The Hotel Indochina is located conveniently in the colorful and rustic town of Aranyaprathet on the Northwestern edge of the bustling Cambodia-Thai border. Perhaps the best set of digs in the entire town, it is a fair-sized hotel shaped like a large U with the lobby area bridging two very long wings that could double as professional bowling lanes. Very clean and functional, the hotel offered one or two entertaining quirks for the intrepid and road-weary traveler.
The first was the Wi-Fi teaser. There indeed was Wi-Fi with all four welcoming solid bars in selective pockets of space around the residence. In the hallways it was satisfyingly solid, but in the rooms it was peevishly pervasive. It would work by the bedroom door, and I mean right by the door. Tantalizingly, it would follow you to the bed but would vanish immediately the moment you got comfortable. Initiating the wireless mating dance once again starting from the door you could lure it very slowly and cautiously to the comfy chair in the far corner where it would leave brusquely and without warning. Most annoyingly, the signal bars would reappear with vigor whenever you stopped using your phone only to retreat promptly when you once again showed interest in communicating with the world beyond Aranyaprathet.
While radio signals had coverage challenges throughout the flophouse, audio did not. Noise traveled freely and with impunity. Mosaic hard-tiled floors throughout the sparsely decorated structure ensured lossless transfer of sonic utterances from the rectilinear echoing hallways to the austere rooms. Our involuntary wake up call was at 6:30AM, courtesy of a cacophonic coachload of middle-aged Asian ladies who appeared to have a busy and exciting day ahead of them. By 7:30AM, they had come and gone as suddenly as a migrating swarm of desert locusts. Other intriguing sonic disturbances peppered the silence of the late summer Aranyaprathet evening. At first I thought the locals had implemented a bylaw to standardize ring tones, only to realize later that the electronic bedroom door locks would sing stridently when correctly identified by a guest’s plastic entry key. Who thought of that I wonder? No sneaking out and back in at the Hotel Indochina I suppose. Why not put bells on the bathroom doors too?
While these quirks added some color and challenge to a long trip through Isan I think it would be unreasonable to complain or to knock the hotel’s ratings given the most satisfactory marks it attained in all other departments (food, cleanliness, blah, blah, blah, and so on). I would stay again at the Hotel Indochina.