What I Learnt From the Hostel Snorer in Sydney: Travel Experiences

There’s a lot you can learn about yourself when lying absolutely and totally awake because someone in your hostel dorm room snores. This is a harsh truth I discovered on perhaps my fourth day in Sydney, seven weeks into travelling and on the precipice of the emotionally-taxing journey to find work, a place to live and friends in a new city.

Up until that point, I had mostly managed to miss out on the hostel experience, living a life of luxury some of the time and in situations more isolating and grimy other times. This included a friend’s family home, a room in a stranger’s suburban house, a tent pitched in the humidity of a Hawaiian farm and a whole floor (bathroom included) of a family friend’s cousin’s house. I’ll let you work out which of these fall into the luxury category and which of these fall painfully short of comfortable.

In Hawaii, however, I did spend two nights in two different hostels; both were horribly hot and sweaty. I didn’t let that put me off hostels though, as I came to the realisation that they vary just as wildly as the quality of pizzas in a handful of italian restaurants. Some hostels will be like the americanised, international chain version, some will be authentic and run by enthusiastic locals. Keeping an open mind for what future hostel experiences await you is definitely important.

My first impression of the hostel I stayed in for two weeks in Sydney was pretty good: tucked away from loud nightlife yet in the centre of the city, spacious, light, clean, a great mix of communal tables and more private, comfortable seating, small dorm rooms of only four beds… It was a little pricier than other hostels in the city but it had all of the essentials and a pinch more, so I was happy enough to stay there.

That was until a woman in her forties took up residence in the bunk above me. I tried to welcome the newcomer to our dorm with a smile that evening and gained nothing more than a grunt. It’s always lovely to have friendly people in your room.

Before long, I’d eaten yet another dinner of tomato pasta and broccoli, battling social anxiety in order to make it in the huge hostel kitchen, and the sky was darkening. Time for bed. Luckily, my room was full of in-sync sleepers: by that I mean people who all want to go to bed and wake up at similar times. By the time I slid under my sheets, everyone else was rustling theirs with the sound of settling down. My light was off and my brain was ready to head that way too.

It wasn’t meant to be, apparently. Ten minutes later, hanging over the cliff of sleepiness, a grunt twenty times as loud as the one I’d heard earlier that evening punched the heavy air. I jumped back from the cliff edge, involuntarily, as the bed frame shook. I’d never known snores that could shake furniture, but here I was on a night I desperately needed some respite, facing a local earthquake.

Needless to say, it was a long night. Each snore, spaced an average of six seconds apart (I counted enough times that night to make an accurate judgement), dragged me further and further away from diving off the cliff into blissful unconsciousness. In my mind, my nails dug into the earth and with every mental effort, attempted to pull the dead weight of my drowsy body closer to the edge. I’d feel so very close, able to experience the uprush of warm air lethargically lulling me over, so very close, starting to tip now, so very –

A wet, gargling, grotesque noise tore me away again, my fingers ripping angry trenches of frustration in the ground. WHY was this happening? WHY tonight? WHY me? WHY?! PLEASE be quiet! I thrashed in my sheets, aggressively, trying to do a little bed frame shaking of my own. My logic? If she woke up for a moment, I’d be able to fall into a deep sleep before the chainsaw sounds started up again. That didn’t work. It was obvious nothing was going to rouse her, not even if a literal train came crashing through the wall (which is what people in adjacent rooms possibly thought was happening).

That night I learnt a lot: how patience and anger alternate extremely quickly and how reluctant patience, or perhaps a resignation to misery, wins out eventually. How intense frustration and helplessness can be prolonged for hours. How hours can acquire an elastic quality and stretch out painfully. How frustration can feel simultaneously boring and intense. How dramatic the darkness plus exhaustion can feel. How strong relief can be the next night, knowing the snorer has moved on…

But the biggest lesson I learnt? To always take earplugs and headphones to a hostel – and wear them both at the same time.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

Moments in Sydney

Picked Up in a Stranger’s Truck: Hawaii Adventures

Escaping to Wales: Memories from the Mountains


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21 thoughts on “What I Learnt From the Hostel Snorer in Sydney: Travel Experiences

  1. Diary of a Spanglish Girl says:

    Oh no! I would love to go travelling properly but I couldn’t bring myself to stay in a shared dorm. My anxiety would be through the roof. We have stayed in private bedrooms with shared bathroom though! Some hostels here are just like hotels, but cheaper! Will take some ear plugs if I do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ashleyleia says:

    That’s hilarious! I’ve done lots of hostelling and it can be quite the odd experience. In Saigon I was in a large co-ed dorm room, and a dude who was full-on psychotic decided to plunk himself down in the bunk next to mine and hit me with a barrage of delusional verbal diarrhea. Fun times!

    Like

  3. foundationsandfairytales says:

    I don’t think I’d ever be able to share a dorm with people I didn’t know I’m too socially awkward for that! I’ve been kept awake many times by people snoring next to me or in hotel rooms when the people next door don’t want to go to sleep until around 5am so have kept the rest of us awake with their shouting/laughing/music all night and we have to wake up at 5.30 anyway! I really feel sorry for you cause I know how you must have felt! I bet you won’t forget to pack earplugs again though!

    Jess xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Megha says:

    It’s hilarious. Do keep your headphone handy, they help. I have lived in a hostel room for around a year while doing my masters. And there was one girl out of four of us who snored. At first, it was uncomfortable, but by the end of the year, I became used to it. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellyn Rebecca says:

    Aw man that’s so annoying! Pretty much everyone in my family snores so I think over the years we’ve all been able to adjust to sleeping with noisy sleepers! I know I snore myself but I’ve been told that it doesn’t keep people from sleeping but it is a pain when it’s someone you don’t really know, I would find it really awkward trying to speak to them!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bexa says:

    Oh my, I imagine at the time this was a nightmare Alys! I’ve experienced loud snorers and been kept awake too, it’s definitely not fun. I always love reading your travel stories and experiences! 💖 And I gotta say, you are so brave for staying in a hostel with a load of strangers on your own! If I ever do it, I’ll take your advice and bring some earplugs! 😄💕 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Liked by 1 person

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