Never Judge a Backpacker By His Cover

Vagrant Castaway? Or Ridiculously Good-Looking Model? Hmm…

Every now and then, I see someone pop up on my Facebook news feed that makes me go, “How do I know this person again?”

I’m certainly not in the habit of “friending” people I don’t know. So when I experience delayed recognition of a Facebook friend, it usually ends up being a traveler I’d met briefly while backpacking in some foreign land.

I’ll squint my eyes, and can generally recall within seconds what country I met them in and what country they’re from. I’ll recall a funny conversation we had, or a hike we did together, or a meal we shared. I love keeping up with my traveler friends and seeing what adventures they’re getting into.

But then occasionally someone will pop up on my feed that I can’t, for the life of me, figure out.

Like this guy:

Who the hell is this guy and how could I not remember him?

LOOK at him!

Seriously. Look at him.

This one took me awhile, and here’s why.

THAT guy looked like THIS when I met him:

Ok, ok, so that’s Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. But this is seriously how I remember Danny.

Danny! That’s his name. I met Danny when he looked like a disheveled drifter. A charming and friendly drifter. But a drifter nonetheless. I almost expected him to pull a box of chocolates out of that beard, or even a volleyball named Wilson.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t look a fraction of my finest when I’m backpacking. But at least I’m recognizable when I switch to my “civilian” wear.

Danny? A completely different human being. He looks so different on Facebook that I would almost question the authenticity of his photos – that is, had I not met Danny a second time in all that ripped and model-esque glory in the flesh.

You see, I first met Danny at a dirty dingy $3-a-night hostel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Again, he looked like this:

And this was in 2010, long before beards (somehow) became the sexy, hipstery things they are today.

When I met Danny in that hostel, I had only just arrived in Malaysia the day before and was using the lobby computer to figure out my next move. He was using the computer next to me, and we started to engage in your typical backpacker chit chat:

  • Where ya from?
  • Where ya been?
  • Where ya goin’ next?

Danny was from Canada, had been traveling Southeast Asia for about a year, and was starting to get bored and needed a new and exciting destination (oh poor guy, right?). We talked travel for probably an hour or so, and he gave me some great advice for traveling in Malaysia. He knew so much, and was super helpful! We then did the typical backpacker thing of adding each other on Facebook and we went on our merry ways.

A couple weeks and 300 miles later, I ran into Danny again.

Only, I didn’t know it.

And it’s because he looked like this:

(Ha! Sorry, I can’t help myself, it cracks me up.)

I was strolling along a quiet beach in the remote and rustic islands of the Perhentians (to this day, one of my favorite places in the world). I was surrounded by palm trees and turquoise waters. There was no electricity for 12 hours a day. Schools of brightly colored fish filled the swimming waters, and monitor lizards roamed freely around the island. It looked like this:

It’s also the location where this photo was taken – a photo which, surely, many of you are sick to death of seeing as my FB cover photo, ha. (One of my favorites – thanks, Joolz, for taking it!)



And in this paradise, someone called my name.

“Thy!” (For those of you who don’t know, it’s pronounced “Tee.”)

I thought, who could possibly know my name here? I’m in the middle of NOwhere!

I looked up to find this gorgeous, ripped, shirtless hunk of MAN walking right towards me.

Err…why is this ridiculously good-looking creature talking to ME? And how does he know my NAME?

I looked behind me. Around me. And even above me at the sky.

I must have misheard him. There was just no way this guy was talking to ME.

“Thy! It’s me, Danny! We met back in KL.”

I stopped in my tracks. I squinted. And I thought, Who? What?

I racked my brain. Danny, Danny. Did I meet a Danny in KL?

I squinted some more.

Wait. Forrest Gump Danny? Castaway Danny?

Nuh uh. No way.

But yes. It was Danny indeed. Clean shaven and chiseled. Drifter-looking no more. And a bikini-clad girl on each arm, no less. Ha!

Danny and I chatted for a bit. He told me one of the beach hostels was doing movie night later, and that I should come by.

I can’t remember why, but I never did make it to movie night. Nor did I ever see Danny again after that tropical beach encounter.

But whenever I see him in my Facebook news feed, I can’t help but giggle. Who knew such sultry, smoldering hotness could be hiding beneath that mess of long matted hair and monstrously ragged beard?!

Turns out Danny is a model. And you can follow him on IG @danielseanmaguire.

You’re welcome.

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Photo Credits: Jason Harynuk | Scott Teitler

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