General Travel Musings

travel tales of disaster accommodation

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We have recently decided to go to Scandinavia next year (YAY!) and for budgeting purposes had a quick look at accommodation prices.

*sigh* the fun of checking out places online and then reading about them on Tripadvisor. And then experiencing them for real.

Sometimes you get this:


And sometimes you don’t!

How many times is it all a LIE?

We roll our eyes when we read reviews from people complaining that there was no TV, that the bathroom didn’t have a bathtub, that the room didn’t have a view… blah blah blah…

Yes! Okay, so that might be annoying for some. And generally we are quite liberal with our accommodation. We accept basic and don’t expect luxury. We understand that some places don’t have this, that and the other. And we get what we pay for sometimes.


when it comes to cleanliness: that’s where we have to draw the line!

And then there are other places we stay where the memories will make us laugh purely due to how random they were!

This is NOT a post about naming and shaming hotels… we won’t do that. This post is more for us to collate our nightmare experiences…ones that we can laugh about now. But shocked, and at times, mortified us!

The one with the spiders 

As young, budget travellers on our first trip to Europe. We were away for 4 months and needed to make sure we stayed within budget. But we were so simply excited to visit Bath that we wanted to stay somewhere we thought would be half decent. And all we got were spiders. Let’s just say our experience with the staff left much to be desired BUT then to have to contend with spiders as well is a different ballgame altogether.

We were lying in bed one night talking when David calmly says, “Don’t move!” And when someone says that… well the natural reaction is to move first and ask why later! Next thing, you know there is a spider running across the sheet. Holy F&%$! And if you know Le, she cannot stand spiders!

There were webs throughout the whole hotel (and NO, it was not Halloween). Let’s just say when you see a footprint mark on the ceiling, you know someone used a shoe to squash something up there.

Courtesy of Neograf Forum thread (

The one with the hair everywhere

On a weekend away, in our nation’s capital, Canberra, we chose to stay at a big name chain hotel. They are usually quite reputable from our experience but this one… let’s just say, we would found the experience rather “hairy”. Getting ready for bed, Le has a habit of ripping back the sheets to check that there are no creepy crawlies in the bed (thanks to our experience in Bath). Luckily, there were no spiders… there was in fact HAIR everywhere. Not just a few strands but it was like someone had a haircut while sitting in the bed! Top to bottom hair was scattered on the bed. YUCK!

The one with dirt and mould everywhere

We were booked to stay at another hotel in Istanbul, but due to being overbooked, they pushed the overflow into another hotel, apparently “4-star”. More like 0.4 star. The staff were rude and dismissive to start. The rooms were tight, dark, dirty and mouldy. The bathroom was absolutely putrid… imagine “Fawlty Towers” in every way but worse and NOT funny!


The one where the toilet clogged

Anyone who has visited New York City knows that accommodation is not cheap and we were there for over a week. We chose one of the cheapest and most convenient places to stay… and well, much like our other tales, we were in for a bit of a shock. The first room they gave us was a small tiny little room, the second one they tried giving to us didn’t even exist (we walked around and around trying to find it to no avail), finally the third one they gave us was at least spacious and existed.

The toilet didn’t flush well and did this weird thing where it would fill to the top and then drain 5-10 minutes later.We just prayed each time that it would not overflow.


The one where we got robbed

We stayed at these serviced apartments in Barcelona, right on Las Ramblas. We ducked out for our last day in Barcelona. Upon our return, we started to get organised for our departure the following day, and noticed that a padlock was missing from one of our bags. So we turned the room upside down looking for it. We didn’t think anything more of it until we went to start packing and saw that our little case of gifts for family and friends back home was missing. Nothing was of immense value but it was just annoying that someone had broken in to steal souvenirs from us! And that was ALL they took, thank goodness!

The one where we were chased by bees

On the Greek Island of Ios, we stayed at a hotel with a lovely view. Except a lot of random things happened at that place and just to name a few memorable ones.

On our first morning in Ios, we went down to breakfast. It was a beautiful warm day, and we wanted to enjoy some sunshine and cereal. Next thing you know, we were being followed by a swarm of bees. They would not leave us alone no matter where we sat, so we were literally were chased out by the bees.


Courtesy of The Hob-bee Hive

The following morning, after a rather sleepless night, thanks to crazy young hooligans staying in the same place, we had a sleep-in. Mid-sleep, we had housekeeping come through. Yep, she came in and tried to be “invisible”, making no eye-contact, she hunched her shoulders to appear smaller, we think.  She mopped around the bed and cleaned the bathroom, all the while as we lay in bed. It was rather awkward. to say the least.

The one with the burnt toast

Staying in Malta, right by the waters, we had nothing to complain about this hotel. This experience is one we laugh at. At breakfast, we noticed that the toast was always burnt. Black toast every morning.  So on our final day, we thought we would ask for bread that was not as black, and clearly due to a lost-in-translation moment, the toast came out, and it was even more charred than we could ever imagine. It looked like a piece of black charcoal. Not a piece of bread in sight. We looked at each other as the waitress put it down, and burst into laughter.

Courtesy of Kindness Blog

The reality is with where we stay… its purpose is for us to shower and sleep. As long as we can do those comfortably and safely, we generally don’t mind where we are staying. 

Now it’s over to you. Share a bad accommodation experience with us… Make us feel better that it is not only us that gets all this craziness!

What has been your most horrible hotel experience? 






guest post: what are the benefits of an escorted china tour?

