Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Than a Place to Sleep

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I do not understand why, in choosing travel accommodation, some people would say dismissively, “oh, we’re just sleeping there anyway.”  Hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, hostels, homestays – are they nothing more than places to sleep?  I think not.  They are an essential part of the whole travel experience.  In fact, some of my memorable experiences on the road involve--and revolve around--the places I stayed at.


Here are my favorites:

Teresek View Motel, Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia

This inn is included in the tour package for Taman Negara National Park that we got so I had no idea how it would be like.  It turned out really crummy:  the smell of durian that pervaded the place and engulfed the senses; a bathroom you wouldn’t want to set your foot in without slippers on; the smell of moldy linens camouflaged by perfume; a ‘private’ balcony that turned out to be not so private after all.  But our stay at Teresek View became the highlight of our trip. The sheer shabbiness of the place changed the way I look at life on the road and life in general.  It taught me that when I’m in a foreign place I can’t afford to be fussy and fastidious, and yielding to the place and to the moment is the best way to have fun. From then on, travel became less of a ‘vacation’ but more of experiencing both the niceties and nastiness of every day.     

Umaid Bhawan Hotel, Jaipur, India

Umaid Bhawan is a favorite for how it looks. I felt like a maharani staying in such a swanky place.

Royal Suite, Umaid Bhawan Hotel, Jaipur, India

Hotel Centre Pointe Silom, Bangkok, Thailand

It was my first time to go to Bangkok when we stayed at Centre Pointe.  I thought at that time that the high-rise hotel with its sanitized feel and modern facilities looked incongruous with the chaos that surrounded it. Stepping out of its doors, we were greeted by the ceaseless tumult of everyday life: colorful tuktuks all around, people walking to the Saphan Taksin pier to catch a riverboat taxi, street vendors hawking charcoal-grilled fish, yen ta four, rompers, dragon fruits, lottery tickets—an entire world of goodies that enchant wide-eyed tourists like me. Without this incessant commotion in its surroundings, Centre Pointe would be like any other nice yet dull hotel.

8 Auspicious Him View Hotel, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India

I am not a religious person, but I loved how this inn named and decorated their rooms with the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. We stayed at the White Conch room wherein I can see the stunning Dhauladhar range without having to get up from bed.
White Conch Room, 8 Auspicious Him View Hotel, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India

The Green House, Urubamba, Huaran, Peru

The Green House remains my favorite among all the hotels and inns I’ve stayed. Let me quote from a post I’ve written earlier:

 The Green House offered us a restorative sojourn. Located in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, this bed-and-breakfast became our sanctuary from noise and disquiet, a place where the din of hooting horns, screaming brakes and prattling tourists is refreshingly absent and the modest sound of the stream behind our room blended with the place’s tranquil silence.

Its splendid isolation, away from life’s daily disruptions and distractions, rewarded us with the rare chance to be together - to go on quiet walks, discover the depths and delights of the community, picnic on freshly baked bread and fruits in the middle of harvested corn fields and drink in the magnificence of the Andes.

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