Leaving Vietnam.

Shocked to be leaving, after what seemed to be a very short period of time in Vietnam, but more shocking that, oh dear me, I didn’t really know where I was going. Then lovely Borneo entered my head, I mulled it over. What about returning to KK? I had loved it there and it would give me a chance to reflect on exactly where I should go to in Thailand because I was surely flying back home from Bangkok? (I would have loved to continue to India but I remembered the hassle of the visa). I hurriedly checked flights to KK only to find that going through Kuala Lumpur was my best bet and the cheapest. Just one problem was the connection which would mean I wouldn’t arrive till very late in KK. If I stayed at a cheap airport hotel then I could catch the early flight in the morning. Perfect? Or not Rebecca, or not.

No Frills can mean no Windows.

Top Tip: Research Airport hotels very carefully. I have made catastrophic mistakes in the past. NEVER book one where you can clearly see it’s on a thundering motorway to the airport. NEVER book a random place that also has rooms without windows. And NEVER book a place that is in a heavily religious totally isolated place. Airport hotels can be your big friend or your most evil enemy as I will explain next below, I HAVE ALSO MADE A LIST OF HOW DISCERN THE GOOD FROM THE BAD WHICH IS BELOW.

I started my trip uneventfully, apart from the usual crap about suitcase size, and being insulted by the very young guy lurking around the check in desk in what job I still don’t understand bar insulting passengers . He asked if I was pregnant (had I put on so much weight there?) Although insulting it was rather nice for the moron to think I was young enough to be with child! On to the plane and an early morning wait in a near empty departure lounge. Flight fine so I was optimistic that however long to escape the maze that is KLs airport, I would still be there in plenty of time to grab a cab and go the short distance to my hotel. All was fine until I actually arrived in this hideous place where I was to rest my head for the night.

Coffin Room of Hell.

They showed me to my room along a dark corridor where I saw a number of Muslim men slopping around in flip flops and their casual robes who gave me murderous dark looks and when I saw my room I understood why. The door was opened with a flourish onto a small coffin like room that had no a window, my jaw dropped as I looked blankly at it. Was this Bates Hotel?

Where’s the window? I said.

This room has no window. He said airily as if I was a real fusspot.

I want a window, I will pay extra for a window, give me a window. My voice was becoming high pitched and squeaky pre-hysteria mode.

Now I don’t know about anyone else but for me, this is an absolute no no. I am claustrophobic at the best of times and as soon as the bloke had shown me the air con and closed the door I went into meltdown. I tried talking myself through it bet there was nooooooo way I could sleep in this coffin room. By then I had noticed scuff marks on the wall next to the bed as if someone had kicked out in a night full of demons in their dreams I started crying and shaking then opened the door and ran down the corridor to the reception. They had to give me another room or I would leave. After some furtive phone calls, the man suggested I go out to eat and after that, the lady owner would arrive to sort things.

I went out and was horrified by the small grubby row of shops and cafes. I had wanted a bit of authentic Malay life and I got it in spadefuls. I’m being kind when I say that, it was very much a slum at the edge of the motorway and the flies? I have no problem with a bit of rough but this was a terrible shock and on top of it all there was no alcohol at all. I was without beer. I had a small snack that was chucked in an ancient microwave and ordered a frappe with was tooth meltingly sweet. This might be a bit too authentic. With the flies buzzing around I decided to go back and sort this out. Then to add insult to injury the heavens opened and all manner of insects decided to show themselves and the smell of the fish left in crates on the pavement started to pong in a not fresh fishy way. Now the airport is a long way from the city centre and I was completely mortified and somewhat stuck in the bed of my own making. Sometimes being an old bird travelling solo is shit.

The Darkest Hour is Just Before the Dawn.

I met with the owner and she chucked out some people and put me in a room at the front with windows. That night was long and hard. The air con was freezing cold but to be without it turned the room into a furnace. The noise from the road was incessant, and even my trusty comedy programmes left me bleak and weary. There was also a strange blocked hole in the false ceiling maybe for another torture room they hadn’t quite finished yet. A two hangers hung off a metal contraption on the wall and thin red patterned curtains were on the huge window that was covered in a fluorescent film to prevent sun blindness!? (well it was very all or nothing with the window situation) This was my improved situation. I was so cold that I covered myself with the one thread-worn towel from the bathroom and all the clothes from my suitcase including my trusty Russian coat only still to shiver, with manic eyes, through the night. Earphones couldn’t block the noise and realistically I would not be able to sleep for one minute through it. You might call me an over-privileged brat but as they say, you had to be there. (Out of interest the description now calls it “humble”….)

Alert: I have now done this twice. Do not be cavalier like me. I booked into a hotel next to the motorway returning home and it was again vile. As my diary thus far has been out of sequence, I can’t quite remember where, I don’t know which terrible airport hotel came first but suffice it to say this one added mosquito’s to the mix and neighbours arguing in the next room throughout that long and desperate night. This one however had a charming high street with excellent cheap food and a very jolly atmosphere so it wasn’t bad for the outside stuff just the bleak loud anxious night. The reason I call this an alert is that obviously I made this mistake twice. I don’t want any old birds going through this as we can be a little impetuous and sometimes saving money just ain’t worth it. Sometimes you can’t help having to stay at airport hotels in London. In Luton for example which is a God forsaken place, you have a choice and to be honest they are at least up to date with noise issues. My favorite however, if I’m flying from Gatwick is BLOC. You literally cannot get better, and the many ones I have stayed at that have been wonderful are too many to list but suffice to say you need to spend that little bit more

  • Check the hotel is not on a major road. It’s better to be a bit further away from the airport than suffer the terrible noise that will go through the night.
  • Check the hotel is in a safe area.
  • Check if they have either a bar or a minibar so if they have no restaurant you have a place for snacks or can buy bits and put them in your minibar fridge.
  • Check the reviews. Especially the bad ones, they will reveal underlying problems.
  • Check you have placed the filters of importance in your booking site. Go through the filters carefully at the beginning and it’ll make your life a lot easier to check a smaller number of places that you will be interested in.
  • Check if you have transit from hotel to airport in the morning as some places are tricky to get a cab.
  • Check that you have a window in the room. A lot of cheaper places have just bought a property and divided it up into box rooms. This is fine if you’re a student or with someone but not for an old bird
  • If ANYTHING makes you uneasy don’t book it there will be loads around that will be a better bet.

Morning comes and so does hope.The owner insisted on driving me to the airport, no doubt worried about my review. I was four and a half hours early for my flight and didn’t give a damn so I waited in a sleep deprived way then I wearily went through to my plane on my last leg to KK.

My research for my next hotel was obviously excellent.