TRAVELOGUE  »  I Woke Up Covered in Bedbugs!

They say be careful what you wish for…

  • Carrie lived in Nicaragua for 27 months; I was there for seven.
  • We’ve since traveled in Central America, Canada, Europe, India and Sri Lanka.
  • We also have covered a good portion of Southeast Asia.

In all that time, neither of us had ever had a bedbug experience … a fact that we were discussing during a bus ride out of Singapore.


Sleep Tight … Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

Half a day later we arrived in Ipoh, Malaysia: a little middle-of-nowhere town where we had to spend the night and catch an early bus the next day.

Our deluxe coach bus from Melaka to Singapore
Our deluxe coach bus from Melaka, Malaysia to Singapore

The guide book warned us that many places charge by the hour and to be sure of the hygiene of the room and the bed.

Still, we’re budget travelers so we couldn’t say no when our cabbie took us to see a $6 guesthouse room above a Chinese restaurant….even if he couldn’t vouch for it.

The room was an instant classic, and could be compared to some of the dingiest places we have ever stayed.

As for the bed, it had leaves and mothballs under the sheets but after shaking out the mattress and finding no critters we figured that we were in the clear and checked in.


Shortly after returning from dinner, we saw a couple of little brown bugs crawling on our bags and in the bed.

No problem; we put down our sheet that we travel with and figured that they were too big to hurt us.

Dead bedbugs in Malaysia
Dead bedbugs on our pillow at our first hotel in Ipoh. We gave up our 20 ringit and ran out of the place at 1230am

I was still feeling under the weather so I went to sleep while Carrie watched a movie on the iPod.

For nearly two hours I dreamed that I was covered in bugs before I woke up, felt something crawling on my neck and slapped it. My hand came away covered in blood.

Upon closer inspection, our travel sheet was now covered in little white bugs as well as the bigger brown ones we had seen before. They were everywhere: the pillow, our bags, our bodies.

Needless to say, we have never packed faster in our life and, at 12:30am, we stormed out of the hotel. I tried to get a refund from the guy watching the place at night but that was not happening.


Finding a New Hotel at 12:30am

So we wandered up and down the deserted streets desperately searching for a clean hotel.

Sun Golden Inn - Ipoh, Malaysia
Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the bedbug hotel. This was our room at the Sun Golden Inn

The first few we stopped into were clearly in use by prostitutes, as we saw them hanging out in the doorways and streets looking for business.

Finally we came across a winner called the Sun Golden Inn. It was 38 ringit ($11) for the night and there was no half-night discount. It didn’t matter. We quickly checked in, changed clothes and promptly passed out in non-crawly bliss.

In case you were wondering, we never went back to the first hotel to ask for a refund…we figured it just wasn’t worth it. I’m very thankful it was only a close call and I didn’t wake up covered in itchy bites. No thanks!