On some chilly morning in Bridgend, I struck up a conversation with a work colleague I had only spoken to a couple of times before. He was telling me about his plans on how he was going to quit the company and go travelling for a year. This was the catalyst I needed to pursue my dream. Almost a year from that date, Truman was coming to visit me in Brisbane.
Truman had previously come to Brisbane briefly for a Slash concert and slated the beautiful city. Nevertheless, he was going to come for a longer stay so we could catch up and share travel stories. He sent me a text at work saying that he was in a room with some “bloody hipster” with green shoes. Room 618 was my room. I arrived in the afternoon to an empty dorm but moments later a familiar figure walked through the door. It was Truman! Despite his initial indifference to the city, once he had see the real gems he begun to appreciate what makes Brisbane such a great place.
It was my last week in the YHA after being a resident there for FIVE months. What better way to spend it than being a roomie with my Welsh chum. One day I entered the room to find Truman on the way out. “We have a really strange roommate” he started, “but I’ll let you judge for yourself.” A while later entered Dave, the half crazy/half insane Fijian that I once shared a dorm with previously, with my two friends Branden and Ben. One time Branden woke up to find Dave cleaning out his coffee mug with Branden’s towel. The towel now has a big brown mark on it. Another time, I was clumsily getting into the room during the early hours of the morning after a good night out and heard something crash into the wall behind me. Did someone throw something at me?? With the powerful process of elimination, I am quite sure it was Dave.
Back to the present, Truman and I had to endure the inaudible ramblings of our scary Fijian friend. He would just lie in his bed, in clothes he had not washed for days, talking to himself. Even worse, he would talk to us! Complaining about his “broken feet” or how he was getting spinal surgery. The paramedics randomly arrived at the hostel to take him to hospital to receive treatment a couple of times. The icing on the cake was when he answered 5 AM phone calls from his wife in Fiji. The older Australian in the room did not take too kindly to this, hurling abuse at him. I would have felt sorry for him but his logic was to explain that his wife wanted to call him before going to work. The flaw was that he could have gone outside to receive the call. Then there was the random crying and swearing…
“Holly, we need to talk,” demanding the attention of one of my favourite receptionists, “why do you hate me so much??”. I explained to her the situation and she apologised profusely saying that it was the only room with an available bottom bunk (due to his broken feet). There was no other choice but to laugh. My last week in the hostel would be interesting with this colourful character around. I went back to the room and Truman asked me when we were going to the YHA BBQ. “I’ll see you boys up there,” happily announced Dave.
As a backpacker you need to be aware that most of the time you will not be able to choose your own roommates. There will be times when you get stuck with people who will frustrate you to no end. There are two options. You can let them spoil your stay OR you can just go with the flow, accept the predicament and know that they will make great stories when you go back home.
It was a boiling hot Spring day when Truman helped me move all the belongings I had accumulated over the past six months of travelling. My backpack was full to the brim, with an additional three carrier bags. We made our way down Upper Roma Street, in the direction to my first ever apartment in Australia. I turned back and saw the giant, green emblem of the YHA. “Goodbye old friend”.
SIDE NOTE: To my surprise, no photo of Truman and myself exists! I messaged him stating this was a tragedy but nevertheless here is a photo of Truman and some of my Brisbane friends.