I have a feeling I’m only writing this vaguely angry blog post because I have a stomach ache. I was going to write about watching the sunrise at Borobudur so I was flicking through photos of that morning and remembered how many other
Instagram wankers people were there. I hate that I’m one of them too.
Being a big unsociable introvert, hostels have never really been my jam. Even when I went to Poland on my own for my 22nd birthday, I booked myself into a hotel and never really considered finding any short term travelling friends to share the experience with. My memories of Amsterdam (the very few I do have anyway) are tainted with the knowledge that I absolutely hated the hostel we were in. It was like a prison and everything was always damp. The top bunks were so high that after getting back one evening, I managed to climb up but couldn’t for the life of me get down. It was the worst few hours of my life. I swear, it was totally the beds that were too high.
I love travelling but I’m looking forward to a time where I can consistently afford private hotel rooms with air-con and private cars, rather than public buses. Working in hospitality and customer service for years has shown me just how terrible the general public can be and overall, I was pretty damn good at dealing with it. However coming across terrible people while travelling seems so much worse to me- mainly since I’m not getting paid to deal with it.
Because everyone loves a horrible story when it’s happened to someone else, here are a few awful examples of humanity I’ve come across while travelling:
Hey Everyone, Check Out My Tampon!
There are so many stories from the working hostel where I stayed for four months to complete my regional work. This one pretty much sums up the standard of living in that place. One morning, I get up to have a quick shower before work. I headed to one of the FOUR working showers (for a hostel with over 100 people!)
There, proudly displayed on the windowsill, at eye level, was a used tampon.
(Yes, there was a bin in the cubicle.)
Since it was 5am and I was in no mood to discuss that situation with anyone, I noped out of there and assumed the cleaner would get to it. Well, this hostel employed one of the backpackers to clean the place and even she, understandably, refused to deal with it. For the amount she was paid, I’m not surprised. So, the offending item remained on the windowsill for well over 24 hours. I have no idea how the situation was rectified but the post about it on the hostel’s group Facebook page was so hilarious I’m almost glad it happened.
Sick Cambodian Lady, Why Are You On This Bus?
This actually happened the other day on our way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh so it’s super fresh in my memory. Yay! We’re on a cheap local bus. There’s no toilet and the back of Tim’s seat suddenly fell off halfway through the seven-hour journey. The air-con on the entire left side of the bus starts leaking profusely so they turn it off. It’s already a pretty grim situation but the woman sitting in front of us wanted to be sure we were having The Worst Time Ever.
Despite there being no less than three scheduled breaks, this woman decides that petrol station public toilets are beneath her. She waits until the bus gets going again and a mile or so down the road, she gets the driver to pull over beside an open field so she can urinate openly five feet away from the bus, in full view of everyone, making eye contact with people through the bus windows for good measure.
This happened three times, then just as we dared to think she might let the bus drive the final twenty miles without interruption, she gets the driver to pull over again. This time she picks up a large hoe as she finds a perfect spot twenty feet from the waiting bus in plain sight on an open grassy verge. We get to wait fifteen minutes as she digs herself a hole, squats over it for a disturbing amount of time, fills in back in and then saunters slowly back to the bus like there’s no one waiting for her.
Part of the reason this got to me so much is the fact that she was sitting in front of us. When she wasn’t staring between the gaps in the seat at us, she was retching directly onto the floor of the bus under the seats in front of her. After a while, she reluctantly accepted a plastic bag from the bus conductor and continued heaving loudly into that.
Longest journey of my life.
Getting Drunk Abroad Just Feeds The Soul, Y’Know?
This is more of a general ‘aren’t people the worst’ kind of thing but I cannot stand tourists who complain about places being ‘too touristy’. Sure, there are places where aggressive touts and people blatantly trying to rip you off can grate a bit but is there anything worse than a backpacker sitting around a hostel with a $1 can of lager waxing lyrical about how ‘Thailand is far too touristy these days’ and how ‘you must do Bali but it’s nothing like it used to be’? Bonus points if they loudly interrupt with a travelling story that starts with ‘Well one night I was wasted and…’
This is exactly what I overheard in the hostel in Siem Reap and Tim and I did a joint eyeroll so huge I’m surprised the guy didn’t notice. What got me was the fact that he was our age and judging places in Asia like he’d been there fifty years ago and discovered them himself. Mate, you’ve been here the entire week we have and all I’ve seen you do is drink cans of Angkor at the hostel in the same ripped pair of elephant trousers. There’s a reason places get ‘touristy’ and you’re it.
‘Adventurous’ Backpacker Cries When Jungle Trek Is Disappointingly Unpaved
Yeah, so, this is me and I’m the worst. The jungle trek we did in Sumatra was so much harder than I expected, due to a fear of heights that I’d optimistically ignored while booking the trek. I foolishly thought the overnight trek would be the ‘easy’ option and that it would be so well worn by the thousands of tourists before us that I could do it, no problem.
Well, overall, it was the ‘easy’ option. You could do it, no problem! It just turns out I’m not really built for trekking, even on easy-mode. I’m proud that I completed it but I just know that our guide was thinking whatever ‘why are you even here?!’ is in Indonesian while he held my hand down the steep slopes and stopped the group for a break while Tim was encouraging me to stop clinging to the nearest tree like a monkey and take the next step.