mist" than it was "taking a shower"), but the only room they had left had two single beds attached to the wall. Did I mention we were on our honeymoon? But it did have a nice shower and sunken whirlpool tub.

    And that's the extent of my gamboling. So my advice, turn left and reserve a room with a kingsize bed.

    Frebis: I agree, the hostel experience is one I can do without. Granted, young travelers are typically doing so on a tighter budget, so hostels make financial sense, though the B&Bs we stayed at in Ireland were dirt cheap ($20-25/night), comfortable beds, private bathrooms (though see note above), and a huge breakfast to start the day. I don't know how that compares to hostel rates. It also gave a good opportunity to spend time with locals, and we saved enough to afford to stay in a castle the first night and a huge manor our last night.
     
  9. Nick

    Nick
    Expand Collapse
    Experienced Idiot

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    236
    Location:
    Chicago
    I agree completely, but then again, I've never had the luxury of being able to travel out of the country for more than 2 weeks. I guess if I was planning to travel internationally for 2-3 months, I'd consider staying in lower-quality accommodations, but since the most I can usually get away from work is 1-2 weeks at a time, I like to do it in style. "Traveling" and "going on vacation" are two totally different things in my mind. When I go on vacation, I want it to be as relaxing and convenient as possible.
     
  10. RCGT

    RCGT
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,769
    Location:
    wandern
    That's one part of it, yeah. The flip side is that some places simply don't have the luxury accomodations above and beyond what you need to survive. I'd much rather get to see and experience a fantastic place than forgo it because it doesn't meet my standards of comfort.

    And then, there is a part of me that wants to experience the places I travel to as they really are, not surrounded by this bubble of Western comfort that I think we've come to expect. I'm not saying you have to sleep out in the dirt beneath the trees or whatever, but if I wanted to stay in a 3-star hotel I could do that here. If I'm going to a resort or something similar, then yeah, I want to stay somewhere nice and get the full luxury experience. But the places I travel tend not to be aimed towards that.
     
  11. Frebis

    Frebis
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    339
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,502
    Via Rep- Having the freedom to do anything without fear of sleeping somewhere uncomfortable is much better than the comfort of sleeping in a bed—if I wanted that, I'd just stay home.

    It's not just the comfort of sleeping in a bed. It is the entire experience.
    This is how most of the travel stuff seems to read:
    It makes no sense to me. I enjoy traveling and seeing shit too. But I hate extreme poverty. I also hate the wastes of life that seem to frequent these shit holes. It is the reason I have a job. It's not fun, and it makes no sense to me how this shit can be even remotely enjoyable. Sure that waterfall may have been cool, but all the other shit that leads up to it?

    Like I said, just not my cup of tea.
     
  12. ghettoastronaut

    ghettoastronaut
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    70
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    4,917
    I'm comfortable enough in my everyday life. I can't just hike through mountains and stay in a tiny helicopter-supplied hut every weekend. And rarely do you have the opportunity to be thrown into a situation with complete strangers and just a few hours later come out with friends.

    If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years in between earning my degree, it's that the quality of accommodations you have doesn't mean a whole lot. I've probably slept (and also, not slept) in as wide a variety of accommodations over the last few years as anyone else here. It really doesn't matter how comfortable the mattress is, or how soft the sheets are. What does matter, however, is who you're with (and secondarily, what you're doing with them).

    The other side of the argument has to do with comfort and security. Me, I don't care about comfort and security on a vacation. You're not going to remember it. You're not going to tell stories ten years from now about "Hey, remember that really comfortable mattress we slept on in [city]?" because nobody's going to give a shit*. You are, however, allowed to tell stories about spending a few days with bedouins in the desert, and make yourself seem hardcore by bragging about the austere living conditions. When I was telling people about my plans to go hiking in the mountains with a vague idea of where I was going, I had girls tell me "I wish I had the courage to do that."

