Words by: Tiffany Forbes Art by: Sophie McKenzie-Stripp
I like to think of travel as an extension of myself; a string of intimate and distinct memories that only exist within the crevices of my own brain.
How feeling a stark breeze against my face will always, without fail, remind me of finally reaching the top of Roy’s Peak in Wanaka after hiking for three long hours. Or how the taste of rum will single-handedly teleport me back to being head-first over a toilet bowl in the middle of Vietnam after happy hour went South. Memories that form my collective perception of the world and are exclusively only mine to keep.
I think it’s a funny thought that we could all experience the exact same moment at the exact same time, yet none of us will ever take from it the same two things.
A similar narrative can be strung for hostels. There’s something about an epicentre of free alcohol, themed-pub crawls and of course, a beautiful melting pot of travellers from all corners of the world, that scoops you up and spits you out the other end brimming with a whole new lease on life and maybe a nasty hangover to go with it; no singular experience remotely mirroring the next. But from getting proposed to with a pizza in place of a ring, to sleeping in the same room as a self-proclaimed millionaire and a pet pig, I realised that I’m not the only person in this world with some wacky hostel stories housed up in that big ol’ brain of mine.
In light of this, I asked all the people I had the pleasure of meeting on my travels to take a trip down memory lane, and share a few of their favourite encounters from nights spent arguably at some of the most underrated places on Earth…
I rocked up to a hostel in Krabi, Thailand during their peak season and it was WILD. I had just recently turned 18 and this was my first ever trip without my parents. On the first night there, I was separated from all of my friends on the pub-crawl and I ended up in another town all by myself. Drinking all night long, I later woke up on a random beach with absolutely nothing on me. Lucky for me, one of the hostel workers was driving past on his motorbike and took me back to [the hostel] with him. Turns out I’d somehow wound up a whole hour away from where I was staying. But that’s on living out my youth, right?
At a hostel in Bali, a lizard got into the room and had a poo on two of our beds, yet the staff REFUSED to change the bedding and only offered to clean the affected areas. During the three days we were there, our reptile friend ended up living in the room and kept us up making noises every single night. We’d often wake up and there would be a new poo on a bed or a bag, and just in the weirdest places. Let’s just say, I never stayed there again…
‘American Boy’ — Estelle ft. Kanye West
After spewing my guts up after going too hard on the free spirits at the hostel bar, I woke up at 4am to take a shower. Just my luck, in the bathroom that night I met the most gorgeous American boy. With vomit still in my hair, I remember typing my name into his phone, and we instantly hit it off. Safe to say we fucked in the shower ten minutes later.
I stupidly chose to stay in a twenty-bed mixed dorm smack bang in the middle of London. Naturally, the people in my room hailed from different walks of life. There was a mother and daughter, two Russian best friends, an older Scottish man and a few other groups and solo travellers. One night I had gone to bed early and I remember waking up to the distinct sound of laughing. I sat up in the now pitch-black room, and found the Scottish man — who must have sleepwalked (or so we hope) — stood at the base of my bunk-bed cackling. I felt like my life was an outtake from the fucking Conjuring.
Be the Cleopatra to my Julius Caesar
In the seediest hostel in Amsterdam (are we surprised) that had almost zero security, I was demanded out of the bathroom for a good 20 minutes by a man who was not from my room nor the hostel itself, claiming that I was his Cleopatra queen and that he had to save me. He ended up undressing himself and thank GOD my friends outside the door warned me… The people you meet, hey.