An Oasis by the Thames

hostel, London, adventure, travel, nomad, explore, cheap, life,

Welcome to my blog! — March 2, 2017
A scary tale of dish-washing — May 19, 2017

A scary tale of dish-washing

As you all know, we have a very special pet in our hostel  called Tic Toc. He is a dwarf crocodile, a very rare species endemic to the London hostels, and his main duty is to open the luggage room for our lovely guests. However, he is also in charge of eating those who don’t do their dishes. Since eaten guests are usually bad for business, we have put up this warning in the kitchen in the hopes that it will make people wash their pots and pans, and so, survive the night.

Warning Sign

However, one fateful night, I made the mistake of ignoring this very serious warning. After all, so far my relationship with Tic Toc had been all laughs and giggles, and we even had a few dates but it didn’t pan out, so we stayed really good friends, and so I figured he would probably let this one go. I was wrong…

I was working at reception, pretending not to speak English so that guests will leave me alone, when I suddenly felt something on my shoulder.

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Even before I looked, I could see my life flashing in front of my eyes. When this picture was taken I was just at the part when I discovered chocolate, which is why I look so happy. But, eventually, I decided to face my destiny and I looked the beast in the eyes.

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Oh-oh! I thought. As he looked at me with a glare of disapproval, I tried to think of a way to escape my untimely death. I tried reasoning with him and, when that failed, I bargained and bargained and tried to offer him all that I had and what I didn’t have but I thought I could realistically steal. Nothing worked. All my pleas just seemed to make him even hungrier. Then, he made his move!

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This, unfortunately, is my last known photograph, seconds before my death. It sucks that my last mark on this world shows me looking like that. I mean, just look at that face.

So, to make sure that no other innocent soul, guilty of nothing but of not doing their dishes, will suffer the same fate, I have come beyond the grave to write this blog post and to haunt this hostel.

Well, the haunting part is really just for fun.

On certain nights, when the moon starts to whisper her forgotten lullabies, you may still find my ghost seating at reception, just as I used to do when I was alive.

Actually, if I’m being completely honest, my spooky spectre is still doomed to work at the hostel.

I mean, who can haunt for free in this economy?

But anyway, just do your freaking dishes!

 

 

 

Cooking diaries: More delicious muffins! — March 5, 2017

Cooking diaries: More delicious muffins!

Nico, one of our favourite guests, was back on the kitchen tonight to make us some blueberry muffins with a delicious raspberry topping. His secret? A pinch of cider added to the dough when you’re not looking. It was worth it though, the muffins were absolutely delicious! I’m voting for adding whiskey next time!

After all his hard work trying to feed our tummies, Nico finally collapsed and took a nap next to reception.

We love you, Nico! 🙂

Hop Abroad: Have a look at the mystical city of Hangzhou, China — March 2, 2017

Hop Abroad: Have a look at the mystical city of Hangzhou, China

Let Ken Lum Lee take you on a photographic tour of Hangzhou and the breathtakingly beautiful  Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Binjiang Hotel.

Barbara

 

Do you ever feel like something should feel familiar but in reality feels even more alien? That’s exactly how I felt when I recently went to China. Although I grew up in London all my life and spending almost half my 20s in South Korea I still have Chinese blood running through my veins, so […]

via Journey to the West — Seoul State of Mind

Discover Something New: How to Blog around the World, with Shivya Nath —

Discover Something New: How to Blog around the World, with Shivya Nath

If you’ve ever wondered what your life would be like if you quit everything and decided to just travel around the world while writing a blog about it, Shivya Nath can give you some clues of what that would entail, and how to be good at it.

