Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why can't everyone be a bit more like me?

Taiwan is a very peaceful country. There's no hassle for tourists, no drunks on the streets and no cacophonous prayer calls bellowing five times a day. Even when they're forced to make a sound, the Taiwanese like to use pleasing musical jingles to brighten things up - like the Beethoven bin men, the Family Mart door chime and replacing the dialling tone with classical music.

It's just the people who visit Taiwan who can be inconsiderate dicks.

When you're sleeping in hostel dorms, you're all in the same boat (not usually literally, unless you're in some kind of wacky novelty accommodation in a harbour). I haven't seen or experienced any theft or other forms of foul play, but that doesn't mean people don't routinely piss me off.

If only everyone could be a bit more like me, but without the social anxiety and lack of direction, as then we wouldn't get anything done. Here's the new constitution.

Things you shouldn't do in dorms

Zipping and unzipping that bloody bag

How much stuff do you have? I'm travelling indefinitely, and I've got one medium-sized rucksack of clothes (with two zips) and a laptop bag for everything else (one zip). What do you need so many zips for? Are your clothes really that hazardous that items need to be kept separate for fear of what might happen if they make contact?

I don't understand how you can spend an hour each day on those damn zips. I'm not exaggerating either. When I've admitted defeat in trying to get back to sleep and put in headphones to block out most of the irritation with some nice Forseti or something, they're still going at it once it's finished.

What the hell are you doing? How many items of clothing can you possibly wear simultaneously? If you knew you'd be heading off on an excursion that demanded precise outfit coordination, why didn't you sort this out the night before? You cretinous dick.

Don't misuse alarms

If you need to get up early, by all means set an alarm. As long as you ensure that your phone is within easy reach of your hand and can be switched off reflexively as soon as you hear that tell-tale initial vibration, so you don't have to subject the rest of the room to the shrieking din.

Let's be clear about the purpose of alarms. These are reminders you can set in advance - at any time of your choosing - to inform yourself that it's time to wake up now. Not almost time to wake up - if you wanted five more minutes, you should have thought ahead and set it for 07:05, you bastard. You're awake now, deal with it.

Whoever invented the snooze function is an arse too, but not as much as the person who repeatedly presses snooze every single time to delay their rise and give them another five minutes of precious, interrupted sleep. Meanwhile, I'm not able to sleep as I'm just waiting for the bloody thing to go off again.

Worst of all are the people who leave the room and forget to turn off their alarms, or don't put their phones on silent. I don't want to hear a minute and a half of your shit ringtone in the morning, SWITCH YOUR FUCKING PHONE OFF.

Shut the fuck up

Most hostels have a common area, which is where you should have your discussions about slags and other English pastimes. If I'm in there and I have to endure your conversation, that's fair game - but don't bring it into the room when people are trying to sleep.

And don't switch on the light before checking whether anyone's clearly asleep in there, then say "oh, whoops!" and switch it off, as if you're surprised that people might be asleep at 1AM. IMAGINE THAT.

On a similar note, you may be surprised to learn that the door to the bedroom is not a soundproof forcefield that means your conversations won't be carried as soon as you leave, but it's usually just made of wood. SHUT YOUR ENGLISH FACE.

Things it's okay to do in dorms

There are some things you can do in dorms, which might annoy other people but don't get to me. It's fine if they can't be helped - it's just inconsiderate people that bug me.

You can snore, by all means. Be sick all over the American guy in the bunk below you too, if you really can't help it. Getting up to go to the toilet is fine if you're quiet, and as long as you actually make it to the toilet (but if you really can't make it, feel free to use the American guy - he's already spoiled).

While the Taiwanese are mostly pretty good at keeping the noise down, they aren't immune to my indignation either. The locals like to celebrate Chinese New Year with the somehow fitting activity of setting off explosions in the street at all hours, but there's a more pressing issue that vexes me all year round.

What's with the spitting? Why is it socially acceptable for men and women of any age to honk up a gobby jellyfish and eject it onto the pavement, to be trampled over by unsuspecting passersby? Sort it out, Taiwan!


  1. Once a light has been turned off after 10pm, the light should stay off until morning time. Anyone coming in after that should use their phone for a illumination to their bed or sonar. Also, if people are clearly using the light at around 10pm (for reading or something), it shouldn't be switched off.

    People speaking late into the night are rubbish, shouting across a dorm is worse, and whispering really loudly doesn't help. It's worse in a foreign language as at least if it's English I can scoff at their ridiculous conversations.

    I disagree about vomiting being fine. There was a guy in my dorm a couple of nights ago who was throwing up for hours throughout the middle of the night. If you know you've got food poisoning or something, go sit in the toilet for a while. Or take your blanket into the common area. The 11 other people in your dorm don't like the sound of you throwing up when they want to sleep.

    Alarm setters should receive a kick from every person in their room for every time they press snooze.

  2. I'm now in a two-bed room (reduced risk) with no windows, so I have no concept of time passing or the outside world until I switch this thing on. I like it!

