The days of traveling and staying in exclusive resorts like suburban home owners not giving a hoot about their neighbors, are long gone and for good riddance. The concept of 'hostels' providing not only as a cheaper alternative for accommodations, but also as a medium to interact with and befriend fellow travelers is becoming a social bridge that connects travelers. Slowly, the word uneasiness and strangeness among guests of any hostels are replaced with shared conversations, laughter and for some, a glass filled with a mixture of alcoholic drinks there is: rum, vodka, beer and what-haves.
The Circle Hostel in La Union takes it to another Charles Manson-family-level, without the murders and other violent cuckoness. During our trip there, one of the co-owners Raf Dionisio played the role of a ringleader with a bunch of random drinking games up his sleeve. While Lois played the role of a hostel manager, but does so by hanging out with the guests and by filling this open-air place with her infectious laughter and charm. No wonder surfer dudes from across the world goes to Circle Hostel just to see her.
Since I went there with fellow Pinoy Travel Bloggers numbering around a dozen, there were also a few other guests sleeping on their bunk beds when we arrived. In most instances, you'd end up huddled together with your own group for the entirety of your stay. Not the case at the Circle Hostel, as a reminder written on the steps leading to the common area "Win a Friend Here". By nighttime and the onset of the infamous random drinking games, the other 3 guests and former strangers became a part of our circle - a literal circle to make passing the cup of rum easier.
I am not a sociable person. I mean below the average. I prefer to listen and analyze other people most of the time. But, I don't want to be surrounded by a funeral atmosphere with a bunch of whining snobs at the same time. The vibe at the Circle Hostel doesn't force you to jump into the circle right away, rather it slowly invites you until, unavoidably you start feeling at home. After the sun sets in and a ravenous satisfying dinner at Thunderbird, we started the random drinking games. Before the power went off - a number of rules designed to get everyone drunk wast imposed. We all had our share of bottomless plastic cups but Elal and Aleah were the night's runaway champion.
The first time I met Elal was at a Christmas party a few years ago. She showed up with a husky voice-she said was a result of non-stop dance rehearsal. To which we all laughed and kidded her if she sings while she dances too. Aleah became a star of a viral Metallica cover video when, she didn't let go of the microphone after downing a bottle of Red Horse and just started belting out "Enter Sandman" - the decadent scene was all captured by my friend Gaye Emami in a grotesque, appetite-losing 2 minute video.
There's also the cool biker girl Kara, whom I've traveled with in Capiz last year, Den Marco who I remembered tricked Monette , another friend of ours, into thinking a bottle of Captain Morgan is like drinking Ice Tea Lemonade a few years back. There's Heiz who arrived later in the evening showing off her biceps adorned with a tattoo inked by the oldest living tribal tattoo artist, the great Whang-Od. We were already a bunch of mad people including some whom I just met there for the first time; cute Daene, mysterious Che, the girl with the golden smile Kaiye, big boss Ross and mommy Jinkee.
We would have never socialized with each other that much if we stayed at some other resort where guests would just disappear into their own separate rooms. The other side of crazies ends up in maximum security asylums, while in this place, 'maximum interaction' as Kara puts it, is practiced by the guests and the owners. The set-up of the Circle Hostel, the way it was designed and built, mirrors the ways of our old communities. The 'bahay-kubo' feel wherein one can easily reach out to his/her neighbor and be instantly included within the community.
|Photo by Kara Santos of http://www.traveling-up.com/|
After the electricity went off, a young girl named Geng came out from the darkness and checked herself at the reception. The next day she was hanging out with us. The place is filled with artwork and phrases painted by previous guests. As if to say, the world is so too, brimming with strangers who will-in time shred its strangeness and for us to be reminded, gregarious or not-too-cordial people to always open our doors to anybody. Who knows someday they will make a viral video out of you while drunk and singing a One Direction song.
For inquiries and reservation, please visit The Circle Hostel website or like their Facebook Page and follow their Twitter.