Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Living in Hostels

TJ and I have been on the road for three weeks now. Our "Phase 1 - Australia" part of our trip has officially drawn to a close, and we have jumped into Phase 2 - Southeast Asia. Our time in Australia did just what it was supposed to do. It got our travel legs under us, it taught us how much we didn't know about backpacking, and it gave us lots of fun, new memories together.

Fernloft - Singapore

In the last three weeks, we have each spent the night in twelve different beds, including eight different hostels. We also spent two nights at a friend's house, two on a sailboat, three on Greyhound buses, and three on airplanes.

Overnight flight on Delta

Hostels are fun, but they're not exactly glamorous. It turns out a clean room to sleep in is what I need the most, and we were fortunate that only one hostel completely failed in this respect. That hostel was full of roaches and dirty carpet, so we spent the night in our sleep sacks instead of in the sheets they provided. Come to think of it, they didn't even provide actual sheets - just an empty duvet cover.

Other than cleanliness, we appreciate air conditioning and a usable kitchen, two things we take for granted at home. Non-A/C isn't so bad if you have a good fan, but our first hostel kept forgetting to bring us a good fan. Instead, we ended up with a tiny desk fan that made more noise than it did wind.

YHA - Bondi Beach

For the kitchen, some hostels require you to pay a deposit to check out a dish/cutlery set, which you get back when you return the dishes. This setup has the advantage of creating a cleaner kitchen, but it's so much easier to grab a plate from the shelf when you need it rather than always keeping an eye out for someone running off with yours.

(Kitchen) Flashpackers - Noosa Heads

Beyond those necessities, everything else was a luxury. Our very last night, we somehow ended up with not only a private room, but our VERY OWN BATHROOM as well. It was our first of the trip (and those of you who have seen our bathroom at home know that we're not exactly used to a complete bathroom anyway), and we didn't even realize what a nice thing it is until we had one. That hostel also offered towels and soaps, which means we were drying off with more than just the small travel towels we carry with us. Super luxurious, ya'll.

Nomads - Cairns

We decided early on to splurge on private rooms regularly, but even so, we have had our share of difficult roommates in the dorms - from the ones who seem to sleep all night AND all day, to the ones who come home drunk at four in the morning; or the ones who set the thermostat to 19 degrees Celsius, opened all the windows, and then left for the afternoon, and the ones who hopped up every time we adjusted the temperature to turn it back to Blazing Hot. We don't let them bother us too much, though. One of the advantages being married gives us is that we have gotten pretty good at compromising, and it helped that we always had our own space to look forward to in the next couple days.

YHA Railway Square - Sydney

One of the more difficult things is getting food stolen from the community refrigerator. The first time this happened to us, it was a couple eggs. We were annoyed and disappointed, but it really wasn't a big deal. The second time, it was our entire food bag. It included our already-purchased dinner for that night, all our cooking supplies, like oil and seasonings, half a bag of uncooked rice, and more. It cost us a few extra meals we weren't planning to buy, but since it happened toward the end of our time in Australia, we decided not to replace the missing items.

Byron Beach Resort - Byron Bay

Despite the difficulties, we have had an overwhelming positive experience. Most of our roommates have been wonderful people who sit down to share a drink with us and discuss everything from accents to politics. Cooking in the hostel kitchen exposes us to dozens of other cooks who have given us ideas for better meals. In and out of the hostel, we have met fellow travelers who help shape our experience. Like the German girl who gave us directions to a beach we MUST visit in Thailand. Or the French girl who rows competitively back home, but it's a double-wide crew boat with 16 people on board, and the competitions are in the ocean. Or the elderly Canadian who fell in love with Australia on his first visit, in the 70's, when he arrived as a third class passenger on an ocean liner. Most of these people have never even told me their names, but it will be a long time before I forget them.

(Facing our room) XBase - Airlie Beach

Our hosteling experience in Australia was very different than our hosteling experience in the US (not a single Australian hostel had an oven, for example!), and we can already tell our experience in Thailand is going to be different again. The basics remain, though. We want a clean, comfortable place to sleep, and anything above that is luxury.

(Chocolates included!) Ania's House - Minchinbury

1 comment:

  1. Love those smiles! Are you going to stay at that hostel in bangkok that I suggested? Suk 11 you can't go wrong there :-) Keep having fun, i'm enjoying living vicariously through you.