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Heading to Townsville on the Ride from Hell
Thursday 31st March to Friday 1st April 2011 – Townsville, Australia
Yesterday was a day I shall never forget for as long as I live, but the next couple of days would turn out to be two days I would rather forget. I was leaving Cairns and heading to Townsville for a trip to Magnetic Island, but first I had to get there, and that was half the problem.
Thursday was spent mostly sorting things out and booking the Greyhound bus to Townsville for the following morning. I had tickets to buy and phone calls to make, and generally tied up lots of loose ends. The evening was quiet and relaxed, and spent with two incredibly cool Italian girls. I would be sad to say goodbye tomorrow, but I had hopes of meeting up with the girls in Townsville in a couple of days. I hope I do.
Friday came and it was time to say goodbye to Cairns. I had enjoyed my time here and the friends I have made along the way. The weather had mostly been kind throughout, but it was time to move on as there is still so much more to see of this incredible country.
I was given a lift into town where I hoped to catch the Greyhound Bus to take me onward to Townsville. It arrived a little late and there seemed to be much confusion as to what was going on with the driver. Everybody ended up standing around for a good hour or so before finally getting on the coach and on our way. The driver was evidently stressed and made no attempt at any pleasantries, throwing peoples bags into the hold with complete disregard. I couldn’t help but find it quite comical to see the look on everyone’s faces. I had nothing breakable in my bag, but if I did I would have felt differently.
Once on the bus, I had hoped I could get a little sleep for the long journey, but as luck would have it, the guy who decided to sit by me wanted only to talk for the entire journey. The guy was loud, slow and entirely dull. The conversations were uninteresting and had the feel of one way traffic. I sat with my earphones on and the music up loud, yet the guy continued to shout questions at me, often prodding me in the arm to respond. He just could not get the hint. After a while the bus driver put on a movie with the sound right up, so there was no hope of getting any sleep.
As I looked out the window, trying hard to block out the sound of the movie and the drone of this guy who was still talking, the heavens opened up and the rain fell with force. Our driver continued his hatred for the guests on board by turning the bus around and driving back the way we came for about half an hour. Eventually we stopped and the driver hopped off the bus, only to be replaced by another driver. This driver then turned the bus around again and we were off in the right direction once again. This is another hour onto the journey I thought.
We eventually stopped for a break at a small café, yet there was nothing on offer. They wouldn’t cook any food and there was nothing to buy, except crisps. At five dollars for a small packet I decided I would pass on food. To be honest, I just wanted to get on the way again and get into a bed in the next hostel. The journey continued it’s theme of annoying guy talking and rain outside the window, but this time, instead of a movie we had dance music blasting out the speakers. I don’t think there was a single person on the bus who appreciated dance music at this hour, when we were already hours later than scheduled and very tired.
The nail in the coffin was when the driver opted to miss out the stop for where my hostel was, and instead go straight to the town centre in Townsville. With no information desk open at this hour, I had no clue as to the direction I should be going in. My Lonely Planet helped considerably at this point, and I began the 30-minute trek to the hostel. When I eventually arrived at Adventurer’s Backpackers hostel I was extremely sweaty and worn out.
I had that sinking feeling upon arriving at the main entrance. A few guys on a table nearby looked to be up to something, and one turned to offer a greeting. I responded, and the guy said that if I needed anything then I should come to him. I think I knew what he meant. I wanted just to get to my room now, and so I was a little surprised – although I guess I shouldn’t have been – to find the 24 hour reception CLOSED! Often there is an envelope with your name on it and a key inside for those arriving late, but there was no such thing here. I spied a notice on the desk through the window with the hostel phone number on, so I rang it.
A few minutes later a girl dragged herself down the nearby stairs having clearly just got out of bed, brushed past me and opened the door. At this point another girl from the same Greyhound bus as me turned up. She looked in a state, as the bag she was carrying was a fair size. She was annoyed with me for not waiting for her and helping her with her bag, which puzzled me somewhat. I didn’t know this girl and have certainly never spoken to her before. I had no idea she was coming to this hostel, and I don’t know how exactly I could have helped even if I did know all this. So I was left a bit baffled by her comment.
Anyway, I booked in and grabbed my key. The receptionist had little to say; other than if I come back to her tomorrow she will give me information, maps etc. I apologised for waking her up, but she said it was ok as it was a 24-hour reception, and normally there would be someone there, but today she was hung over. This said everything I needed to hear.
The hostel was very much like a block of flats. I didn’t see a lot of people about, but there were some outside some doorways. Everyone I did see appeared to give me a funny look as I passed by, and it looked very much like people were living in these places full time. Was this a hostel at all?
My room was basic, but a nice size. I met my room mate and he seems alright, and there was a fridge and Wi-Fi, so this was fine for me. The mattress on the bed had been used so many times that you could almost see the outline of a body in the centre. It was well worn and banana shaped but I didn’t care. Needless to say I just collapsed onto the bed and slept. There are a lot of drunks around so I imagine this is a party hostel.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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