Inspired by Erica Gordon’s article for Elite Daily, with a twist.
As I write this, the sun is slowly setting behind the mountains of China, and I’m sipping on yet another cup of instant coffee, pondering over the fascinating places I’ve explored & the interesting people I’ve met.
The people you meet while on the road become some of the most valued names on your contact list. They become places on the map to visit later on. These folks give you a glimpse outside your hometown friends, and force you to take in new and refreshing perspectives.
“Ugh! Fuck this shit, you know? All guys are the same anyway,” said Anna, my housemate in Brussels who was fresh from a break up and trying so hard to convince me to grab some bières with her & the boys at Beers Bank on Place Jourdan in Etterbeek.
Not all guys are the same. If they were, this would’ve been a catastrophic world. If all guys are the same, then how come some women find happily ever after while others don’t? Because not all guys are the same… you just always go for the same type.
— Alaizza, 2017, happy & romantically attached
“Guess what? At the end of the day, all guys are the same,” said my overly bitter self to my best friend sometime in 2018. Well, that was fast, huh? But when all is said and done… no matter how much we hate these male species sometimes, we do love them after all.
I sincerely adore my guy friends — they’re the brothers I never had. However, there’s something extra special about the ones I met during my first solo backpacking trip back in 2015, and then the close circle I had while living in Belgium as an Au Pair, and my Couchsurfing host in Paris, and the dudes I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Malta with, and those who managed to open up a part of my heart that I had no idea existed, and the rest of the crazies.
So without further ado, in honor of the gents I’m extremely fortunate to have come across in 5 different countries as a solo female backpacker, here are the types of men you’d be lucky to meet on the road:
1. THE EPITOME OF LIFE
I can be such an introvert, so qué horror that awkward moment when somebody pulled the chair in front of my seat while I was impatiently waiting for my seafood pizza at El Nido Boutique & Artcafé, and randomly told me, “I think I will see you again in 10 years, somewhere halfway across the world.” Confused, I replied, “Excuse me?” thinking sir, I just want to devour my pizza in peace.
Next thing I knew, we were discussing about diversity, societal pressures, and significant issues for 3 solid hours.
Luca, a very self-assured yet optimistic German backpacker, had traveled around the globe for a decade. And bizarrely, that night, we did commemorate his 10th travelversary — his journey started when digital nomadism was completely under-the-radar, and so he paved his way through volunteerism.
“Always remember you have a choice in life: Follow the path that is lit for you, or be the one who leads the path and lights the way,”
— Luca, 2015
His words of wisdom, honestly, encouraged me to finally realize my goals & dreams. Where is he now? I have no freakin’ idea, but I know he’s genuinely happy wherever he is. And, maybe he was right — maybe, just maybe, we’ll see each other again in 10 years, somewhere halfway across the world.
2. THE PLATONIC BUNCH
In our secular world, a platonic relationship has basically become code for “we’re just friends” — minus the benefits. In many cases, that person can end up being someone you’d go to the moon and back for, but have no romantic interest in, or attraction to, in a sexual way.
In my case…. they’re a bunch of good-looking, sometimes annoying, exceptionally loving bad boys. I barely talked about them, and never posted our photos together (We don’t have one!!! They were tipsy most of the time, and my lame loyal ass just didn’t want to at the time. #REGRETS) but I really had unforgettable moments with each of them. Also, they’re too good to share.
I mean, fine, I peed outside an abandoned building that one spontaneous, drunken night in Brussels wherein I fuckin’ swore to myself, “NEVER AGAIN!!!”
Hence, it is rooted in genuine honesty, and the ability to be your true self around them without fear of censure, or abandonment. A space where jealousy doesn’t rear its ugly head, and hidden agendas and unrequited love are left at the door.
(P.S. Tu me manques, mes frères!)
OK, enough, my eyes are welling up with tears now! Moving on….
3. THE THRILL SEEKER
He has unmatched energy and thrill to enjoy life. For him, traveling is a way to pump up the adrenaline and to learn outside the box. He just can’t stay at one particular place, because he is always excited to try and see new things.
I’m talking about Francisco, the Argentine who—thank God!—invited me to hang out weeks in advance. I wanted to message him first but I was too shy for my life, so I’m glad he did.
He knows China and everything Chinese like the back of his hand. He informed me beforehand about the stuff I needed to know A.K.A. the essentials (e.g. price of a beer tower, etc.), and I literally didn’t have to worry ‘bout anything (i.e. all I had to do was to pay him back after, walk fast, and trust him) which is also why I couldn’t write an article on how we got to and hiked the Great Wall unattended… for the reason that I relied on him too much.
Listen, it feels nice to be taken care of sometimes, especially if you’ve been on your own for years.
That being said… I truly admire his sense of direction, and his caring & thoughtful nature, and how he handled every situation, and his eagerness to keep the 3 of us together, and his spontaneity… to top it all off.
Whenever I hear the word gentleman, I remember Fran.
4. THE MR. KNOW-IT-ALL
…in a positive way!
Guys I wouldn’t mind talking/listening to all day, everyday. Woah, that says A LOT, considering that I’m an introverted person.
They always bring valuable skills & lessons to the table without the need to get something from the other person in return, and bear no malice toward anybody.
Brais, my fellow #teampineappleonpizza, gladly shared about his life in Spain, and answered all of my questions regarding adulting and love and being single at 40, and openly chattered about his experiences. Not to mention, his youthful glow!
And of course, Alex, my German Couchsurfing host in Beijing, who unhesitantly let me stay in his gorgeous bachelor pad and fed me some delicious food and provided my own bedroom and shared his knowledge about the Nazis & Nazism and checked if I was okay from time to time and even offered to pick me up from the airport. Alex & his “omg, you scared me to death, I was worried” when I wasn’t able to answer his calls — if I could choose a big brother, I would definitely choose him!
They know the whole lot; from locations to routes, and from perpetual singleness, to singlehood, to finding an everlasting union.
5. THE MAGNET
Imagine going to a new destination where you stumble upon someone who is capable of striking a conversation, with whom you get to experience chemistry in terms of having mutual interests, similarities, personableness, physical attraction, and reciprocal candor altogether.
On top of that is the impulse making one think “I need to see him again” — that feeling of we click.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t always happen to me. And thankfully, this one happened at the right time — ‘cos I wouldn’t have been able to recognize that if it wasn’t.
You’re probably curious at this point, but all I can say is, I would be delighted to shamelessly dance with him once more, or maybe 5 times more, and simply spend time… oh, and milk the cows in Patagonia!
(P.S. I promise, no more spilled milk tea residues and I won’t ruin your jacket ever again….and more hugs!)
Cheers to these kind hearts & kindred spirits!
I’m pretty sure they have flaws too, but their characters were top-notch, and that’s all that matters.
These 5 types of men give me hope in this seemingly hopeless dating world, and make me believe that sooner or later, I’d be lucky to end up with one.
Because ladies, let’s face it: They’re not all that bad! 😉😉😉