Being in the hostel was a bit like being in a halls of residents at university, though I never remember drunk couples barging into busy rooms and stripping down naked and start having sex while others sat a few feet away playing scrabble, as I was delightfully informed one day. Or having sex pest women like an Asian girl with no front teeth and only a smattering of English, who walked round trying to pull men’s towels off when they weren’t looking or rubbing various legs while they were asleep, before eventually getting her rewards, resulting in her being highly regarded by countless men for her altruistic services to them.
In the hostel people were only too aware that it represented a brief stay so felt obliged to do as they pleased. The worst scenario would be getting kicked out but who really cared about that? Even members of staff didn’t seem bothered about what went on. In fact several females reported that some employees were using the place as a kind of knock-up shop. With the use of the master key they had reportedly been entering female dorms before trying it on, or sometimes taking their drunk captures to vacant rooms. A variety of women spoke candidly of the occurrences but saw it as an annoyance rather than anything more sinister. “He lets himself in and starts trying to touch me when I’m in just a towel the slimy twat,” one girl said.
The day, though, when the real carnage and scandal took place was on a designated night once a week when the hostel came together. My debut appearance at one of these much hyped nights out started with free drinks – advertised as sangria but in reality was red goon – in the bar area, where backpackers and hostel staff could be seen guzzling away like it was their last night on earth. Many of the men, including the male members of staff, of course, were fleeting about speaking to anything in a skirt, occasionally taking the sly opportunities that presented themselves to gently squeeze scantily dressed bottoms of the girls in a light-hearted kind of way in order to test the water and see if, after they had been plied with alcohol, they would potentially be fair game for a roasting.
I stood near the bar area, ensuring my drink was always topped up while making small talk with some of the revellers. Feeling like I was in a nursery, I made sure I got more than my allotted allowance of drink before it was time to depart for the bar crawl. Then, after everyone was finally rounded up, we made our way onto the street like a large group of special kids out for a day trip. As we made our way down a packed George Street I felt a lingering sense of humiliation that I was part of this youthful convoy making its way conspicuously through the city.