Hostel Living

After having such a nice hotel stay I’ve realized more of the differences between the hostel stays. I assume most people reading and following my blog have never really experienced living in a hostel. A hostel is certainly a budget accommodation with a different standard of living.  They have different room options – shared rooms that are single sex or even coeds of 4 person ranging up to 12 people or private rooms.  They each cost around $20 a night.  They have lots of people living in them looking for work or just traveling.   I wouldn’t say that I have completely enjoyed it, but it has been an experience that I would like to share.

From my stays in a few different hostels I’ve learned that they are each different. The hostel in Sydney was probably the hardest for me due to the lack of sleep. Ann and I booked the private double room at Maze Backpackers.  We figured would keep our safe stuff and offer that security. Unfortunately in exchange, the hostel common area was right outside our door which meant people were outside our room drinking, cooking, or socilaizing until late. Then the people on the street were right outside of our window doing the same thing all night. The matresses were the worst part – you could feel the springs poking through! The combination of the noise and the bed made for a really rough’s night sleep.

What's on at Maze? Lots of goon

What’s on at Maze? Lots of goon

Melbourne’s hostel, Elephant Backpackers, had some differences. The kitchen area was downstairs and it was so busy as a gathering spot. People brought drinks and cards and hung out at the tables passing the time. The room didn’t have walls connecting to the ceiling so you could hear the neighboring room. The beds were at least comfortable and I was able to sleep.

Card Games at Elephants

Card Games at Elephants

I only stayed in a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise and Noosa for a night so I wasn’t integrated enought to share details but they were both decent stays.

After my study abroad program in Auckland, I stayed in XBase in the CBD. This was a comfortable hostel but had some weird aspects. I stayed there for 5 nights in a 4 person shared room. Over the days I had people moving in and out everyday. The weirdest part was that the room didn’t have windows so I would wake up at 10 thinking it was the middle of the night.

Entrance to XBase

Entrance to XBase

With our HWSUC group course, we stayed at the YHA in Wellington and YMCA in Auckland.  These were the nicest and cleanest accommodations we stayed at.  We shared rooms with others in our group and had field trips and lectures during the day so we didn’t interact much with the backpackers or hostel.

The structure between all of the hostels is all very similar.  The hostels are usually convieniently located in the CBD near public transportation.  There’s always a group of people outside smoking.

Within the hostel, there is a main check in area and bag storage area.  There are floors with private doubles or shared rooms of different sizes with bunks.  The kitchen areas have communal utensils and cooking supplies but you keep your food labeled in storage bags with your name, room number, and departure date. The staff must routinely go through and clean out old food and you have to trust that no one else will steal your food. Lots of people eat noodles – like cups of noodles or ramen because they are so cheap.  I’ve seen people eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I’m sure they are sick of them but they are for budgets.  The other amenities are also shared.  The bathrooms are usually one or two per floor.  You definitely want shower flip flops to wear otherwise it’s not like you’re even showing.  Within the hostel there is a Wireless network, usually Global Gossip, which is a pay per time or usage system.  The rates vary from place to place but it’s usually worth going to find the free wifi.

What they all have in common is the backpackers lifestyle. This is a really friendly, open personality that they are always looking to talk to and meet new people.  Most of the people staying are on work visas looking to work and travel in a foreign country. Except what I’ve found is that the ones who haven’t found a job are the ones living in the hostel, while the ones who found work have moved into flats – at least, that’s what I’ve found.

It’s been a good experience staying in a hostel in a city. It’s not a lifestyle I would exactly want to continue with but it was an efficient way to travel on a student budget. It will certainly work being in Fiji where I will just be hanging out on the beach for a few days then taking an island tour.  I’ll be staying at Bamboo Backpackers in Fiji which has been the least expensive of all of them ($8 Fijian about $4 American a night!)


