We had a tuk-tuk driver like that in Bangkok, too. He drove us from the mall to our hotel like he was pissed at us, but every time he happened to turn his head his expression was calm and slightly bored: jackrabbit starts and abrupt braking was just his style, as was squeezing between vehicles in active traffic.
Now, cheap is a fluid term. Were we in the States, a cheap hotel room could mean one that costs four times the price of a cheap hotel room in Thailand. And in Thailand, a cheap hotel room might be half the cost of a cheap Malaysian guest house room. Cheap can mean completely different things to someone who lives in a town and someone who's visiting it. So, yeah, when I went to find the new hotel he was talking about, it probably was cheap by his standards and maybe even cheap in a city-wide relative scale. I didn't know that, and I thought it was pricey and I thought we could do better.
Then she found a swarm of ants around her luggage. She brushed them off as best she could and we disposed of any snack food we brought from the bus trip. And then her concern shifted from the mustiness of the room to the chemical content of the atmosphere: there was a layer of cheap pesticide lingering about, so we have to keep the windows open and the fan on, and smear bug repellent on ourselves before going to bed. And that'll be good for the mosquitos coming in through the open windows, but what's to be done about resident rat when he decides to show up again?
Many of the shops had closed or were closing. The 7-11 was open and we had some friendly conversation with a clerk behind the counter--she was baldly surprised to learn anyone from the U.S. was visiting Taiping. And as we thought on it, we hadn't seen any Western tourists all day. We found one white guy poking around in a market but that was it. Who knows where he was from? Shopping for groceries, odds are he might be living here.
Naturally, I spotted a rat, and then another. Of course. But it was Rebecca who pointed out the large swarm not far away. I tried to get a photo of it but half of them fled--you can still count eleven rats in this photo if you look carefully. I would like to point out it was several hours before this that we decided to cut short our stay in Taiping: rather than linger around and explore, we're getting the hell out tomorrow morning.