Every once in awhile, I look around my hotel room and feel vaguely guilty. Rob and I are quiet, friendly, cheerful guests who go to bed early, but we’re strange ones with some annoying habits. Here are a few things we do that must frustrate the hell out of the folks who own our hotels.
We always have a stash of fruit in our hotel room. A mango or two, a hand of bananas, some odds and ends of longkongs and lychees – it all accumulates until an entire corner of the room looks like a catalog from Earth Source.
We don’t always mean to bring home so much excess, but it happens. We’re at a new market and something looks interesting. There’s a rare fruit that we really really like so we buy it. We’re out for the day and buy something for lunch, but get distracted and don’t eat it. We’re collecting seeds for someone. A farmer, inspired by our joint enthusiasm, gives us a whole bunch of whatever fruit he has around.
This isn’t really a big deal, because, hey! Fruit is pretty and delicious and it makes the hotel room smell nice. Sometimes.
The problem is that other things tend to tag along with the fruit. Ants hide in rambutan hairs while skinny beetles emerge, Trojan Horse-style, from within wanis and mangoes.
Even worse, fruit attracts a lot of things that go bump in the night. I’m talking about cockroaches, although if you’re staying somewhere divey you might have rodents too. Personally, I don’t mind cockroaches. They’re pretty much an inevitable part of living in the tropics, and as long as they aren’t getting in my personal space (i.e. the shower or the bed), I accept that they have an inherent right to live out their gross existence in peace.
That said, I hope most hotel managers do not share my point of view.
2. Washing Seeds in the Sink
collecting seeds, I need to remove anything that could possibly rot or
mold, destroying the seed or making it ineligible to pass through border
controls. I’m not likely to lick every single seed
clean either, which means that seeds need to be washed and scrubbed
before I can put them in their tidy, neatly labeled ziplock baggies for
shipment to their new homes.
Sometimes I don’t even want to eat the
fruit, I just want it’s genetic
material. That means a lot more excess fiber to wash off in the hotel sink.
tried different methods for keeping the sink clear, like putting a
towel over the drain or scooping out the gunk every few seconds with my
fingers. Sinks are often half-clogged
already, and my activities just make it worse. Rather than scoop out the
last inhabitant’s hairs too, I just leave it there.
Occasionally I feel
vague pangs of guilt for whoever has to clean the sink out, but I comfort myself that the sink really needed a cleanse anyway, and whoever stays in the room after me will be appreciative.
3. Using hotel towels to clean up fruit messes
Fruit is messy. It drips, it smears, it sheds weird little hairs, and all of that if not diligently kept clean attracts armies of tiny insects which then leave white dust of microscopic droppings everywhere.
The only solution to keep the bugs out and maintain some ambiance of cleanliness is to wipe up any spills or sticky spots several times a day. And sometimes this necessitates using the hotel towel. Hotels hate this.
I didn’t use to see what the big deal was – after all, most hotel towels are white and are (or should be) bleached between every use. But then I found out that not all hotels in Asia have washing machines. Small, family owned and operated hotels often wash everything by hand and then hang it out to dry in the wickedly hot sun. Many of them don’t even use bleach, which explains the sometimes dingy or stained appearance of sheets. When you use their towels to wipe up a pool of purple dragonfruit juice, that just sucks.
It’s unfortunately a situation that is often unavoidable, but I feel for the hotel staff. Not only are our fruit hunting habits completely incomprehensible, but now we’re messing up their towels too! Whenever possible, I ask the hotel for a cleaning rag or an old towel.
4. Compost build-up
This is related to number one, but slightly different. As people who consumes a lot of fruit, we generate a lot more trash than the average hotel guest who goes out to eat every night. Instead of crinkled up aluminum bags and bits of plastic, we fill our waste basket with shells and skins and pits. Then we put the overflow in a separate bag and tie it off. Between Rob and me, we can fill up two or three small waste baskets every day that we stay somewhere.
It’s not just the increased volume of trash either, but the type of trash. Our trash is biodegradeable. It degrades very, very fast in the heat and needs to be dealt with ASAP. We normally take the trash out ourselves, just to make space and keep the room from smelling like winery. If I can’t find a trash can or some other recognizable deposit spot, I just place the bags along the wall outside the door and let the hotel staff deal with it.
5. Smuggling Durians
On this one I am shamelessly at fault. Many hotels in Asia ban durian from the premises because of it’s strong odor. They have signs up with red cross-marks through the fruit just to make it obvious.
I have eaten durian in every single hotel room I have ever stayed in. Every one.
Actually, most of the hotels we stay at really couldn’t care less that I have a durian in my room. The staff, if they see me with it, think it’s amusing that a Westerner likes durian. I’ve found that durian is really only banned in high-end establishments, which I never frequent.
Not that a sign banning durian will stop Rob or me. We will and have smuggled durians in backpacks, my purse, or black plastic shopping bags (so they can’t see what’s inside). We’ve never been caught, but if we think it might be a problem we keep the durians in the armoire or under the bed.
Sound like addiction? Oh yes.