During my 11 month sojourn I have slept in all sorts of accommodations & on a variety of conveyances running the gamut from Hostel dorm rooms to 4* Hotels & even a Bangkok apartment, from train sleeper berths to economy class on Pelni ships, from the dreaded sleeper bus to seats in a variety of classes of planes, trains, buses & ferries.
Although I have stayed in some nice & expensive hotels like the Hotel Hans Egebe in Nuuk which only cost $352.00/night or the Beijing Novotel for a mere $118.00/night, they were not my favorites. Not sure what I will have to say about the Motel 6, I just booked in Anchorage for the insane price of $142.00/night but OMG $142 for a Motel 6 comes to mind!!
So from amongst the hodge-podge of hostels, hotels, motels, resorts, camps & bungalows, my trip favorite & cheapest at $5.00/night, is the Thoun Sunset Bungalows at Don Det, in the Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) archipelago of the Mekong River, where I could relax, with a cool one, on the veranda overlooking the Mekong at sunset. Life was good there for 6 days & proved that one can be truly happy in a bungalow on stilts with a squat toilet, cold water shower & the generator was only turned on for about 4 hrs from dusk until 10-11 in the evening (depending on the customers in the restaurant/bar.
#2 was the Ger Camp Timari in a national park 2-3 hrs outside Ulan-Bator Mongolia, where for the 2nd time on the trip I experienced utter silence (1st was in the Illusiat Ice Fjord in Greenland). Here we stayed in a Mongolian Ger heated by a wood stove, so the evening was nice & toasty but a tad chilly in the morning getting dressed for the walk to the communal toilets. However looking out over the desert, at the star filled evening sky, in complete silence, was an awesome experience!
#3 was the couple days spent at the Chitawin Lodge just outside the Chitawin National Park in the Nepalese Jungle, yes Nepal is more than Mt Everest & highland trekking. Another basic accommodation but the early morning was spent floating down the river in a dugout in search of crocodiles & other jungle critters, followed by a shore hike to an elephant breeding farm. The afternoon brought an elephant ride in search of the elusive rhino, which we did spot along with the unusual sighting of a sloth bear. Again a quiet evening listening to the noises of a jungle night.
#4 would be my home stay (2nd time) with same family in Antigua Guatemala, 500Q ($65)/week meals included, for an upstairs room at the back of the courtyard where I can see Volcan Fuego in the distance. Quiet, not bad food & only a short stroll to Parque Central, the market etc.
#5 is a toss up between 2 very different hostels, each with it’s own special charm. El Roble in El Salvador, only a 10 min walk from the deserted Playa Diego, run by a family that you become a part of for your stay & the Motherland Inn 2 in Yangon where there is a homey atmosphere, friendly staff & guests who congregate at the outside tables to compare notes where to go next & what to do. Again cheap rooms with a good free breakfast served from 5 am if you have an early plane, train or bus.
#6 the Luna Rossa beachfront hotel on Boracay Island Philippines where Mario, the Italian owner & his wife also treat you like one of the family. Free internet, Food a bit pricey but good, however there is a Mexican bar next door with a more or less permanent happy hour & cheap eats. Just off the beach, a bit is a nice local place with super cheap breakfast. Up the beach is the rowdy & expensive night life & overpriced restaurants.
#7 takes us down under to a more expensive motel on Australia’s Gold Coast, the Tower Court Motel in Hervey Bay. Priced at $85 it’s cheap for the area especially considering that’s for a kitchenette unit, there’s a pool with ocean front across the street, restaurants not too far away. The owner is a super guy who picks you up at the bus station & the tour operator to Fraser Island picks you up at the door.
#8 is half way around the world, the Stadion Hostel in Helsinki Finland, while not cheap at $55/night is good, clean & you meet lots of travelers, it’s also on the tram line making for cheap access to trains, attractions etc
#9 the City Hostel in Reykjavik Iceland is a new, popular place & at $35 for a dorm a fairly normal price, also the bus goes past the door & town pool a 2 min walk away. They sell reasonable food or cook your own. Super friendly & helpful staff & free wifi.
#10 is the Hotel So in Christchurch NZ at $88 is a bargain for the area, has everything you need, central location & free internet.
#11 back to OZ & the Brisbane City Back Packers hostel, only hostel in OZ with free internet, or so they claim, only one I stayed at anyway but no free breakfast or even coffee. Dorms in the $30+ range but privates at $105 a tad dear. however a central location, walk able to downtown, the transit centre, hop-on-off bus etc.
#12 another toss up between 2 Indonesian bungalow style motels, the Manyar in Banyuwangi at $22 & the Pulestis in Kalibukbuk at $11 both with free breaky, nice rooms & in town. Pulestis only a 3 min walk from the beach while Manyar is about the same & only 5 min from the ferry dock to Bali.
#13 the Hotel Palomestari in Kemi Lapland could be anywhere in northern Canada if it wasn’t for the labels on the bottles at the bar. Similar structure, similar typical northern customers. Weird!! but cool.
#14 The Grand Kartika in Pontianak Indonesia, where the equator runs through town. At $41 not a bad deal for a safe Navy owned hotel on the river & a short walk from the ship dock where I boarded for Jakarta. Good restaurant & even had a couple staff that spoke some English.
#15 Finally Bangkok & the 13 Coins Airport hotel with free internet, good food, COLD Tiger beer. An American manager + a super Indian customer relations person.
#16 last but not least comes the Delta Floating Hotel on the Mekong in Vietnam where we stayed the last night of our 3 day boat trip from Saigon to Cambodia. Price was included with tour but was different & pretty neat!
When it comes to sleeping while traveling, top marks would have to go to ferry cabins, followed by train sleeper compartments, all pretty much the same for comfort. Then would have to come the Pelni ship economy class, a bit hot but at least you can lie down & renting a mattress was only 50 cents + could stay on deck where it was cool until the other passengers were mostly asleep & you were tired enough to sleep through most anything, also there was a shower, so not really to bad for $13/night food & transport included.
Guess next would be the Ocean Recliner seats on The Spirit of Tasmania followed by train seats, 2nd class recliners that is. Think would have to give bus recliners the edge over economy airline seats & that’s normal planes. Bus is definitely better than airline “cattle car” seats.
Then comes the Asian version of intercity buses with non reclining seats that are closer together than school bus seats & they can be a challenge to try to get sleep in but are still superior to the dreaded sleeper buses which have to be the worlds worst ever invention!!
All in all it’s been an enlightening 11 months & goes to show for happiness, the simpler the better + way cheaper. My $5.00 bungalow with it’s porch overlooking the Mekong in Laos was by far superior to the overpriced hotel in Nuuk & $347.00 cheaper. Go figure LOL