Comfortable and Secure

Filed in Travels

I’m off to Chengdu later today to visit Animals Asia‘s moonbear sanctuary tomorrow morning. The sanctuary offers Open Day visits to the general public two Saturdays a month, and it so happens one of their March 2010 Open Days coincides with my current visit.

So, for a change, I’m not with my giant pandas this morning. Instead, I’m sitting in my room, reflecting on the difference in lodgings from previous years.

For my last two visits, I’d stayed at Xiao Xi Tian (Little Western Sky), located inside Bifengxia Panda Base. Ideal location except it’s little more than a backpackers’ inn, with really very basic amenities. But it was within walking distance of the various exhibits, and it was cheap, dirt cheap. But after two stays, I didn’t think I could stay there one more time. Fortunately, something came along that made it possible for me to stay somewhere else.

Air Asia now flies direct to Chengdu, which means I saved on the travelling time and also on the airfares. The basic fare is about 2/3rds what I paid to Guangzhou in previous years, plus it’s the only fare – no more connecting flights or extra fares to pay.

So with the money saved on flights, I opted for better lodgings this time. Annette recommended the Ibis Hotel in Ya’an City. When I arrived, I found out how central it is, within walking distance of shops, including what I thought was the EverJoy supermarket, but is really called NewJoy. It’s also about 15 minutes’ walk to the bus stop where I take the staff bus to and fro the Base everyday.

When I checked in, the reception staff asked if I wanted a room with a view. I did. She gave me a room on the top floor, facing Ya’an’s best known landmark.

It’s the bridge that’s the landmark. What looks like a magnificent historic building on the bridge is actually a shopping centre, filled mostly with tea shops.

The room itself is a BIG step up from Xiao Xi Tian, especially the bathroom!

But the room and attached bathroom are not the best features of the hotel. It’s the security that really impressed me, even tho I had to find out the hard way.

After checking in, I went to take the lift to my room. The lift door closed, I pressed the button for my floor … nothing happened. I pressed again. The button still did not light up. It was then I saw the little slot next to the bank of buttons.

The lift buttons can only be activated by a room key, and therefore only by a registered guest of the hotel. Very secure.

There’s one more thing that made me glad I’m staying at the Ibis Hotel – its Spring Festival (as Chinese New Year is called in China) decorations on the hotel’s facade.