    I don't want to be an elitist about it, though. Ultimately, it's your valuable time off of work, your money, and your priorities - do whatever the hell you want, and whatever makes you happy. For me, a little bit of uncertainty and figuring out where I'm going after I get there has great appeal, and I'm more than willing to sacrifice some creature comfort to do things that I otherwise wouldn't get to do.
     
  13. Now Slappy

    Now Slappy
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    81
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    I'm with Frebis on this one, I just don't get the allure of staying at a hostel. I sent this as rep, but I think it needs to be put here, every time I hear the word hostel the images that immediately come to mind are dirty hippies and criminals.

    Other than being able to stretch your budget, I don't see any advantages in staying in one of these places.

    To each his/her own though, just not my thing.
     
  14. Kubla Kahn

    Kubla Kahn
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    708
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    11,264
    All three of my visa runs while I was in China were very impromptu.

    The first was to Vietnam, we saw some cool stuff and had an alright time. We touched down and just asked the cab driver to take us to a hotel. Had we done at least some sort of planning we could have seen much sweeter areas than we did (see post above with blue water and emerald islands). Mostly we stuck to Saigon and the main tourist spots, bars, Independence Palace, etc. We went to the Chu Chi tunnels and got a mad case of claustrophobia.

    The other two were to Hong Kong. I stayed in the scary but dirt cheap Chungking Mansion as I hopped on a bus from the airport and took up the first offer after getting off in downtown Kowloon. I only had a night and leaving the next day so I really didn't see shit. The second time I went I did a little more pre planning and found a hotel that was cheap and not filled with brown arms dealers. But I randomly met a Russian girl and had a blast partying.

    I think there should be a balance. See some big things and try and find some off the path places.
     
  15. audreymonroe

    audreymonroe
    Expand Collapse
    The most powerful cervix... in the world...

    Reputation:
    546
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    Messages:
    2,859
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    On the trip I'm on now (in Costa Rica) I didn't want to plan too heavily ahead of time, since I'm here for two months and I wanted a more "go with the flow" vibe to the trip. I came up with a list of places I wanted to see and the logical order to see them in, and that was about it. I had 1-3 weeks that I wasn't really sure what I was going to do, and figured I'd learn about something to fill the time while I was there.

    To throw my two cents into the hostel tangent: I'm staying in hostels and CouchSurfing this whole time. It's mostly because of budget, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to leave the city, let alone the country if I relied on hotels, but I really like the atmosphere of hostels a lot more. They're much more social and I prefer staying somewhere down-to-earth rather than totally pristine and sanitized, even if it means sacrificing a bit of comfort, cleanliness, or privacy. I actually like the "roughing it" part of backpacking-type travelling. (And just to be clear, I keep getting judged by the hardcore hippie backpackers because I brought more than two outfits and shampoo etc. so my version of roughing it is probably not the extreme you're thinking of.) This is especially the case in Central America. I wouldn't say no to a hotel in Paris, but staying at some ritzy resort in the Third World just seems sleazy to me. Sometimes I feel awkward enough being a tourist in the poorer areas I've visited, but it really makes my skin crawl when people go to places like Africa or South East Asia and won't stand to stay anywhere other than the luxury resort that shelters them completely from what it's like to actually live there.

    Anyway, the good gomboling experience: I started hearing word of Bocas del Toro, Panama through the backpacker's grapevine almost immediately, and once I sorted out the logistics I realized it would be really easy to do, so I decided to do a surprise trip to Panama for ten days at the end of my trip. I just got here today, so I can't rave about it too much yet, but holy shit it is GORGEOUS, and I'm really glad I decided to come.

