Guest Houses Sri Lanka – An Open Letter


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Dear Sri Lanka,

I have loved the month that I spent with you. But I feel there is a little room for improvement. Especially when it comes to the places you have that tourists can stay, and sleep and shower.

I’m sure it’s not too difficult, so let me know if you make progress, because I’d love to come back..

Ventilation
First of all, yes I’d like some. The reason I close the windows and the doors when I leave the room is because I don’t want anyone stealing my stuff. I don’t have much., but what I do have I want to keep as mine. That’s not that I don’t trust you. I just generally don’t trust. My six pairs of knickers and four t shirts might be a bit smelly, but they’ve all I’ve got and they’re mine. Besides there’s no budget to replace them for a couple of months.

So when you do provide me with ventilation, in the form of a vent, or an opening above the window or the door, that’s fabulous and I thank you very much for it. But please, can you put some mosquito netting over it.

Apart from anything else, things like THIS get into the bathroom. (iPhone photo, no zoom)

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I know you’d be proud of me, I didn’t scream, but I also didn’t blink ONCE anytime I went into the bathroom over an entire two day period.

All those red lumps you see on my legs, it’s because I’m a tasty dinner, supper, midnight snack to the biting beasts. I know that Sri Lanka has rid itself of endemic malaria, so it’s not that I’m worried about, it’s the constant itching that drives me insane. So please, put mosquito netting on your construction list.

Fans
We’ve only had air con for four nights here in Sri Lanka, and that was more because it was in the room and there wasn’t a cheaper one. We opt for the fan cooled room. I love ceiling fans. I love wall mounted fans and floor mounted fans. They’re actually quite relaxing to go to sleep too.

Until you put the wrong one in the room.

This is a ceiling fan.

luxurious-ceiling-fan

This is a wind turbine.

Off-shore_Wind_Farm_Turbine

It belongs in the sea off Denmark or Eastern England, or on a hill outside Sacramento. Not in a 15 meter squared room in the middle of Sri Lanka, hanging onto the ceiling by a single screw. These wind turbine ceiling fans cause some pretty wild dreams you know, that’s when you can convince yourself to sleep, rather than just waiting for the entire ceiling to drop on you and for the ceiling turbine to keep turning and bore you into the center of the earth. That location isn’t on the list, so, please, help us not take the diversion.

Mosquito Nets

I actually think it’s quite cool sleeping under a mosquito net. I particular like the ones that are fitted to a frame, that looks like a four poster bed.

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The ones that hang from a hook on the ceiling are good too.

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I don’t mind whether they’re white, blue, or lurid pink.

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(ok, lurid pink offends me only slightly). They’re all good, if..

  1. they fit the bed – and here’s a hint. A net for a single bed doesn’t work on a double bed.
  2. if there’s a curtain type effect, to get in and out of the net, then there needs to be some way of securing it – my trusty peg has come in handy a number of times.
  3. do you really want me to start on talking about replacing nets that have holes big enough to get my hand through? I know you grow mosquitoes big here, but I am also bothered by the small ones.

But I’d also add on the mosquito net, if you’ve got the ventilation and mosquito netting sorted, then you don’t need the net!

Curtains
I’m sure somewhere on the internet there is a definition of a curtain. And I’m sure it says that it’s supposed to FIT THE WINDOW.

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I just wish that the curtains that were in the rooms that I stayed in fit the windows that were in the rooms that I stayed in. #nuffsaid

The Internet
Sri Lanka is the only country in nearly 8 months of travel where I’ve felt the need to buy a local SIM card. And it’s not to make calls. It’s to get access to the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I can’t live without Facebook, or my email. It’s usually because I’m looking at reviews of where I might stay next, or how to get there.

Right now, here in Sri Lanka, it’s because I’m trying to do my tax return online. I don’t believe that HMRC will accept as reasonable, the fact that I can’t submit my tax return, is because Internet access sucks in Sri Lanka. Generally. At the Rock Face in Ella, a tiny little three room home stay, we got AMAZING Internet access, enough to Skype video chat with!. The only time it dropped was when the electricity went out. And that I can live with. If Ashoka can provide that sort of Internet access, then surely the rest of the country can.

I’ve found in my travels in Sri Lanka, it’s not enough to confirm that a place to stay has Internet access, but I need to test the connection in the room and then I need to test the speed. Internet that doesn’t have enough download to load a webpage isn’t internet access in my books.

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So, be realistic about Internet access. Now, after a month here, I go expecting that I won’t get access at your location, but that I will tell everyone on every single review that I didn’t get access to it. And for goodness sake. Buy a repeater. If I’m in the only room that is outside the range of the router, and it’s your best room, I’m not going to be a happy bunny, if I have a balcony, but no internet, then it’s not a good place to be.

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Fab Balcony, Pinsiri Rest, Dalhousie. No Internet in the Room, Or on the Bqlcony.

 

Lighting.
I fully understand the use of low energy bulbs. Save the environment, save the electricity bill. But lets be serious. If I can’t see my way across the room when the lights are switched on, then we have a problem. Mood lighting is fine.

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So long as you give me another option in order to see. Using my head torch is NOT THAT OPTION.

