An Ode To the Hostel Rat

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Courtesy of Google Images – you could never get so close to a real-life hostel rat without being bitten…

Here’s to you, hostel rat.

While other travelers may choose to stay in hostels because they’re, you know, cheaper and generally have friendly-ish, English-speaking staff that provide useful tips and tricks for getting around a given area, you know better. You’re above that amateur-hour backpacker BS, that’s for sure!

Like the Buddha some untold centuries before you, you’ve uncovered a higher truth, one that doesn’t require you to adhere to the dated gospels of Lonely Planet or TripAdvisor. Hell, you’ve reached such a state of nirvana that you don’t even need to leave the hostel by day; you’re happiest in the common area, right by the reception desk, where you sprawl across a couch that could easily sit three less worldly beings, thumbing through that same Nietzsche passage that you always have open because it makes you look deep, lazily sizing up new arrivals and deeming whether they’re fit to join your bohemian party-of-one (HA! Didn’t they notice you were reading Nietzsche?? As if you want company…).

You’re probably Australian, though there’s also a good chance that you’re British or German — but definitely not American. Americans are a herd of naive simpletons that can’t possibly appreciate the wonders of international travel; for one, they only speak English–how pathetic! They’d rather drive their gaudy SUVs and deep-fry their milkshake-dipped hot dogs back in the US, and they of course lack any basic perspective on foreign affairs.

Your uniform, while not standardized, is always the height of haute couture. It generally consists of some combination of rumpled hair, Thai fishing pants, a not-washed-for-days soft cotton tee, and a hoody / Adidas track jacket with at least two grease stains (depends on the week). You live in a perpetual state of hungover, and one can only guess as to what kind of wild, Kerouac-ian hijinks you got into the night before at some off-the-beaten-tracks bar that a local showed you.

You overhear somebody talking about going to Tibet? Pfft, everybody knows that Tibet is completely overrun by tourists these days; if you really want an experience, you’ll know to trek via Jeep and then foot for five days to the Yunnan highlands to see the corpse of a recently-deceased lama who achieved the state of Dzogchen, meaning of course that his body reportedly shrank from 160 cm to 24 cm within days of his death as he transcended this earthly world for the next. But, on second thought, that’s probably a bit too… intense for somebody other than you.

You reign over your unenlightened fellow hostelgoers with unquestioned authority–until your gap year ends and you have to start college, that is. In the meantime, thank you for making hostels so damned entertaining.

Sincerely,

A dumb American who has never even been to Tibet

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