    Bad gomboling experience: I'm a bleeding heart for kitties and doggies, and there is a huge stray dog problem here. For the first month, I was making dog friends in every new town and playing with them and giving them food and what not. I was in a town that was not what I had been expecting but had thought I'd stay two weeks in, so I was trying to find a Plan B for that extra week. Long story short, I found this woman who ran a dog shelter that had volunteer opportunities where you could live in her house and help her take care of the 162 dogs, so I wrote her an email and she immediately offered me her place starting the next week. It started out pretty well. She was this kooky Austrian lady with flaming red hair and penciled on purple eyebrows, and all of the dogs were really cute and I was having such a fun time playing with them. Then, the next day, one of the older dogs that lived in her house suddenly decided he hated me, and every time I'd try to walk through the living room he would attack me and start chomping down on my calves. I didn't realize I was being hurt, but when I changed into my PJ shorts that night I saw that I had huge ugly bruises and open bleeding wounds all over. Coincidentally, the next morning, the woman suddenly decided to hate me and completely stopped acknowledging my presence or seeming exasperated with me when she did. I was too afraid to go in the house, so for the next couple days I awkwardly hung out in my little guesthouse and the driveway, playing with the dogs and only eating the dessert/snack things I had brought back to my room because I couldn't get to the kitchen. There was a power outage and my charger got fried, so I asked her if I could use her computer for work a few days later and she BLEW UP at me and stood there screaming at me telling me I was driving her crazy and asking me what i wanted from her and what was I doing in her house? I stood there trying to make sense of it whatsoever, and then I was like "Oh yeah, this bitch is just fucking nuts."

    So I had to take an expensive cab back to the nearest city (because she lived in the middle of nowhere, of course) and spend the next four nights in this creepy hotel that reminded me of the one in Barton Fink only much smaller and more run down, in a room with no windows and cockroaches, waiting to get a new charger for my computer and spending my days watching bad TV and drinking beer or eating ice cream. It felt like I was going through a divorce, and not at all like how I imagined my Costa Rica journey to be.

    But, whatever. It was a waste of a week out of a two month trip that has otherwise been fantastic. At least it's a story to tell. (Hopefully my legs will stop looking like the face of a drunk guy who got into a fight sometime soon.)
     
  16. madamsquirrel

    madamsquirrel
    Expand Collapse
    Average Idiot

    Reputation:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    84
    My story is a little less exotic but was quite nice for my little family. We took all four kids (ages 12-18, oldest two girls younger two boys) on vacation for a week to Gatlinburg last year. We had planned to go white water rafting and the day we did that the kids had so much fun they wanted to do it again. I convinced them to go tubing the next day instead (it was about a fourth of the price). Imagine their delight when we found out that once we paid for tubing and were on our way to the drop off point the guide told us that you could go down the river as many times as you wanted. When you got to the end you could load back up and do it all over again. This worked out wonderfully for me because unlike 4 hour tube trips each trip was 1 hour with a point to get out and have snacks, rest, etc for a while.
     
  17. toejam

    toejam
    Expand Collapse
    Disturbed

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    442
    Hostels can be fantastic if you're an outgoing, unattached young person.

    Think about it this way: you're traveling with a friend or two, and you're in a country where you don't know anybody. A hostel can provide you with a group of like-minded (shit-headed) young people to go out and drink with. Instead of just hanging out with the two guys you've known since age 12, you're surrounded by a bunch of attractive-enough 19 year old German girls and 2 Belgians who seem to want nothing more than for you to smoke hash with them. When you're young and stupid, having other young, stupid people around is always going to be more fun than the alternative. As far as I'm concerned, the hostel environment is way more interesting than sleeping in an air-conditioned room and waking up to a continental breakfast.

    Of course, I probably won't feel the same way at 30 as I do now at 23.
     
  18. Dcc001

    Dcc001
    Expand Collapse
    New Bitch On Top

    Reputation:
    434
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4,736
    Location:
    Sarnia, Ontario
    I travelled by myself for a year. Six months of it was spent roughing it in Uganda, but afterward I backpacked from Ireland to Singapore. I'm naturally a loner and can be by myself quite happily, so in my case hostels were fantastic. They forced me to meet people, and I met some AWESOME ones along the way. I highly recommend travelling alone, because you only have to spend time with people who are doing what you want to do and going where you want to go.

