Richard Meros has been known to find inspiration in unexpected places. Leaving his native New Zealand to investigate what the world has to offer, he ended up in Southeast Asia for the better half of this year with plans to keep on moving. He caught up with us just long enough to trigger some wanderlust in those of us who are currently bound stateside.

How long have you been trekking around and how long do you plan to continue?

I have been out of New Zealand for four months. One in SE Asia, three in India, with about eight months left going overland to Turkey then Cairo, detouring via Georgia and Azerbaijan and possibly returning to NZ sometime in late 2010.

What has been the most unexpected delight so far?
The travelers I have met in India are far more interesting than most of those I met on my 10 month jaunt in Central and South America in 2006. I really did not expect so many fascinating people and it made me wonder if I am so different now or whether it is them.

You do a good amount of traveling, what makes these tourists different? Are they mostly Western or Asian tourists and do you notice any differences?
There is an enormous amount of Indian tourists in India. There are many less ‘home’ tourists in south-east Asia. Westerners are received with good-natured curiosity bordering on harassment from locals.

IMG_6065A year is a long time to travel, how cheaply are you managing to live?
In India, 500 rupees a day, which is pretty cheap. I just use local transport and eat local food and every now and then try a nicer hotel.

Any ridiculous translation experiences you could share?
My favourite was in Northern Laos when reading a set of rules for the guesthouse, no. 11 was: “No one can argue with the Questhouse” If only, if only, if only every other guesthouse was a questhouse.

Have you stayed in any hostels?
I stayed in a few monastery hostels in Hiomachal Pradesh in northern india, but the beds are generally suited to the asceticism I have tried to moderate in my end-of-the-world personal aesthetic.

At this point, you must be enjoying some pretty good street food?
Best street food, beyond chai, is the Kati Rolls from Kolkata. Seeing the word “vegetarian” so often in India is godly.

Have you had any charming encounters during your travels?
In Sonamarg I had a very nice time trying to play with a group of children who knew a few english words, though these words were generally in the refrain of “one ___ please”. They could insert words like school, pen, toffee, rupee, but not much more. The setting was in the area below a glacier where their nomadic families camped over the summer. Why they were camped a hundred metres below a glacier I cannot say, winter nostalgia. Anyhow, we sung them some Tracey Chapman and Jens Lekman and the Maori version of New Zealand’s national anthem and then played a game where I grabbed their hands and flung them about in the air. It’s nice to be able to play with kids and not worry about what real adults think.

OK, so you’ve been around the world. But have you ever been to Portland, and if not, when are you getting here?

Never been, though I have been to Oregon’s northern and southern neighbours. I will, or may, or could be there some late summer 2010.

Richard Meros is part of a publishing collective that lives at www.lawrenceandgibson.com.


If you haven’t been to the outdoor open-mics at the NW and SE Hostels this summer, you’re missing out.  Both offer great atmosphere and live music for free, all summer long.

The SE Hostel Open-Mic (see below) runs Wednesdays from 8-10pm on their newly remodeled outdoor stage. On the other side of town, come join locals and passersby this Tuesday at the NW Hostel Open-Mic from 6:30-9:30pm; featuring homebrew and cheap brats and veggie burgers. This week’s featured performer is Chelsea Smith from the music project Sewblue.

open mic

An article on Hostelling from an old Forth Worth 1950’s newspaper details the exotic adventures of traveling and hostelling abroad. And on $2/day no less!

click for full view

click for full view

I’ve noticed that the email formatting isn’t always streamlined well when delivered by WordPress via email. I’m not sure why that is yet, but in any case it’s always good to click directly to the blog every time there’s a new entry. That way you can see the pictures in their full glory, embedded in the lovely WordPress template. And don’t forget to press that comment button  🙂

Hostel Nostalgia

IMG_0004As we continue to gear up for Hostelling International’s 100-year anniversary event next weekend, the nostalgia is coming out of the woodwork! I had the great fortune of interviewing an old-time hosteller recently about her experience as a Troop Leader with American Youth Hostels back in the 1950’s (now formally a subsidiary of HI). The picture to the left is from one of her domestic trips – she spent 6 weeks on a bicycle with 12 other women staying at hostels along the East coast in New England. So many amazing stories! I will post some stories and pictures on here shortly but keep your eyes peeled for the exhibit at the anniversary event and the alumni event (in August) where we will showcase some of the old American Youth Hostel paraphernelia. Portland resident Maureen Long (who took this picture) remembers the good old days first hand and will be there to tell the stories- back when hostels were 50 cents a night!!

HI-Anniv LogoJUNE 13th, 2009

HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel
425 NW 18th Ave

Family Friendly Events ~ FREE!
The afternoon will bring hostellers, Hostelling International members, and locals together for a free public celebration with:

  • Children’s Activities (World Twister, Arts Table, Bean Bag Toss)
  • Hostel Anniversary Scavenger Hunt
  • Unveiling of Community Wall Murals
  • Informational Displays on our Educational Programs
  • International Snacks in the Cultural Kitchen
  • And More!

Live Music, BBQ, Silent Auction, Speakers ~ Tickets $20

  • Live Music
  • Silent Auction benefiting intercultural hostelling programs for Portland Youth
  • Traditional German Barbecue (with veggie options)
  • Our World – People, Places, Culture Exhibit (by Canadian Photographer Keith Levit) HI Backpacker JPG
  • Keynote Speakers
    – Altaira Hatton, “110 lbs. of Hell on Wheels”, shares her travels to 393 cities and 29 countries in her wheel chair. 
    – Harmony George Jaursch, CFO Girl Scouts Oregon tells of the important connections between Girl Scouts and Hostelling
  • Meet our National Board of Directors who will be in attendance 

Reserve Tickets now
@ 503-827-0405 or email anniversary@nwportlandhostel.com