So much for slowing down. I’m in Hanoi, Vietnam having too much fun zipping around on the back of my couch surfing host’s motorbike this week. Yes, Cindy, I’m wearing a helmet. Hope you enjoy this previously written little peek into where I’ve been sleeping lately.
Traveling this time around (in my thirties as opposed to my twenties), I do something previously found unthinkable. Many times. Almost every time.
I share rooms with boys.
Don’t get confused, I’m still traveling solo, and finding a relationship is the farthest thing from my mind, but I find myself in many situations quite casually sharing living/sleeping spaces with men, and you know what? It’s been just fine.
Where have all the all-female dorms gone?
I remember having more of a choice ten years ago, whether I was in a coed or single sex dorm, but I sort of don’t care now. I’ve shared many hostel rooms with men (sometimes as the lone woman) and felt just fine about it. The one time I thought maybe I’d like a little less testosterone in the room with me the hostel staff was really nice about switching me out. Also, everyone tends to be a teensy bit neater and more considerate in mixed dorms rather than all-female ones, as far as I’ve experienced.
My first couch surf in China was at a guy’s place, something I swore I’d never do “for safety reasons” since I started this trek, but he was a great host and I really enjoyed the experience. He was more communicative than the female hosts I’d found, and his apartment was centrally located, which made me feel a lot safer. Couch surfing is not just about couches either. I’ve often had my own room, with a lock, which I always use regardless of my host’s gender.
The sleeper train
Then there’s the sleeper train, where I’m typing this now, tucked in like a sardine with five Chinese bunkmates, all male. One of them is just two feet from me across the aisle, close enough for me to reach over and tap the screen of his smart phone and kill a zombie or two on the game he’s playing. No one’s said boo to me, or stared, or leered, or made me feel uncomfortable. The only time they acknowledged my presence was to hoist my luggage onto the luggage rack for me. Granted, China’s extremely respectful towards women. We’ll see how it goes in other countries.
In all situations, I trust my gut. Regardless of my lodging type I usually have a backup place in mind, mapped out, with the address and phone number handy. Where I lay my head is important to me. Even though I’m traveling on a budget, the bed should be clean and warm, my body and backpack safe, and definitely working toilets.
Snoring is an equal opportunity affliction. I’ve been bothered by snoring men and snoring women. The loudest snorer to date has been a middle-aged French woman in my dorm room in Seoul. Unfortunately, earplugs don’t block snore-frequencies. If anyone’s found some that do, let me know, and send them to me!
In coed dorms, I kinda don’t think it’s fair that men unselfconsciously strip down to their underwear around the gals and don’t think twice about it, although I’m not about to do the same around them. I change under the covers or in the bathroom, or wait until no one else is in the room.
In Beijing I shared a room with a couple Dutch guys who smelled better than I did. They were diligent with the deodorant and zealous with the cologne. When they left, the American girl in the room with me agreed, much to our embarrassment, that sometimes boys smell much much better than girls (not that we smelled bad, we just didn’t smell like much more than ourselves).
Drunkenness and revelry
So far so good. I’ve had more trouble with women bunkmates than men in this category. I hate it when anyone stumbles in in the middle of the night and disturbs my sleep, but that’s dorm life, and that’s where ear plugs come in handy. Also, male “roommates” have been pretty brotherly/protective on the rare occasion I’ve gone out with them to bars.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had a far easier time befriending my male roommates than the female ones. I’ve gone out with them for a shared meal, drinks, and sight seeing. Guys tend to be more spontaneous and up for grabbing a bite to eat on the fly, or not really caring what we do. Of course, they don’t expect a girl to lead them into the back alleys and gory depths of the Chinese meat market, but they’re great sports about it when I do. They’ve also been quite brotherly/protective of me on the rare occasion I go out with them to a bar.
What do you think about sharing rooms with boys? Am I off my rocker or have times changed?