Whenever I go out of the country, people always ask the same questions, how long will you stay there and where will you stay?
I often times give a vague answer, because most people are not yet familiar with the concepts of couchsurfing and hostels. I don’t want them to end up confused.
Couchsurfing has been going in the Philippines but most people, including a lot of its new members have misguided notion of what it is.
On the other hand, the concept of hostels and dormitory type accommodations is gaining popularity in the country. Granted, most of the clienteles of these dorm type hostels are mostly foreigners and experienced travelers, but the increasing number of such facilities give me satisfaction.
At least, more and more people will be able to experience the joys of hostel living.
But what is it exactly that makes hostel ling quite an awesome experience?
Low, low, low
For obvious reasons, hostel living allows you to stretch you budget to remarkable lengths.
A 100 USD to will pay to a three to four star hotel, can be stretched to as much as two weeks if you know where to stay.
During my trip to Ho Chi Minh, I stayed at the Vietnam Inn Saigon, which charged me a whopping 5 USD per night in an airconditioned room with 10 beds.
My hostel in Koh Phi Phi meantime charged me 300 Baht a night. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam, I got by with 25-Euro per day hostels that gave me a comfortable place to stay. In fact, I was able to survive in Europe for the duration of my three-week adventure this year thanks to the awesome hostels in the region.
Contrary to public perception, not all hostels are equal.There are small, unclean and totally crazy pigstyes of a hostel, and then there are huge, super efficient, and super awesome hostels. The great ones are usually located in rich, big metropolis such as those in Europe, US and Australia.
The cheap ones are very common along the usual backpacker routes in Asia.
The requirements, though are the same: Dorm type hostels should be spacious enough. Every hostel should offer each traveler his/her own bed. Each bed should have its own curtain, electricity socket and reading lights. You each get a locker where you can leave behind personal stuff. It’s not adviseable though to leave valuables.
Granted, hostels are a world away from the comfort and luxury provided by hotels and, sometimes, the hostels are not in perfect condition, but they do the job.
In the process, you save up a lot of money, which allows you to travel farther and longer.
A Glimpse to the Whole World
Staying at a hostel also gives you a wider perspective. How wide you may ask. Well, let’s put it this way. At a hostel, you will meet travelers from all over the world literally and you will discuss a host of topics ranging from the kibbutz system in Israel, to underground bars in Berlin, lesbianism, pity sex to dream trips in Antractica.
During my most recent Asian swing, I’ve met people from Maryland (not a farmland, hahaha, Acapulco, Liverpool, Frankfurt, Szechuan, Rio de Janeiro, Macedonia, Calgary, and Amsterdam.
Not varied enough? How about Trinidad and Tobago and Bratislava?
The world is so wide, and there’s a lot of places to see, and people to meet. Those people I’ve met, I never would have met them had I stayed at a luxury hotel.
Every night, the discussions swing from topic to topic close to our home nations, indicating our desire to share more of ourselves. It’s really a breath of fresh air to hear the worries and issues that are plaguing other countries.
By listening to them, slowly but surely, you get a vision of a the world, which is far different from the myopic self-centered visions that you used to have.
It’s true that great friendships are built over time. But if you are in a vaccum, away from your real environment, you let go of some of your inhibitions and worries, and you open up yourself a lot easier.
In a hostel setting, it’s impossible to gain new friends. The fact that you share alot of similar travels and stories, creates an instant connection to one another.
You start with a simple hello, and then before you know it, the conversation has been going on for about an hour or so. You then go to clubs, and landmarks together, sharing traveler jokes. All of a sudden, you become friends.
Friendships built during travels are very common, you will be surprised. I met this two backpacker guys in Laos and was very surprised to find out that they have become friends just two weeks prior. They were very close and nobody can suspect that they are in fact, new friends.
Relationships among travelers are also very common.
More than the sudden freedom, I guess a traveler becomes more open to friendship and love as they realize the world is so big and they’re just too much to accomplish. Do away with hate, doubt and indecision and go ahead live your life to the fullest.
Hostel living, is not always a bliss. Bedbugs, snoring bunkmates, and filthy room, sometimes make your travel less enjoyable. But at the end of the day, the lessons, experiences and memories you share with your fellow travelers are definitely worth it.