Hotel Welcombe is odd. On arrival, it seems we may be the only guests and it is big, a visually impressive hotel on the outside, with unusual slightly Japanese type architecture, and views over the bay. It soon becomes apparent that all the staff are men. The old retainer, as I call him, greets us. He speaks slow but perfect English in a deep bass. He permanently leans towards you, like a human tower of Pisa and his trousers are a little too high at the waist and a little too short at the ankle. He is a character straight out of a book, not quite a real person. Our room is large and basic. The fridge has nothing in it. The bed has only sheets, no blankets. The curtains are a vile shade of flamingo pink, but I cannot find anything really wrong with it – everything works, there is a large bathroom with hot water and clean towels, the beds are hard but not too hard. Candle, saucer and matches are standard room equipment. We discover why when I charge my mobile phone. As I try to plug the TV back into the adaptor it was in before, it flashes and sparks and the lights go out. Although the burnt smell lingers for a while and we don’t dare re-connect the TV (there were no channels in English anyway), the power cut was purely coincidental. There are more during our stay, but none last more than a few minutes. We cannot put our finger on the problem with the place; maybe it is just the lack of a woman’s touch, or the fact that we are seemingly miles from town.
Later there is a knock on the door and we are invited to order something for dinner. We’ve read that in some places dinner can take a long time to prepare and assume this is why we are being asked. Just as we are about to go down to the dining room an hour later, our dinner arrives on a tray to be eaten in our room. Obviously some kind of misunderstanding has taken place as this doesn’t happen on other nights. In the next days, we find we are not the only guests, but the hotel maintains an eerie quiet except when the daily monsoon arrives and the torrential rain pounds the balcony, the wind rattles the outside lights and fittings and lightening sparks above the cloud shrouded bay. Apparently, this is normal monsoon weather, not the freak rain being experienced in the south. This is somewhat comforting, but we are in awe of nature and its daily matinee performance. We take to ordering pots of tea to our room and watching the spectacle – there is little else to do.