Travel Blog 17; 5 Signs That You’re Growing Up

I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago.

Just had to let that opener sink in for a few minutes, I don’t quite know how it happened but I cant quite shake the feeling that this is all somehow Theresa May’s fault. I don’t know, seems like everything else going on at the moment is. This is not a political post though so I digress.

As a guy who lives in a hostel in Sydney in a dorm with 7 other beds, drinks beer and Goon most nights with Germans, South Americans and French people, smokes…Things. Listens to Hip Hop and proudly wears t-shirts emblazoned with Star Wars, Marvel, Super Mario and John Cena imagery its hard to admit that TECHNICALLY in the eyes of most civilisations I am growing up! As a guy who, in all honesty, fled my motherland with the full intention of prolonging this process its even harder to admit that its happening faster than I could have imagined and the signs are showing.

Now relax people we are going to have some fun here! I don’t have any grey hairs yet and I still find farts funny. Its just that as I sit here in a surprisingly comfortable bath robe that they gave me at a nightclub a few weeks back, for some reason, I cannot help but acknowledge the fact that I’m growing up. So what follows is a personal countdown of the 5 signs of maturity/growing up that I have recently encountered. Buckle up people and get ready for some references that if your younger than 23 you just might have to jump up and catch.

1. Beer Belly/Dad Bod

I swear to God when I was a kid I was the envy of every adult and adolescent in my circle. Even my teachers wanted to kill me, for other reasons aside from this but mainly because I could eat anything I wanted and wouldn’t gain an ounce. When I was in the swim team the instructor used to bring a pack of Polo mints to class and tell me they were for in-case I started drowning and this one time this tall kid 4 years above me put me through a low-level basketball hoop! I actually came out unscathed mainly because I slid straight through it like a needle through a thread.

The reason for the envy though was because although I had a body like a Timon I had a diet like Pumbaa! The trend of non-consequential eating continued until about 3 months ago when I stumbled out of bed to the bathroom, took one look in the mirror and was greeted by a very real voice in my head saying a very real thing; “Bozz you look terrible!” He was right as well. With my bald head, sticking out belly and less definition than an empty dictionary I looked like a white Skin from Skunk Anansie going into labour.

Gone is the care free diet. Don’t get me wrong I drink and smoke whenever the feeling comes over me (pay day, when I have to talk to girls, Sundays etc) but I’m trying to limit the amount of red meat, sugar and fast-food in my diet and although I slip and slip hard its starting to pay dividends.

2. Nightclubs Suck!

They probably have done for a while, particularly in Australia, but I’m just really not feeling the scene these days. I cant be arsed dressing up too much, the drinks are overpriced, the bouncers operate an ‘If Your Happy and You Know It Your Too Drunk’ policy and the music…Well that’s something else.

I haven’t heard any of it before! Hell, I didn’t even know what ‘Dabbing’ was until somebody in WWE started doing it during their ring entrance and its probably outdated by now as well. The other night me and a friend were standing around in a Sydney Nightclub as the DJ played, what sounded like 20 straight minutes of Lil Kendrick Dolla Sign until he randomly threw in one of my personal guilty pleasures; Right Thurr by Chingy. I hit the dancefloor like a Whale to a paddling pool and the shapes came out. Problem is that out of everybody in this place 50% of them might not have even been alive let alone listening in 2003 and after one run of the chorus instead of being told how he “Likes the way she looks in them pants” it was back to the Swag-Pack. This definitely never used to happen but the truth is musically my finger hasn’t been on the pulse for so long that I’m not even sure its still beating!

*And the music’s so bloody loud!……Jokes….*

3. Hangovers

Most people go travelling in search of life-changing experiences. This starry-eyed wonder is no exception but on the way I also went and found some life-changing hangovers. Up until about 5 months ago week-long benders were not uncommon. Yet its like something fell out of place inside me as now I find myself in a place where every time I choose to get on it I need to take into account the very realistic possibility that the next day will be a complete right-off. Do not schedule any work appointments, dates, sporting activities or social interactions of any merit the day after a sesh and for God-sake keep the route between you and the toilet bowl clear…

4. Less Tolerant

I actually don’t see this one as a bad thing. By less tolerant I by no means mean less accepting of any colour, race, gender, orientation, political or religious belief. I hate you all and I always have.

What I mean is less tolerance towards b*lls*it. Once upon a time I was the type of person that would run my mouth until it started sweating and losing weight trying to force conversation with people when I met them. The type of person that would hold my tongue tighter than a pair of tweezers when a person downright besmirched me for the sake of a quiet life and to not offend. The type of person that would become infatuated with members of the fairer sex and chase them blindly ignoring the way that they treated me like something that they stepped in, displayed insufferable personality traits or just downright weren’t interested.

Now if you are a reader who is also a Dyspraxic with their feet planted firmly within ‘The Spectrum’ then you will fully appreciate how exhausting the above can be. If your not just take my word for it; it f*cking is! People take the p*ss. Sometimes you do, sometimes I do, sometimes we don’t realise we’re doing it and sometimes we downright do. Sometimes people click and are meant to share good times and sometimes they just aren’t and this is fine.

