Sunday, 24 March 2013


The idea of our blog was to show friends and family where we are and what we’ve been up to on our travels. Strictly, we are not “travelling” at the moment, rather stopped temporarily in one place to help out our friend, Willy, with his hostel in KL, and replenish our funds a bit. But this experience is still part of our journey, and although probably not as exciting as our adventures in Indonesia or India, for example, might be of some interest to some people!

We have been helping out here for about two months now, and the time has flown. We knew it was going to be hard work being responsible for the day to day running of the hostel, but what we didn’t realize was the difference in our attitudes working in a hostel compared to staying in one. It’s a whole different story! It’s also the first time we’ve “worked” in about five years, so the effort involved took a few weeks to get used to.

Checking the bookings

Our daily activities include keeping the hostel clean and tidy, maintaining the upkeep of the rooms, laundry, bookings, and checking guests in and out. We've taken to it well, having had some experience in this line of work before. 
Of course, one of the main jobs is answering questions from backpackers. These range from the common (“How do I get to the airport from here?”, “Where is a good place to eat?”) to the dopey (“How do I make a cup of tea without a teabag?”, “Why is the room hot?”) to the downright bizarre (“Where can I buy a hypoallergenic pillow cover?”, “What is the time difference between here and Rome?"). Our patience level is usually quite high (especially Richard), but there are some testing times!

Messy dormitory

The "after" shot

We’ve been surprised with how clean, neat and courteous most of our guests are. Our theory is, if the place is already clean and nice, people will keep it that way. One example was a night when a group of youngsters were drinking beers and playing music out the back in the kitchen area until quite late, and then cleaned everything up after themselves, right down to emptying the ashtrays! It was a nice surprise for Sally in the morning!

There have really been only two dodgy incidents, which is pretty good for two months in a backpackers! One was two young drunk guys showing up in the morning and refusing to leave, and the other was a guy who brought back a prostitute after a night on the town. Unfortunately, both these times, Richard was out, and Sally had to deal with the idiots! The bell on the door is a mixed blessing, as we can choose who comes in to stay (we are on a busy road near a main train station, and get a lot of dodgy locals ringing the bell with various requests- sometimes for a massage!), but also means we have to get up in the night if anyone rings.

Rich in the kitchen

It's really been lovely to see some old friends staying here to visit us- Susan, our fabulous, quirky Kiwi friend; "The Gang" from Ko Chang, who cooked us an amazing Iranian meal in the guesthouse kitchen; and the whirlwind that is Monika, who blew in and then out just a quickly. We've had some wonderfully memorable guests- some we know will become friends, and others we were very happy to see the back of! Some stand outs have been the Spaniards who were here when we arrived and stayed over a month in KL; charming Hew, the English gentleman who spent five hours a day at the gym during his three weeks stay; the funny little man from Uzbekistan, who stayed in the dorm and used lovely flowery English (he looked like Borat, and his name was Marat!); the Puerto Rican princess who thought the world revolved around her; the amazing artists from Spain who drew my portrait; the strange couple who traveled with a 10 kilo bag of rice, as they thought it was "safer" to cook their own; and 71 old year young Dave from the UK- still going strong!

Our generous friends and the banquet they cooked for us!

Sal's portrait, drawn by the talented Alba from Spain

We unknowingly took over in the busiest part of the year, with Chinese New Year to kick us off, followed by a festival weekend a few weeks later, and then the packed out week of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. But we much prefer the place to be busy and full of life, than slow and dragging.

So, apart from the fact that we have little (actually no!) time together away from the guesthouse, we are enjoying the experience and have decided to stay on for a second “leg”. We originally planned to stay here for Feb/March/April, but will now continue until July. Part of the reason for this, is the money we can save here will give us the opportunity to travel somewhere further afield from South East Asia, and do something a bit different we haven’t had the chance to do before.

So, stay tuned for more!