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Strange nights spent away from where you normally sleep (usually no beds involved)

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    Originally posted by Balderdasha View Post
    If we did a thread just on interesting hitchhiking experiences, that'd take me about another week as well.

    Anyway, back on topic.

    2007: two-day sleeper train back from Tibet to Chongqing by myself. I was looking forward to some peace and quiet and alone time reading a book. Lasted exactly two hours until I went to the dining car and ordered dinner in Mandarin. All the waiting staff immediately gathered around me asking loads of questions, 'what language is that guy speaking?' (It was German), 'why don't this lady and her son understand us, they look Chinese?' (they were from California), etc. They kept me as their pet translator for the next two days. Bonus was I got free food. Downside was that the much older German guy kept trying to hit on the waitresses via my terrible translations (schoolgirl GCSE German does not cover translating romantic proverbs about trees).
    On the subject of translation, when staying in a youth hostel in Athens in 1980 I helped an Israeli lad to pen a letter to his girlfriend, can't remember where she was from, but the letter had to be in English, and had to express some kind of love. Anyway, I did it, but my wishy-washy phrases such as “missing you” and “difficult to live without you" failed to convince him. He had to show no sign of masculine weakness or even affection, which made the surrogate love letter slightly hard to compose.


      Later in 2007, I came back to the UK and got a badly paid but interesting internship in London. My income wasn't secure enough for me to be comfortable paying rent and I was still in backpacker mentality, so for about two months I did a full-time job while backpacking around London staying in the following places, usually for no more than two or three nights at a time:
      - my then boyfriend had a flat in Colindale that he'd inherited when his dad died. At that time, he was an art student, and left all alone he responded to grief by throwing endless house parties and graffitiing all the internal walls of the flat. So I got used to sleeping next to giant robots and sea monsters and half-naked ladies. We hadn't been dating that long so I didn't want to actually move in full-time.
      - so, at university, I sort of dated a complete jerk who used to like watching Woody Allen films and stuff like Jules et Jim, anything that portrayed relationships as terribly complicated and non-monogamous. So, we were never officially a couple and slept together off and on, but I then realised he was also sleeping with another girl I knew. My response to this was to go and have dinner with the other girl and hash things out. We concluded that yes, he was a jerk, no we didn't have any issues with each other, sadly he was very fun in bed so we would probably both continue to sleep with him if we felt like it. This carried on for a couple of years until I decided to cut my losses, but I remained friends with the girl. At the time of my internship, she had a spare room in a heavily subsidised flat in Deptford so I often stayed there. We used to do origami and baking together.
      - one of my university friend's mums had recently divorced and was living alone for the first time in Burnt Oak. So I sometimes used to stay in my friend's teenage bedroom and keep her mum company.
      - I'm pretty sure I stayed in other places too but those are the main ones I remember.

      Once I got an actual job with a salary and a more long-term place to stay, it took a while to gather up all the belongings I'd left strewn around London. I lost at least a dressing gown and a pair of shoes for good.


        I've slept under desks at work when working through the night, and obviously we've all had all-night benders. They don't really feel very exotic or exciting.


          I have slept under desks or in reception areas in at least four different countries.

          There is a reason that the offices of large firms always have shower facilities.


            Originally posted by Sporting View Post
            I have never come across romantic proverbs about trees, Can you help me?
            Ok, really dredging my memory here. It was something like 'mein Haus, mein Auto, mein Baum, meine Frau' and he was trying to convey that he was a simple man who wanted to be rooted in a simple, settled life, but his Frau darn gone and left him and he needed a new one. Quite how this meant he came to be on a sleeper train from Tibet to Chongqing I never did get to the bottom of.


              And now he's scripting videos for Kurpark Mölln



                North Berwick station.
                Metro station in Newcastle, Haymarket I think.
                Loads of overnight trains One of which I sleepwalked on and woke up in an entirely different compartment, old fashioned seated train not a sleeper. Compartment occupied by two English women talking about whether they'd have to put their watches back when we crossed into Scotland.
                Plymouth Bus Station after the Plymouth Rocks festival debacle.
                Car in Elgin.
                Reading festival (no tent).
                Some student's flat in Glasgow after a Damned gig.
                Newspaper van back to Edinburgh from Newcastle, change at Berwick.
                Boat down the harbour in my hometown.
                Graveyard in Edinburgh.

                I used to like drinking more than was good for me.
                Last edited by RobM; 11-07-2019, 00:15.


                  Kings Cross Station, multiple floors when mates were at Uni. The most memorable was a party in London somewhere near Tottenham. It was a nurse share house. The group of four mates I was part of ended up there after the pub. Other mates decided to head back to the flat/cupboard one of them was living in. I couldn't be arsed to move so, with permission, slept on the sofa. The next day three gorgeous visions in PJs served me breakfast in situ. Best decision of my life up to that time.
                  Last edited by Uncle Ethan; 11-07-2019, 03:01.