Nowadays I make my mind up on whether to pursue a conversation with a person within the first 2 minutes and base it on a few things; eye contact, tone of voice, returning of questions and faith in my own judgement of character. If they don’t want it I’ll stop giving it after those 120 seconds. If a person moves my stuff, steals my food, wakes me up when I’ve got work or insults me personally they will know about it. Woman doesn’t want to know? She’s not going to and I don’t break my back trying to force a stone to bleed blood.

I suppose the long and short of it is I’ve KIND OF stopped giving a f*ck. Don’t get me wrong I still endeavour to be polite (no, seriously), endeavour to be kind and helpful (NO, SERIOUSLY!) and treat people with respect. I just expect it back and if you find the way that I strut around singing the music from my headphones enthusiastically, drape my Welsh flag across my bed in hostels when I’m on bottom bunks and how every now and then I just flat out do not want to be around other living things to be problematic then I don’t know what I can do for you buddy.

5. You’re not Proposing Are You!?

Yeah, my friends back home are moving on up like M People. Now I wasn’t one of those chumps who really believed he could go away for more than a year and everything would pause like an episode of Bernard’s Watch until I came home but this is scary!
Since leaving 2 of my besties have decided to tie the knot. I’m over the moon for them not least of all because they’ve chosen to do it with exceptional people who couldn’t have been more made for them and the stag doo’s will be heavy (better write off the next two days after those!). However as I tuck into my noodles and tuna and pour myself a glass of white wine that came out of a cardboard box with a bag inside this information does set the voice off again. This time with a statement along the lines of “S*it dude where’s your lady? Where’s your career? Where’s your Car and seriously do you really hand-wash your Draws!?”

Truth is this guy isn’t too hard to drown out but it doesn’t mean he isn’t there and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a sign of the times. In the eyes of a lot of people me and my cohorts live a lifestyle that’s unorthodox. Believe me explaining it to the average 21-30 year old lady in Sydney is as much of a turn-off as handing her a handkerchief and asking her what it smells like. So I just tell them I’m an Astronaut and they don’t respond to that either. WHAT DO YOU WOMEN WANT!? Most job openings finish with a statement along the lines of ‘No Backpackers’ and like any of us could ever afford a car or regular use of the laundry machines!

Seriously though this last one is probably the biggest sign of growing up and it does hammer home the reality that nothing lasts for ever and at some point I will be forced to live a somewhat normal life. Hoping this doesn’t end things on a downer because on the whole my life at the moment is a blast, has been for some time and I don’t intend it to stop anytime soon its just that…27 man! Twenty-F*cking-Seven!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 15; Hostel Living