Barbara

On solo travel, keeping a blog as a nomad, and finding inspiration in everyday encounters.

via How to Blog Your Way around the World: A Conversation with Shivya Nath — Discover

10 things you should know if you’re going to live in a hostel —

10 things you should know if you’re going to live in a hostel

  1. You’ll be surrounded by people: one moment everything is quiet and the next you are being eaten up by a crowd. There is usually always someone around at all times in the day or night, so it’s hard to be completely alone. Having a nice place where you can go to, near the hostel, might help, such as a cafe, library or a strip club.
  2. You’ll have to deal with those people: everyone staying in a hostel is aware that they are sharing their home with people who may come from a completely different culture and background, so most people try to be accommodating of others and do their best not to step on anyone’s toes. But, as in any household, drama is always around the corner and sooner than later you will have to come up with ways to deal with those who drive you mad. No matter how annoying or disrespectful they might be, always remember that this is a face that you’ll have to see everyday, at least until they check out of the hostel (or until you kill them), so do your best to try to diffuse the situation or come to an agreement. If this is someone that is leaving soon, just ignore them and move on!
  3. Get along with the staff: this applies to pretty much everything in your life, but it matters even more if you’re living in a hostel. After all, these are the people that are there to help you when you have a problem, so being on their good side is always wise. I’m not saying that you need to be best friends with them, but just try to show some appreciation every now and then if you wish to stand out. They are the ones cleaning after you and making sure that you are having a good stay, so they deserve some recognition. And no, they are not paid nearly enough for some of the crap they have to put with. So be nice to them and they will always be there for you when you need them.
  4. Be respectful of your roommates: again, this should always apply at any point in your life, but when you’re sleeping in a room full of people, and usually it’s not a very large room, you should always try to be as respectful as possible. This includes avoiding noise at night or when there is someone sleeping, not starring at women who are changing clothes (no they aren’t asking for it, they’re just doing the same that guys do without judgment), try to shower as often as you need to insure that you’re not smelly (there are other noses in the room, you know?), silence your phone at night whenever possible, not snooze your alarm clock every fifteen minutes for two hours (if you’re waking up every time so are your roommates), dry your hair outside the room if there are people sleeping, and generally try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Also, avoid hanging out in the room chatting with your friends, especially if there’s someone sleeping, even if it’s during the day. That’s what communal areas are for. Of course, no one is perfect and we might sometimes disturb others without realising, which leads me to the next point:
  1. Be tolerant: you will be disturbed once in a while and that’s ok. Part of living in a hostel is learning how to put up with many different people. Some of them might just be having a bad day, others might not notice that they are disturbing you, and there’s always assholes. You’ll have to learn to ignore people walking into the room in the middle of the night, loud eaters, people who spray themselves with industrial quantities of perfume, drunk people, and so on. Soon, you’ll end up learning which transgressions are harmless, and which deserve a warning before you smother them in their sleep with your pillow.
  2. Respect the rules: they are there for a reason. Make sure to always clean your dishes and your cooking utensils in the kitchen, so that the next person is free to use them. Only smoke in designated areas, and no, smoking out of the window of your room doesn’t count as “outside”. This is just to prevent spreading cancer, so it’s kind of a biggie. If the hostel asks you to be quiet after a certain hour, do so. Other people are trying to sleep, and talking in the halls can sometimes be heard in the rooms. Do your best not to check out late. Some places may charge you but, even so, it’s a pain in the ass for the cleaners who have to clean everything until check in time and end up being delayed because of you.
  3. Talk to others: you have no idea how much you may learn if you do so. How many amazing things you might just find out. We’ve had a guest who made special effects for films, a scientist that works with lasers and babies (I like to think she is developing an army of laser babies), musicians, actors, chefs, writers, travellers who’ve been in amazing places, and the list goes on and on… Trust me, you will rarely be disappointed.
  4. Don’t be petty: be ready to share! Hostels tend to create a sort of a community, where people often share things, cook for each other and provide their own skills free of charge. Money itself becomes obsolete and is replaced with favours (or, often, with beer).I’m not saying you should allow others to take advantage of you, but if you’re willing to share something with someone, odds are that when you need a favour they’ll be there for you too.
  5. You’ll be partying too much: if you’re living long-term in a hostel, you probably have a job and a fairly normal life. But most people that are staying there are on holiday and to them every night is Friday night, which means that there are constantly people enjoying all sorts of vices all the freaking time, while you are trying to be a responsible adult who doesn’t want to die at the age of 40. Almost every night there are people drinking, smoking, having sex, and going out to party. It can be hard for those with jobs and bills to pay, to say no to hanging out with people they enjoy being with, but you eventually start to learn when to have fun and when to cry yourself to sleep. But it sometimes takes a lot of self-control and, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up broke, liverless and cancerful.
  6. Enjoy: Living in a hostel is very unique. It gives you the opportunity of constantly discovering new corners of the world through the people that pass by you. A very important thing to remember when living in a hostel is that everything is fleeting. Most of the people you meet will soon leave, so it’s important to really appreciate every moment you get to spend with them. And life sorts of feels like you are always on holiday, which is like having the cake and eating it too. So, enjoy!
Life in a hostel — February 23, 2017

