Tuesday, March 22, 2016



I arrived in the town of Miri and I've been re-watching LOTR.  It was a natural title.


One of the main differences between more expensive hotel rooms and the ones I frequent is defects or as I think of them, quirks.

The lower maintenance someone is, the lower cost of the room you can put up with.

Upon arriving in this town (a fairly painless process not really worth going on and on about - continue reading for me to disprove that statement) I got dropped off at "Mega Hotel" by the taxi. I thought "With a name like that, perhaps I can afford it." No, the guy who named it just sucked at names. As soon as some guy came out and wanted to help me with my bags (and didn't look like he'd run off with them) I knew I couldn't afford this place.

200 MYR. That's about fifty USD per night AKA 'more than Logan has allotted for the entire day'. As I sat there smiling at the guy telling him "No thank you" I was thinking "Hell if I'm going to SE Asia and paying that much for a room! I can get something cheap in Western Europe for that!  Yes, I'd rather work on my French for six months out of the year if it cost the same as SE Asia to live there.  No doubt, hands down.

But I'm sure there are tons of people who want the better (not the best, that costs way more) and have money.

Again, it is never any fun to ask locals for directions to ...well, most things. Unless they can point at it. But especially hotels. At the end of every long day, these people do not look blearily about and say "Gosh, which hotel will I stay in tonight?" They have homes. They probably don't know much about the hotels.

So you end up getting 'ping ponged' around the city.  "This way!" you are told.  When you get there, "That way!" and back to a totally different area.  Back and forth.  It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't lugging everything I own.

Eventually, I managed to find the 'hotel area' and a room for 50 MYR (about $12) per night.  It ain't pretty but it's not full of drug users and prostitutes the way the last one was.  Unfortunately, it is across the alley from a karaoke place.  It sounded like a cat being inexpertly raped.  Until about four in the morning - on a Monday night.

Bright and early in the morning with a couple hours of sleep under my belt (where I keep the good stuff) I wandered around looking for a new place.  Often it seems to be required that I find the good place after staying in a dubious one.

After staying in hundreds of hotels, one might note there seems to be a common cycle.  The start up, where the hotel owner often prices themselves a bit higher (or much higher) than they should - perhaps terrified about the amount of money they have invested.  Later, the hard work and resignation that customers often suck.  Afterward, the burn out phase where listless teenagers are hired and the place can be said to have truly gone to shit.  Not all hotels follow this but it is something to look for.

The place I found is in the phase where the price is reasonable (60 MYR) for a good sized room (50 for a glorified closet) and everything looks white and new.  I'm use to rooms where a fresh coat of paint and perhaps a case of arson may not be amiss, so this is a huge step up.

Everyone is eager to make sure I am comfortable.

The owner is a bit younger than the eighty year what the hell is the 'internet' types who often own buildings so they have internet that seems to be thrice (word!) 'Cambodia'.

For actual internet speeds, I go by what my download rate is.  'Cambodia speed' I've fixed to a sad 30 kb/s.   This one I'm sometimes hitting 100 kb/s.  Exciting.  True that even slow internet connections in the USA can go ten times that fast but here nobody cares what I download.  Wild West - er - East.  Wagons East!

I want to make very clear that when I discuss the hotels (sometimes horrific) that I stay in I don't want to sound like I am bitching.  I just want to give the readers a very clear view of what the rooms are actually like without the usual glossy finish most travelers liberally apply.  But - and I wish to be crystal on this - I am grateful the cheap and shitty rooms do exist.  Without them it would be impossible to do what I do.  And I'm still enthralled by this lifestyle after six years.

One other note.  I completely understand when people book ahead.  They're usually only going to be in that place one to three nights and they want the security of having a place pre-booked.  I get that.  But - outside the expensive countries - those are usually not the best places.  You generally pay more and get less.  Believe me, if the people are savvy enough to put their hostel/guest house/etc on hostelworld.com (etc) they are charging a bit more.  If you have the time, I suggest booking for just one day.  Get up a bit early, walk around and find something better.  Go get your gear before checkout time and move to your new digs.

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{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

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{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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