Back before the bedbug craze was on, I stayed in some bad hotels, which I finally got to write about for World Hum, in a review of the Worst Hotel in the World, a book of advertisements from a fine Amsterdam establishment which claims that title. Also got a nice link from the New York Times Ideas blog.
A few years ago, I checked into the cheapest place I could find in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. It was grungy, as hostels go—I could see that when I stepped inside.
I didn’t realize just how grungy it was, though, until I walked down the hall and noticed a dank, sweet smell that got stronger as I got to the dorm room I would be staying in.
I set down my bag, sat on the bed and looked at the sheet. There were small brown stains all over it. Not the large stains normally associated with human beings. Little ones.
Late that night, I turned my light on and saw why: bed bugs. Everywhere I looked, teardrop-shaped insects waddled back and forth, drunk on their good fortune. They struggled across the mattress. They scaled the bedposts. They climbed the walls. I’d never seen anything like it. It was macabrely fascinating.
Bad hotels are the bane of the traveler, especially the traveler with no money. The prospect of ending up in some hostel-cum-terrarium is something we’d all like to avoid, which is why online reviews teem with tips on places to steer clear of.
Read the rest here.