SABAH, MALAYSIA: A Chinese national woman has raised concerns about privacy and safety while travelling after discovering hidden camera in her Airbnb accommodation during her honeymoon trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
The incident unfolded when the woman shared her unsettling experience on the popular Chinese social media platform “Xiao Hongshu (小红书).”
The woman detailed her encounter, which occurred in early September when she booked a homestay through the Airbnb platform for her Sabah getaway.
To her astonishment, she stumbled upon hidden camera strategically placed within her room, prompting immediate distress for both her and her husband.
In response to the alarming discovery, they swiftly proceeded to the local police station to file a formal complaint.
Recounting the ordeal, she stated, “I arrived at Kota Kinabalu Airport at 2 AM on September 6th and reached the Airbnb at 3 AM. I asked my husband to check for hidden camera, and to our astonishment, we discovered a modified camera at an electrical outlet across from the bed.”
She went on to describe the camera’s clever concealment, pointing out a circular hole in the middle of the outlet.
Hidden camera shock
Using a flashlight, they noticed a reflective surface, leading to the subsequent removal of the outlet panel and the discovery of a small camera concealed within.
“My female friends didn’t even recognize it as a camera when they saw the photos. Perhaps guys are more familiar with digital devices, so they could immediately tell it was a camera.”
In light of her experience, she urged fellow women travellers to remain vigilant regarding the appearance of hidden camera, drawing parallels with smartphone camera.
Efforts to reach the homestay agent proved fruitless, leaving the couple uneasy as the camera directly faced their bed, inhibiting them from undressing or using the shower.
“Ironically, when I contacted via Airbnb to address this issue with the agent, the latter did not respond at all. It’s unclear whether the agent didn’t know how to respond or had other reasons.”
Her husband improvised by covering the camera lens with tissue and other items.
Subsequently, they decided to check out and relocated to another hotel after lodging a complaint with the booking platform the following morning.
To draw attention to her ordeal, the woman promptly shared her experience on social media, sparking significant interest and support from fellow netizens who encouraged her to report the incident.
With the assistance of a fellow Chinese traveller, the couple successfully reported the incident to the authorities on the following day.
The tourist accused of evading payment by the homestay agent instead
However, their pursuit of justice hit an unexpected roadblock, as they asserted that the police had contacted the homestay agent, who accused them of attempting to avoid payment, leaving the woman frustrated.
Reflecting on the ordeal, she questioned, “For the sake of RM 400 (approximately US$ 85.31) per night, is it worth all this trouble? We had planned to have a good honeymoon, but our plans were completely disrupted.”
Despite these challenges, she alleged that the police had advised her to delete her initial social media post and had also visited the scene of the incident.
Having since returned to China and received a refund from Airbnb, the woman posted a second update to remind the public of the importance of vigilance and safety while travelling.
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