One of the fun things when travelling around on your own with very little money is staying in hostel dorm rooms.
My current room in Chiang Mai has 6 beds, well sort of beds. There’s a raised platform with six mattresses on, separated by some interesting MDF frames with curtains hanging from them for a little privacy. It’s alright and there is an interesting carousel of people coming and going. Different ages, nationalities (all female in this room, but in Bangkok and Koh Tao I stayed in mixed dorms).
I think I’ve manged not to annoy people too much. I mean no-one has told me that I’ve pissed them off and some have stayed in touch. I’ve tried to keep all my crap roughly in one place, use my headphones whilst listening to the radio or watching something. I haven’t had any smelly food or anything. I think I’m probably doing ok.
There do seem to be some unspoken rules though:
When you meet someone you have to ask the following questions:
- Where are you from?
- How long have you been travelling?
- Where have you been and where are you going next?
If you remember to you might also ask their name, but that seems to bee coming half way through a conversation most of the time in an ‘Oh, I’m Ellie by the way!’ ‘Yeah! I’m….’
It’s good manners not to turn on the big light after about 10 if it’s already been turned off. Otherwise you might get some huffs and loud sighs going on.
I’m going to borrow some more rules from Sondheim:
- Do not intrude, please, when someone’s nude, please…
- If we are crude, please, don’t come unglued, please…
- So please, don’t fart — there’s very little air and this is art – important that one…
Don’t wear noisy items to bed – particularly bells. My old flatmate had one around her ankle and it was handy as it alerted me to when she was headed to the loo so I could manage not to go in at the same time (no lock, could be awkward). It was irritating but only one so not too bad. There is a fashion here for bracelets and anklets made from a variety of bells. They are pretty, they may even signify something to someone, who knows, but they are noisy little things. Just take them off once you are settling for the night and all is good. Leave it on and you risk severely pissing off your temporary room mates.
In addition to those (the farting one being very important) there’s the VERY important rule – if you want to be having sex, book a private room. I’ve been lucky so far in that I don’t *think* anyone has been getting down and dirty in one of my rooms – i can’t attest fully to this as once I’m properly asleep even storms and Tanzanian nightclubs can’t wake me.
Unfortunately for Danni, from my Thai cookery class, the lad in the bunk bed next to hers brought a girl back and she ended up with feet in her face and interesting noises filling the room. They then tried turning on the shower to mask the noise, but with very little success. It’s just rude people – I’m not a prude, I know that sometimes you might meet someone and decide that it is what it is (Chloe’s saying) but in a room full of 15 others? Nah.
Equally, please do not go to bed nude, you know that sheet’s likely to fall at some point and we don’t all need to see that.
If you smell bad, why not have a shower? You’ll sleep better and so will we. I know you’re not in your home country, but there’s no need to slip in standards now is there? The day after the full moon party my whole dorm came back and it was revolting. I couldn’t stay inside even though I had loads to do.
But it’s not all moans. Honest.
Good things to do when sharing with strangers:
- Invite them out with you if you are going for food or to do something fun. They might be feeling a little lost or homesick and it can really make a difference.
- Let them borrow your computer if you are around and not using it.
- Share tips of where to go, where to avoid.
- Just give them a smile. You may not share a language but it’s better than being met with frowns or just blank faces. That’s like being one of those people who hand out flyers for clubs or restaurants no one wants to go to. It’s soul destroying. I know, I did it for a day.
Anyone else got some horror stories from dorms, or good times stories? Let me know… even if they are about me being a pain.