Monthly Archives: September 2012

Believe it or not? Some creepy practice in most of Asian countries

My colleague and I arrived at Shanghai on Sun after a 10-hours direct flight from London. The flight was delayed 3 hours but it was grand from my point of view, as I could stayed another 3 hours at home. Upon arrival, our Chinese colleague came to pick us up and we hit the road straight away to Shaoxing. Shaoxing is in Jiangxi province and accordingly is one of the richest provinces in China.

We were sent to Xianheng Hotel, a local 5-star hotel, at a charge rate of only £45 per night! This includes free breakfasts, internet,  laundries and pressings. Most of Asian hotels have big spacious rooms and luxurious service.

We stayed at this hotel last year and was quite satisfied with the conditions. However as we arrived on Sun, we found out that level 13 to 15 are undergoing renovation and therefore both my colleague and I were offered a room each on the 17th floor. As I don’t smoke and my colleague does, so I have asked for another floor that is smoke-free. They dare not offer me the 16th floor in case the drilling and hammering noise will be too loud for me. There are only 18 floors in this hotel (or may 16 since any number with number “4” will be omitted as this number is viewed as not auspicious from Chinese point of view).  The higher it is, the bigger the rooms are I presume and so I didn’t bother to ask for lower levels.

The front-desk customer service offered to show me both rooms and let me decide which one I prefer to take. So she took me to both rooms. While I was busy chatting with her, I barely paid any attention to what she was doing before we entered the room. Well, I did thought about it, but I was distracted and forgot to ask her, which I am glad that I didn’t ask her. In fact, I am writing this in the room that I finally settled on. It was more spacious and during when I checked both rooms, the noise from the renovation was quite faint whilst the other one looks more damp and smelly, not cigarette but more of poor fragrance to mask the smell.

This sounds a bit creepy, even more so that I am actually typing this from the room in the hotel. But I just couldn’t keep quite anymore and would like to find out if there are similar practice in other culture or beliefs.

Now, after I have settled down in the hotel room, I somehow recollected what the front desk customer service did. We stood outside of the hotel rooms, twice, for good one minute. While she was explaining the renovation or something else, she first knocked the door, and waited for few seconds, and then rang the door bell. We waited for another few seconds, before she opened the door using the hotel card. The first time she did that, I wanted to ask her, but somehow I didn’t, as I was too tired after more than 10 hours journey.  What I wanted to ask was “were there other guests in the room??!!”  

Then slowly I recalled a conversation with my university mate when I was back to Malaysia in May. She shared her recent hotel-related experience.  She had to do some survey for her company’s functions and for some reasons, she’d like to see the type of rooms available in the hotels. So she has requested the hotel staff to show her different type of rooms.

Now, this is where she noticed something strange when the same actions taken by the employee of the different hotels she went to. The employees also knocked and rang the bells before entering into the rooms. She too asked the same question that I wanted to ask. “Why did she show her the room where guests are still staying in it?”

Apparently, everyone work works in hotels have a practice and belief to do that, especially if entering the room for the first time. “It is better to knock and ring the bell before entering into the hotel room, even though you know that there should not be any guests in the room. This is to alert “the others” that you are going into the room”. 

I was doubtful initially,  so I did a quick survey by asking people I met on that few days in Malaysia. It seemed that everyone has this knowledge or have heard of this before. I on the other hand, a frequent traveler, have not heard about this before. I did not practice this since I learnt about this even though I continue to travel frequently. I do occasionally share with other friends I met, whenever we talk about something similar.

Now that I am in the room, even though I finally manage to relate the experience with my university mate’s experience, I still do not knock or ring the bell before entering into the room. I only started doing this after another strange practice.

On the first day after work, a minute or so after  I entered into the room, I suddenly realised that the kettle was plugged and turned on automatically. I remember clearly that I unplugged the kettle after I used it the night before as a safety measure. So I was confused why the kettle was plugged and turned on by itself. I unplugged the kettle again that night, however the next night the same thing happened again.

As I pondered about this, I recalled other conversations I had subsequent to my friend’s sharing. Few friends told me that aside from knocking and ringing the bell, they also suggest to boil water. Can’t quite recall the reasons behind it but some believes that will “force the others to leave the room”. 

