Anyone who has ever stayed in a hostel has had a similar experience: regardless if the hostel is clean or not, or has spacious rooms or 3 crammed bunker beds in a 2 square-meter space, or reliable air conditioning or just a wiggly fan at 36*C, there is something that may turn your night at a hostel into a torturing nightmare that has nothing to do with the venue itself, and largely depends on your luck:
The hostel fauna.
Yes. Traveling the world and meeting kindred free spirits and like-minded laid-back backpackers who may become your friends for life is just the idyllic, sugar-coated, Instagram-filtered one side of the bigger picture, a picture that includes the worst of humanity, those kinds of people who are certain they are starring in their own epic I-Love-My-Life movie and everyone else (including tired little you) is just an extra.
Here are some of the specimens (will be updating this section as I meet more of them):
After a seemingly lucky good night sleep, she will wake you up with her 20 min rummaging through all the pre-packed outfits she wrapped into the noisiest bin bags she could find. You will have a zen deep breath and hope for it to end soon, but she will carry on for other 10 min, which will make you finally politely ask her if she doesn’t prefer to carry on “outside, where there is more light”. It doesn’t matter how old she is, or if she has kids, she WILL tell you “It’s 9am!”, as if she was your mum and you were late for some family Sunday commitment due to having hit the nightclub hard last night. Not even your own mother talks to you like that anymore, but she, a total stranger, will feel in the right, not caring if you are sick, or exhausted after a day of trekking mountains under the sun, or simply are on vacations and feel like sleeping until hunger kicks you out of bed.
You checked in past 9pm. You only want a shower and some rest (or even go out and come back to sleep later, it doesn’t matter). But you won’t be fully able to, because these 2 friends decided to get a cooked cabbage dish for takeaway and bring it to eat on their beds. Even when you return, the smell is still there. This happens especially in hostels with tiny rooms, poor ventilation, AND A GORGEOUS COMMOM AREA WITH TABLES AND CHAIRS AND POWERFUL AIR-CON DOWNSTAIRS.
Insecurity with the way one looks is a big issue, and can get very serious if it leads to anorexia or other disorders, but it can be an even bigger issue if it disrupts your much-needed rest in completely unreasonable hours. There’s the girl who decides to give herself a full-on pedicure at 2:30 am. You ask her to please turn off her light, and she’ll turn on her phone’s flashlight instead, a beam which will inevitably go straight into your eyes (not to mention the nail polish smell). Going to the bathroom is not an option for her. Not now, not at 7 in the morning, when she sets her alarm clock to start putting on make up with a lantern and the hand mirror that comes in her powder case, as god forbids someone sees her clean unwashed face, even in the 20 second, 15 meter distance that separates her bed from the big lit mirror in the toilet.
Guys don’t escape this category either. I’ve witnessed all the noise (and smell) a male roommate from the bed below mine caused (so wiggling too) at 1 am, when everyone else in the room was sleeping (or trying to) and he applied 2 coats of strong-scented moisturizer over his whole body, in the dark.
Again, it’s past 2am, the lights are off and everyone is sleeping, but this group of people (mates from home or newly met, it doesn’t matter) will come in, turn on the lights, high-five, some guy will pinch some girl’s waist and she will giggle and emit a little high-pitched shout, they’ll loudly announce that they’ll see each other tomorrow (yes, half of them weren’t even from the room), and the conversation and loud laughs will go on for about 10 minutes until the non-roommates will leave, leaving the door open behind them. They will then start messaging the ones in your room, and the loud “you have a new message” notification sound will be intercalated with loud giggles, until someone kindly asks them to shut up.
Alarm clocks. Ranging from the “I must remember to take my contraceptive pill” alarm that runs for 20 min in a room where the alarm owner is clearly not, until someone takes the initiative to rummage through her bag and tries to turn off her phone, up until the extreme case of the guy who decides to book a 5am taxi to the airport when never in his life was he able to wake up before 9am. He sets his alarm clock for 4am, which successfully manages to wake up EVERYONE in the 12 bed room, except from him. He’ll still be snoring like a pig (certainly a fauna bonus), and unconsciously “protecting” his phone from the person who’s trying to grab it and throw it out the win- er, turn it off. He’ll semi-consciously manage to put the phone on snooze, meaning YOU will still get one wake-up ring every 5 min, until eventually the TAXI DRIVER will enter the room, one hour later, to drag the guy out (but that’s just because Thai people are way too nice).
A blend of “Live-Like-In-A-90’s-Movie” and “Wannabe-mum” without the telling off, these people , generally a group, will magically spring off the bed fresh as a bunch of roses at 8am, even having gone to sleep past 3 am the night before. They will great each other good morning, start making plans for the day, maybe even re-tell that super-funny fart story from the day before (bonus for singing the catchy – read: brain-drilling – rhythm certain groups on vacations use to say anything) , and of course, start rummaging through their plastic bags, trying to open their padlocks as if they weren’t their own (the effort and noise and time spent is such that you start to also worry if they’re not trying to break YOURS open), and do all their strong-scented toiletries in the room.
The Whah-Evah-I-Do-What-I-Want (or plain I’m-A-Terrible-Human-Being)
Granted, it’s a party hostel. But the party ended 2 hours ago. Now everyone has either dropped drunk in bed or is making out on the beach, or, why not, resting. Not too far-fetched a concept. But this girl will keep on monologuing, in a language that you can or cannot understand. Is she skyping with her mum and dad and telling them all the details of her day? Is she having a “conversation” with a friend in the room and she’s that kind of person who monopolizes the talking and everyone else has to resort to listening (or has fallen asleep)? Is she just talking alone?, you wonder, from your bed. 10 min on, 20 min, half and hour… your patience and tolerance will end and you will kindly ask why can’t she carry on with whatever she’s doing outside. “If you don’t want to party don’t book a party hostel”, she’ll answer, as apparently her definition of “party” is having people listen to a constant stream of her voice in the dark. Bonus points if she purposely SLAMS THE DOOR (no exaggeration here) every time she gets in and out of the room, that is, every 5 min (another exquisite definition of “party”). Double bonus if she steals the air-conditioning control, turns it off, in the tiny crammed room at 35*C, because “it’s too cold in here”, and hides it under her pillow hogging it so that no one else can turn it back on. Triple bonus if she acts like that as a routine for more than one night.
To this girl, shaking the doormat full of sand on her bag (and maybe dropping beer on it, and that melted butter that went off and you won’t use anymore) and leaving a note saying “welcome to party hostel, don’t book if you can’t hold it” seems an ideal way of constructing a dialogue she will be mentally capable of understanding.
Of course, there ARE great, respectful, interesting and friendly people all over shared dorms, but hostel fauna can make or break a hostel night.
What about you? Have you ever encountered specimens of the hostel fauna? Tell us about it, leave your story in the comments below!