  3. My phone battery died recently because I'd lost my charger and my hope of telling every hostel I went in that I'd lost it there didn't work. I didn't know the time without this and for a few days I really enjoyed that. Then I needed an alarm so thought I'd get a new charger.

    Tangent: it cost more than 50% extra to buy a new charger than it did to buy another phone that comes with a charger. I now have two phones for no practical reason.

    Back on topic: I hope the other person in your two-bed dorm isn't a twat.

  4. Now in a different hostel that's really homely and that I can pretend is my flat when no one else is around (except I would never let it get this messy, or have things like TVs).

    My phone broke, which I was happy about as I've been thinking of cancelling it for months anyway. I bought my first (cheap) watch since about 1997.

  5. New worst traveller award goes to some crappy American guy called Hoffman. Luckily he left this morning, but I'll never forget the odious twat.

    We're in a hostel that has lights for each bed, which is cool, unless you just leave yours on all the time. I'm in a six bed dorm and one night I think four of us were trying to sleep. One guy had enough and turned this guy's light off. A bit later he returned, switched his light on, fannied about for a while and then left. He was gone for a while so I went to switch it off again. He came back having had a shower, turned his light back on and, not taking any sort of hint, proceeded to read for a while. This hostel has nine floors and plenty of TV rooms/lounges where he could've gone.

    He's only been here three nights. Last night he outdid himself. Same thing with the light, left on for ages so someone turned it out (the same guy as before, I think). Hoffman comes back drunk (I don't know who he drinks with, everyone in our dorm hates him) turns it on, fannies about for a while, I started to doze off when he either kicks his bed or falls into the frame or something similar that would make a loud metal noise. He then stumbles out, presumably for a shower again. Knowing he takes ages for his showers, I turned his light off again. He came back in, turned it back on, briefly fannied about and then got into bed and turned it off. (He needs to learn how to get (un/)dressed in the dark. Also his bed was four paces from the door, you can do that in the dark.) Someone in our dorm was snoring so Hoffman decides to make stupid noises and shout to try to wake him up. Completely fails. A little while later, I heard him thumping about with some plastic. Maybe a bottle? He turned his light on, got up (naked, who sleeps naked in a hostel?), walked behind some lockers where I heard the noise of a bottle being filled up. Just to be clear, there are no taps in our room. In the morning I counted it out, and it takes 15 paces to get from his bed to the nearest toilet. He got back in bed and I'm fairly sure I heard him undoing a bottle, pouring something our and doing it up again. The vague smell of piss seemed to confirm this suspicion. His alarm went off at 5.30, he snoozed it. It went off once more and that was the last I heard of it. (Another day he snoozed it three times before getting up.) It then went off at 10.20 and again he didn't get up. About 20 minutes later someone came up from reception, complained about the pissy smell, and told him he was meant to have checked out at 10am. He eventually got up and left, hopefully for ever.

    Then I went for a shower and someone had done a dump in one of them. I'm totally blaming Hoffman for that was well.

  6. Why do you always have better stories than me? What I wouldn't give to find a shit in the shower.

    (Though I'm convinced this is some Fight Club style schizophrenia, and 'Hoffman' is your dark/rubbish side).

  7. As for naked guys in dorms, there was a guy at the first place I stayed in Bangkok who complained about the puritanical management not letting him wander around in the buff in a 10-person, mixed gender dorm. Yes, because we'd all like to see that.

    For once, I was firmly on the side of The Man. And not The Naked Man. Who may have been firm, I didn't look.

  8. Got a bit of a nutcase sitting across from me.

    I'm quite accepting of people generally, but this guy seemed determined to make the worst first impression possible when he (in sequence):

    - burped as response to my 'hi'
    - stole the table fan for himself
    - spat every five minutes (we're outside, at least)
    - chain smoked every five minutes (we're outside, at least - I've never seen anyone smoke this much at once though)
    - made a really horrible smelling meal (forgivable normally, but he's annoying me)
    - hummed annoyingly
    - the hum evolved into mumbling, and he's now talking to himself
    - he's making himself laugh maniacally, and sounds *exactly* like the maniacal laughter at the start of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album

    Oh great, now a kid showed up. This is totally my day.

  9. Sharing a room with some great dude of non-descript European background who likes to switch on the lights and play loud Arabic spoken word at 4AM, regardless of whether other people are trying to sleep or not. I assume that means he's a Muslim, but he can't be a very good Muslim because he smokes all the time.

    In the dorm, obviously - where else is he going to go? Outside? At least he helps me to get up nice and early. Even if it's about four hours earlier than I intend.

  10. A drunk, young (19/20?) Korean guy woke me up at 2AM by falling onto me, then throwing up onto the floor a few times. He made some attempt to clean it up, so no harm done.

    But the next day, the hostel owner made him apologise to everyone whose sleep he disturbed, and as the only non-Korean this meant I got a special, extended, embarrassing apology. Korean justice is like school.