                    Originally posted by Balderdasha View Post

                    Ok, really dredging my memory here. It was something like 'mein Haus, mein Auto, mein Baum, meine Frau' and he was trying to convey that he was a simple man who wanted to be rooted in a simple, settled life, but his Frau darn gone and left him and he needed a new one. Quite how this meant he came to be on a sleeper train from Tibet to Chongqing I never did get to the bottom of.
                    From what you said about him hitting on the waitresses, it was probably "Ich vögele alles, was nicht bei Drei aufm Baum ist".


                      Hitchhiking is still a thing in Romania. Indeed it is the main way that many people get around, and it's all ages too. You offer money at the end of the journey, some drivers take it some don't

                      I think it will die out eventually, because it seems like younger people have some hitchhiking via facebook (or some other web based platform) system going on for any journeys over 30km, though it may remain for local commuting/going to market, etc.


                        In Cuba during the ‘special period’ after the collapse of the USSR it was legally obligatory to pick up anyone hitching if you had room in your vehicle.
                        We were given a leaflet to that effect when we hired a car for the day, and met a nurse and a hotel chef whom we took to work that way. Sadly before I spoke much Spanish


                          Like many upthread I've slept in stations, on beaches, pavements, under hedges either because I was drunk, missed the last bus or having to get the early train. And like some of you, as I'm a shift worker I can sleep pretty much anywhere and anytime. It drives my wife mad as she has real trouble getting enough sleep whereas I can be kneeling by the fire, put my forehead on the carpet and doze for twenty minutes.

                          Thing is I'm a really light sleeper and the slightest noise can wake me, but I also get this weird thing whereby I can be fast asleep yet I can hear what's going on around me, often a radio, TV or just people chatting, yet I feel paralysed and that if I don't wake up or stop hearing that background noise I'm going to die. Mainly this leads to me trying to shout 'wake me' although often I'm told it comes out as strange moaning noises. In more extreme versions I'll start to hit out to try and wake myself up which is fine if I'm alone as I'll try and punch the wall, but sleeping partners can get in the way. They soon learn to wake me when I start to groan.

                          Couple this with my ability to sleep anywhere this once resulted in severe embarrassment on a bus journey down the Queensland coast when I began kicking the poor German girl sat next to me. Trying to explain what I was up to when she eventually woke me wasn't easy but the happy ending of that was travelled together for a few weeks.

                          The most extreme version, best exemplified by an incident in the room I shared with another lad at poly. There were a few of us gethered in there, mid afternoon, bit of music and I drifted off on my bed. I could here them all chatting away when my paralysis came. I started hitting the radiator, they were pissing themselves, laughing at me. Apparently I was screaming, they just laughed some more. By the time I'd somehow managed to drag myself off the bed and thrown myself on the floor in my successful effort to wake me up they were beside themselves.

                          As I've got older it happens less and less, maybe every few months or so, but it's a horrible thing.


                            Sleep paralysis? I've had this and it's usually unpleasant.


                              Originally posted by Sporting View Post
                              Sleep paralysis? I've had this and it's usually unpleasant.
                              Almost certainly. It's the thinking if I don't wake up then I'll never wake up again that's the worst thing and whatever I may tell myself otherwise I just know I'll never try and just sleep through it.


                                Yeah, I've had sleep paralysis, it's deeply unpleasant. I used to find it really disorientating when I finally woke up because I'd have built a mental picture of the room I was in based on the noises I was hearing and it would be completely different to reality so it felt like the whole room warped around me as I woke up.

                                The first experience was the worst. Fortunately my boyfriend at that time was a scientist who sent me loads of research articles to read about the phenomenon. For me, finding out that it happened to other people, and that it was just the usual sleep paralysis mechanism being out of sync with the conscious waking mechanism helped a lot. Since then, if it's happened, it's been scary at first, but then I've managed to calm myself down and say to myself, it's ok, it's just sleep paralysis, it will wear off, and just wait until it does. It hasn't happened in years now. Before my psychotic episode it was the scariest altered consciousness thing I'd experienced.


                                  2008: this is the first year I've got to where I can't remember any particularly outrageous 'sleeping in weird places' stories. I was 26, I had a full-time job, a flat I was renting and a stable relationship. Doesn't mean I was always sleeping in the same place though. I shared the flat I was renting in Bermondsey with a university friend and her boyfriend (technically her husband but that was just to help him with his visa). Even though they were a couple they didn't like sharing a room. The three bedrooms were very different sizes, so in the interests of fairness, we had a system where we each spent four months in a room on rotation. And for one of the rotations my friend went to help build a school in Zambia and we replaced her with a guy who wanted to temporarily live near his gym to train for a self-invented triathlon (from near York to the Isle of Wight IIRC).

