Strange things happen at departure lounges as the doors swoosh shut behind you. It becomes an open invitation to leave good manners outside and embark on a mission hell-bent on proving how rude people can be. Most succeed, far too many excel.

It seems everyone who contemplates going abroad feels compelled to indulge in some debauch of the local dialect. This involves a truncated lilting obliteration of English, patronisingly mixed with a word or two of the indigenous tongue. It also includes raising the decibel level above acceptable speech, because, as we all know, shouting in any language makes it easier to comprehend. Add bastardisation from a useful phrase book and with travel documents, cash safely stowed in hideous bumbags, away they go. Here’s where you see them. In a sports bar quaffing beers glued to a large screen television howling for their local football team. Kitted in khaki for big game hunting, replete with wide brimmed hunting hat, they can be spotted holding court at a chi-chi bar testing the tensile strength of fraying rattan furniture. These intrepid travellers carry a survival kit hidden in multi pocketed pants. They carry a Swiss army knife, medical supplies, maps, and compass somewhere in their paraphernalia; but they rarely leave the city. I certainly have never seen any in the wild. You spot them alighting from chauffeured limousines entering luxury resorts, loaded with designer bags after hunting in retail malls. More nocturnal, they flock to rooftop bars swapping stories of horrid customer service.

You may find this invaluable, a compendium of tourist types. Not exhaustive.

Eco Freakos: that motley bunch in ill-fitting ethnic inspired clothing, fisherman’s pants and hemp T shirt, or hill tribe women’s skirts and jackets. All have managed to find the same hat shop; a bonnet of sorts, multi-coloured, which turns up on at least 3 sides. Also includes that pre-consumptive, lank-haired, arse-out-of-jeans lad carrying a guitar. How this kid strayed so far off the folk music revival path is difficult to fathom. With no money, he trusts a quick rendition of Kumbaya will sway armed border security. Miraculously there always seems to be a heavily tattooed, roll-you-own, dreadlocked girl with a lazy fifty bucks to splash out on a troubadour.

Bimbettes: those petite young girls who behave as if on an “influencers” Instagram fashion shoot. Anything short, sparkly, dingle-dangle, is wardrobe for the day. Head cocked cheekily, she strikes a pose and squeals. High heels clatter and scrape over someone else’s culture of which she has no knowledge, interest, or respect. Her displeasure is worn with a pout, gloss worn thin on her lips. In tow is some beleaguered young countryman carrying everything. He is not only the photographer-cameraman, but also her personal valet struggling under the weight of lugging her bags. She never travels light.

Boofs come in every shape, size, and nationality. Groups of “twenty something” young men sporting a beer T shirt use archaeological ruins in lieu of a gym. It’s OK to climb everywhere especially areas excluded from public access, in disrepair, or prone to collapse. They show no respect for world heritage listed buildings, the local guide, or fellow tourists. Sticking their fingers up the nose of the giant stone Khmer heads draws guffaws of approval. Or sitting astride the Naga balustrade aping cowboys riding a bucking bronco, waving their hat overhead. Some fondle the stone breasts of the ancient deities. Makes you wonder how Christians would react if people stuck their hands up the dress of the Virgin Mary. The ultimate act of defiance is to drop their daks and moon anyone watching. Boofs, like wild animals, dump turds in the forest, and leave a site littered with empty beer cans.

Seniors: as sweet old couples begin plotting early whose turn it is to throw a hip or have a dizzy spell they deserve scrutiny. A bold oldie will feign incontinence. I don’t think there is border security anywhere who could stand witness to a raised skirt or lowered leisure shorts while a pair of soggy panties is sacrificed.  Small price to pay for the thrill of scampering through the hell of border control to get the pick of seats for the onward journey. Take a careful look at that elderly couple. They could be travelling commando.

Hagglers: belligerently attempt to wring the last cent out of everything and seem affronted when the price won’t budge. This is how it went down. At the street market in Siem Reap two girls had a handful of DVDs. The purchase price in their country being five to six times this bargain price. The intimidation process began by insisting ten dollars would be the most they’d pay for the lot. The Cambodian girl smiled and shook her head. The westerners barked that for pirated copies available everywhere across the country their price is now eight dollars, take it or leave it, whereby the stall owner retrieved the DVDs and bid them a pleasant day. As a farewell gesture, the girls knocked a stack of discs onto the floor. Hagglers are not like backpackers who understand they are already enjoying bargain basement prices.