As someone who has been aboard the Travel Train for well over a year now its safe to say that I’ve stayed at my fair share of hostels. Just in case anybody reading is uninitiated; a hostel is a type of board accommodation. They are very rarely on par with a hotel but are usually better than sleeping outside…Usually. Shared dorms, kitchens and bathrooms are the order of the day and these places are frequently frequented by travellers of all shapes, sizes and ages.
The reason that I am writing this post, aside from currently being based in Berri aka The Arse-End of Nowhere knee deep into my riveting new occupation that involves pulling weeds out of the ground in 30 plus degree heat for 9 hours a day and having a ridiculously large amount of free time in-between (I mean come on, its only been about a fortnight since the last post!) is because my current hostel is particularly cliché. By this I mean that it possesses just about every positive and negative hostel trait that I have seen, heard or smelt in the last 14 months. So in light of the brashness of my new temporary home I have decided to compile a list of, what I believe, are the most common features of hostels that you can expect to encounter when your on your jollies.
Understocked Bathroom Facilities – Where diving in deep here people as this, despite being a fairly essential thing to get right, is very much wrong an astonishingly frequent amount of the time.
It is not at all uncommon to finish up a big, weight-shedding, triumphant *insert personal favourite noun* and find that the bathroom has no soap for afterwards. In fact before the issue of the soap arises its also not a rarity to turn to your left then your right and find that there’s not even toilet paper to deal with the first issue! Couple this with the embarrassment of not being able to flush away the evidence (broken flush) and the wet floor that you insist is from the shower but your just not sure and all of a sudden those train station toilets back home don’t seem so bad.
Ridiculously nice or ridiculously prick-ish staff –  Its true that first impressions are golden. So for this reason you’d think that hostel owners would be keen to make a good one. Sometimes they do; I’ve stayed at places where the staff have been ultra-helpful, sweet and funny greeting me with a smile,  when I wasn’t even staying at the place! Yet for every friendly Nomad there’s also a gangly, long-haired, shruggy, broody little s*it who’s still suffering from the night before, looks like his clothes have been slept in and huffs and puffs more than the Big Bad Wolf and Phil Mitchell combined whenever you ask him/her the simplest of questions.
Don’t get me wrong know body needs perfection but when the person can barely speak English, hurls your bedding at you like stale confetti, leaves 5 foot nothing Indian girls to carry 2 suitcases that they could (and probably should) sleep in alone up 4 stories and is so stone faced that, as far as you know, he/she doesn’t have any teeth then there could be a problem.
Then there’s when you try to check-in and there’s know body at the desk at all and nobody knows where he/she has gone or when they’ll  be back. Not like your paying to stay or anything is it?…
Crap Wifi – One router/modem, hostel slap-bang in the middle of Nowhere Avenue just left of East Bum-Ville and around 75 90’s babies all packing Smartphones and Netflix subscriptions; ‘nuff said.
Bed Bugs – Moving onto one of the more sinister features to look out for during your time away from home this one is actually far less common than the others but when you do inevitably encounter it its a f*cking nightmare! Bed Bugs, like Mosquito bites, are torturously itchy, make you look like an overused dartboard and have a nasty habit of appearing on your face.
What’s most scary about these little wankers is that they are actually very capable of thriving in clean environments, making them tough to pre-empt, and unless faced with extremely hot water, intense sun and humidity they’re tougher than Asian Steaks and can contaminate a whole backpack of clothing in hours. Be careful.
‘Spirituals’ and Guitars – Okay look; before we start I have no problem with people with long hair, who suck at playing guitar but love to do it in public, don’t wash, don’t shave, wear sandals when its zero degrees outside and dress how people who’ve never been to Asia imagine that Asian people dress. In fact I have actually made several friends who fit this description but MOST hostels have at least one of these stereotypes who posses a few more frustrating habits. Examples include hitting on girls that your seeing in front of you, judging people for using plastic bags and dropping cans in the wrong bin when he/she drives his car to the corner shop and insists on taking 25 minute showers and has to turn the slightest mention of Brexit, the Middle-East or America into a one-way pseudo-intellectual debate where he/she has no idea about the subject but hides this fact by using big words. A bit like Russell Brand.
On a good day there’s just one and you can exist harmoniously around each other. On a bad day its 80% of the hostel, you feel like even the walls are judging you and even a mere mention of Football, Lost or WWE will earn you a lecture about corruption, the deeper meanings of life and how its “All faaaaaake anywaaaaaaay.”; no s*it Sherlock.
Insane Heat or Cold – Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect hostel owners to be able to manipulate weather conditions. That’s not work for non-Jedi folk. However checking into a hostel in SA where its 38 in the shade and your sharing a room with 7 other guys only to find that the fan is broken and the air con was doomed from the get-go, mainly because it never existed, is quite distressing.
Similarly; wafer thin blankets that are basically just second bed sheets, windows that don’t close properly and heating systems that sound like planes when they start taking off in zero and below are about as welcome as sandwich making jokes at feminist rallies.
Crowded Fridges and Walking food – Inevitably during peak periods hostels will become crowded. What’s not as inevitable however is a lack of storage space for food, luggage and other basic amenities. The solution to such a problem; create enough storage space for the amount of people you intend to be billing at the end of every week. Sadly this solution is not as obvious to every hostel owner on the circuit.
Due to this it is not uncommon to rock up to a hostel and find that every refrigerator and cupboard is at bursting point and when you do finally finish your game of Cooling Bag Tetris in order to negotiate yourself a tiny space you’ll likely return hours later to find your bag on the unit with your Mince Meat rotting into something that looks like Dog Food. This will be due to one of the ‘Long-Termers’ deciding that its actually his/her space leaving you back where you started. Yeah; ‘Long-Termers’ can occasionally forget that they don’t actually own every inch of the hostel, don’t pay anymore or carry anymore rights than anybody else and cant dictate the lives of ‘newcomers’ to them. Just be warned.
Your New Best Friend(s) – Seriously despite the sometimes cramped, awkward, dirty and confusing conditions you will make some awesome friends at these places. The brightest of the many bright sides of hostel living is that its almost impossible not to make friends. Just simply rock up and say ‘Hello’ to the first person you encounter. If he/she is worth knowing then they’ll talk back and more often than not you’ll end up drunk in some bar 4 hours later with them and several others talking about how your all going to go to the temples together tomorrow, how Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made and how Grime music isn’t a patch on how it used to be.
If they don’t then they’re probably p*icks and you can just move onto the next one.
No Sleep – S*it tonnes of travellers, bars as close as downstairs and across the hall, thin walls, thinner mattresses, creaky bedframes and more body heat than 6 Tony Soprano lookalikes in a steam room. You do the maths.
The Smelly Guy –  You know how every class in school had the smelly kid? Well it turns out most hostels do as well.
Feet like a Cheese Factory, armpits carrying more perspiration than a Fish Tank, breathe that could mould a wall and give the room Asbestos or just all of the above. Unfortunately during your time in one of the many hostels that you will likely frequent you will more than likely be gifted a roommate that possesses at least one of these traits.
Even more unfortunate is that they probably aren’t aware of it, probably do clean themselves thoroughly and regularly to no avail, probably snore in their sleep as well and are probably a really nice guy/girl to boot. Awkward. Maybe his/her Father was a Skunk or something…
So there you have it. Hostels are convenient, cheaper than alternative accommodation, are a great way of making friends and if the one you check into sucks you can always just leave and go somewhere else. The pitfalls are very real but don’t be put off by them and have fun!
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.