                                  I often stayed at my boyfriend's, first the graffiti flat, then we repainted all the interior (it takes a loooong time to paint over wall-size graffiti, we did it every evening and weekend for months, playing twenty questions in Mandarin while we worked), rented it out and he moved to a flat in Camden that I also stayed in often.

                                  I also travelled to three continents, slept in a cupboard in Hong Kong for ten nights, slept on a sofa in Northumberland because the room we were supposed to be staying in had mould that aggravated my boyfriend's asthma and made him throw up, slept under a double bed with five colleagues and a large dog on an away weekend in Norfolk, and crashed out after house parties in Leeds and Cambridge. Still my most stable adult year by far.


                                    Quite dull by the standards of some of these, but:

                                    Trafalgar Square, followed by platform 9 at Wimbledon station.

                                    I'll explain: summer 1999, I was still new to London and had gone clubbing on Saturday night with the girl-I-was-hanging-about-with (we weren't a couple, we just used to hang around together and get jealous if anyone showed any interest in the other one; it was a fucked up situation). The plan was to get the night bus back from Trafalgar Square - they all left from Trafalgar Square back then - and crash at my gaff in Sutton.

                                    So far, so good, except we got lost (I went back into town later in the week and found that some arsehole had turned round many of the signs at major intersections), and missed the last night bus. No night tubes in those days, and we were far too poor to get a taxi from central London to the 'burbs, so we dozed in Trafalgar Square for a few hours until the Tube started on Sunday morning.

                                    Exhausted, we got the District Line back to Wimbledon (Northern Line wasn't running for some reason), only to find that it was an hour til the first train from there, so we dozed some more in the waiting room on platform 9. We finally got home 7 hours behind schedule, just in time for the church behind my house to start ringing its bloody bells.

                                    There are so many reasons that wouldn't happen nowadays: smart phones, far more night buses, night tubes, better signposting, Uber - but none of those things were around 20 years ago, so we ended up unwittingly out all night.


                                      2009: My dad rang me at 3:30pm while I was at work and said "I'm leaving your mother and moving in with (his 'gym partner'). You need to go and see if she's ok." I left the office immediately and started the journey to my home town which has no public transport. My mum wouldn't answer the phone. My sister did, so she picked me up at the end of the train / bus journey and we drove to my mum's house. My mum had blocked the lock so we couldn't use our keys. We talked to her through the keyhole. She insisted she wasn't going to do anything foolish but she wouldn't open the door or let us in. I slept on my sister's sofa, and we went back the following day and my mum let us in then.

                                      Three peaks challenge. I was in a team of three people, but part of a much larger group from work. We did a pub quiz to raise funds and a bit of training on nearby hills like Box Hill at the weekends. The guy in my team insisted that he could do all his training at the gym on step machines, and had never previously climbed an actual hill.

                                      ​​We started in the morning at Ben Nevis. My other two team members immediately went into the middle speed group while I ended up in the slow speed group. It was a hot, sunny day, but at the top of Ben Nevis we were trudging through snow. A somewhat larger lady in my group struggled with the heat on the descent and we slowed down considerably to keep pace with her. Once back on the minibus and driving towards scafell pike, our representative from the Alzheimer's society (who we were raising money for) started explaining our options to us given our slow time so far. According to our insurance we would only be allowed to attempt Snowdon if we reached the base within 24 hours of starting at Ben Nevis. The lady believed we only had two ways of doing that: skip scafell pike altogether, or go to scafell pike but only climb half of it. The majority of us on the bus started discussing and decided to do half of scafell pike. One woman though, completely lost her shit at this point.

                                      Crazy woman started ranting about how much she'd spent on hiking gear and how much sponsorship she wouldn't get if she didn't complete it and how it was all the Alzheimer's lady's fault. Bear in mind that one of the other women on this bus was a very senior director in the company. By the time we got to scafell pike crazy woman refused to get off the minibus while we went to climb half of it in the dark. As we got to about halfway up the mountain, we met the middle pace group on their way down. The guy who was originally meant to be in my team was being carried by two other people as his knees had completely locked and seized up at the summit. As I had tried to tell him, gym fit does not equate to climbing hills. It uses different muscles.

                                      So, we got to the point where scafell pike gets properly tricky and turned back. At the minibus there was no sign of crazy woman and the Alzheimer's lady. A quick phone call confirmed they'd gone in the minibus with the middle pace group so we piled back in the bus and tried to grab a couple of hours sleep. The problem with the three peaks challenge is not so much the mountains themselves, it's the cramped journeys inbetween on the minibus which stiffen your muscles.

