Most backpackers don’t worry much about accommodation. They just turn up to a place and go door-to-door in search of a hostel or guesthouse that is both cheap and clean. It’s usually pretty easy to do and not a bad way to go about finding a place to stay if you are flexible and up for anything.
It wasn’t until Gili Trawangan that I tested out this method. I’d always booked a couple of nights at a hostel and then extended or moved as needed. But when Liam and I arrived at Gili T, we had no idea where we were staying. People told us that there’d be heaps of people greeting the boats who could help with accommodation. As we found out, this was definitely not an exaggeration.
We met a guy who told us he’d bring us to a guesthouse. We tried a couple of places a few blocks back from the ocean but they were fully booked or more than we wanted to pay. We finally got to one place that seemed pretty clean and bright, included breakfast but had no a/c. It was midday and I really wanted a place with a/c, but we decided to book into this place for a night and then check out nearby guesthouses to see if we could get a better deal.
We found a great place down the road that had cute little bungalows and a pool. It sounded perfect so we told them we’d be over the following day and to reserve a room for us. Unfortunately, when we arrived the next morning, they had sold our room. They showed us to one of the bungalows, which turned out to be extremely small but it had a/c. Liam loved its character, but I thought it was a bit cramped. Still, we decided to take it and not go walking to find another place.
We spent the day lounging around the pool and watched a movie in the room. However, I felt something wet on the bed even through the duvet. I looked under the covers and found a growing patch of wetness that was coming from the mattress. It stunk of urine!!
Liam quickly went down to tell the staff. At first, they offered to change the bedding, because they didn’t understand that it was pee and thought it was just water. After one of the guys smelled the duvet, he looked disgusted and offered to move us. It turned out people occupied our room the previous night, and housekeeping apparently changed the sheets without seeing the huge wet patch. More likely, they ignored it and just covered it up! That is so horribly unsanitary and gross!
After moving to a new bungalow, I decided to take a shower hoping to wash away any cooties I might’ve gotten from that bed. After a few minutes (enough to get a good lather going in my hair), the water in the shower stopped running. I tried the tap at the sink and that was also dry. The bungalow’s bathroom, like many in Bali, was out the back and an open-air concept. High walls provided privacy from other bungalows and guesthouses, but there was no roof covering the space. After waiting several minutes and testing all the taps, I had to ask Liam if he could report another problem to the staff.
When he returned, he said they’d turned on the water pipes to our bungalow so I returned to my shower. But, after 10 minutes with no water I came back upstairs again and decided I may as well give up. But, as is common in Asia, a heavy downpour of rain started up and I decided that might be enough to at least get the soap out of my hair. Halfway through, the water finally started up again and I was able to get a proper shower.
Never before have I experienced so much drama at an accommodation. Now I’ll be more careful to fully vet a place out before committing to it. It makes me a bit wary not to pre-book accommodation, but I think I’ll still give it a go. Places that can afford to list themselves on a website, especially guesthouses and hostels in Asia, are bound to be more expensive. Prices are also set once you book it online while you can negotiate for a better price in person. I suppose there are pros and cons to both ways of traveling. This is definitely one of the most memorable things that I’ve done. Too bad it had to be the high level of grossness and inconvenience that’s made this time so unforgettable.