Sunday, February 19, 2012

Non-backpacker in the hostel: the PODs experience

I thought I was too old for hostels until I planned my first few days in Kuala Lumpur and looked at what was left in my ATM account. I can't be a real backpacker anymore like I was five years ago--my scoliosis makes it challenging--but I don't mind sharing toilets and showers if they're clean. So I looked for hostels in addition to budget hotels near KL Sentral, where I can easily catch a bus to work.

PODs Backpackers on Jalan Thambillay won me over because of the low rate and the excellent recommendations online. Located in the Brickfields area (the other Little India), it's a mix of sights and smells. There is a Chinese temple, Old Town White Coffee, small hotels, and blind massage places on the same street. It's quite reassuring when you see several blind people walking in your area unaided.

The office building that houses PODs is small and nondescript. But when you enter PODs with its signature green color, the mood changes to chilled out, international and funky. On the Sunday afternoon when I checked in, there were people doing yoga on Platform 2 & 3/4, a stage for small events.

Like all other guests, I was given my keys, pillow and sheets. I would leave my shoes on the rack whenever I came in. The rooms are clean, with artsy handpainted accents in the rooms and platforms instead of a bed frame. The showers are built from corrugated roofing materials.

The included breakfast is simple: self-service toast with peanut butter or jam, and hardboiled eggs. By self-service, that means washing up after you've had tea. Quiet time is from 11pm to 7am but it's quiet pretty much all day except that I was close to the showers and I could hear the gush of water.

I didn't catch R2B2 (wheelies) tours, but the PODs staff are helpful and recommend activities according to your interests. There's also free wi-fi.

Although I didn't hang out long enough to make many friends and I was thrilled about the long-term room I found, I was actually sad to leave PODs. I think I'll pop in on one of their events every first Friday of the month.

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