One of the Boys? For the First Time, Yes.

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I didn’t grow up with brothers or boy cousins.  My birthday parties were as girly as you can imagine, down to the all-female guestlists.  And to this day, my closest friends are straight girls and gay guys and girls.  I love my close straight male friends to pieces, but there aren’t a lot of them.

In short, I’ve always been a girls’ girl.  Never one of the boys.

So one of the great surprises on this trip is that at least 90% of the people I’ve been hanging out with – not to mention the closest friends I’ve made – have been straight guys!

Why?  There are far more guys than girls on the Southeast Asia backpacker trail, that’s for sure.  Especially in pairs or groups.

But mostly, it’s easier to join a group of guys. Groups of guys tend to be open and welcoming. While the girls I’ve met on the road have been very nice, I’ve found that groups of girls tend to be quite insular.  Being a girl and joining an established group of girls is incredibly difficult.

And while I hate to admit it, girls can be quite catty and competitive with each other. We all know that the Mean Girls phenomenon doesn’t end in high school.  Especially when you throw anything involving guys into the mix.

I explained this to my friend Ste, and he simply replied, “We just don’t give a sh*t.” And there you go.  That’s the difference between men and women right there — what took me five minutes to explain took him six words!

I traveled down the length of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Saigon, with five awesome guys:

Dave, from the UK, possibly the greatest white dancer alive, with a penchant for custom-made pimp suits,

Mike, from the UK, who will blow everyone out of the water with his Savage Garden karaoke skills,

Ste, from the UK, with a gift of charming every female he meets in Vietnam, from little girls to old ladies,

Darren, from the UK, with magical ginger hair and a talent for posing awesomely in every group photo taken,

And Sander, from Holland, whose height fascinates little Vietnamese girls and whose disposition is permanently, exuberantly happy.

I love these guys. They’re fun, they’re sweet, they’re hilarious, and they’re always up for an adventure!

At no point did we ever say, “Let’s travel together.” We just kept running into each other in while drinking snake blood in Hanoi and partying in Halong Bay, ended up on the same night bus to Hue, and by then, continued on together to Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Saigon, the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi!

Was it strange being the only girl in the group?  Not at all. Aside from the one time when they almost had a peeing contest off a balcony (I took that as a cue to go write for a bit), things were perfect.  For the first time ever, I was one of the boys.  In our last week, we added another girl to our group — Jitske, also from Holland — and she became one of the boys as well.

I’m trying to think of a way to end this post — I do always like to include a bit of advice or a lesson!  Perhaps it should be that you should always be open to friendship.  Don’t overlook befriending a group of guys if you’ve never done so before.

Ste’s suggestion?  “Not all boys are sex toys.” Once again, the concise male reply wins!

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30 thoughts on “One of the Boys? For the First Time, Yes.”

  1. I’m pretty easy going and can hang out with guys and girls. While traveling, I always seem to hang out with couples!

    Hanging out with guys sounds super fun. As a woman traveling alone, I’d feel much safer. It’d also be great not have to deal with other girl’s cattiness (and there is always that when women are together).

    Have fun hanging out with the boys! 🙂

  2. You said it right with the catty high school attitude that never goes away. In my overseas travels, I’ve found that American women are, by far, the most unfriendly and unopen. Brits, Ozzies and Canadians are much easier to bond with. It clearly has to do with the different cultures, for whatever reason. But it’s still a frustrating reality.

    1. Hey Kate!

      Awesome post, love the group photos 😀 I agree with Chris, I am sad to admit it but girls can be quite catty especially over a male! I think it would be great to travel with guys, I love their “go along with the flow” mentality. Plus, I have found my guy friends to be a lot more adventurous when it comes to extreme sports. Some of my girlfriends aka sorority sisters were a bit hesitant to do anything out of the ordinary. I love the “I don’t give a sh*t” attitude that guys tend to have. I am getting ready to travel with 3-4 of my girlfriends through South Africa in April. We are driving the Garden Route, I have a whole list of adrenaline junkie activities on the agenda – cross your fingers that they will partake in these! If not, I am doing it myself! 🙂 Or I will simply make friends with the guys at the hostels 😉

  3. I had this challenge traveling in Australia alone when I was 21. I broke into one girl group but other than that it was tough and I made friends mostly through the jobs I had.
    When I traveled at 32 it was much easier. Women in their 30s, 40s and 50s traveled in packs but were very welcoming. So much easier. Once you move away from the high school and university years of always traveling in a pack you start welcoming meeting new people.

