When I last planned a trip to SE Asia the internet was in its infancy. There was no booking of accommodation via the internet let alone the existence of anything like Airbnb. I can’t remember how I booked guest houses in those days. Probably turned up on arrival in a village. A travel agent (remember them?) made hotel bookings for me.

I’ve never stayed in Airbnb accommodation before but I find the prospect very exciting. I’ve gone a bit mad, booking Airbnbs for our upcoming stays in several cities and towns. I know some people have been scammed but I follow the ‘rules’ eg. only pay via the Airbnb interface, only book a place with many positive reviews, take note of the cancellation policy etc.

The review system is tricky though. Like Uber, both the service provider and the customer are rated by each other. This has led to a culture of nauseating sycophancy in which each party is afraid that a negative review will affect their own rating. Hence the proliferation of hosts that are described as ‘incredible humans’ despite the fact that in most cases the guest hasn’t even met them.

I’m embracing the whole thing nevertheless. I’m even slightly addicted to the site. I used to think RightMove had some dodgy property photos but it’s got nothing on Airbnb. Take the above photo, for example. I don’t know about you, but nothing ruffles my mind more than an amateur, poorly designed, misaligned, nonsensical aphorism on a home-made headboard. It was made by an incredible human though – 5 stars!

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