After an amazing time in Melbourne and a quick visit to Sydney, and with winter beginning to settle in, we decided it was time to take our adventure north and booked a flight to Cairns. We took the shuttle bus from the airport and were dropped at the Esplanade and headed to our hostel for the night, Flying Monkey Backpackers.
I suppose it’s best to start with the positives on this place, which shouldn’t take too long. What it has going for it is the location, it really doesn’t get much better than here. Located right on the Esplanade with all the bars and cheap eats right on your door step and the lagoon just over the road. The Night Market is a small walk away, where you can buy all your Ausie souvenirs and some great cheap food. Flying Monkey doesn’t get much right but the location may be its redeeming quality.
And here is a desperate attempt to leave some more positive feedback. Generally speaking the guys and girls on the reception desk were friendly and bubbly, but I did witness a less than pleasant exchange between one girl and a guest, lets call them Betty and Bob. Bob had done a little research about some local sports activities and wanted to check he had his information right, he asked Betty who responded by telling him the information was incorrect and giving him new information, confused Bob said he had found the information online and was she sure hers was correct. Betty was not at all pleased by this and snapped “I’ve been here 6 months, you’ve been here 2 days. I think I know when I’m right!” and this Bob left reception feeling foolish over the exchange. You can call me old fashioned but I don’t think a customer should be left feeling this way. This, however, was a one off, Betty and the other workers were generally much more friendly.
And now to the negatives, and where to start? I suppose with the bedroom. When we opened the door we were optimistic the room would be basic at best and wandered in, still full of hope. I dropped my bag onto the dirty and discoloured carpet and looked at the poorly made made – the bottom sheet was neither straight or tucked around the mattress. There was only 1 pillow on the double bed, which was flat and limp. All the bedding was covered in stains and from the smell of it I couldn’t be sure it had been washed after its last inhabitant. The aircon was old and loud, but it worked and cooled the room nicely (hey, I just found another positive!). The room was next to the showers and toilets, whenever anyone used the water the pipes bade a loud groaning and banging noise that made its way around the walls of our room.
Next, let’s move through to the toilets and showers. These were ok, I suppose, typical hostel style that were fairly clean and the water was warm enough. I didn’t see many though and would have to assume there are more elsewhere.
Moving through to the kitchen, I was in honesty surprised at the title of the room. Sure, it had a sink and a microwave and shelves stocked with plates and bowls and utensils but it lacked something essential…instead of a typical oven and stove you find in the average kitchen Flying Monkey had opted for a more outdoors vibe, providing a camping stove. This is also where you come to enjoy your free breakfast. An impressive selection of value cereal and flavourless fruit. I’m really not one to be fussy but if you are going to boast a free breakfast it should be at the least vaguely appetising.
The hostel does offer a variety of activities, like film nights and hula parties, which I’m sure are a real treat but we didn’t stick around to find out.
It’s clear from just 1 night and looking in the common areas the next morning that this is a party hostel, the other guests seemed to have bonded over tequila and bad decisions and all seemed very happy to be at Flying Monkeys. Perhaps, and it pains me to say this, I may have grown out of my early 20 party happy carefree self into a boring mid-twenties, wine drinking, early to bed grumbler. Either way, we stayed for 1 night and then headed off to find somewhere clean.
I’m sure if your plans for Cairns are to drink every night you will fit right in here, people staying here seemed to be having a generally good time. For me, Flying Monkey Backpackers was too loud and dirty. Maybe if I was there with a group of girls planning a week of heavy drinking and late nights this would be the perfect place to lay my head after a booze filled evening. I’m just too old for all that now.