That is the sound of us plunking down a large portion of our savings to book all of the in-country details of our trip to SE Asia. Is it weird that we’ve locked that part in before the flights? It seems weird to me. But I’m going to assume the travel agent knows what she’s doing. (Don’t mock me. It’s nice here in my little glass-half-full Pollyanna world)
The last decision we had to make before locking things in was the hotel in Phnom Penh. Because we’ve been there before, and stayed in and/or saw a few different hotels, we gave that part of the itinerary a more critical eye. Husband didn’t like the first hotel they assigned us – he stayed there before (11 years ago) and he said, “It was aimed at Japanese tourists, it had little American food on the menu, and the room smelled like smoke.” So we asked them to try again. The next time they gave us a hotel we hadn’t heard of. At first I thought it was one of the familiar hotels, under a new name. But it’s not. On the website it looked okay – not amazing, but nice enough. But none of the rooms was big enough for six. (Or actually, none allowed for six people. We can easily fit in a room or suite that has 3 queen sized beds, but hotels never want to let us do that. Usually, when I’m booking our hotels, I just fudge things a bit and say that I have 3 kids, and then the computer lets me reserve the room. But I couldn’t really ask the travel agent to do that.) So then I went looking for the hotel we stayed at during our adoption trip – the MiCasa. My word, if you were on the Cam adopt lists, do you remember the multiple threads titled “Air Conditioning at the MiCasa”? I seriously don’t remember what the fuss was about – the A/C was great there. Anyway, lots of families stayed there because they had apartment style suites with living rooms and kitchens and the price was really reasonable. But, in the last 10+ years, the hotel changed hands, changed names, and the price went waaay up. So I wasn’t really considering it, but then since no place had one room big enough for us and I knew the MiCasa (which is now the Himawari) did, I asked them to look into it for me. They did, and it was definitely more than the place they picked out. What to do? Go to TripAdvisor! Where I read this little gem of a review about the other hotel:
“It is a large and efficient hotel with everything you need as a visitor. Unfortunately, I have seen that the number of prostitute in the hotel at night time has been rapidly growing despite a no-sex tourism policy. The hotel has security guards everywhere, at the main entrance and on all floors but it seems as the guards ignore the hotel policy, possibly against a small payment.”
And this one:
“This is one of the more upmarket hotels in the capital, however 2 of us observed rats around the swimming pool at night & had cockroaches in our rooms. A number of us on our tour also got food poisoning from eating at the hotel. (we did not eat anywhere else) which is a pity I expected better. Clearly there is a pest and hygiene issue here and until it is sorted I would not recommend this hotel.”
And while there were some positive reviews, the things these two reviewers said were repeated by others. So we decided it was worth the extra $$ to not have our kids milling in the halls with creepy pervert sex tourists and rats and cockroaches. (one might argue all three belong in the same category…). I did mention that I’m not an adventurous traveler, no?
So that is set. Now I have to cross my fingers that we can get decent flights with good seats for all six of us. Double bonus points if we can get the economy+/business class level for a good price because flying for 18 hours cramped in economy seats is its own special circle of hell. (When we flew for the adoption there were no “evergreen” seats available and I seriously thought I was going to DIE from crampedness. And I am not a big person. Well, bigger than I used to be. But still on the smallish end of the spectrum.)
And now I have to get on with the day… Leah has her first middle school badminton game this afternoon! I’m sure it will be even more exciting than Monday Night Football. (ha ha. Sarcasm. But while we’re on that topic… cry me a river, Packers fans. Try having the officials screw up your calls and take away the freaking SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP. Not that I’m bitter or anything.)