Good Night, Sleep Tight

By Stephen Ewashkiw | June 2, 2014

14,795 km so far.

It is rare that we follow a route we have already taken. This has only happened about 4 times in the past 14 months. Today, to get out of the Malay jungle, we sailed down the same river we had come up just a couple days ago.

Waiting for the ferry to take us back downriver, Taman Negara.

Waiting for the ferry to take us back downriver, Taman Negara.

The views of the jungle were incredible, the ride was uneventful.

Once we arrived back in Kuala Tembeling we had a short 20 km ride to Jerantut. It was bloody hot today, and there were seemingly endless hills to climb, but there were monkeys to entertain us, a beautiful newly paved road for most of the ride, and yet more incredible views of wild jungle.

(Don’t miss: Our guide to everything you need to know before bike touring Malaysia)

Coming And Going

Jerantut is only visited by tourists on the way to and from Taman Negara. From here you can catch a shuttle bus to the ferry, or directly to Kuala Tahan, and it is here the shuttles return you.

Most people stay for the night before heading to the jungle, and again on the way back. No one stays for long. There’s not much to stay for.

Jerantut self-portrait.

Jerantut self-portrait.

Upon arriving in town we hit up four hotels before deciding the first one we’d seen was the least bad option, chiefly because it was the cheapest.

None of them had put in any extra effort, knowing that guests were unlikely to stay more than one night, and equally unlikely to ever come back.

Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite

After getting settled into bed for the night and watching an episode of Southland, Jane sensed that we weren’t alone. We turned on the lights, and sure enough, bed bugs had crawled out of the mattress and onto our sheets.

Eww. And yuck.

Jane’s note: And gross!

Bed bugs are all the rage in Malaysia. When reading reviews of hotels and guesthouses online there is always at least one review that mentions bed bugs. Admittedly, it must be a challenge for hotel managers to keep places bug-free when backpackers are notoriously unkempt.

We try and stay in places that meet some basic standards of cleanliness. Sometimes our options are limited, as was the case today.

More times than we would prefer we have ended up in guesthouses where clean sheets are not provided (which is why we have our own sleep sheets), where the bathroom looks like it’s had nothing more than a cursory wipe down, and god help you if you look under the bed.

Tonight, while sitting in bed researching places to stay over the next couple of nights, Jane noticed one review that said: “They actually change the sheets between guests here. I saw them do it.” This sums things up nicely.

If They Do…

If you should find your bed filled with bugs, beat a path to a cleaner hotel. That’s exactly what we did.

Sadly, it was already 11:30pm. We had to rouse the hostel manager, explain the situation, and ask for our money back. He offered us a different room instead, and when we refused, he refused to return our money. He basically blamed the bed bugs on us, and told me we had used his water and air conditioning already so he wasn’t returning our money.

Not surprised by this, I didn’t put up much of a fight. The room was ridiculously cheap to begin with (which should have been a warning sign) and all I wanted to do at this point was find somewhere else to sleep. I headed over to one of the other hotels we had looked at when we first got to town.

Hotel Firdaus is much better. It is clean and has friendly staff. The only reason we hadn’t checked in there earlier was that they wouldn’t let us bring our bikes inside.

After booking a room with them I went back, got Jane and we dragged our bags across town in the dark to get some rest.

evening light in jerantut malaysia

Evening in Jerantut. Definitely its best light.

We left our bikes and our buggy hostel sheets at the bed bug guesthouse, Greenleaf, and will have to go get them in the morning.

Fellow travellers, I recommend staying away from Greenleaf Guesthouse, no matter what Lonely Planet says.

Jane’s note: Thanks, Lonely Planet for another excellent recommendation. You really know how to pick ’em.

The room was too inexpensive (RM30), the sheets had obviously not been changed recently, our room had bed bugs, and it was just overall rundown, smelly, dirty, and sad.

Update: When we stopped by the next morning to pick up our bikes, the staff were dismantling everything in the room we had been in and we loading it into a pick-up truck and carting it away. So, at least they were working to take care of the problem right away. They were also apologetic, although the manager/owner was in the pick-up truck and avoided having to speak with us, lest I ask him for a refund again.  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.


  1. Comment by Scot

    Scot June 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Sometimes blogging is the best revenge. Kind of cathartic, isn’t it? We will definitely avoid that guesthouse. And also Lonely Planet. Hope your next stay is nicer.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen June 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      It is indeed. And there is always Trip Advisor. We are now somewhere very nice in Kuala Lumpur. Much better.

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