Over the past few days, Soph and I have been dwelling on some of the more eventful places we have stayed during our travels over the past year or so. Here is a quick list of some of the more nightmarish stops along the way…
- The Cave – Allan’s Inn, Fort Kochi, India
Where to start with this one… I mean the name says it all to be honest. When I say basic, please take basic in the most literal sense of the word!
Soph and I checked in to Allan’s Inn, a homestay in the heart of Fort Kochi, late in the afternoon on another hot, sweaty Keralan day. The photos I had seen online were seemingly quite promising, and for the price of only 450 Rupees (approx. £4.50) for the night, I genuinely thought I had found us a bargain. Hmmm, think again. The room in the photos was NOT the cave we entered.
I do not want to discredit the family that run Allan’s Inn, although I am pretty sure that none of them were actually called Allan, as the family were lovely and they cooked us an amazing breakfast of Idli and Coconut Chutney, but it is not the people that make this a nightmare accommodation.
The room was tiny, with crumbling walls, and more importantly no mosquito net. When the accompanying toilet and the over grown garden we had to tackle to enter the room are like breeding grounds for the little bastards, a mosquito net is simply a necessity. Upon rummaging through the drawers we discovered a crusty, old, smelly net. Soph went about patching up the many holes that covered it with her trusty sewing kit (never has a random item come in so handy!), then we strung up our make shift critter-guard. Even with Soph’s craftsmanship, I still managed to get utterly savaged by the flying blood-suckers…
Pre-empting our uncomfortable night, we had already lined up a new place to move into for our remaining few nights in Fort Kochi, so at 8am, after quite frankly a terrible night’s sleep, followed by a delicious breakfast with the family, we were off! Nightmare over.
2. The James Bond Villain & His Minions – Yala Meedum Safari Guesthouse, Tissimaharama, Sri Lanka
For anyone who has read my other posts, I may have mentioned the James Bond villain before. This strange little man runs the Yala Meedum Safari Guesthouse –he is slightly on the camp side, and likes to lean in close to whisper into your ear in his high-pitched tones – he takes creepy to a new level.
Upon first sight the place seemed OK… nothing more, nothing less. Large rooms, large beds, not bad. Breakfast was included, apparently, so the creepy little man, with his short fat minion and his tall skinny minion, took some notes – as we had to leave for our Yala National Park Safari at 5am – and assured us that we would have a takeaway breakfast ready to go. We doubted this, and were right. Not a murmur of life in the morning, no breakfast, bloody shambles.
On the first night came the plague of mosquitoes through the open, un-closable, windows – we actually resorted to poisoning ourselves by burning mosquito coils in our room as we slept. The second night came the overly loud group of Sri Lankans having a party in the room next door, or right outside our room, or somewhere very, very close! Who cares where, it was fucking annoying, and I could only think it was some kind of evil meeting headed up by Dr Evil himself.
There were a few other strange goings on and downright peculiar behaviour from Dr Evil and his minions, but I cannot write about it all, unfortunately. I must move on.
3. Absolutely Nothing – Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and what I thought would be a hot-spot for travellers as a good place to stop and spend the night. This, much to my surprise, and frustration, was simply not the case.
After a long journey travelling from the North of Sri Lanka down to Colombo, with a view to stay the night somewhere and then catch a bus to climb Adam’s Peak the following day, we arrived in said capital city and decided to have a walk around and see if we could find somewhere to stay for the night. Simple answer was NO! We found nothing satisfactory where we could justify resting our heads for the night (and our standards are really not that high!).
What we did find was: A) Strange hotels with luminescent lighting, hidden above shops and restaurants, which could have equally been operating as brothels… well no thanks! Most of which we fully booked anyway – yes, we tried! B) Extremely over-priced hotels for flash-packing tourists. C) A delightful place called City Motel – the only place that fell even close to our small budget (other than the brothels). When I say delightful, what I actually mean is fucking terrible. The City Motel – a place recommended to us by a tour guide that we met on the street – was more like a prison. Each room was not enclosed, the walls did not reach the ceiling and therefore linked to the next room, the doors did not close, it was generally filthy, and it was more expensive than anywhere we had stayed up until that point on our travels. Colombo you complete let down, so after hailing a tuk-tuk, we boarded a train to Negombo – 1 hour along the tracks.
4. Desperation – Unknown Guesthouse, Negombo, Sri Lanka
In moments of desperation, people can make some terrible decisions… So, 2 accommodation nightmares in 1 day!
Following the train journey from Colombo to Negombo, we set off again on the hunt for a bed. There were lots more options in Negombo than Colombo – we knew this from our previous stay here. However, we found nothing. Either fully booked, more expensive than we wished, or nobody would answer the door or come to reception!
What did we do? Well, we actually settled for a place hidden down an alley. We had been pointed it out by someone working in a different hotel close by (on commission probably!). The paan chewing, belly scratching, disgrace of a man who ran the “front desk”, if you can call it that, showed us to our room – which looked like it hadn’t been stayed in for a good few years. It was within budget, close to a few places to eat, and fucking disgusting. Ideal! We took the room as it was almost 9pm by the time we found this guesthouse and I had quite simply had enough of walking around with everything I owned on my back.
These were the rules of the guesthouse.
1) 10:30pm curfew… right. How old am I?
2) Don’t let the yappy bastard Chihuahua dogs out.
3) And, let the front desk know when we are leaving.
Really!? Fuck off!
Soph was on the brink of tears at our decision, and I found the whole situation fairly amusing, so we went for dinner to try and forget about it all (swiftly, of course – so we got back in time for curfew, haha). We have never left a guesthouse so quickly. Up at 6:30am, out at 7am, and ran away before we got killed and fed to the Chihuahuas.
5. In The Ghettooo! – Malindi Guesthouse, Stone Town, Zanzibar
The final accommodation on my list is absolutely no reflection on the accommodation itself, which was a beautiful colonial mansion, decorated with traditional Zanzibar artwork, furniture and an incredible rooftop.
This is less of a nightmare and more of an experience.
Malindi Guesthouse, the place that we had decided to stay for a couple of nights, was about a 15min walk in the 35+ degree Zanzibar sun from the ferry port in Stone Town. A 15min walk in the sweltering heat through what can only be described as the Muslim ghetto. From my experience in Tanzania, the locals do not welcome westerners with the open arms you will find in many of the Asian countries I have visited – especially not in Stone Town anyway, where we encountered more difficulties with locals than most places. The stares, scowls and looks of contempt on the faces of the local people as we trudged through their neighbourhood with our over-packed bags. From the UK to Stone Town, the culture shock was immense.
The ghetto was not the nightmare. The real nightmare began on our second night where the world closed in and The Great Sickness of 2015 began – raging temperatures, epic chills, pile-driver headaches and puddles of sweat! Get me the fuck out of here!
As you can see from the places that stand out to me as being particularly memorable – for the wrong reasons – 3 of the 5 occurred in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is up there with one of the most diverse and interesting countries I have visited, and would recommend it to anyone! Just don’t look for budget accommodation in Colombo – you will be disappointed!