As I reflect back to my time after KL, I realize that I had forgotten most of the trip. I could not recall how we got around, or what we ate for our meals. This is either an effect of aging (Why God WHY?! I’m not thirty for a few more months!). Or because the minute details were completely eclipsed by the series of unfortunate events. So forgive me if I skip the good and go straight to the bad.
It’s not fair to say that there was nothing good, especially since Johan had surprised me with tickets to The World Music Festival. ‘Attend an outdoor concert’ was on my bucket-list before leaving Asia. There wasn’t much time left so I had mostly forgotten about it, but seems like Johan didn’t. I didn’t know what World Music was, but who cares! It’s in a rainforest!!! How friggin’ cool is that?
So we ventured on to Kuching where it was held.
By the time we arrived, it was already night. We went directly to the hostel Johan found online.
Now, I have stayed in many hostels in Asia. They weren’t 5 star or even 2 star hotels (except for the one in Korea, it was at least a 3 star) but they were generally acceptable for the price. Once we got to this place, I finally understood why they inspire so many horror movies. The plot to Hostel 3 started forming in my mind…
First of all, the bathrooms was shared. Ugh, but fine.
Then I almost stepped on someone on the way to the bathroom. Many travelers did not rent rooms here, but simply slept in hallways. Fine. I’m no princess, I can deal with this.
However, I could no longer keep my brave fascade once we got to our room. Sorry, did I say “room”? I meant a bunk bed with a door and no ceiling. It was essentially a large space blocked off into sections with separators. Think of a train station in China with a little more privacy and a little less spitting.
“Are you ok?” Johan asked upon seeing my jaw drop to the floor, cartoon style.
“But…I’m a light sleeper…” I replied weakly.
“Sorry Hun, it looked so different in the pictures.” He said apologetically.
“I’ve never had siblings…” I rambled on.
“Yeah, this isn’t what I was expecting either.”
“I never had to share a room…not until college…”
“Um…do you wanna find another place?”
“Even then…it was just with one person…”
“Evelyn…was her name….”
“Hun…please look at me.”
“She didn’t snore…but she did watch Gilmore Girls until 3am…”
Johan waved his hands in front of my face to get my attention.
“Did I mention I was a light sleeper?” I said as I came out of my dazed.
In the end, we decided to tough it out. It was too late to find another place, and I told myself to look on the bright side. I never went backpacking after college. It’ll just be like I’m 18 and doing what all carefree white girls do. Maybe I’ll even… OMG is that a flying cockroach?!?!?
The next morning, I woke up feeling surpringly refreshed. Probably because I was so drained from the shock and stress that I eventually passed out from exhaustion. It was loud thanks to the actual 18 year olds, but luckily I had industrial strength eye plugs. I always keep them on me just in case, thanks to my late-night-TV-watching roommate.
“Good morning, babe!” I peered down at Johan on the bottom bunk.
He was scratching incessantly in his sleep. I put on my glasses and took a closer look. His arms and legs were covered by rows and rows of tiny red dots.
Holy Jesus Mary and Joseph!!! BED BUGS!!!
In a fit of panic, I almost fell off the bunk.
I had a terrible experience with bedbugs many years ago. I ended up in the ER with a bad allergic reaction and blood poisoning. They strapped a machine strapped around my body that pumped antibiotics every 6 hours for 7 days. I did not shower for a week. After that, any time I felt itchy I think it’s bedbugs. They were not, but too late, I was forever psychologically scarred. BBPTSD (Bed bug Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I called it. I feel itchy as I’m writing this now…
“These are not bedbugs bites. Looks like…sandflies! Very common!” The owner waved it away like it was no big deal.
“But..” I argued that they were in rows, that’s a sign of bedbugs!
“Trust me.” She looked at us like we were prissy foreigners. “If it’s bedbugs, then why only him and not you?”
“Don’t worry hun.” Johan insisted. “It’s probably just sandflies like she said.”
“Let’s go get breakfast. We got a bus to catch to the festival.” He started to drag me away.
Johan had spend a long time planning this and I could tell that he desperately wanted me to have a good time. I guess if it didn’t bother him then who am I to complain? So I decided to drop it, but not before checking myself thoroughly for bites.
We found a local eatery near our place. Half way through our meal I could see Johan wincing.
“Is it that bad?” I asked him thinking that it tasted ok to me.
“No…” He replied.
Before I could ask any more questions, Johan raced out of there yelling something about a bathroom.
A few minutes later he came back looking visibly pale.
“Guess I no longer have the iron stomach of my youth.” He joked weakly.
“My poor baby!” I threw my arms around him. “Why is everything happening to you?”
“As long as it’s not happening to you, I’m happy to take the hit!” He kissed my forehead.
He was right. Normally I’m the one getting sick one way or another. Since this trip, it seems that he has become a sponge, absorbing all the bad stuff and leaving me in the clear.
And unfortunately for Johan, the bad stuff does not end here.