Room 207 - Unfinished Business - CycleBlaze

Room 207

It’s probably a capital versus provincial town thing but the value for money of the accommodation differs between Vang Vieng and Vientiane. In Vang Vieng the accommodation is excellent value for money – 50,000 kip or roughly $6 gets you a relatively clean double room with a fan and a zip hot water heater, when your burning desire is for nice cold water. In contrast, accommodation in the capital is poor value for money.  We looked at the very popular Orchid Guest House and were appalled that they expected us to pay 180,000 kip for a somewhat grubby room.  There’s no way that we were forking out twenty bucks for any room unless there was a pretty big incentive, such as a buffet breakfast.  It didn’t matter that we were drenched in sweat and annealed with dust after the typical dirty ride into a big town.  Vientiane is about the size of Canberra and could well be twinned with our nation’s capital.  Canberra has the algal infested lake that you probably wouldn’t let your dog enter. Vientiane sports one of Asia’s greatest sewers – the mighty Mekong, which Lonely Planet suggests is good for bathing. I think they mean that it is good for “you” to bathe in.

But that is all beside the point of accommodation.  We ventured around the corner and came upon the Laos Youth Inn, where rooms were a whole lot cheaper, but the place did not have Orchid’s rooftop seating area where you could venture if a sauna seemed all too expensive.  We said a very quick “No” to room 204 because it was yet to be “cleaned”.  Funny word is “cleaned” in much of Asia, which by definition carries a pretty thick layer of grime.  In contrast, they had straightened a room on the opposite side of the corridor, as much as anything in Asia can be straightened, and for a mere 60,000 kip we jumped on it.  There was a spot in the hotel “lobby” to leave our bikes and we had a room to match what we had seen at the Orchid.  To put this in terms of the drinker’s dollar, we had effectively scored a dozen free 640 mL bottles of Beer Lao, whose brewmeister I hasten to add is a teetotaler female.  And being Asia, if you bought a dozen bottles of beer you could definitely snaffle one or two more for free.  Thus, by staying at the Laos Youth Inn, rather than the Orchid, we could, if we desired, sit back and drink seven longnecks each of a very fine beer for free.

Perhaps the catch in this argument is that there is no such thing as free anything.  You find $20 and you lose $30 the next day.  By coincidence, Cora was reading about Vientiane on the web and one of those banners popped up on the screen.  “TripAdvisor” just happened to have a dozen evaluations of the Laos Youth Inn, one of which I copy below.

“Reviewed January 3, 2011

Having read some reviews from trip advisor, I decided to check into Youth Inn on 2 Dec 2010 with another friend. We got ourselves a twin bed room. The price was 80,000kips per night. The room (Room 207) looked alright but we suspect that the bed sheets and blanket covers were not changed after every guest. Nevertheless, we thought it was still acceptable given that we were putting up for only one night and really, one cannot expect everything to be spick and span during a budget travel. However, our nightmare started when we woke up late at night to find ourselves bitten by bedbugs! We turned out the lights and to our horror, bedbugs were creeping out of the pillows and blankets. I managed to catch a few bugs using a tissue paper.

With the 'evidence' in hand, I went down to the reception to ask for a change of room. The man at the reception did not seem to be surprised or apologetic, and he snapped at me saying, "We are full tonight, what do you expect me to do?".

In the end, I had to go around the streets at around midnight to look for another guesthouse. On the following day, I went back to the hostel to get a refund, but only after some lengthy 'discussions' with the reception.

So, overall, my experience with this hostel was EXTREMELY BAD”

And which room did we inhabit?  ROOM 207.  Isn’t that brilliant! We remained unphased.  Ten months is a long time in the life of bed bugs and we were armed with pretty decent sleeping sheets so we forged on and decided that if the nocturnal arachnids appeared then we would bond with mutual scratching.  If you think that is bad, then toughen up. Room 207 was a whole lot better than Room 101, the torture chamber in The Ministry of Love in George Orwell’s 1984. It’s probably even better than its namesake – Room 101 at the BBC, where Orwell would have to sit through tortuously boring meetings or, for that matter, any room with meetings. Anyway, no bed bugs appeared and thus it appears that bed bugs cost an extra 20,000 kip!

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