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post contributed by Mediabuzzer. The views and opinions expressed in the post is that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Wise Monkeys Abroad.
Image by Josephine Lim via Flickr
Image by Josephine Lim via Flickr

The value of an organised, escorted tour through China is worth more than just peace of mind. It can translate into cost savings, making new friends for life, and perhaps one of the most important commodities we have: TIME.

There are too many benefits of a tailor-made China tour for us to list here and they are not difficult to articulate –let me assure you!

  1. Break the Language Barrier

China is a vast country with a variety of different language dialects which make up its diverse culture, and navigating them is no easy task if you are unfamiliar with them. Organising a custom escorted China tour will provide you with the sort of local backup one needs to manoeuvre on their journey.

  1. Get Your Papers Sorted

An escorted China tour company will assist you with obtaining the required paperwork you need to visit the country. Take a lot of the guesswork out of obtaining visas with the help of your tour company and spend more time doing what is important to you without the headaches that come with navigating visa requirements.

  1. Save Money

Organised tours will allow you to get bulk pricing on a number of destinations from hotels, resorts, attractions, and even food discounts at popular restaurants. Do not pay regular prices at places you travel to when you book your journey through a reputable tour company.

  1. Save Time

Escorted China tours 2016 will also help you book everything to your specification, from hotels to restaurants, just by answering their basic questions. A tour company will be able to string together your travel experience based on your preferences and open doors that you may not be able to open all on your own.

No waiting in long queues for tickets or meals. With an organised China tour operator, all of these tasks will be completed in advance of your journey so you can focus on enjoying yourself.

  1. Learn History

A popular China tour company will be able to hold your hand and walk you through every location you visit explaining all of the cultural nuances and historical significance as you go along. They are typically able to offer both entertaining and educational commentary every step of the way.

  1. Don’t Play the Fool 

With as diverse a culture as China’s, there are bound to be many ethnic and etiquette-related ways you might slip up if you are on your own however an accredited China tour facilitator will keep you in the loop as you go along.

  1. Avoid Tourist Traps 

Reputation is everything to a tour company and because they are always trying to attract more business due to the competition that comes with the job title, they’re going to treat you right by making sure that you are safe and that you do not get taken advantage of.

A tour company will ensure that you spend your money with other companies that are reputable and have your absolute best interests at heart, every single time.

#exploretheelements – travel photoblogging challenge

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We’ve just received a nomination for a rather fun challenge/competition (#ExploretheElements) from MiaMusings – so thank you for tagging us.

The idea is to publish 4 photos that represent each of the elements: earth, water, fire and air. Here are our interpretations 🙂

1/ Earth – represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness, physicality and gravity.


2/ Water – represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness and magnetism.


3/ Fire – represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention and an outgoing spirit.


4/ Air – represents things that grow, expand and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion and wisdom.


And before we sign off, we need to nominate some people to get involved. Here are 5 blogger pals whose work we thoroughly enjoy (apologies if you have already been nominated or are not interested in participating).

Mrs Ayla’s Adventures

Packing My Suitcase

The Eternal Traveller

A New Life Wandering

Eff It, I’m on Holiday

 Please leave us your comments.

the top 5 that did not disappoint

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So we’ve written a post about the top 5 places that underwhelmed us, then we wrote about the top 5 unexpected places and now is our top 5 that was everything plus more than we expected. We should also qualify that we have had lots of “overwhelming” moments on our travel but we narrowed it down to our top 5 for this post – which wasn’t easy.

5. Galapagos Islands


The place where Charles Darwin came up with his evolution theory.

The place where there is abundance and diversity.

The place where animals and humans can swim together and walk together.

The place we would recommend to everyone in a heartbeat!

4. Uluru


In the centre of our home country lies the monolith that is ever so famous. It wasn’t only seeing Uluru itself that made this the most jaw-dropping memory we have in Australia, but it was the entire experience itself; seeing Uluru during the day, seeing Uluru changing colours, watching the sunset, being under the stars in the red centre, understanding more about the Indigenous Australian culture and beliefs.

We published a photo essay recently on Uluru if you want to see more photos.

3. Yellowstone National Park 


Being the first National Park in the world and with 9000 square kilometres to explore, one cannot really not pass up the opportunity to visit here. We visited in October and we had snow – lots of it. And it only made the scenery so romantically magical.

We were able to catch glimpses of different wildlife, we visited Ol’ Faithful Geyser and we were mesmerised by the sweeping landscapes and colours.

This is one of the first places we ever visited that as soon as we left, we said, “We’re coming back here again!”

2. Lake Titicaca


Floating reed islands? The minute we heard about these many years ago, we knew we had to visit it one day. And when we finally did, we fell in love. It didn’t matter that we were 3000+ metres above sea level and that every few steps we felt out of breath. Because as we stepped on the reeds and realised that we were actually walking on a floating island, the moment was ingrained in our memories forever. Looking around us, we saw the local residents waving to us in their colourful sweaters – welcoming us to their home. On this planet, there are plenty of unique places to see and this is one of them.

1. The Hanging Monastery


In the side of the cliff, 50 metres above the ground, there stands the monastery/temple that conjures up images of ancient China immediately.

This is the first place that we have visited in the world that brought tears to our eyes. We were so overwhelmed with emotion, peering upwards at it that we did pinch ourselves to see that we were really awake. Then walking through it was another thing altogether – held by what look like only wooden logs – we prayed that it was still architecturally sound. We held our breath when we saw it and we held our breath when we walked through it.

There you have it – our TOP 5 places that met and exceeded our expectations. Any surprises?

There were a few others that were close contenders such as Machu Picchu, Neuschwanstein Castle, Carcassonne, New York City…… plus many more!

Where have you been that you had high expectations of and it delivered? 

Leave us a comment.