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Ipoh, Merak: What a dump.

You know I have to disagree with the philosophy of the lonely planet books, the way they put a positive spin on everywhere they research. It’d be more honest and better for everyone all around if they told you to just avoid places that had no redeeming qualities.

Anyway, it could be worse. We could’ve been involved in a bus plunge or been taken hostage or something. And it was our own fault for ending up here. We didn’t plan far enough in advance and didn’t realise the lunar new year would have such a huge effect on accommodations in this country.

The only interesting thing about Ipoh is the local buses. They look like they were made by people who’d only heard descriptions of buses and never seen any.

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It’s mostly my fault. We had to leave Penang and I was given the task of finding the next place to go. There was still a week or a little less til we were due back in KL for the flight out, so I was looking for somewhere in between Penang and KL. In korea, I always like to see the average cities – to see the real korea. And so I thought Ipoh would be similar in Malaysia’s landscape. Fuck knows why I end up turning every trip into some grim documentary. Aren’t holidays supposed be about escaping reality? In conclusion I will say that there appears to be some sort of electioneering on the streets of Malaysia, and it’s promoting “1 Malaysia” in the sense of three ethnicities, one country but when I look at the differences in wealth between KL and Ipoh, the split isn’t between ethnicities, it’s between the city and the rural areas.

In Ipoh, we are staying at the Tune Hotel. It’s like staying in a Borg Cube! From the same people who brought you Air Asia, Tune Hotels give you what you pay for and not a jot more. When you pay for the room that’s what you get – the room. You pay extra if you want air conditioning, tv, or even a towel. You can pay some extra for wifi internet but you pay in 24hr blocks, and the password they give you is only valid for one device. That’s probably to stop people setting up server farms during their overnight stays. Just like making bookings with Air Asia, there’s a lot of things that can catch the first-time customer out. Like, if you’re ordering the towel and you’re two people, then you need to enter (and pay for the use of) two towels on the booking page. And if you’re staying for two days and you want a fresh towel for the second day, you need to order that too. I’d be interested in trying the flat-rate room for one night to see what it’d be like with no a/c, which is almost mandatory in this heat. Here’s what you do get : bed, pillow, linen, ceiling fan, coat hanger (or 3), 1 international powerplug, 1 british style powerplug, combination mini-safe, shower, toilet, hair dryer, bin, mirror, and a window. Every room is the same size and has a window—that’s Borg-style democracy for you.

What you don’t get is a mini-fridge, optional breakfast, phone, toiletries of any sort apart from toilet paper, and you don’t get any love neither. But sadly, this is probably the future of hotels. Or business hotels at least. To continue the science fiction analogy, I can remember back to my younger days working as a room cleaner at the Park Royal in Melbourne, and it was always obvious when a business person (let’s face it 90% were businessmen) had occupied the room because I could hardly tell they’d been there. Nothing was touched – not the coffee satchels, not the little bottles of shampoo—nothing. And in a few odd cases the bed hadn’t even been slept in—like they’d just stood in the corner and plugged into a power terminal for the night. Those kind of people would love Tune Hotels.

, , , , , , , , — YS @ 9:17 pm, February 11, 2013

2 Comments

  1. Oh Dear! Hence my love of Japan – the only asian city I will ever visit. I am a terrible developing nation tourist myself and prefer absolute comfort, technological support and clean surroundings. I’m a woos in other words. Happy travels for you and the better half!

    Comment by Tony — February 14, 2013 @ 7:23 pm
  2. I totally understand. Next time, which may be a long, long way off, it’s off to Europe.

    Comment by YS — February 14, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

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