THE BLOG

What Can a Backpacker Learn From a Duck in a Bar?

04/11/2014 13:57 GMT | Updated 03/01/2015 10:59 GMT

A duck walks into a bar and says 'get me a beer...Water's been on my back all day'.

The duck who joined the Northern Irish boys on their motorcycle tour of Vietnam hit national headlines a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be in the Phong Nha bar the night that Matthew McInnes, Dan McAllen and their mates turfed up with The Captain, mid-tour. The feathered maestro, who had previously been rescued from a carnivorous market, had come free with their motorbikes.

Before we knew it, The Captain had passed on his pearls of webbed wisdom, far surpassing my fowl comedy.

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1) Who to befriend

Particularly as a solo traveller, it's tempting to gravitate to whoever you see straight away in a hostel, to avoid being the noodle-nibbling loner. This approach can lead to you third wheeling Brad and Nat: Nat is deeply in love with Brad having abandoned her previous travel partners to 'be with him', Brad loosely translates Nat to 'replaceable female' and is a surfer from Stoke on Trent.

The good news; animals have a wonderful sixth sense and it wasn't long before The Captain had singled out the 'Brad' in the proximity. As soon as someone tries to balance a duck on their head, you know they'd also probably fry a hamster. The Captain said no to this circus of a man, and so did the protective paternal team of Northern Irish lads. They relaxed The Captain by feeding him some of his favourite seeds; Muesli.

2) Animals take the best selfies

Despite our efforts to look good on Instagram whilst battling humidity and sunburn, an animal will always look best, because they couldn't care less.

Next time you need to look aloof enough to garner the interest of others...take cue from a duck, because they don't give a monkeys.

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3) Basic biology is so easily forgotten

We can flutter our GCSE's like confetti at a marriage of minds , but in our early twenties we realise we've forgotten the basics. Whether it be our times-tables, or that a male duck would never be white.

In an earth-shattering moment, when we were trying to determine the sex of the duck because the boys 'hadn't looked yet', some guy said;

'S'a girl innit, you don't get white ones that are blokes'

Note to self: don't complain about graduate unemployment rates.

4) Don't be afraid to try the obscure

This duck, as his guardian McInnes commented 'loved the wind in his feathers' on the back of a motorbike, was a 'smashing hotel guest' and even joined a boat tour to the Phong Nha Caves; a beautiful spot in Vietnam which has featured in the National Geographic magazine. Nothing stopped The Captain from enjoying 'human experience' as McInnes puts it, who had aspirations to take The Captain to Machu Picchu, to see him walk among llamas.

If The Captain can do all that, every human is more than capable of becoming an astronaut.

5) Travel partners, however brief, are rarely forgotten

You often meet people for a matter of days, or even hours, before you part ways travelling, but you're likely to share some pivotal memories in that time.

The Captain epitomised this bond, uniting travellers across Vietnam, becoming a symbol of recognition, affection and camaraderie.

Joking aside, it was obvious how much these guys loved their duck...far from an arrogant prank this was a genuine rescue mission which had blossomed into parenthood. There are plenty of lessons to learn from a duck in a bar, one being that everyone has a soft spot.