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!