A few years ago, I decided to visit Paris on my own. It was a few weeks before Christmas and most lodgings were fully booked, especially the ones closest to the cultural and historical precincts. So I ended up finding a hostel that was not cheap at all, but was the most affordable one I could find, and it was 2 hours away from the city centre. 

Getting to the hostel was a nightmare in itself because it was just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris. And the Paris Climate Agreement meeting was scheduled to happen the following week. So the security settings in public places was at an all-time high - there were actual soldiers with rifles patrolling the airport, and armed guards outside of major tourist attractions. This made the public transport system slightly clogged up due to the extra precaution, in addition to my inability to speak French beyond introducing myself and asking for directions, and the several transits I had to make in order to get to the suburb where my hostel is located in. 

Once I arrived in the correct suburb, I was struggling to find the street the hostel was supposedly located on. I was lucky enough to meet a kind French woman who knew some English and helped me call the manager of the place. She told me to follow her, and she took me down a narrow, dark, obscured alley lined by mostly derelict homes. I was expecting just a short walk to the hostel, but I ended up walking for 10 minutes further down the alley until she stopped in front of a house that looked abandoned. She took her phone out to call the manager of the hostel again, and I thought she might be lost. 

When she hung up, she told me that the abandoned house we were standing in front of is the hostel. I was flabbergasted. The house had no external light fixture, and was completely covered in dead, dried creepers, with a rusty fence and gate. The only indication that it was a hostel is a business card-sized metal plaque on the fence that was not illuminated. 

While waiting for the manager to emerge from the building, she very gently patted me on the shoulder and tried in her softest voice to soothe away my obvious confusion and anxiety. She assured me that the suburb was very safe and most of the residents are nice people, adding that crime rates are extremely low in this area. 

When I finally did enter the hostel, I was stunned by how decrepid the inside of the building was. Their kitchen consisted of just a sink, a washing machine and a portable stove in a room that was just 6 by 6 feet in size with a lone lightbulb hanging over the entirety of that floor. The manager took me up smelly, narrow winding stairs to 2 rooms with cheap bunk beds, and I was assigned to an empty room that he said was specifically for females only. That was when I realised I was the only female in the entire hostel, and the only one in there who is just 5 feet tall, a size 4, and cannot speak French.

Despite me having the whole room to myself, the entrance of said room could only be reached by walking through the male's room - which is a very odd design. The kicker was that the room door was unlockable - there is no way anything can be jammed in to keep the door locked at all. 

I paid the entirety of the rate for staying there, and quickly changed into my PJs because it was almost midnight and I planned on an early morning start. Just as I was about to turn the lights off, the manager opened the door without knocking and sat on the bed I was suppose to sleep on. I did not want to be rude, so I sat 3 feet from him on the bed to talk. He started by asking where I was from, what were my plans, my travel history, etc. I talked to him as politely as I could while telling him that I am exhausted and that I want to rise early, which I repeated several times. However, the longer we talked the closer he was scooting his body towards me, and every minute his arm seems to get closer by an inch towards me and eventually his arm and hand were resting behind me. This is when he started asking about oddly specific things about my personal life, and he started bobbing his head in a strange pattern so that his lips narrowly miss my nose and forehead. By this time, our torsos are touching and he starts to lean in my direction very slowly but obviously. I scooted myself several inches away from him and reiterated my exhaustion and morning plan more loudly. He then moves so that his torso is touching mine again, and he leans into my face. He has been in the room for an hour at this point, and I was getting more tired by the minute because it was past midnight already. I felt his arm move to embrace me, and I jumped up and told him in a begging and angry tone that I really needed to sleep. He unapologetically asked, "Are you very tired? You want to sleep now?", to which I said impatiently, "Yes, I need to sleep now!" - like I haven't been making that point obvious for the past hour. 

He finally stood up. But instead of walking out the door, he lunges at me and pulls me into a bear hug. He exclaimed, "Let me give you a French welcome and French kiss" and his lips came at mine, when I winced and he kissed my cheek instead. He took a step out but stopped and turned around to ask me more nonsensical things while holding the door open. I lost my patience at this point, and I told him that I needed to sleep, and I turned the light off and forcefully shut the door. I forced him out of the room, but I was panicking because I know he could come in anytime while I was asleep due to the lack of locks. I ended up pushing the spare bed onto the door to keep it shut, and to give myself some psychological comfort. 

At 7 in the morning, just as I opened my eyes, he tried pushing the door open. I jumped up from the bed and asked him what he wanted. He said he was just checking up on me and wanted to tell me about some changes that are happening to the hostel and that me and other guests might have to move to a different hostel at no extra cost. I told him that I was leaving soon and left for the safety of the Parisian city centre. Trying my best to stay out late and leave early. 

That night, the same thing happened, and the same for the next few days until my flight back home. 

I ended up deleting my account with the hostel booking website. I gave a terrible review but nothing was ever done. Now when I travel, I sleep with a concealed weapon - not firearm though. No one knows when it will come in handy.
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