                                      We made it to Snowdon before the 24 hour cut off point and climbed it at a leisurely pace. We, again, met the middle pace group on their way down. They told us that crazy woman had insisted that their minibus went out of its way to find a hotel for her, and made the Alzheimer's lady pay for it! I have no idea what was happening with her head at that point.

                                      I was the slowest person off Snowdon, but I was just happy that a) I completed more mountains than gym-fit guy and b) I was not the person throwing a strop and making a charity representative pay for a hotel for me.

                                      I'm glad I did it. I wouldn't do it again. Mainly for the uncomfortableness of sleeping on the minibus and because I walked like c3po for about a month after.



                                        Balderdasha, not only do you write well but you trigger other memories of strange nights I have had. Just that mention of your mum locking the door reminded me of this:

                                        My mother, who lived in Valencia for a while, was involved in writing a book about Jack the Ripper. Her co-author was an English man living on the coast near Alicante. (The book never came to fruition and this was probably for the best: Crackpot Theory no. 8,234 on the true identity of the killer.)

                                        By coincidence, his son, who I will call Peter, was living in Ontinyent. I say by coincidence because that was where my ex-girlfriend, with whom I'd recently split up, was from, I stayed with him a couple of times after we all met in Gandía. We had various things in common: Spanish girlfriends, music, football and so on. We got on really well and never had a semblance, a mere hint, of a falling out. He had some kind of personality disorder, however, and one night he slammed the door in my face, for no reason I can fathom, before throwing my rucksack (with stuff for the weekend stay there) down the stairs. This was around midnight. I never fathomed out why. I tried phoning him a few times but the call was always ended abruptly,

                                        That night I slept in his girlfriend's house, who lived on the opposite side of the street, who had witnessed all this and was equally astonished. They split up shortly afterwards. I have never seen Peter since; as for his ex-girlfriend, just twice more, once for a coffee and the second time when she wanted to tell me in person that she was engaged to be married to a woman ten or so years younger than her.


                                          I can think of four occasions in which one member of a couple sought refuge with me/us after a row/breakup. To the best of my knowledge, none of the pairs lasted more than another six months.


                                            Another dull selection compared to some of you, but I've slept in cars a lot, mainly through following car rallies around the more remote parts of the UK and not having other accommodation options or a desire to camp. Most of these were unremarkable, though I have woken up with the car shrouded in 6" of snow (Helmsley town centre) and with my hair frozen to the glass (-13, grass verge of A68 near Carter Bar). Last time I used Hotel Auto was on the Isle of Mull about 5 years ago, and after that uncomfortable experience I decided my 6'3", ageing body wasn't suited to it any more, especially in a little Skoda Fabia.

                                            Regrettably, I've also fallen asleep whilst driving, but only the once as I scared myself shitless by sleeping past the motorway services I'd planned to stop at - swore never to do it again, and have so far managed to keep to that.

                                            I've fallen asleep kneeling in a forest in the dead of night with a camera round my neck, only to be woken by the first rally car roaring past 6 feet away, too late to get the photo. I fell asleep on the beach (luckily above the high tide mark) after breaking my hand punching a mate on the top of his head, I've slept in a graveyard in Cardiff and I've woken up on a deserted bus in Whitehaven bus station.


                                              Oh aye, I should mention that more than one of my sleeping in the car experiences was interrupted by a curious policeman, especially in motorway services (in the days before the 2 hour free parking limit).


                                                Balders handles her material very well. She also has strong material to work with and it seems an exceptional memory.

                                                For example - I did the three peaks challenge. It went very straightforwardly. About the only issue was I couldn't fall asleep in the minibus (too uncomfortable for me) between Ben Nevis, which we started at 6pm in the evening on whatever weekend was closest to the longest day and Scafell, which was started at ~4am the following morning. That meant I was shattered and was rather close to not making it up Scafell. I then slept like a log on the journey between the Lake District and Wales and was back up to strength (discounting a sore knee) for the Snowdon. We got it done in just under 23 hours. Recovery afterwards was about a week.
                                                No crazy women abusing charity workers only trying to help, no delusional people with no understanding of hill walking, nadda. Just walking and riding a minibus up and down motorways.

                                                I've lived half a life, it seems. Or Balders has lived two for the price of one.


                                                  Back in about 2004, after a night on the grog in Manchester I jumped on the night bus home....only to wake up at dawn inside the bus depot. This thing was surrounded by barbed wire fences and lucky for me the bus door was wide open. Out I stumbled, wary of Rottweilers and stuff. But nothing. 2 Buses were close enough I was able to shimmy up between and onto a single decker's roof, leading to a jump over the fence onto a grassy hill and amazingly avoiding ankle injury.

                                                  Flagged a taxi down and finally got home 8:30am.


                                                    Is there a two hour limit in all of them? Surely tired drivers should be encouraged to sleep instead of potentially putting themselves and others at risk. Is space so limited or is it just profit making?