  4. Sounds like you’re having big fun there, Kate! I can connect splendidly with women as well, but it seems guys are generally on the road more. Even take Couchsurfing, it’s mostly guys. Girls oftentimes don’t bother reply to my requests, and I open end up being hosted by guys. I wouldn’t say all guys on CS are there for the sake of hosting and being hosted, it seems some are looking for easy hook-ups as well, but the majority is fantastic people.

  5. Hey Kate,

    I mostly agree with your view that joining a group of guys is always easier than a group of girls, however, don’t forget how I met all of you!!! 🙂

  6. Very funny, I find your blog by chance and as I’ve been doing the same one year ago, I just laugh of your experiences!!! Enjoy, not easy but unforgettable experience to travel alone (if you’re stuck 4 days in the midlle of nowhere BUT with an Internet connexion under a tropical storm check my blog!)
    Enjoy your trip and take your time in each place you go. Take care, Em

  7. I have had the opposite happen to me. I was always one of the boys, now I have almost no guy friends! Guys is Argentina are so flirty, it’s hard to just be friends. I’m happy you are finally one of the boys though!

  8. I befriended a group of guys when I was traveling in Peru by myself and I had a great time with them. I stayed in touch and the following year, met up with two in Copenhagen! I agree that joining a group of girls is a bit harder than joining a group of boys. Perhaps it’s true that guys just don’t give a shit.

    Glad to hear you’re having a great time out there!

  9. In the diving industry, sadly there is no choice but to be one of the boys! The upside is that the girls you do meet tend to be pretty badass, be they in the industry as well or the girlfriends of those who are. I happen to be both 🙂

    My boss in the Cayman Islands worked for years in Thailand as the only girl in the dive shop… she told me once she missed female friendship so sorely that she started downloading episodes of The Hills to remember what girl talk felt life. Now that is desperation.

  10. I feel like i’m usually in a weird situation where guys tend to like me (in a more than friends kind of way), but I always feel more comfortable hanging out with guys, so i’m always surrounded by them!

  11. When I travelled through Mexico and Guatemala a few years ago by myself, I found myself in the exact same situation – mostly travelling with guys. I did meet heaps of great girls who I’m still friends with, but the guys were just easier to meet, easier to travel with, easier to talk to. Totally true (most of the time) about them just not giving a crap and going with the flow!

  12. The guy in the second picture down on the far left looks like he’s wearing a blazer with camo shorts!

    I am so behind it seems with what the styles are on the SE Asian trail.

  13. I normally have to stick to befriending guys – girls generally tend to drive me insane…

    When we were in Japan we were with a male travel mate and it made it super easy since I’m a relatively low maintenance girl. Ready times were minimal and everyone was down to do anything. 🙂

    Sounds like you are having a blast!

  14. It sounds like you ended up traveling with a really cool group, who happened to be boys. But who knows? Maybe in a different part of the world you’d find a really great group of female friends. I honestly don’t get it when you (and a number of people leaving comments) say how girls are so catty. I think it’s bad to reinforce this stereotype against our own gender. Yes, there are some catty girls, but there are also some jerky boys. It all evens out in the end. And I think both of these groups are fortunately much, much smaller than the number of truly awesome people roaming the world.

    1. I know what you mean, Odysseus. I hate painting my entire gender like that. But to be perfectly honest, on this trip, it has been extremely difficult to befriend girls — especially girls in a duo or group. I’ve found most twenty-something girl groups here to be polite but not overly friendly. At home, my closest friends are girls, and at home, I find it easier to make female friends. It’s just odd that the opposite has been true on this trip.

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