Life in a hostel

Life in a hostel is an ephemeral one. Every day new people arrive, while others depart, leaving behind only mere dust, or a shadow, or a ghost in the memory of the hostel, if they’re lucky. It’s like life but on a much smaller and quicker scale. You soon learn to appreciate every single moment wit those you cherish and you endure those you dread in the knowledge that it won’t be forever. You meet new lives every day, new memories, new stories, new pasts, which pass by you and sometimes take in part of your own self on their way out, just as you might keep parts of them. How many lives have you touched? How many smiles have you carefully handcrafted so that they would linger after that final goodbye? How many times have you been touched yourself? How many times have you discovered new corners of existence or explored dangerous, far-off lands, without ever leaving the kitchen? Living in a hostel automatically triples that number, if not even more. Your very own existence seems to multiply in the lives of those that now carry you in their thoughts.

Suddenly, the whole world becomes more than just geography. It is no longer filled with mere names, with mere prejudices, with mere two dimensional ideas or mere media written opinions. As those people whom you’ve met leave you behind to go back home, or to go live somewhere new, they give their face to that place, so that, every time you look at a map, it’s them you see, their humanity and the memories that they left you with. As they disperse throughout the globe, the world starts to be filled with friendly faces, instead of just having different names for the unknown.

Life in a hostel can be pleasant but it’s not always easy. You may find long lasting friends, but you will also have to live with people whom you don’t get along with, and it can sometimes be hard to be forced to face them every day. It’s also hard to be alone, but at least the lonely should easily find a suitable refuge here, where you always seem to have someone to talk to, to do things with and to annoy you as well. There are times when you might even only barely leave the hostel at all.

Regardless of your own personality and interests, living in a hostel is something that I would recommend to everyone. There is an understanding of people and life that you seem to acquire here more than anywhere else, especially if you stay in the hostel for a long period of time. Think of a hostel as a place where the world passes by you, without you having to go outside to meet it.

Little Old Things — February 17, 2017

Little Old Things

A short story I wrote for a competition that is set on a B&B, from my short stories blog, Microtales. It gives a good idea on how to deal with annoying guests…

Micro Tales

The woman with black hair and green eyes smiled warmly as the man behind the counter handed her the key to her room. He was starting to tell her how to find it, when he stopped mid sentence and decided to take her there instead. The place was quiet, too quiet, and he couldn’t stand the silence that resounded throughout the whole building, grating his ears as nails on a board. He led the way while the woman followed in silence, as if a holy ritual was being performed with every step. When they reached the door to her room she thanked the man and he bade her goodnight, turning away to return to his designated post behind the counter. Now, back to the orchestra of cracking floorboards and rain splattering against the windows, he thought about her. A spectre of white, marbled skin, under a veil of hair as…

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Hop Abroad: Mexico —
Hop Abroad: Jewel of the Black Forest – Freiburg, Germany —

Hop Abroad: Jewel of the Black Forest – Freiburg, Germany

Follow Angela, a News Presenter and Journalist from Singapore, as she takes you on a journey through the streets of Freiburg, in Germany.

Barbara

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Germany’s enchanting Black Forest is at once formidable yet inviting; the enigmatic muse behind the world-famous fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. Its towering mountains and surrounding foliage are dangerously seductive in winter, and wonderfully radiant in summer. I’d decided to visit an old friend in Freiburg just a week ago because of its excellent location in Germany, just an hour away by train from France and Switzerland.

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Freiburg is a university city known for its vibrant arts and culture, charming medieval architecture and for churning out great thinkers like Max Weber and Friedrich Hayek.

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Let’s take a tour, shall we? I’ll take you through some of the more interesting parts of the city before ending off with the places you have to try for some authentic German food with wonderful hospitality.

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The Münster or Freiburg Cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Germany. It was started in 1200…

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