Travel Opinions – Volunteering, Busking & Beg-packing

Travel Opinions – Volunteering, Busking & Beg-packing
August 1, 2017 Guest

One of the great things about travelling for me is learning how different people address different situations.


I certainly for one am not perfect and always look to see how others interact in various social situations. Lately I’ve been jotting down some social situations that I’ve come across that I found interesting.


Volunteering & Sticking To Your Word

If you travel for long enough you’ll eventually come across other travellers volunteering in some capacity. I decided to try my hand at volunteering at a hostel in Ipoh. Now, admittedly I liked Ipoh, but most people had ticked off all there Ipoh bucket list attractions in a few days and were soon bored therefore there was a large turnover of volunteers at this hostel.


What I didn’t like however was the last minute changes some volunteers would make, leaving the hostel short of volunteers. Organising volunteers is no different to employees and the managers are relying on you to make an appearance as you planned. There was a couple who said they had arrived in town and would be at the hostel to help out for a week in the morning as planned.


The following morning, my boss received a text from them saying that a family emergency had come up. While this may be true, I was shown previous messages and I’m confident they had no family emergency as I then worked longer hours until volunteers could be found to fill the shortage.


What I Learned: My word is my bond in all situations. If I agree to something, there better be a very good excuse as to why I need to cancel at the last possible second. People can see through your lies and it’s not a good look. This also confirmed why I haven’t CouchSurfed much in the past, I struggle to commit to a plan.


Busking vs. Beg-packing


There’s a new term that has came to light recently, beg-packing, relating to an increase in the numbers of foreigners travelling through Southeast Asia who are begging on the street for money. If you can’t see any ethical issues with this, well, I don’t know what to say.


What I do think is okay is busking (in most situations). There are 100’s of people busking there way around the world. They aren’t begging, they are providing value and if people aren’t guilted into giving cash, it’s a fair exchange.

A different scenario. I was at dinner on Kapas Island. This was a beautiful dinner setting with reservations required earlier in the day to ensure they have enough supplies. The setting is candle lit tables on the beach with the ocean less than 10 metres away. Suddenly there were two fires dancers from Argentina and Spain who took center stage with their fire dancing. While I was annoyed about having to suddenly eat in the dark with all lights being turned off, that was a nice touch by the restaurant I thought to have some entertainment.


After the performance however, there was a pitch from the travellers asking for tips to, and yes, I quote ‘please consider supporting us so we can keep travelling’. This was followed up by them direct asking for donations at our table.


This amounts to beg-packing in my eyes. It was not fun to be on the receiving end of, that’s for sure.


What I Learned: Learning new skills in order to busk is awesome, I encourage you to do that. Self-awareness is key however, while you may not be embarrassed by wildly asking for money thinking no one cares, people as a whole might not say anything to you, but behind your back they certainly are, and not for good reasons.


The Value Of A Good Question


I love travel chat, and given I’ve spent a few years abroad my Facebook feed is filled with travel related content from friends. I’m all for giving recommendations where I can. Having people come back and thank you for suggestions is a nice feeling!


Recently I’ve seen questions pop up in my feed a lot like this: Does anyone have any recommendations on must-see places, things to do, places to stay for the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar?


They look exciting, but realistically I’d be self indulging myself by answering these questions. Even if I know these people really well, the question is so vague I can only suggest things that I really liked which may or may not have any interest to the person asking the question.


I stayed in an awesome hostel in Cambodia, it was $3/night. It’s my favourite hostel experience to this day. Yet, what if this person doesn’t stay in hostels because of any numbers of reasons? My advice would be pointless.

In terms of things to do, people have various interests. I love sport, yet sport bores other people to death. So while I loved visiting Camp Nou in Barcelona, not everyone cares about football so I wouldn’t make it a ‘must visit’ for all….if they like music, I’d instantly recommend for them to go visit the Museum of Barcelona Music instead.


And if I recommend something based on the original question, only to be told, oh I don’t like this and that by the person who asked the question, I suddenly feel like the idiot.


What I Learned: To get great answers, you need to provide great questions (Andrew Warner from Mixergy asks great questions in his interviews).


You Opinion Is Allowed To Differ


When I arrived in Porto, the city seemed harmless enough, yet over the following few days I wasn’t convinced by the city. Portugal has been getting lots of love lately, so I felt compelled to like the city but just couldn’t. Why? There seemed to be a lack of care for the city in a few regards. There was graffiti that certainly wasn’t street art plastered on the walls, making the towns looked uncared for. And then there was the the cigarettes butts in all of the cobblestone cracks I couldn’t help but notice.

These were the two things I could physically give as to why I didn’t like the city, otherwise I just didn’t feel the vibe which is of course hard to explain. There was some cool things about the city, like the street art focusing on Facebook as in the picture, the bridge over the river and the tiled buildings all over the city. Yet that didn’t take away from that mystery vibe.

What I Learned: If you have an opinion that isn’t the norm, you probably aren’t alone. When I posted my thoughts on Porto, I had two people reach out privately and mention they weren’t a massive fan of the city either.


As Lainie & Miro chat about on this site, the world really is our classroom. Some of the lessons here have been lightbulb moments (people don’t always share negative things on Facebook) whereas others are lessons I continue to have reinforced over and over again (people asking vague questions). I’ll continue the travel, try and maintain a level of self awareness and always be opening to learning new things about this crazy world we live in.


Jub Bryant
Jub is a proud kiwi, and while he has been travelling for a few years he still unashamedly walks into various restaurants in bare feet. His passion for sports is stronger than ever as he continues to learn about this curious world.

1 Comment

  1. thatgoangirl 7 years ago

    I agree! There’s a huge difference between busking and beg-pecking. In South East Asian countries, a majority of people are poor and to beg for something as luxurious as travel seems almost insulting.

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