After a few months of traveling and living in hostels, every backpacker seems to have a crazy roommate story or two. And for a while, I thought I might be the exception. But I was wrong.
While in Kyoto, an older woman checked into my room late one night. She didn’t have any bags and seemed a bit out of it. I said hello and she tried to talk to me in Japanese. I apologized and said I don’t speak Japanese, but she kept mumbling and gesturing to me. At some point, I gave up trying to explain and let her be.
The mystery woman kept going in and out of the room every few minutes. She’d leave the door wide open, and although there weren’t many guests, it was kind of weird for her not to close the door.
During the night I woke up to her making weird sounds from her bed across the way. She was moaning and rolling around on the bed. Then, she stood up and turned on all the lights in the room. With the lights on, she returned to her bed and moved the sheets and duvet around. She went outside and left the door wide open. Upon returning to the room, she would go to bed for a few minutes but leave shortly afterward. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t understand what she was saying. I tried to ask her if she was ok, if she was sick or hurting, but I couldn’t understand her. She continued to mumble and grumble to herself.
After about a half hour of coming and going, I apparently fell asleep. I suppose this is what happens when you’ve stayed at hostels for as long as I have. No matter what kind of commotion is going on around you, when it’s time to sleep, you sleep.
At around 6 a.m., I awoke to the woman leaving the room again. Shortly afterward, the hostel’s owner came in and looked at her bed. Upon seeing its condition, she gasped and apologized profusely to me. I asked if my roommate was okay or if she was sick. The owner tried to explain something to me, but I could only understand that my roommate was ill and that she had left for good. The owner quickly stripped the sheets and left me to sleep.
Later that day, I ran into the owner’s husband. His English was really good and he explained that his wife told him what happened last night and this morning. He also apologized for the unpleasant experience and said that the guest was mentally ill and that she had soiled her bedding. Yes, he actually used the term mentally ill.
I was surprised, but I suppose if I could understand her ranting and ravings I would have known that for myself. I was glad nothing extreme happened during the night and that her illness didn’t make her aggressive toward me. It might’ve been awkward to awaken with her standing above my bed staring at me or choking the life outta me. Hopefully she got the help she needed after she left the hostel, however, I suppose we’ll never know.