Sorry, I screwed up when I scheduled this…

I see that Eleanor Hawkins and the other three dimwits got away with a three day sentence, which they’d already served awaiting trial, and an 800 odd quid fine. This was on the same day that one of the papers reported the unthinkable. Some City whizzkid has said that if you take a gap year, you won’t get the experience you need to impress future employers. Based on this week’s shenanigans I’d certainly be a bit circumspect about employing Ms Hawkins.

The thing is the idiotic goings on in Borneo didn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve been to lots of parts of the world, and the fact is that the majority of backpackers/travellers are a royal pain in the arse. They fetch up in some far-flung place, and proceed to act as if they own it. In the good old days they’d hunt for the nearest internet café and check their emails, but now they can do just about anything they want to do on a smartphone. You can see gangs of them in bars and cafés taking selfies and updating their Facebook profiles.

And they do gang up. The whole idea of independent travel is a myth. The clue is in the term backpacker. They travel in packs. They all hang around in the same bars as each other, eat in the same cafes, regaling the others with tales of derring-do. They sneer at tourists yet are guilty of the same crimes they accuse them of.

As I said, travellers are dismissive of tourists. Get on a bus, or ride in a dala dala or a matatu, or a dolmus, and the backpackers will look on in condescending incredulity, because you’re encroaching on their space. Well guess what? I’d rather spend 40p getting squashed into a dala dala than shell out a fiver on a cab.

They’ll boast endlessly about how little their digs are costing, then be outraged when they have to sell their spare pair of boots to pay off a corrupt copper who’s fitted them up on a fake drug bust. By the way, guys, as it happens yes I have stayed in places that cost a quid per night and you need a whip and chair to tackle the creatures in the bathroom.

The arch exponents of tourismphobia are the authors of the Lonely Planet guides. These guides are bloody brilliantly useful, but they do tend to treat tourists as if all they want is air conditioning and a minibar. All I want is a ceiling fan (when the power is on), a shower that has water coming out of it for at least some of the time, and a bed that isn’t crawling with wildlife.

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