|Rough Travel (standard:travel stories, 2301 words)|
|Author: John Ahern||Added: Jun 24 2009||Views/Reads: 1731/853||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Some notes on bad hotels and buses when traveling light.|
A NOTE ON BAD HOTELS AND BAD BUSES WHEN YOU'RE TRAVELING LIGHT. There is a term I use ‘Elongated Time' (not sure if I read it somewhere) to describe that sort of experience you may have when you go back to sleep in the mornings and dream HOURS in just a few minutes – You wake up thinking “OH NO, I'm late!” and you've only dropped off for five minutes and dreamt DAYS! That's how this trip has been - 9 weeks seemed like 9 months because every day was so different from the next. It could also be due to the fact that travelling light can be hard though nonetheless enjoyable for it's adventure. THE HOTELS – just a couple of examples: Manado North East Sulawesi – arrived back on the mainland after exploring the marine park of Bunaken and passing the CELEBES HOTEL I thought it looked a little too flash for my budget but what the hell; I've got an early start next morning. It was cheaper than it looked, the lobby tiled in burgundy and the staff and receptionist in neat uniforms. Went out to eat and returned about 8pm to get an early night and as I reached the third floor corridor, the biggest, sleekest, fattest, shiniest rat came galloping towards me and went skittering between my legs and down the stairs. I followed after it and when I told the manager he hardly even raised an eyebrow, didn't even offer a 'Manuel/Faulty Towers' “He no rat. His name Basil – he a filigree hamster!” Next morning I was up at 5am and as I arrived on the second floor via the stairs and there were two even bigger rats having a chat outside the hotel's pride and joy ‘The Napoleon Suite'. This was the only hotel in my Indonesian walkabout with a lift/elevator and as I had them trapped by the door I stamped my feet and scared them inside before pressing the button for the ground floor. I raced down the stairs just in time to see them dashing out of the lift and across the lobby with no one but me to see them! What a shame, if the service is bad I like them to know about it! Worse than the rats were the cockroaches big as crabs that came and went about the room during the night as thought it was really theirs and I was just a temporary occupant – I suppose they were right in that respect! The Hotel Afiat in Makassar Indonesia. A hotel in one of the most fetid cities in the world. Recommended by ‘Lonely Planet' and it was so filthy I never even took a shower (though it's usually just a bucket and scoop) – didn't want to risk togging-off in such squalor. There was nowhere to hang anything so I had to revert to my ‘trick' – a piece of fishing nylon for a clothesline to get my gear and pack off the floor which was alive with tiny insects (not just ants, unfortunately). After a night of listening to the scratching (both me and the insects) I was up early and planning my escape to the wide open spaces of the north and the land of the Torajans, a 14 hour bus trip and that's another story in itself. The lobby was next to the room and the staff were still lounging about in a fug of cigarette smoke and farts, either dozing or gawking into their mobile phones (seems to be a worldwide pastime nowadays) and when I asked to sign the visitors book (this time it was important for me) they didn't have such a thing so they gave me a sheet of paper on which I wrote in BIG print: “I'VE STAYED IN BAD HOTELS FROM PANAMA TO PAKISTAN, SHARM-EL-SHEIK TO SHETLAND AND BEYOND AND THE HOTEL AFIAT IS THE FILTHIEST S....T HOLE I'VE EVER SLEPT (mostly un-slept) IN.” And they even helped me pin it on the notice board for future travellers to see. There is an indescribable feeling of freedom that comes with stepping out of such a dive early in the morning – a new day and the whole world yours for the taking all you have to do is walk on down the road. I had this feeling all my life, it's like a drug and it's the only thing that can scratch the itchy feet and when you hit that spot it's a kind of euphoria, as though you were ‘untouchable' in your freedom, like a bird out of a cage. I remember that feeling stepping out of the train south of London at the Blackwall tunnel where I would hitchhike down to Dover or Folkston, the train full of commuters with their briefcases, umbrellas and sad faces while I have the whole world to explore, just my little backpack and passport - or off the ferry in France or Wales or off the train or bus in South America, shouting “I'm Free!” A feeling much more important than any thing or any place you might ever visit - the essence of freedom. Click here to read the rest of this story (139 more lines)
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