So, I wonder if there are other practice and beliefs from other culture or countries! And did some internet search and found an article about this.

If you have heard or have such knowledge, please feel free to share!

Categories: China, Life, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Wonderland – Iceland (Reykjavik)!

My husband’s friend and his girlfriend transit in London for 10 hours last Sun, while on their way back to Malaysia from a 16 days free and easy holidays in Iceland. Coincidentally, BBC broadcast a documentary about the volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010 which has halted air traffics in Europe.  The pictures that my husband’s friend took and what was shown on BBC reminded me of what a beautiful country Iceland is. We actually went to Reykjavik a 2-3 weeks before the volcano eruption.

To begin with, Iceland was not on our holiday destination list. Being an ignorant person I am, I didn’t know much about this country. I thought the name of the country tells it all about this country. We went in winter, yup, I thought I was braved enough despite the stark warning of the season, just deciphering by its name.  Then again, it was Iceland Air packages that attracted us to go to Reykjavik. It was starting from £200 for 4 days 3 nights, including a free escorted trip to see northern lights. It was a good and affordable deal, and my husband had been telling me about northern lights. I didn’t know much about northern lights, until I met my husband. He was the one keen on this natural phenomenon.

Anyway, this trip was a revelation to me. Iceland wasn’t really that icy cold as I have thought. In fact, it was quite mild when we were there. The lowest temperature was minus 12 degree, on the first night when we went to hunt for northern lights. Right, -12 degree is chilly, but I was expecting Iceland to be -20 or -40 degree. I know I was in Reykjavik and not other part of Iceland, so I can’t quite conclude based on Reykjavik itself. That’s true. But as I mentioned earlier, I was ignorant about this country and I really thought regardless of where I go, it’ll be -20 degree and below. My stupid belief debunked!

Secondly, I was at the beginning of learning photography with DSLR and shooting in low lights has always been a challenge to me.  Therefore to ensure I manage to take the pictures of northern lights, I did a lot of online research. All I have to do is to adjust 3 settings, the ISO set to at least 800 and above. Aperture which controls the amount of lights to the camera,  (or marked as f) should be kept as large as possible (or in layman term, to keep the f  tothe lowest of the camera has) and the shutter speeds have to be slow so that it allows more lights to go in.  I am not going into details, but there are  a lot of good blogs that provides such information, such as Lapland In My Heart, Alaskan Photography Blog, etc.

Little did I knew that I learnt how to protect my camera during winter, especially when the temperature of two places is massively different. Perfect example would be when I’m indoor with heater on and when I am outdoor when the temperature is sub-zero.

Thirdly, on the first night when we went to hunt the northern lights, we were  brought to the þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO heritage site.  It was away from the city and hence lights. It was  supposed to be pitch dark, however  that night was full moon and therefore, we had a big natural light from the moon. I have never knew that moon light could be so bright! However moon light could be the enemy of the northern lights. We took our chance nevertheless. The results of the first night:


We went for the free northern light tour the following night (package from Iceland Air), and we were taken to a big empty land (next to a pig farm, and so the smell of the night) for northern lights. That night was a better night as there were more northern lights activities than the first night we went when it was full moon. The photos of that night:


Now at the national park, I was privileged enough to step  on the tectonic plates, which separate the Eurasia and North America. These plates move every year, separating Eurasia and North America even further. The following pictures were taken at the national park during day time.


Another highlight of the trip was Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, which is situated on a lava field. The spa is kept at between 36  to 38 degree, therefore although the temperature on that day was -2 to -5 degree celcius, we were comfortably soaked in the spa, which is located outdoor. It was quite a heavenly experience. The first picture was taken outside of the lagoon and the 2nd was inside the lagoon.


Night view:


Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir Geothermal and Pingvellir National Park is a famous Golden Circle excursion in Iceland. The following pictures were taken from Gullfoss waterfall (frozen however) and the geysir.


There are 2 Reykjavik cities according to a tour guide. The 2 cities are separated by another town called Moss Town (or something like that). The one that we went to was the old city. There aren’t really a lot of people inhabit in this city. So we feel that the place is quite deserted and spacious. Last but not least, the infamous The Church of Hallgrimur, and Lake Tjornin, at dawn.


Categories: Iceland, Reykjavik, Travel | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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