Chapter 12 of the short travel stories series at Gone Atlas. To read the other 11 chapters, please click on the section of our menu, and enjoy some heartwarming, funny and cheeky stories about traveling and backpacking. And if you like them show us some love and comment below!
Chapter 12: The Australian East Coast Trip Is Coming To An End
The East Coast trip is coming to an end. I make it to Cairns in the morning and go straight to the Koala Hostel, the cheapest in town. The reason the price is so cheap isn’t because of the condition of the rooms, which is good, or the kitchen which is clean, or the common areas, which are pretty, cool. Nope, it’s because of the characters that live there.
I go there because my two English friends, Seri and Tyler are working there. They recommended it to me and they even get the manager to allow me to sleep in their room, which is way nicer. Awesome.
I’ve been in the hostel only for a few hours, I’m cooking some pasta, when a really tall, slim guy walks in, whistling and holding a plastic bag with groceries. He grabs a pan, sets it up, then takes a steak out of the grocery bag and starts frying the meat. He turns his head around, looks at me and with an expression of satisfaction and pride he says:
“There’s nothing better than a good steak after a long day of work”.
I don’t have time to reply as he leaves straight away to go for a smoke.
The next day the exact same thing happens. He comes in, whistling, pan, steak, satisfaction, smoke, eats, disappears.
This time around, I had bought also cereal and fruits for next day’s breakfast, as I had to leave early for a tour. When I got up the third day I discover that someone took my cereal and fruit. Angry, I have to go next door to a café for breakfast.
When I get back from the tour I tell the manager what happened, so he checks the security cameras only to find that the steak guy had stolen my food. They ask him to buy them back and he does. All good.
However, the funny but worrying fact is that Seri tells me this guy, who has been living in the hostel for months, steals a steak everyday from the supermarket. He goes shopping, but pays at the electronic counter, and never checks the meat.
That’s character number one.
Number two is the night manager of the hostel. He’s around sixty years old, but with the youngest soul I’ve ever seen. He’s always wearing a singlet and linen pants, using those glasses that are like a magnifying glass and make the eyes look huge, and his voice is so rough, probably from smoking. His day consists in taking care of all the plants he has in his room, reading biology books, smoking cigarettes and when the night comes and he is supposed to work, he drinks with all the young backpackers. Sometimes he even goes out to Gilligan’s or The Woodshed.
I’m having a great time talking to him everyday, he’s a very interesting individual, full of travel stories. He has been everywhere around Oz, used to own a farm and has a son who works in Sydney. Nonetheless, it’s hard for me to take him seriously.
Until the fourth night arrives, we are drinking beers and playing pool, when this girl comes out of her room screaming and saying another girl from her same room stole her wallet. She also says the other girls still has to come back to pick up her bags.
Number two puts on his cape, calms her down, calls the police, explains the situation to the officers and they organize an ambush for the thief. What happens? The thief does come back, the police are waiting, they force her to hand the wallet back, fine her, and I assume they also charge her and book a day in court or whatever they have to do, and then, number two kicks her out of the hostel. Take that!
The third character is an English backpacker who has been living at the hostel with his girlfriend for months. They have the best room and they’ve redecorated it. It has a small fridge for beers, the walls are covered with paintings and other items, and it’s awesome. They’re also really good friends with Seri and Tyler, and the truth is that him and his girlfriend are some of the nicest mote chilled out people I’ve ever met.
He is a very short guy, one sixty-eight meters tall tops. Instead, the girl is tall and slim like a giraffe. They look funny walking and holding hands. She has a personality that’s all over the place, cheerful, funny and playful. He’s more of the quiet type, only speaks when he has to, and he smokes weed day and night.
Once again, a bizarre episode at the hostel leads me to change my opinion about the abilities to solve problems from one of the characters. The thing is that on my fifth night I’m coming back to the hostel really late, when I see standing in front of the door an aboriginal. I ask him if he lost his keys and he says yes. I open the door with my keys and step in, so does he after me. Suddenly, the English guy starts yelling at me:
“Close the door! Close the door! Don’t let him in!”
The other guy is already in and starts running around the common area, around the pool table, everywhere. The English bloke decides to take control and starts chasing the aboriginal man and tackles him to fall on some plants. He asks for my help and we both take the man out. He then tells me this man has been trying to break in to steal things for a long time and we should be careful of him.
After the crazy episode I go to my room, still a bit shocked. It’s been five days in the hostel and only surreal things take place. A nice way to end the East Coast trip.