Your trip will not be complete without becoming firm friends with two very distinctive styles of western woman hellbent on the same purpose; salvation. I cannot speak highly enough of their virtues and value.

The Woman of Good Works purposefully strides the streets sporting steel grey hair. Is sensibly dressed in various shades of dowdy. Her name is Eunice, Valmai or Ida. Her peddling counterpart is Gerta, Birgit or Dagmar. Her sights are set straight ahead, intent to be of service. She is recently widowed, or a career spinster. She has seen the light. Liberated, she answers the clarion call. The uniform is serviceable, climate sensitive, unadorned except for a hint of vanity in the organisational “green friendly” shoulder bag worn where it bounces gaily off her striding hip. Beads of sweat trickle from seriously parted hair, down her arched brow to the line of her stubborn chin. It is inner zeal that makes her glow, like you would once see emanating from old nuns.

She is the woman you want as first responder should you have a crippling fall. She is the woman you want to administer pain relief, sterilising, and organising the instruments for life-saving surgery. She is the face of the lay minister that smiles beatifically and performs last rites before your death in a non-Christian country. She is not the woman you want to take head on about the futility of charity. She’s had this argument, and won it hands down with her family, congregation, bible-study group, reiki master, or book club. These ennobled women are found in city shelters for abused women, havens for children at risk, or centres for the return and restoration of indigenous traditional handcrafts and artifacts. They are NOT cut from the same cloth as the Non-Government-Organisation (NGO) woman.

The NGO woman is a bird of a completely different plumage. A bon-vivant from an affluent first world society. She’s been screwed over by a wayward husband, traded in for a younger, go-faster model. Having won big time in the courts she is cashed-up and hit the third world trail of do-gooders, menopause and all. She has cancelled her gym membership, given up Botox, cast aside couture. She traded it all for over-sized, multi-coloured print muu-muus. Underneath the effect of charity lunches and cocktail party function food finds a new home on thighs and buttocks. Added to the deception, sizable items of rough-hewn jewellery, brass pendants, bangles and arm gauntlets, local gemstone chokers, village craft earrings. Handmade sandals noisily pre-empt her arrival.  She’ll have a visible piercing, plus an ornate tattoo only seen when her neckline suddenly plunges backward to reveal her scapula. As her ultimate act of defiance, she will plunge her hair into the reddest of red henna dyes. Cunningly whipped into an unruly and wanton coif then garnished with local handmade frippery, feathers, fresh flowers, the occasional chop stick. Over time the hues change from the first gutsy red to the softest Titian, strawberry blonde, fiery red, sunset red, finally the Lucille Ball brassy fire engine red. Her glory is not hair but her full throated, hearty laugh setting in motion her magnificent bosom. The sight of which inspires philanthropic hands to dig deep for charity. She will learn the language flawlessly. Ultimately, she beds a much younger man, handsome, virile, a local who adores her. She is variously called Big Red, Bubbles, or Meggsie no matter where on earth she originated.

Buddha said, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

Wise words indeed and he should know. Seems he never made it anywhere in one piece. He left parts of himself scattered all over the place now held as holy relics in pagodas. Except in Oudong where the relics were stolen by the security guards. Remember Buddha’s wisdom should you find yourself taking a last longing look at pics of your loved ones as you gasp your final breath. Will you end up a relic? Probably not. Be content. Say to yourself, yes, I travelled well.

What is it about travel that brings out the worst in people? The ones who come home and regale you with tales of woe, about how the plane was late leaving, then another fifty minutes delay on the tarmac until the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption cleared. Remember Buddha’s wisdom. Did you die? No. Then be grateful, you had a good time. Hopefully, you regain your decorum and sense of good manners as the swoosh of the arrivals lounge doors close stepping back into the bosom of your own community wiser, more aware, evolved, compassionate, and comprehending how to treat others.

A final piece of travel wisdom: always carry two phones, one you leave in the cab getting to the airport, the other you leave in the cab coming home.