Somewhere along the way I got spoilt. I still camp, but now its luxury. Flights? I usually travel economy, yet as a Gold Privilege member with lounge access. Hotels? For years it’s been 5 stars or modern, stylish boutique 4 stars.
For our Jakarta project, we have a budget of IDR 1,000,000/night (US$100) which can, in a pinch, be stretched to IDR 1,300,000 inclusive of all taxes. The goal is to spend much less, shifting to apartments rather than hotels after the first trip. With advance research and inputs from a few friends, I planned to check into a newer serviced apartment (Morrissey), supposedly in a lively part of town, with a rate quoted significantly below our limit.
Then tales of terrible traffic poured in from all corners with warnings to avoid travel as much as possible. Followed by the update that project cohorts with extensive experience in Jakarta elected to try a 4 star hotel suggested by the client as convenient to the office – as in 15 mins walking distance close. Particularly at the beginning of the project, seemed a rather sensible option.
Just from the website, it was obvious this 4 star has seen better days. And then I checked in to my room…
Now, I could handle the faded torn carpet, chipped and worn desk, only two outlets both requiring crawling, contortions and adapters to use. I wasn’t surprised by the poor lighting that obscured seeing anything in the closet, absence of a bathrobe, limited toiletries of indifferent quality and cracked drinking glass. Even an air-conditioner with no ‘off’ switch with a temperate ‘control’ of an even constant deep freezer regardless of whether setting was at 15’c or 30’c.
I had well in advance given up any illusion of a fancy espresso maker so brought along both a small French press and coffee grounds. Even adjusting to expectations of a simple kettle, the chipped, ancient one with its base glued to the counter was a disappointment. To spy the wee bugs that had made it their home… well let’s just say my first call was to ask for a new kettle. The “new” one arrived looking only a few years into its use.
Perhaps a little telly would help distract? Hmm…. after taking 5 minutes to warm up the tube (did I mention how COLD the room is?), the channels playfully chose to play hide n seek… sometimes coming into focus then, just as I started to relax, would flirt with a few distorted lines, then more, building up to a remarkable display of abstract art accompanied by blaring white noise. Undaunted and determined to be positive, I turned the TV off and nestled into the quite comfortable bed (major plus!) to enjoy a show stored on my laptop before crashing for the night.
Morning came with more surprises in store. I must admit, NOTHING prepared me for a dastardly determined shower head which REFUSED to stay in its place. It did battle with great vigour – leaping out of its designated perch, spraying with such force that neither I nor the lightly mildewed curtain were any match for its mighty flips as it whipped about whacking me with rapid jabs! Did I learn? Nope! Tried twice to put it back in its place again. Let’s just say it won and the entire bathroom was soaked and I’ve literally been beaten black and blue!
By now rather disgruntled, I hoped breakfast would perk me up… to be greeted by a rather standard international buffet spread, favouring just about anything deep-fried and meat. For a vegetarian, there were slim pickings indeed.
Confessing my lack of enthusiasm for our accommodations, I realized, it is official – I’ve become a “princess.” Sigh… Day 1 in Jakarta and I’ve discovered a mere million a night just won’t do!
20 days of this hotel room will sour me completely from a challenging project with great guys in a truly fascinating city. Smart men – they’ve put me in charge of apartment hunting. Am I motivated? Oh yeah!
Will keep you posted on developments… already have a broker looking at availability of a couple of options. Wish me luck! In the meantime, its time for this princess to roll up her sleeves and get to work!