    It's odd, because when I backpack I can sleep on the shittiest bed in a dormitory and sleep perfectly fine. At home, everything must be perfectly silent and the room dark and the sheets clean and and and. I think it's related to stress; when I'm travelling, there's nothing to stress about and keep me awake.

    I use <a class="postlink" href="http://www.hostels.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">www.hostels.com</a> and never once had a problem in over 20 different bookings. No theft, all clean, cool people.
     
  19. AlmostGaunt

    AlmostGaunt
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,040
    In many ways, this is absolutely true. In at least 4 countries, I have agreed to stay in a hostel because the people I'm travelling with are broke, and then I've left after / during the first night because the conditions were unsuitable for sustaining human life. In a top rated Moscow hostel, the choice was between boiling to death in the heat with a closed window, or being devoured by a thousand moquitos with the window open, all while lying on a shitty mattress which the sheets only covered 3/4s of. About 6am, some lunatic drunk girl threw a full pint of beer at a friend of ours, and after throwing all the crockery off the breakfast table, then tried to break into the room where my brother's wife was staying. When I realized that I'd contracted some filthy rash everywhere my skin had touched their mattress, I'd had enough and promptly booked a hotel next door. Best decision I've ever made. I try not to be too precious with accommodation, but once I go a few nights without sleep, the wonders of travelling become inconveniences and it fucks with my trip.

    However: if you are solo travelling, or looking to meet other people, you really can't beat hostels. Contrary to Frebis' post, 99% of people in hostels aren't thieves, they are fucking awesome people with a greater lust for adventure than the average cubicle scrub. There are occasionally a few wanky 'ubertravellers' who want to look down on everyone for not living in a hut at Everest base camp with only a yak to cuddle for warmth (really, I met this guy), but a huge majority of the people you meet are awesome, friendly people who haven't totally bought in to the whole 'work 70 hours a week to buy a McMansion and a BMW' lifestyle. The camaraderie is fantastic. Also, the girls are astonishingly hot and friendly. I'm nothing impressive to look at, and trying to meet people in bars etc in my little city at home rarely generates much of interest. In hostels, though, me and my housemate were rockstars. Just casually walking up to a group of stunning, literally model-quality Norwegian girls, hitting it off, and partying with them through days and countries. Rinse and repeat with Brits, Germans, Swedes, and whoever we came across. (My housemate has much more facility with women than I do, and slept with 4 very attractive backpackers in the month we were there, not counting the woman who flew over the join him for 2 weeks). Even if you aren't looking to hook up, you meet great people - I met a girl who took care of me after about my 4th day of no sleep, and I helped her out later when she had taken too many mushrooms and couldn't cross a rickety, unrailed bridge over a swollen river. If you are looking to party and make friends, hostels are fucking awesome.

    These days, I take the best of both worlds. Look up the top rated party hostel, then stay in the closest hotel. Drink and socialize at the hostel, then retire to hotel when you actually want to sleep without listening to 300 rowdy drunks. Perfect.
     
  20. scootah

    scootah
    Expand Collapse
    New mod

    Reputation:
    12
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,750
    Maybe I'm immature and shit, but I'll turn thirty in a month, and I still enjoy Hostels if I'm on 'see the world and drink with randoms' trip. I enjoy a relaxation holiday (air con, continental breakfast, bar you can swim up to) a lot. But Hostels are still an awesome time if you want to socialize as part of the holiday.

    If I'm working, or if I'm going some place to visit friends, I'll skip the hostel and do a nice hotel. But if I was doing the 'Hey, I've never been there and flights are cheap' trips again? I'd absolutely do a hostel. All of AlmostGaunt's caveats are true though - you want to have enough money on hand to get the shits with the hostel and check into the nearest grown up hotel. But mostly, they're an awesome place to party.