When I flew out from Adelaide I left Steffen behind to find a new passenger for the nearly 3,000 km drive from Adelaide to Perth. He finally reached Perth and at long last, Steffen, Jake and I were reunited. The three of them had always planned on doing a road trip around the WA coast. I had held out some crazy notion of finding a job in Perth, so I was never sure that I’d go with them. Then one day, on a whim, I decided to pack it up and join the ride. We set a date for leaving, one Sunday morning. Saturday night, the Melbourne crew was brought back together for one last night out before we went our separate ways.
You remember Ray, Owen, Kieran, Jimmy and Ross Gaylor … they were the boys from the UK who stayed at the Manor in St. Kilda in Melbourne. I knew Ray, Owen and Kieran, but only finally met Jimmy and Ross in Perth, after hearing many stories about them.
But before we get to Saturday night, we need to set up the days leading up to it. You see, after I decided to go with Steffen on the road trip, I realized I hadn’t booked enough hostel accomodation to shelter me until Sunday. The OFS (Old Firestation Backpackers), was booked and the only room I could find was in the city, at Globe Backpackers. With my incredibly uncomfortable pack cutting through my shoulders, I trudged to the Fremantle train station and set myself up in the train to the city. And then I realized I left my laptop charger in the hostel. So after walking all the way to the hostel and back again, I was tired and sore as I rode the train to the city.
The hostel was only a short walk away, but when I got there the woman behind the counter delivered some disappointing news: they were out of rooms. “But, I called and reserved a room just a couple hours ago”. Which I actually did. You see, I spoke to a woman on the phone who said that she could get me in for a couple nights. She asked for a credit card to hold the reservation, which I gave her. But I asked if I could pay in cash when I got there, which of course would be possible. But as I explained that to the woman at the front desk, she showed me the ticket the receptionist had filled out, clearing noting that it was an unconfirmed booking. I tried to make it clear to her that I had specifically told the other worker that I wanted to reserve the room but pay in cash, but there was nothing they could do. Two other groups of backpackers were at the desk, arguing over fouled-up bookings and unavailable rooms. I exchanged rolled eyes with a couple girls and flipped open the LP to find some more numbers. So word of advice: if you’re ever in Perth, don’t stay at Globe.
Luckily, I found a room at a hostel a couple doors down. I can’t remember the name of the place anymore, it doesn’t really matter either: this was, without question, without competition, and without equal, the W-O-R-S-T. Hostel. Ever.
It was dingy, run-down and dark. The kitchen would’ve sent Gordon Ramsay out the back door and hurling into the bin. The bathroom. Oh the bathroom. It sends shivers up my spine even today. The room wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it was still pretty bad. I dropped my stuff off and got the hell out of there.
So now we come back to Saturday night. We met up at a pub in Northbridge. Now, I still don’t quite get how this worked but apparently one of the guys had worked out some kind of deal between the hostel where he was staying and the pub. The way it was advertised was simple: we all give him $10 each, and we get jugs at a discount until the pool of money runs out.
As you could expect, it was a sausage fest. It was like the Mardi Gras of sausage fests. I wasn’t surprised, since girls aren’t usually keen on large quantities of jugs of beer. So we had a decision to make: stay at the pub and hang out with the boys … and a lot of other boys, or head out and find another bar. In the end, of course, we chose to stay.
We all got these bracelets and soon the jugs started rolling out. The organizer — I cant remember his name — stayed by the bar and made sure the bartop was covered with jugs of beer. Now, again, I still don’t know how it worked out this way, but we each ended up drinking about 6 jugs of beer each. They never seemed to stop. Just when you thought, “there’s no way we have any money in the pool left,” out would come another round of jugs. Some guys had a jug in each hand. We stood on bar stools and yelled gibberish at each other. We threw our arms around complete strangers and sang songs. It was the most cliche night of drinking I’ve ever had.
At the end of the night we almost had to carry Ross out of the bar. I carefully made my way out of Northbridge (on previous nights I had seen gangs throwing bottles, and people running around screaming at strangers) and back to my hostel.
The next morning I woke up feeling horrible. The only reason I got out of bed was because the 10-o’clock checkout was swiftly approaching and I hadn’t packed yet. There were two other guys staying in the room. One was quiet and about my age, I had met him when I first moved into the room. The other was an older gentleman. Both seemed friendly and accommodating. I ran into the younger one as he came into the room after taking a shower. “Big night last night, huh,” he said, with a sly smile across his face. “Yeah,” I said, “it was.” … how’d he know I had a big night last night?
As I was slowly gathering my clothes, careful not to disturb the delicate balance of the contents of my head, the older guy came in. “Not feeling too good this morning?”, he said, again with a amused expression on his face. “No, I’m not.” … how’d he know I’m not feeling too good this morning?
I had just finished up packing when I reached down to one corner of the bed that lay against the wall. And then I understood why my roommates knew so much more about last night than I did. In the middle of the night I had crawled over to the edge of the bed and hurled the contents of my stomach onto the ground.
Given the state the hostel was in, it would have probably gone unnoticed if I left the room the way it was. But I felt bad for my roommates, so I did a quick cleanup job and shamefully fled the scene.
I walked over to Northbridge to Jake and John’s hostel and we waited for Steffen. When the Toyota Lexcen arrived, after more than a week’s hiatus, I took my old postion in the shotgun seat. Jake and John filled the back seats, and as we set off South, I could tell even Steffen felt the excitement of being back on the road with the crew.