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Last night after dinner, Alex, I and two other friends were chit chatting over a coffee table. Our highlight was about our encounters with cockroaches, rats, lizards, bugs, snakes, spiders, frog etc. while putting up with hotels and guess houses overseas.

Over the years with countless experiences in dealing with such situations, in addition to the stress of theft, we naturally developed a rule of thumb when choosing a budget accommodation. We usually make sure we see the room before we take it. Good hotels don’t necessary have all their rooms in good condition. Sometimes we surprisingly find outstanding rooms in the most unexpected condition. I would say, some budget accommodation could have the standard of an expansive hotel, in terms of its basic facilities. 

In an ideal situation, these are what we look for when checking a guesthouse or budget hotel:

  1. Reception is friendly and helpful – First impression is essential, though it may not be always accurate. We usually choose a place where its owner or attendee is friendly and helpful.
  2. New guess house or budget hotel – New guess house or hotel is usually more clean.
  3. Avoid first floor or lower floor – The chances of animal invasion (especially cockroaches and rats, + possible human being) for rooms on the first floor is very high.
  4. Good natural light  – We usually prefer the room with good naturally light and air circulation, a plus if it has at least one big window with reasonably good view. 
  5. Air circulation – We feel unhealthy sleeping in a room with smell of dampness, though we may be deceived by its interior setting. We usually prefer a room with good odor (means good air circulation).
  6. Door lock – It feels safer to have a room with internal door lock. When traveling, we usually carry some locks for locking our room while we are out.
  7. Hygiene standard – check bed linen, pillow cases, and the toilet. Carrying one batik sarong is a good idea, for use of bed linen, blanket and bath towel.  When checking the toilet, I pay particular attention at the toilet seat and the floor water trap. 
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‘This little book is more important than your first aid kit (…). The best book I’ve used for any serious outdoor activity.’ Tim MacCartney Snape, Mountaineer (Australia)

‘… bursting at the seams with sound advice on travel problems (…) and comprehensive enough to cope with almost anything, this book is easy to follow and easy to carry.’ Traveller Magazine (UK)

‘Picking up this book from a local bookshop in Kathmandu is one of my most valuable purchase. While I was sitting in the toilet suffering from severe diarrhoea, Alex was reading through this little book trying to find out what goes wrong. The book then gives us an understanding of the different types of diarrhoea, the causes and cures. The information is remarkably comprehensive for us to go through the crisis.’ Jing

While trekking in the Himalayas we learn some tips from the locals. Instead of carrying modern medicines, I find the following traditional method very useful… 

Ginger tea or hot ginger water

To keep you warm in cold weather.

Garlic soup

To prevent high altitute sickness. Add lots of garlic in the soup you normally eat when you reach the height of 2000m above sea level.

Pop corn or banana

To prevent cramp.

Newspaper in shoes overnight

Stuck newspaper (or news print) in your wet tracking shoes overnight should help to dry it faster as newspaper absorbs the moise in your tracking shoes.

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