Somehow we had managed to use all three months of our Bornean visa (someone drag us away..!) but with a spare ten days at the end of the last month we decided to settle down for a while and find some work again!
Kuching was our last destination in Sarawak before we flew out to Vietnam so we checked on Workaway and applied! There was tons of ads on there but as always with these things you just have to be patient.
After a few days we had a reply from Ben, an English guy, who runs a hostel in the heart of Kuching saying that their current staff were going on holiday and they’d love a helping hand in return for free accommodation and breakfast! Yep, it can be that easy!
We had a couple of days exploring Kuching and all it’s crazy cat statues first and then arrived at Borneo Seahare Hostel to start work and meet the team! Little did we know this would be an awesome ten days with a crazy, fun team from all over the world!
The hostel has three floors; a reception and common area where there’s always films being played and people chilling out…oh and the all important bar, one floor of dorm rooms and the top floor of private twins and doubles! Our role was to help out each morning with check outs/ins, changing the beds and cleaning up of all the communal areas! In the late afternoon we were on hand to handle reception and (try!) to answer any queries about the surrounding area! After a couple of days we really got into the swing of things and loved hanging out around reception and chatting to all of the new arrivals – a good excuse to talk about all things travel!
The hostel had a great crowd of people staying and the chilled out atmosphere meant many just couldn’t seem to leave! This meant there were always lots of friendly faces around at any time of the day throughout our stay! Evenings saw films galore, rounds of cards and a few beers with Dave the bar man…which often turned into many beers with the whole hostel and even one epic night which ended with a McDonalds at 6am in the morning – yes that happens even in Borneo! We had nights out with all of the staff with some pretty serious pool competitions and all nursed some pretty epic hangovers the day after! Luckily, or not, the weather in Kuching was already hitting monsoon season so spending a day in front of the the TV with heavy heads was no bad thing!!
By the end of the ten days we had learnt some invaluable things about the running of a hostel (spurring our own dreams of one day owning our own…watch this space!) and met some fantastic people who we will absolutely keep in touch with on our travels! We had also worked our way around most of the food joints in Kuching which, whilst not being so great for the waistline, were absolutely delicious!
If you ever find yourself in Kuching and looking for somewhere to stay then Borneo Seahare is definitely the place to go! Its one of the few remaining real backpacker hostels we’ve found where people aren’t just sat around on their phones but are there to socialise, discuss and make new friends. We hope to go back one day to visit the crew!
*Note to everyone* The outdoor showers in the hostel are also awesome!
All in all this was a very different volunteer opportunity to our first one on Mantanani Island but amazing nonetheless. It is fantastic to be able to get involved in so many different types of work and have such varied and enriching experiences. Of course, for us volunteering is also a way in which we can save money and prolong our travels; during our time in Borneo we spent half of what we usually would have in a two week period. (Of course, we could have actually saved more if we’d been more restrained on the beer front but sometimes you just have to go with it – that’s what travelling is all about right?)
If you’ve ever thought about working in exchange for board but for whatever reason not gone through with it then its something we recommend all of you to try! What’s not to love about meeting people from all over the world?
C & J