I have stayed in hostels a handful of times and have always had pleasant experiences. The people I met were nice. The accommodations, while sometimes sparse, were doable. The facilities were clean. Until…December 14, 2016.
On this day, I was faced with the worst hostel I could imagine (well, minus the horror movie type), at Common Grounds, in Pai, Thailand. I knew from the second I walked in that I was not going to be happy there. Reluctantly, I paid $18 for the three nights I’d signed up for (hey, it had good reviews online!).
Walking past the many stoners hanging out on beanbags in the outdoor verandah, the staff led me to my room: a 4-bed room with an in-room bathroom. The room was shabby, and I had flashes of bedbugs in my mind. As I was unpacking, I heard many other patrons being led to their rooms and one piece of instruction was a little different than what I’d gotten:
If you want pot, I can show you where to get it.
I had chosen a party hostel.
In order to not completely hate the place, I signed up to attend the communal dinner. Almost everyone ignored me minus a Swedish guy who continuously talked about getting high. He was funny, though, and I appreciated that he accepted my all-American non-pot-smoking self. After walking around the street market following dinner, I hid out in my room anxiously figuring out what to do. I could not stay there. I booked a new hostel for the next two nights and hoped that the new place would be better.
When sharing accommodation, I always sleep with headphones, and this night was no exception. In the middle of the night, I heard some rustling and pressed pause on my white noise app. Sure enough, I heard the sounds of two people getting it on. Hurriedly, I pressed play again. *Sigh*
At 6am, I woke up with a fright: I had to get out. I was desperate for a shower and to clear my head. On the way to the in-room bathroom, I heard more rustling, more kissing, more squeaking. Luckily, I had packed my bags the night before, so I showered quickly and by 7am I was walking to my next hostel not knowing if I’d get in or if anyone would be awake to greet me.
As I approached Carrot on the Moon, I saw someone standing inside. Lo and behold, it was a girl I’d met on the bus on my way up to Pai named Sasha. As soon as I saw her, I spilled my guts. She was so gracious, telling me that there was water and tea in the kitchen and that I should hang out until the staff arrived. We talked for a while and then exchanged phone numbers in order to meet up for dinner that night. I couldn’t have been more relieved!
When the owner arrived with potato soup and homemade focaccia bread for avocado toast, I knew I’d picked the right place. She offered me breakfast, but not before worryingly asking if I’d slept in the common space all night.
Morals of the story: don’t pay for more than 1 night until you’ve seen your room. Really research the place where you’re staying. While my first hostel was more than okay for most of the guests, it was clearly not the place for me; maybe a review would’ve been clear that it was a “party hostel” and I would’ve steered clear.