Upon arrival in Singapore via a somewhat uncomfortable overnight train, we had no plans, destinations, or accommodations lined up. This is a somewhat typical scenario, but usually we know a bit more than we did this time.
To make a long story [somewhat] short… We weren’t able to secure train seats in the sleeper car, because we made our reservations too late because we didn’t know we’d be leaving Kuala Lumpur when we did because I booked our flights out of Singapore for the wrong day. Oops.
And to top it all off, Laura was feeling under the weather (to put it mildly).
After a quick, one-night stay at the [decent] Backpacker’s Inn of Chinatown, we jumped on the subway train towards the airport to catch our flight to Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
It was at this point that Laura was beginning to feel the full effect of the bug and the bug simply said, “no travel for you”. She made a more-than-valiant effort to continue our travels, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Read her [very blunt and honest] account of her sickness here.
We found a coffee shop with wi-fi and I began looking for a place to stay, in what is likely Southeast Asia’s most expensive city. I came across a lovely-looking hostel, showing photos of a nice, clean room and boasting in-room features like a fridge, TV, and more. It had a shared bathroom, but given the exorbitant prices of Singapore, it would have to do. I booked the room for two nights (and pre-paid for it) via the website and away we went.
After checking in and being shown the room, I became aware that our situation was unacceptable.
For graphic details on the air freshener, rats, disgusting bathrooms, and horrible smells, please refer to Laura’s post here.
I kindly asked the hotel manager if there was any way we could “cancel” our reservation. Since I had booked online (and pre-paid through a travel site), there was nothing he could do. He also claimed they were full, meaning we were pretty much stuck.
I understood, but simply couldn’t stay in this room without trying a few more things — especially not with Laura in her current condition.
After a couple phone calls to the website and an email with photos of the room (see below), he magically found another room that just hadn’t been cleaned yet. He prepared the room and we were able to move.
This room was wonderful, by comparison. It had a window, white [unstained] sheets and pillows, and a relatively neutral smell.
Despite my best efforts to get out of there, there was simply no way without forfeiting our payment.
I wish I could say there was a lesson to be learned, but I’m not sure what it would be. In some cities, we’ve wandered to multiple places in search of a bed, and others where nice rooms were a dime-a-dozen. Typically, the larger cities (like Singapore) would be more conducive to booking in advance, but that clearly didn’t bode well for us in this case.
The good news is, we survived our two-night stay (rats and all) and found a much-needed (and much more expensive) resting place for the following night.
And it was worth every penny!