by Peter Nelson
In Indonesia, we stayed mostly in what are known as guesthouses. They’re cheaper than hotels, and you’re pretty much left on your own. If you’re lucky, you’ll have your own washroom. They have quite a good system for washing. The washroom is called a kamar mandi, the mandi being a tiled reservoir of cold water from which you pour cold water all over yourself with a dipper, lather and then splash to rinse. Very refreshing in this hot, muggy climate.
But of course, some of the places were not very clean. Insects, molds, fungi, small reptiles — all flourish in the tropics, and you’ll find most of them in your room. The gecko is a small green lizard — very agile and good at climbing walls. One afternoon, we counted 34 of the little blighters on our ceiling. And if you wanted to use the washroom after dark, beware. The cockroaches are very big! I learned it was best to take a large stick with me to chase them away, and one night, four roaches ganged up on me and took my stick away.