Wellington Day 2

Today, November 13, we woke early for breakfast and to get ready for the day.  We met in the lobby at 9 to head over to the harbor for the ferry across to Matiu Island.  After disembarking, we were taken into a room for a bio-contamination search – we searched our bags and hiking boots for anything that may be invasive such as seeds, trees, dirt, or animals… We were all clean and free from any Aussie contaminants.  We then broke into 2 groups – mine began the day by volunteering clearing a path.  We used gravels, shovels, and hos to widen the path on each side.  We also used clippers and saws to trim the bushes.  It wasn’t difficult and it felt good to get our hands dirty making a difference.

In the afternoon, we were free to walk around the island.  We explored pretty much all there was to see.  We hiked by the lighthouse, old gun bunkers, sheep pens, and animal quarantine station.  The animal quarantine station was creepy – it was no longer in use and put on display.  It had old photos, exhibits on tools and the original feel of the place in use.

We took the ferry back to Wellington and had the afternoon we were given free time.  Tired from a long day, a group of us explored the city and stopped for an espresso.  We walked around a little more before returning back to the hostel to relax and have curry dinner.  After, Lauren Zach and I, went out to get a night feel of the city but have returned back fairly early in preparation for the week field trip.
On a separate note –  I’m excited because I think I’ve solidified some plans in my head for after the break.  I have a WWOOFing connection near Wellington that I will return to after Auckland for a few days.  I’m thinking my sister could then meet me in Wellington and we could cross over to the South Island on Ferry.  From there, we could rent a car and drive down to Queenstown in 2 days.  More to come on that!

Kia Ora New Zealand

This ‘field trip’ is off to a different start.  Perhaps it is because we had a 10 day break from school, didn’t have a bus ride here, or because we are in a whole new country!  I was a bit Aussie-sick at first – I was sad to leave such a great country – but know I’ll cherish the experiences there and make new ones here.  There was a moment of realization about that in the airport bathroom, classic i know.  The sign on the back of the door said….
I’ll follow that advice as I begin this new voyage in New Zealand. So, Kia Ora!  In the Maori language, this literally means be well, or hi!
I’ve already made some observations about this country.  Flying in, the newest thing I saw was the landscape of the country’s mountains.  Australia is so flat there are barely any hills.  New Zealand’s coast and interior were raised with mountains covered with a lush green color.  As we descended, you could see the many sheep on the mountains.  It was also apparent how much smaller the size of this island is because you could see both coasts, the east and the west, from the plane.  After disembarking the pane, we walked through the airport to collect our bags.  The airport had a big Lord of the Rings Statue of Gollum swooping overhead.  This was to represent Wellington’s pride of the filming of the movie there.  Off of the plane, we went on the shuttle to the YHA Hostel in Wellington.  Most of the students in our group rejoined and settled in for the night.
We have a really great Itinerary planned for our course here.  Follow us along our travels in  the North Island:

North Island of New Zealand

Today, November 12, I met the full group and our Professors at Te Papa museum.  We explored the different exhibits and took notes on different aspects relating to sustainability.  The exhibit that stood out the most was the one about sustainable farming as it showed how the Mauri people controlled the land and the changes that came with European settlement.  The exhibit showed their different fishing hooks carved out of whale bone that they used for small fishing.  There was also a Mauri hut with beautiful wood carvings of faces that were each unique but all enhanced with shells as their eyeballs.  After the museum, we went to Victoria University campus to have a lecture with two guest professors.  We listened and took a break to enjoy a warming cuppa (New Zealand-ism?) and cookies before heading back down to the hostel.  We’re staying in a nice YHA hostel, centrally located in the streets of Wellington with a New Market supermarket across the street.   I’m in a room with Ann, Kyler, and Zach.  We explored the area a little bit.  We went down to the water shore where there was a little craft market.  I got some Maori carved pendants that were made into necklaces.  The weather was constantly changing from rain to wind to sunshine.  I felt a cold coming on so I hit the bunk early in preparation for a full day tomorrow.