I’m here in Taiwan for an extended stay to try to work on my Mandarin. When I was planning the trip, I was trying to find ways to keep costs low, and in fact I did find a pretty cool house-sitting situation. I’ll be able to keep costs low, and help out a friend.
The only problem was, there were a few days at the beginning of my stay here that were not covered by the house sitting situation. There were a lot of transpacific chats going back and forth trying find me a cheap situation that would cover my first eight days here, before house-sitting kicked in. My friends are looking at hostels for me; tourists, shared bathrooms…
Meanwhile, back in Seattle, everybody’s talking eagerly about how we’re spending our summers. Of course, when I say, “I got a grant to work on my Chinese in Taiwan,” there are all kinds of eyebrows raised, like I’m pulling off some sort of scam and getting a free vacation.
The actual plan was actually NOT my idea of a vacation: taking language lessons every day, subletting a grad-student’s apartment, quiet afternoons of character study, hoofing around until there are blisters in the middle of my feet. Eating at street markets outside university campuses. Not a vacation.
First of all, my idea of a vacation is the same as everybody else’s: cocktails with umbrellas on the beach, endless warm nights filled with illicit behaviors, buffet meals at irregular hours, new friendships with causal and reckless benefits. See, I’m the same as you.
Then I thought about the idea of an actual vacation…. and I thought, screw it, I deserve an actual vacation. So for these first 8 nights in Taipei, I’m staying in a three-star hotel.
So three-star hotels in Asia cost about the same as an American motel room out in the sticks somewhere. This particular hotel that I’ve found has free breakfast buffet, wireless internet, flat screen tv with theater sound, private bathroom with soaking tub AND a shower complete with two dedicated crotch jets. I shit you not.
So it’s a pretty swanky 8 days, and now that I’m here I’m glad I made this decision to pony up the cash and live in relative comfort before I have to go hole-up for a number of weeks in the dorm room of some kid I barely know at the crusty edge of town. Tumbleweeds, dingos.
One of the things about this hotel room, though, is that it’s freezing in here. Outside it’s a muggy 22 C; in here it’s the frozen dinner aisle. I’m sitting in here with the hood of my hoodie on, long sweat pants, and socks on my feet. Not exaggerating.
Now I love me some a/c, but this is a little crazy. I decided to turn down the a/c, or at least turn the fan off… the control panel on the night stand beeped at me when I hit the a/c control, and the screen flashed “please use the remote.” Fine. So I look all around the room for climate control remote. Nothing. I start checking in drawers, and I look inside the Universal Condom Drawer (top drawer, right side night stand), and I actually found a complimentary hotel condom. They thought of everything! Maybe that’s why the Canadians at breakfast were so cheerful…
Upon closer inspection, the package says “Close Kit” which I’m sure is a machine translation of a Chinese euphemism, like “intimacy gear” or “proximity equipment.” I don’t know, I can’t actually read the Chinese.
Enough of that. I’m still cold. On the other side of the room is a machine that’s been running 24/7; I assumed it was some kind of humidifier. It may, in fact, be a humidifier, damn my illiteracy. All I know is, it’s pumping out warm air.