It may be odd for some backpackers in the hostel that I am hooked to CNN’s presidential debates while they were all excited touring across Hanoi’s vacation spots, off the beaten track. It was a sunny morning, after all. I just finished my usual breakfast of eggs and bacon, with two slices of tomatoes and lettuce on the side. And it was my 13th day in the capital of Vietnam.
When it comes to hostel hopping, I can’t say I’m a newbie. But the longest hostel stay I’ve had in the past is 4 days; 13 days is a bit absurd to me. I sometimes feel awkward when asked how long I’ve been in Hanoi as I always get an open-mouthed reaction.
On the first week, I had a day cruise around Ha Long Bay, one of Hanoi’s stunning attractions. Every traveler knows the thrill the first few days would bring. You try to see what the place has to offer – the food, the sights, the culture, the people, and the uniqueness around you. Then accidentally, you make new friends meet them for dinner or some barbecue and beer, you swap stories in between and you discover you are like-minded, wander-lusting people. Then it’s time for them to go, while you still haven’t figured out what to do next. The hostel becomes your refuge.
On your second week, you would have familiarized your steps around four to five blocks from your hostel. I’ve always loved walking across unfamiliar streets anyway so going around on foot is never a problem. By this time, you would have picked your fave coffee shop, the nearest pharmacy where at least one English-speaking staff can assist you, the convenience store that sells your old-school talcum powder and the Church where you could run to for those I-don’t-know-what-I-want moments.
And the more you get accustomed to a potential second home, it is also likely that you will experience these six things when you opt to overstay in the same hostel:
1. People mistake you for a hostel staff
As much as I try not to camp out anywhere near the reception, still, I’ve been asked a couple of times if I work at the hostel. Working for one is not a bad idea at all, especially for travelers who like to move around as much as possible. If you don’t want long-term commitments with employers, hostel work is a good option.
2. The hostel staff starts to treat you as family
I have mentioned early on to the hostel owner that while on vacation in Hanoi, I would also try to look for an English teaching job. I didn’t actually check on schools in the first week because I was more eager to see Hanoi’s attractions. Besides, some schools accept applications through email, set a Skype interview when they consider you for the post and ask you to show up once contract signing and final arrangements are set. Soon enough, the hostel owner starts giving me a short list of potential employers around Hanoi. And there were days when she would ask me how an interview went.
3. You act like you’re home
I like to believe I am not obsessive-compulsive but lately, it looks like I’m beginning to exhibit a few signs (i.e. turning off the ceiling fan when I’m about to exit the room BUT while another guest is sleeping in the room). Don’t worry, I haven’t been in a catfight over a fan…yet.
4. You become a hermit
When you’ve already seen the vacation spots and you start feeling like a local, your introvert habits start to manifest – you stay in the hostel all day. I was lucky I found an online work that has kept me busy for this past week. Plus, I got paid, pronto to cover my first week’s expenses in Hanoi.
5. You gain more control over the remote
The flat TV at the hostel lounge is normally tuned into CNN since I checked in. While maybe I am still hung over my last job, I’ve got nothing to do with the channel preference in the hostel. But while everyone else is out on a tour or a stroll, I am privileged to watch CNN’s shows or switch to HBO when Trump news starts to make me vomit.
6. Eat/Wake/Sleep Routine is established
My home country, the Philippines, is only an hour ahead of Vietnam. While there’s not much difference in time zones, I have started to adapt to Vietnam times for waking up and going to bed. My hostel is perfect for those who need a good night sleep at the end of the day, after making the rounds in Hanoi. It would have been different if I’m staying at the Old Quarter, as there is always the temptation to go out and join in the fun.
Thirteen days may mean nothing to those who have lived at hostels on a permanent basis to save on rent. If you’re one of them, tell me about it! Definitely, I am loving this experience and even if I move to another place, hostel living is still my top option.
P.S. If you’re wondering which hostel in Hanoi I am staying in, you will have to wait for my next post (gotcha!).