From 'The Travels of the Lincot Man'
Hotel Celebes, Manado, North East Sulawesi
I returned to Manado in north east Sulawesi one evening after exploring the marine park and already dying corals of Bunaken Island. Walking past the Hotel Celebes, I thought it looked a little too flash for my budget, but what the hell - I've got an early start in the morning. It was actually cheaper than anticipated; the lobby nicely tiled in burgundy, and the staff and receptionist in neat uniforms; 'apologies for broken air-conditioning and apologies too for loud TV in foyer,' - 'volume control broken.' (Oh yea!).
I went out to eat at a 'warung' or street stall - a better option than the more dubious restaurants, and at least as hygienic, if you didn't mind the scavenging rats that you wouldn't usually see indoors, watching your ever-loving mouthful. I returned to the hotel about 8 pm to get an early night, and as I reached the third floor corridor, the biggest, sleekest, fattest, shiniest rat came galloping towards me and went skittering between my legs and away down the stairs. I followed after it, and when I told the manager he hardly even raised an eyebrow, didn't even offer a 'Manuel/Faulty Towers' - 'He no rat. His name Basil - he a filigree hamster!'
Next morning I was up at 5 am, and as I arrived on the second floor via the stairs, there were TWO even bigger rats having a chat outside the hotel's pride and joy, 'The Napoleon Suite'. This was the only hotel in my Indonesian walkabout with a lift/elevator (and a Napoleon suite). As I had the rats trapped by the door, I stamped my feet and scared them inside before pressing the button for the ground floor. I raced down the stairs just in time to see them dashing out of the lift and across the lobby, with no one but me to see them! What a shame, if the service is bad I like the management to know about it!
Worse than the rats, were the cockroaches the night before, big as crabs, and they came and went about my room as though it was really theirs and I was just a temporary inconvenience. I suppose they were right in that respect!
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I've experienced some notorious buses in Central & South America, but one of the longest bus trips was in Sulawesi, and though considerably shorter than the 21 hours in Borneo, it was 14 hours over the worst roads imaginable. The biggest problem for me was the Karaoke style music that was blasting out of a speaker above my head - a speaker U2 would have been proud of. My earplugs made no difference to the brain-numbing thump, thump, thump, and the most played tape (of only two) was a techno version of 'Happy Birthday to You'. The other tape was that typical female singer with the shaky voice, who seems to be following me about the world, and she's there in every Supermarket and shopping mall too, singing, 'My Legs Will Go On' (Titanic?) or some such tortuous whine. The Eurovision Song Contest has a lot to answer for!
After trying unsuccessfully to get the driver to turn the volume down - I even pleaded in Indonesian using such words as 'menyakerti' (torture) - I took drastic action after it got dark, reaching up to snip the wire with my trusty Swiss Army Knife. I soon realized it may have been a big mistake, because, for the next ten minutes, the driver, suspecting a loose connection, relaxed his concentration on the dangerous mountain road as he slapped, banged, walloped and kicked the dashboard until he sent shards of plastic flying and we ran off the road and BOGGED THE BUS!
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