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Sharing a Room in Sri Lanka

Jonathan van Bilsen



November 6, 2016

Sharing a Room in Sri Lanka

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to some pretty exotic locales and have stayed in some out of the way places, but I must share one particular hotel experience, which I will always remember. I have had my share of surprises when I travel, but this one is near the top of my list of 'why did I do that?'

It was the one night, a few weeks ago, because of a few itinerary changes; I had to change hotels. An hour before I arrived I learned it was an Eco hotel, which is something I am not big on. We arrived and checked in just before sunset and they offered two types of rooms, one was a cabana, the other a solid room. I asked to look at both.

I quickly learned that the rooms were a good ten minute walk from the lobby. In itself that wouldn't have been a problem, but there had been torrential rains and the ground was flooded. I was told to remove my shoes and socks and to roll up my pants and away I went, walking on God-knows-what. Behind me was the porter with my suitcase on his shoulder, also trudging through the water. 

We arrived at the first room, the one that was a cabana, and quickly realized there was a wall missing. The front of the room was open, with a clear view of the dense, rainforest. The washroom floor had water all over it so I opted for the second room. 

I switched on the TV in an effort to get an update on the election in Canada, and presto, nothing. Fortunately the porter was still there and he called the front desk and we switched rooms. The TV in the new room worked (both channels) but when I went to call the front desk to inquire about dinner, I learned the phone did not work.

I walked back to the TV and a friendly gecko sprang from behind, ran into the bathroom and parked himself on the window sill (where he sat until I went to sleep, at which point I'm sure he came over and licked my face). While in the washroom I noticed an army of ants, marching from a hole in the wall down to the tub, along the bathtub and down to the floor. They seemed to be confined to that area so I closed the door, hoping the gecko would eat the ants.

I headed to the dining room, next to my hotel. It was also very rustic constructed with wooden beams. I glanced at the menu, ordered from the waiter and watched him telephone the kitchen, located in the lobby, 10 minutes away. Eventually I saw my porter carrying a tray of food as he approached the dining area. I was amazed that the tray was uncovered, as he had just paraded my dinner through the jungle.

When finished I asked for tea with hot milk. I learned the hot milk trick, because most of the time the tea was Luke warm. I think I stumped him because he was unsure how to heat the milk. Wanting to avoid calling the front desk he took it upon himself to boil some hot water and put it into the milk container. Quite proud of himself he brought it to me and I thanked him. After a very a quick taste and an odour of rust, I passed on the remainder of the tea. It was time for bed, because I had a 4 am start the next day.

I asked the waiter to call the front desk and ask for a wake call for me. I waited while he did and it all seemed good. Back in my room I tried to master the air conditioning unit, which had two settings, off and 18 degrees. The outside temperature was 35 and humid so 18 degrees it was. I looked at the bed and saw the only sheet was about 1 metre wide and 2 metres long. It did little to protect me from the cold room.

I woke the next morning to the banging on my door and quickly showered and dressed. I was startled when I saw a cockroach, about 7 or 8 cm long scurry across the floor. I trapped him in a glass and took a picture, which by now has made its way to Trip Advisor. Ready to leave I opened my door facing the blackest night I have ever seen. Jungle noises were all around me but strangely not one light was on.

I began to walk in the direction of where I thought the lobby was and was glad that most of the flood water had dissipated. Finally I saw a dim light and headed toward It. Ready for my adventure to continue I waited for my driver, who was half an hour late. Traveling is an adventure, and that night certainly ranked among one of my all-time memorable experiences. 

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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