Readers' Submissions

Housekeeping Tip




When I first checked in, I noticed the room had a funny odour. I mentioned it to the girl at the front desk, embellishing tactfully by asking, "Could there possibly be a dead rat somewhere in the room?" She winced noticeably at the suggestion, then regained her Thai composure and countered that it was just a mildew smell that would go away after I had run the A/C for a few hours. It's true that a damp, musty odour will develop if the A/C is turned off for several days. Thailand is very humid.

This smell seemed stronger than only mildew, though. The next day it was just as bad. I began a search. I looked everywhere: under the bed, between the mattresses, under the night stands, between the closet and the wall,…. Nothing. Maybe someone got pissed off at the hotel management over something and hid a turd somewhere! It smelled like dirty diapers! Maybe it's sewed into the mattress! I crawled all over the bed sniffing the mattress. Nothing.

Actually, after a few minutes in the room, the smell ceased to be noticeable. But every time I'd return to the hotel after being outside for a while, I'd open my door and it would hit me again. Phew! And when I'd have a girl with me, I'd feel embarrassed and have to apologize. The girls all said they could smell it too, but they never seemed to mind much. I guess women are more willing to put up with a dirty-diaper smell than we men are. As for myself, I had to do something. If I couldn't get rid of the stench, I'd have to change rooms (and I hate changing rooms after I get settled in. What a hassle!)

Aerosol air fresheners disgust me. The sweet, sickening smell is almost as bad as the stink they are meant to cover up. And I didn't want to just camouflage the odour – I wanted to eliminate it. I thought of burning joss sticks (incense) and was about to try that, when I thought of something better: I went to the Tops supermarket and bought a big fat Cuban cigar from the display case in the liquor section. I bought a bottle of scotch too.

I returned to my room, poured myself a drink, put on some music and lit that stogie. I'm in a very small room and the smoke became very thick, but I did not open a window. I kept puffing away until the cigar was finished. I have never seen smoke that thick in a room before. It was beautiful! A beautiful blue fog of delicious Cuban tobacco!

The maid came by and knocked. She had my freshly laundered clothes for me. I opened the door a crack to receive them and she nearly fainted when that wall of smoke hit her! I hurriedly shut the door and immediately put the clothes into my suitcase so they wouldn't be permeated.

I sat there in that purple haze for about another hour, sipping my scotch and enjoying the music. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore. I needed fresh air. I opened the door and let it just roll out into the hallway. You could actually see it. Like a big breaker rumbling into the shore. Then I went out. Had dinner. Got a girl. Came back a few hours later.

When I opened the door, all I could smell was the lingering aroma of Cuban cigar- and plenty of that. The smell was strong! I could detect no dirty-diaper, dead-rotting-rat-carcass undertones in the air. Just cigar. Nice.

Well, I thought it was nice anyway. The girl wrinkled her nose in disgust, but she soon got over it.

The cigar odour dwindled gradually over several days time, and I kept waiting for the old stench to return, but it never did! That cigar must have really destroyed the bad smell; it didn't just cover it up. So, there you have it boys. From man to man, that's my housekeeping tip to you: Next time you need to eliminate stale or noxious odours, fire up a cigar! I'm sure the lady (ladies?) of the house will understand.

Stickman says:

Great stuff! I'm a little surprised that the Thai staff weren't more helpful early on and some of your "guests" didn't complain more. Thais are typically much more sensitive to smell than Westerners are – and it doesn't take much to get them complaining!