Saturday, 16 June 2012

Living a Hostel Life

I once dreamt of traveling the world and indeed started the journey on a small step by visiting a few Asian countries. These travels have taught me a lot particularly on the ethnic differences and the cultural values of the countries that I have visited.

Two months ago I went to Singapore to pursue a dream. In pursuing this dream, I have come across a hostel aptly called A Beary Good Hostel located at Pagoda St., Chinatown Singapore - aptly because everywhere you look, you can see bears all around you. After staying at Hotel Grand Chancellor for two days in Little India, I decided to book at this hostel. Thus began my journey.

Lord Google pointed me to this hostel’s direction and even gave me the details why I should stay in this hostel, number one hostel in trip advisor and most importantly received the most positive reviews amongst other hostels in Singapore. And I must say they have the best hosts in town who are always ready to offer help, provide assistance and never failed to greet with a smile.

However, for the last 50 days I’ve spent in Singapore and 48 days living in a hostel, I became a diversified person. Every individual I’ve met, every nationality I’ve befriended, every culture that I learned has broadened my horizons in terms of understanding varied social values. I might say some were friendly while others were rude. Some were considerate, others were insensitive. But the interesting part is it does not single out one race or nationality, it is the individual itself. Whoa!

There were those who usually went home late and won’t even tiptoe while walking towards their beds. Some guests also keep on going in and out of the room banging the doors as if they own the place or better yet as if they are at their homes unmindful of the people who were trying to get some sleep due to jet lag or just plain tired from the days walk.  More often guests would talk loudly and even laugh boisterously in the middle of the night not to mention slamming the lockers. A few were able to manage to cause a bit of a brawl amongst roommates but seemed to be unaffected by it. Yet with these facts on hand, I was able to survive the difficulty of having roommates of different nationalities. Phew!

Few of the roommates I have had I learned were just staying at the hostel for stopovers. Nevertheless, most of them I’ve come to find out were also trying to live their dreams by going to countries like Australia and New Zealand in the hope of landing a job to earn money, get to save it and use it to travel to other places like South America.

Others were also there just for holiday, attending special hearings, business purposes, got a call for a job interview after 3 months of online application and most especially shopping. Regardless of the reason why people were staying in a hostel, it definitely served its purpose – providing shelter to individuals with different needs.

Throughout my entire stay at the hostel what dreads me the most is having “roommates from hell”. These may be characterized by arrogance, rudeness, insensitivity, racism, hostility and surly behavior. Perhaps what I am trying to express is that no matter how you try to deal with other people politely, definitely you cannot please everybody.

One noteworthy to share is the incident with the two Caucasian couples who were very vulgar and never tried to hide their animosity to me even on their very first day at the hostel. And for some reason I cannot seem to fathom, they made several spiteful comments like “stupid Asian”, “dumb-ass” and even turned off the movie when I tried to watch it with them in the hostel’s living room. Talk about racial discrimination in action! I however did not allow it to affect me one way or another. I took it positively and was even happier that I was able to watch the movie all on my own as if I have booked the movie house entirely for myself. Laugh.

For a nocturnal animal like me who has a difficulty sleeping at nighttime and feels sleepy during daytime, it was really hard to wake up to be able to catch-up with the hostel’s breakfast schedule. Even so, I was able to get by.

Sharing the toilet and the bathroom with several people waiting I guess is the most challenging thing because you really have to wait for your turn while others are spending almost an hour taking a bath or using the toilet. The funny thing though is that my shampoo quickly depletes in volume because other guests thought that my shampoo is for guests use even if my shampoo is being put inside my basket container outside the bathroom near the window. Sigh.

The hostel life is far from living in the comforts of our home. Still it is filled with fun and excitement combined with interesting guests to boast of.

To top it all, I am proud to say that I was able to impart to other guests the Filipino values such as respectfulness, politeness, hospitality and friendliness. Alternatively, I am thankful that I was able to meet the exceptional people on my wonderful Singapore journey from the staffs and hosts of the hostel, from the warm guests that I have befriended and the rude guests who have taught me patience and deeper understanding of the human behavior.

Hostel life after all is but temporary. Live it. Love it. Leave it.