I have no desire to have a search light that lets me see under the bed with my eyes closed (believe me I have zero desire to look under the bed. zero). I just want to be able to see once it’s dark. I want to be able to pack my bag and see what’s going in it. Or maybe brush my teeth without resorting to candles.

And while I’m on lighting. Make it easy for me to turn the lights on and off. I totally get that there might only be one light switch in a room. (If you could clean it and the fan controls every now and then that would also be nice)

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But, and this is a really nice, please, if you have two switches, make one of them by the bed. So that if the light has actually been bright enough to use, when I want to go to sleep, and turn off the light, I don’t have to walk back across the room in the dark slamming my shins and toes into all manner of strange furniture.

Showers. And Toilets.
It is at this point, that this open letter probably becomes a rant. And for that I make no apologies. Look, I get it. Wet rooms are much easier to manage from a maintenance perspective. Hose it down, and let it dry.

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Wet Room, shower behind door.

 

Don’t worry about nasty little shower enclosures or anything like that, just one big (or little) tiled room.

From a travelers perspective they’re really, really painful. Especially, if the shower is positioned so that it showers the toilet. Or if the shower is closer to the door than the toilet. Usually, I’ll take one shower a day – and that’s probably in the morning. There might be another before bed, if its been a particularly hot and sweaty day, but here’s my problem.

Once I take that shower, then the whole bathroom is wet for the rest of my stay. And its not like I can wipe it down with my towel, because, even drying me, the towel is wet for the rest of my stay.

Sure I know enough to close the toilet lid while I have a shower, but still, everything is wet. And the small piece of carpet you provide me with to stand on when I come out of the bathroom is usually gritty. And I can’t tell you how much that makes my insides curl. So then the floor in our room gets wet too.

There’s usually nowhere to put the toilet roll to keep it dry while I shower, so that has to go outside the bathroom, not on the floor mind you. Oh yes, I know that trick too. The bathroom is usually higher than the room. And there’s no threshold on the door. And I realize that it might help with cleaning the floor, but I’ve given up trying to dry toilet roll that has sat outside the bathroom door. It just doesn’t work.

If you are going to provide separate cubicles, how about measuring what’s going inside before putting a wall and door on?  Don’t forget legs.  Because they stick out when you sit on the loo.  If loos were supposed to be sat on sideways, then the seat would be the other way round.

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I love the mirrors that you provide too. It makes me feel good about myself. Combining the mirror, the lack of ventilation and the low lighting, and I get this soft focus, dark look at myself, which completely irons out any wrinkles I may have, and means that I can get away with only getting my eyebrows shaped twice in 8 months. I recognize you’re saving me money and anguish, and for that I thank you.

Now before I leave the bathroom let me mention the taps on the wash basin.  Or tap usually.

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Do you have a wrench or a spanner? You know the tool that you can use to tighten up the tap. So that I don’t have to hold the tap with one hand and open it up with the other? #Justasking #didn’tthinkso

Electrical Sockets
In my check list of things to look at when we take a look at a room, we’ve also added “Electricity Sockets”. We learned early on, that our American and Apple devices sticking out of an international adapter meant that wall sockets weren’t going to work for us, so we bought a three way adapter in Mongolia. Now, our device charging looks a little like this. (and health and safety electrical experts should just put their fingers in their ears and start saying constantly “la lalalalalalalalalalalala”).

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So, I understand and I have planned for the fact that you will probably only put a single electrical socket in the room that I’m able to use. I’m prepared. What irks me is when you put this socket either above head height or behind the built in bed. Seriously? Seriously? All I’m going to do then is jury rig something that means you’ll probably have to rebuild the bed or put all the furniture back to how it was as I balance adapter upon chairs upon wardrobes, because there are two kindles, one iPad, one laptop, one phone and one battery that need charging here before we move on.

Lock Me Out, Lock Me In.

If you knew my background, then you’d know that i take security seriously.  I also take safety seriously.  I understand the entrance to where i’m staying might be through a shop.  But, if you’re going to lock up at 730pm, then you’ve got to let me know, ok?

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Equally.  I understand you want to lock the front doors at night.  That’s also fine.  But please leave me an alternative way to get out.  Especially if you know that I’m taking a trip at 5am.

In the Princess Bungalows in Nuwara Eliya we had to break out of the house and then climb over a 6 foot high metal gate that was decorated with barbed wire!

I’m not planning on running off (I’ll pay upfront if you’re worried), I’m more worried about having to get out in a hurry.  Like in a fire, or emergency situation.

Still there? Oh good.

Well, I just wanted to say it wasn’t all bad. It just feels like most rooms were a lot of money for not a lot of room. Or facilities. Or Internet. And I know this was probably the wettest worst December for a long long time, so I get that for most of the rooms I stayed in, my clothes were wetter when they came out, than when they went in.

Sri Lanka, you were wonderful, but staying in your lodgings was expensive and hard work. I had to work at loving you. I hope you realize this is a two way relationship and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Sarah
PS Not everything was awful – and it’s not just Sri Lanka the rest of the world has it’s problems as well, if you do want good places to stay in Sri Lanka, I heartily recommend

And of course, I try and post all my reviews on TripAdvisor, you can find ASocialNomad there too.

 

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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