Welcome back to the Roommate Diaries. If you missed the last episode, make sure to check it out here!
This is the third part in a series of blog posts, describing some of the unusual characters we’ve met during our travels in the land down under. We’ve made this completely anonymous and haven’t included anyone’s real name or the specific location we met them, instead, choosing a nickname that may help you to identify with this type of person on your travels too.
The Rule Maker – Byron Bay
We’d checked in to our hostel, and were walking to the dorm when we noticed rows of shoes outside the door. There were roughly 10 pairs, an assortment of different types and sizes, which meant they likely belonged to more than one traveller.
We were staying in a 6-person mixed dorm, but we managed to get our own private maisonette within the room, which would be a godsend over the next few days. Of the two bunkbeds on the main floor, three of the beds were unmade and littered with random items – nothing unusual for the average backpacker. The fourth bed was immaculate, with all belongings neatly stowed in a hard suitcase under the bed.
The room was empty when we arrived, and while we were unpacking, our first roommate returned and was immediately tutting and mumbling to himself. We wanted to hit the beach, so quickly got changed, and said a hello to the man on our way out. He introduced himself and we exchanged the basic backpacker questions, where we learned he was Belgian, about 50 years old, and almost certainly inebriated, carrying a scent of stale beer that soon filled the whole room.
We returned from the beach, to find the door to our room ajar, but nobody was in. Our valuable possessions were locked away in the safe, but we still didn’t like the thought of someone breaking in and rummaging through our backpacks. We closed the door and began checking on our belongings. A few minutes later, the Belgian came into the room, mumbling away in French, and left just as quickly. The only difference was, he’d left the door open, so we’d found the culprit.
About 15 minutes later, an English girl in her twenties walked into the room, and within a second, the Belgian had followed her in and raised his voice, “I told you to leave your shoes outside, look at all the sand you’ve just walked into the room!”. She apologised and went back outside to take her shoes off. We decided to wait until the heat died down before we would leave them alone together. Apparently, the Belgian had a lot of rules in this shared dorm, including:
- No mess
- No noise or loud music
- Beds must be made in the morning
- All shoes must be left outside
As it was her first backpacking experience, the girl was quite uncomfortable with all the rules, and checked out of the hostel early, around midday! That night we had a massive huntsman spider in our room, which took us all working as a team to get out (you’re not meant to squish them or they release a pheromone that attracts more). The unfortunate event brought everyone together, and the Belgian seemed to let up a bit on his strict rules over the next few days.
The Bathroom Hogs – Brisbane
We were staying in a very full 8-bed dorm, in the Brisbane CBD. The hostel was a bit like a hotel, with a few rooms spread out over four floors. Each dorm room had an ensuite bathroom, as the nearest communal toilets and showers were on a different floor.
It was the day before Australia Day, so everyone was having a relaxed night in preparation for the nationwide party on the 26th. Two of our roommates were German girls, who spoke German to each other, and didn’t make an attempt to speak to anyone else in the room. We didn’t mind too much, as the rest of us were all different nationalities and spent a few hours chatting and getting to know one another.
At around 11pm, everyone started to get ready for bed. Ally had already completed her nightly ritual and was half asleep, eye mask on and earplugs in. Just as I started brushing my teeth, one of the German girls walked into the bathroom and closed the door. There wasn’t another sink nearby, so I continued to brush my teeth in the room so that I could just run in, spit and rinse, once the German girl came out. As the door unlocked, I moved aside so she could get out easily, but instead, the other German girl just walked past me and into the bathroom to join her friend. They were both in there for at least 15 minutes, door locked. After patiently waiting, and desperately wanting to rinse my mouth out, the door opened! Both girls walked out without saying a word, and got straight into bed.
By this point they had both seen I was waiting, as well as two other roommates now behind me, forming a queue for our ensuite bathroom. It was ridiculous. If there had been another bathroom, I would’ve obviously used it, but even spitting out of the window wasn’t an option because the hostel was in a tower block and the windows couldn’t open.
To make a point, the other roommates went in at the same time, leaving the door open, and were out again within a minute.
Guest Post By Suzy (Suzy Stories)
The Human Alarm Clock – Kaikoura, New Zealand
We arrived into Kaikoura, New Zealand late one evening, but fortunately found ourselves a hostel that was still open and had spaces. The following day we planned to go on a dolphin tour that is very popular with visitors in the area, and considered a must-do in New Zealand, so we weren’t going to be missing out! The tour started early in the morning so we planned to be up at 5am (eek). We settled in for an early night, having told our roommates about our plans for the early departure, and we hoped we wouldn’t disturb them.
We needn’t have worried about waking them up. About halfway through the night, we heard SCREAMING. Now, this would naturally startle anyone, and needless to say, our whole dorm was wide awake. We knew it came from the girl in the bunk below my travel companion, so I was immediately panicked for her safety! As the girl continued to scream in German, we had no idea what could be happening.
Had someone entered the room?
Was she being attacked?
We tried to ask her what was happening, with no luck. Fortunately, another German speaker decided to try and understand what was making her so agitated, as we tentatively turned on the lights.
With the room empty and her still screaming, it became clear she was having a pretty nasty nightmare. We eventually woke her, at which point she told us she was dreaming that she was drowning in a boat… I’d be screaming too if I dreamed that! She sheepishly apologised and we all thought that was that.
Oh no. It happened a further TWO times throughout the night, meaning our early start was even harder to get up for than we thought! Turns out she regularly has night terrors and managed to alarm pretty much the whole hostel. While this wasn’t really ideal for other sleepy backpackers it couldn’t be helped and we felt bad for her having that experience, however, it would’ve been nice to have a bit of a warning! We started packing earplugs after that…
That sure sounds like a scary experience! You’ll be glad to know Suzy and her travel mate were still able to enjoy their tour the following morning, but did leave to find a new hostel. Thanks again Suzy, for sharing this one with us!
Have you ever experienced one of these roommates? Tell us the kinds of people you’ve met along the way on your travels, and make sure to keep your eyes out for the next episode of The Roommate Diaries!
If you have a story or experience you’d like to share, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and have it featured in the next episode!