Hostels are fascinating, both socially and structurally. Each one has distinct vibe that can influence your experience in a place. The right setup is crucial. It’s like urban planning but instead of creating a well-functioning urban metropolis, the hostel should encourage social interaction and cultural exchange.
Some are dull, lifeless and easily forgettable. Others make you relax into the comforts of a home or are full of vibrant people who change you forever.
Then some are just weird.
What constitutes “weird”? In my opinion, it’s an eerie energy that transcends bad decorating. An eerie hostel doesn’t necessarily look like a 13-year-old western boy’s outdated playroom, but those qualities certainly add to the discomfort.
In Vang Vieng, “The Real Vang Vieng Backpackers” hostel was one such example (“As opposed to ‘fake’ backpackers?” Jennifer asks).
I’m not going to argue here that writings or paintings on the walls are unwelcome. In most cases, I love them. For example, Lily’s Hostel in Ho Chi Minh had comforting quotes above the bunks.
In Dream Hostel in Vientiane, the art was bright and created by fellow travelers, which makes you feel both inspired and part of a community.
But at Real Vang Vieng Backpackers, the art was both aggressive and clearly made by people who were under some sort of hallucinatory drugs.
I’m sure what I expected from a hostel that serves “Pad Thai” (it’s actually noodles with ketchup) or to the delight of hungover guests plays house music at 7:00am to create a relaxing atmosphere for breakfast.
But I certainly don’t enjoy being freaked out by Pokemon characters and being told “I love you.” It would be one thing if the declaration was consistent with the hostel employees’ treatment towards us. Sigh… It wasn’t.
And I wouldn’t consider the hostel hookups to resemble anything remotely related to love. They may prove me wrong one day! I’ll look forward to that wedding.
There were some paintings that were horrifying to stumble into when you wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. However, to be fair, stepping in throw up was probably more horrifying.
And then, best of all, there was the excessive use of the word “buddy” accosting us in all corners of the facilities.
At first it seems friendly, but then it just reminds of an incorrect use of a nice term, like something a mugger would say before pointing a gun at your head and asking for all the cash. “Hand it over, buddy, or this friendship isn’t going very far,” I can imagine the perpetrator blurting out.
And if you thought your few minutes in the toilet reliving yourself from this man’s ingenuity was a safe space, you were wrong. He’s always watching.
Imagine getting to see that every time you sit on the toilet. Which, if you know me, was many times.
As with almost everything, it could always be worse. And with almost everything, I’m happy it was at least entertaining.
Have you ever stayed at a “weird” hostel?