“So, you guys all like, know each other – right?”
“erm, well no – we all met here”
“You met here? At the hostel?”
“OH-MY-GOD that is just such a totally cool hostel experience!!”
“kill me now”
I’ll allow you to picture Janice from Friends as the American character there, it fits pretty well. Martin Freeman to play me.
Hostels and hostel residents; don’t you just love them? They’re strange places hostels, and to stay in one, or more accurately to enjoy staying in one you’ll need a certain amount of, erm, adaptability.
First up you’ll need the ability to deal with Snoring Norman in the bunk above you, the feral looking girl who thinks drying her rancid underwear on the radiators is socially acceptable behaviour and the nocturnal drunken Irish lads stumbling into the side of your head in the early hours. We’ve all been there, we’ve probably all been that person to be honest. Trying to get into your dorm room bed quietly at 4am after you’ve had a skinful is akin to stifling laughter at a funeral, or playing snooker with a rope – it just doesn’t happen. You’ll often find these night dwelling bastards double up their annoyance factor by sleeping through the day too, meaning when you saunter in at 1pm to pick up some extra money for the afternoons kayaking excursion, the room is in complete darkness and you’re left groping around like a mime artist with no eyes. There should be a separate room for these people who live life in opposite world, a dorm which they can share with a selection of owls and badgers.
The early riser is generally a much hated figure as well, though often harshly so. Up early for a boat, train or plane at 4.30AM? That’s fine. Alarm set? No problem, we all do it. You’ve packed the night before and have your clothes ready right? No? What do you mean you were out until 2am and off your tits on some god awful local brew? Then you put your alarm on snooze 5 TIMES before finally rolling out of bed, loudly yacking up in the toilet and then, it’s 5.07AM now by the way, you start to pack your bag from scratch. Absolute scum of the earth these people, they deserve…oh wait, hang on – they’re back at 5.48AM to remove the sheets from their beds as well. Can’t quite get that far corner off from under the mattress? That’s it, just tug as hard as you can so the corner of the actual mattress rises two feet in the air before being released as the sheet breaks free, causing earthquake like tremors to reverberate around the room as it crashes back down. Excellent, thanks.
Outside the dorm room the situation improves somewhat, noise and light are now acceptable so people tend to struggle a good deal less. Having said that, you’ve forgotten that what is described as the hostel social area is actually Helen and Fleur’s living room for their sofa day. They’re watching The Notebook, and god forbid you should walk past the screen or have the audacity to talk or cough or something – any such noise is met with a series of tuts and hmmmphs arise from that pink and yellow pile of material on the couch. You head to the kitchen instead where for once you’re pleasantly surprised to be met by a sense of calm and tranquility. The kettle goes on, teabags are located and you’ve plenty of milk but no sugar. A quick glance at the ‘free food’ cupboard offers you 11 different packets of half eaten rice, a kilo of value brand flour and a small tupperware of an unknown, tasteless white powder specked with black lumps; you’ve been meaning to have your tea less sweet anyway. An attempt to check your emails is abandoned as the internet is found to be slower than an asthmatic ant with heavy shopping and the Lonely Planet guide from 2003 you start thumbing through is in about five pieces. This leaves you to eat breakfast in the company of the dreaded hostel troll. That’s right, the white guy with dreadlocks – the one who plays a guitar excruciatingly badly and has been at the hostel for over 3 months now. You all know who I mean.
Don’t get me wrong, I love hostels – I’d pick them over a hotel every single time, but my lord you get some odd people and occurrences in them. So now in no particular order, I’m going to detail some of my favourite hostel experiences:
Funkhouse Backpackers / Sydney, Australia
Arrive back in our four man room to find Shane, the Irish guy in the bunk below me, tattooing some Belgian chap on the floor. Stay to watch. Tattoo abandoned half way through when Belgian chap faints.
Unknown Hostel / Taman Negara, Malaysia
Heavy rain all day and evening causes ceiling to collapse onto our beds along with deluge of water. Girlfriend also picks up bedbugs during nights stay.
Asylum Hostel / Cairns, Australia
Mass crowd gathers to watch two lads get nipples pierced with drawing pins sterilised with cigarette lighter. One of them cries, other abandons mid piercing.
Unknown Hostel / Ljubljana, Slovenia
Arrive at pre booked hostel late at night in pouring rain, soon establish hostel no longer exists.
Fort Mason YHA / San Francisco, USA
Small group talking late on 12 man dorm, told to “shut the hell up” by a grumpy New Yorker. Mass fight ensues.
Unknown Hostel / Nadi, Fiji
After two nights in surprisingly empty hostel, we discover it’s also a brothel.
Backpackers Paradise / Surfers Paradise, Australia
Hysterical German girl bursts into 30 man dorm at 4AM, switches all lights on and screams that she’s been mugged and attacked on the beach. Large Irish contingent in dorm hurl abuse at her, German sobs into pillow for remainder of night. Not seen again.
Shared two room apartment / Split, Croatia
Second room inhabited by several, young Swedish women. Enough said.
About a dozen different hostels / Various
Walk in / Wake up / Look up to see fellow room inhabitants having sex.
Coffee Shack / Coffee Bay, South Africa
English lad in room drunkenly urinates on backpack of female roommate. Apologises profusely. Does it again three nights later.
Home Made Hostel / Budapest, Hungary
Meet and make friends with fellow residents. Totally the coolest hostel experience EVER.