Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From No-tell Motels to Putting on the Ritz

Former Sisal Plantation - now a resort
It occurred to me that I have stayed in some unique lodgings since I began this travelling journey called, "My Life”.  I have stayed in unmentionables to forgettables to memorables and everything in-between throughout dozens of countries. Often they meld into one, however there are times they are extraordinary and not always in a positive way.

On a recent trip to Thailand I booked a budget hotel. Not expecting much, except a white sand beach across the road, I got what I paid for. What I didn't pay for, was frequent visits from wretched rats in the pool area. We tried to explain the rat situation to the neighboring Russian tourists with charades and hand gestures. It wasn't until we said, "Mickey Mouse" did they understand and started to scream on our decibel level.

The best resorts - always Mexico
When I travel with R2, I am usually in for a treat. His entire life has been hotel rooms and suitcases so he makes certain a king-sized bed (not always an easy find in Asia) with a decent mattress and plush bedding is in the room.  Me, I prefer wifi. When I can't connect, my head starts to spin, my eyes roll back in my head and I begin to froth at the mouth. Not being connected to friends and family is not in the realm of my techno-world. Heaven help the On-Duty Manager if I can’t find wifi in the hotel.

Cant resist dinner at the Four Seasons Langkawi
His frequent traveling has garnered him status in many hotels so as the "tag-along" spouse, I have to admit I enjoy the Platinum Perks. I have come a long way from the wooden shacks on the beach I used to afford, to the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi.  We have been upgraded to a suite so large in Sydney, Australia, I sent out an All Points Bulletin on R2 because I lost him in one of the rooms. Turns out he was in the gargantuan sunken tub, testing the bath salts and water temperature.

When we travel with guests we tend to pay, so the accommodations are not quite as swank.  When my son Lucas visited with his girlfriend, Sam, who could forget the "upgrade" in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia that looked like bullet holes had peppered the ceiling, towels so threadbare you could almost see through and a bathroom door that you could see through. Not much privacy for four people.

Bintan, Indonesia - cottages on the beach
There was the cabin on the beach in Tioman, Malaysia where the double beds were so small, R2 and I had to stay motionless all night for fear of landing on the sandy floor. We had R2's son in the bed next to us so the snoring between two men was in stereo for my listening enjoyment.

We took a three week holiday from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Mexico a couple of years ago. We stayed in a lodge in Chichen Itza, Quintana Roo that was in the middle of the jungle with no phones, TV or...gasp...wifi. What it did have was a healthy herd of scorpions. I wondered why R2 told me to check my shoes before I put them on. What he didn't tell me was that he was pulverizing scorpions in the porch before I fainted dead away.

Also on this countrywide journey, he booked us into a five-star transformed Hacienda in Temozon that used to be a working Sisal plantation. The Hacienda was Colonial Mexico at its finest from the swinging hammocks in the room, to the outdoor private tub filled with hibiscus flowers. The only detraction at this locale was the swimming baby bat in the infinity pool. The drenched black vermin put a damper on my need to dip in the water, no matter how hot I was, in July, in Mexico.

Beverly Hills is THE place to people watch
Dinner for the Schmucks was a Rotten Tomato bomb but I didn't care when we stayed in the Beverly Hills Hilton. It was the Premier of the movie at this famous hotel and Steve Carell and Paul Rudd held the elevator for us.  I tried to play it cool until they left the elevator where the media and other celebrities were gathered. That is when I began my celebrity-spotting dance and shouted, "The 40-Year Old Virgin" just held the door for us and told us to “Have a nice day”.  So much for being calm, cool and collected.

I have stayed in rooms with canopied beds which always leave R2 with a bruise when he forgets, stands up, and bashes his head. I have lain awake at nights listening to crickets and geckos you know are in the room with you. I have luxuriated in bathtubs so large, a family of four could live in it, and I have sat on balconies to watch the most magnificent sunsets on over-the-top tropical properties. I have also killed spiders, mosquitoes and chased lizards from the “not so nice” resorts we manage to find ourselves, on occasion.

India was interesting for accommodations. We had a lovely suite in Bangalore however, right beside the hotel (one that had armed guards checking every vehicle that entered the facility for bombs) was a slum with  shoeless children begging and rummaging through the rubbish, next to the rats. 

Our private pool in Jaipur - amazing property
We went to several cities in India and luckily R2 made certain the accommodations were livable.  We stayed in the Tree of Life, outside of Jaipur that without a doubt was the most heavenly property I have stepped foot on. Sadly for me, in Agra the day before, I managed to eat something that gave me a two week stint of what the locals call Delhi Belly. I did appreciate the massive, marble bathroom because that is where I spent two days, lying on the floor, hoping someone could put me out of my misery.

Many people I talk to, think what R2 and I do, is strange, or exotic. People often tell me how lucky we are to be on this quest. After living in Asia for seven months, my life is not much different from the hundreds of thousands of expats in Singapore, and beyond. Twenty or thirty countries is nothing compared to many people I have met.  We are newbies at this life even though R2 has been at this game for over twenty years. 

How big of a bruise will I get?  Rothenburg, Germany
It really makes no difference if the accommodations are quaint and rustic or if they are grand and opulent. Either way, we manage to find an adventure. In the five years we have been together, three of those were spent apart while he worked afar and I got up each day for my government job, so if he puts us up at the Ritz Carleton or the Roach Motel, as long as we are together on this traveling expedition, we are contented and home. 

Now can someone please tell the rats, bats and creepy, crawly things they aren’t welcome?


  1. Sonny Kapoor (Hotel Manager)21 August 2012 at 04:25

    Thanks for staying with us Miss Elaina, it was a great pleasure to be able to serve you at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, we trust you can refer us to your friends as well.
    And remember: "Everything will be alright in the end. So if it's not alright, it is not yet the end."

    1. That is Layna to you Mr. Kapoor....get it straight, Layna in Asia, HA! How can I refer someone to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel if he can't get my name straight?

  2. you forgot to mention, the rather.. interesting.. smell that came from our floor !!!


  3. Oh Lord, how could I forget that smell, and yet I did!

  4. Great blog posting!! So very true of our lives too :)

    1. I think it is almost all expats lives, or so I have noticed these days.

  5. Layna you are just so so funny! I absolutely loved reading this blog and of course all of the other ones! Good luck on the next trip to India. We are staying in Moose Jaw right now and I've gone by your house a few times since being here! Take care.

    1. Thank you Joy/Paul. I have joined you travel adventures and it will make good reading. In Moose Jaw - now that is culture shock! Say hello to my old house and enjoy your time in Canada.

  6. Glad you're able to be together....finally....and having such an adventure!!

  7. Thanks Rosie - most days are fun, unless he leaves the toilet seat up and then all heck breaks lose!